Posts Tagged ‘Ruud van Nistelrooy’

Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid: Del Piero & Amauri Return Juve’s Pride. Wins Too. (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, Juventus was reborn Tuesday. With two majestic strokes of the paintbrush, one by Del Piero to erase a never-ending streak of injuries, another by Amauri to wipe five consecutive winless matches clean, the Bianconeri imposed a lesson of great will & determination on their Real Madrid rivals.

It was a match where the Old Lady’s “old guard” (Del Piero, Nedved) mixed with its new heroes, the magnificent likes of Chiellini, Sissoko, and Amauri (dominating their respective parts of the field) and after which manager Claudio Ranieri can finally breathe a sigh of relief. As Juventus continue their journey through darkness (Marchisio & Legrottaglie joined the injury list tonight), their victory against Real Madrid will provide some very bright headlights.


Nike: What Ruud Knows

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Two bigs news in Nike’s “What [...] Knows” series (substitute the [...] part with the player’s first name for cool effect).

Firstly, Nike has tagged the “What [...] Knows” playlist with an appropriate name, sparing us the weird use of [...] for each segment. From here on out, this marketing campaign will be referred to as “What the Pros Know“.

Secondly, it seems that when we presented What Wayne Knows and What William Knows, we mistakenly assumed that Rooney’s was episode nº1. There was actually a van Nistelrooy episode just before that, so without further ado, here’s what Real Madrid and Netherlands striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy has to say. Or in other words: “Inside the mind of a goal-scoring legend“.

High rez version here.

Nike: “Take It To The Next Level” – Director’s Cut

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Hey remember Nike’s “Take It To The Next Level” Commercial? That cool first-person ad featuring Wenger, Gallas, Fabregas, C-Ron, Sneijder and van Nistelrooy (among others)? You know, the one directed by Guy Ritchie, that cool dude behind movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch ? (notice I didn’t mention Swept Away… oops, never mind)

Well, turns out that Mr. Ritchie’s just released a “Director’s Cut” version (whatever helps getting his mind off Madonna and her phony British accent, right?), which features one extra minute compared to the official TV version. “More players, more action, more wish-I was-that-guy. Recut, remixed and rewired by Guy Ritchie“, in other words a full 3 minutes of Nike football goodness. Yay!

Ok I’m starting to sound like a marketing whore, so without further ado here’s the video. As usual, the high res version is up at

Azzurri & Les Bleus: Destinies Intertwined with Oranje… and Biscuits

Monday, June 16th, 2008

For all those of you who understand a bit of Italian (at least enough to scan through headlines of sports websites), the big boot’s topic of conversation these past few days gravitated around a Dutch-Romanian “biscotto”. Huh? Biscotto? Doesn’t that mean “biscuit”? Indeed it does, but in the language of Dante Alighieri it also has a secondary meaning.

The Fantagrumo blog has an excellent explanation, which I’ve translated below:

“Biscotto” is an Italian colloquialism often employed in soccer (or other sports), used to describe a result secretly agreed upon in advance by two athletes or teams. It is practically synonymous with the French word “combine”, which can be translated in English as “trick”, “scheme” or “fiddle”. A “combine” is a close pact made to fix the result of a match before it actually takes place, usually in exchange for money (essentially, we are talking about corruption). “Biscotto” is more specific in the sense there need not be an exchange of money, because the secretly-agreed-upon result is of mutual benefit to the agreeing parties.

Actions taken in result of a “combine” or “biscotto” may vary: from losing a game deliberately, allowing an opponent to tie the game, or intentionally failing to man-mark an opposing striker. The direct result of the secret agreement naturally damages a third party, which is usually a direct opponent of those involved in the scheme.

The word “biscotto” derives from the latin root bis-coctum, which litterally means “cooked twice”: effectively, two teams are gaining an advantage while damaging a third (or a fourth). One could even be using the expression “killing two birds with one stone”.

The Azzurri’s history in the Euro championships already bears witness to a “biscotto”. During Euro 2004, Italy had tied its first two matches against Denmark and Sweden, and was left with the obligation to beat Bulgaria on matchday 3, all the while hoping that Denmark vs. Sweden would not end in a tie (a result which would have sent both Scandinavian teams to the quarter-finals). What do you know? The match ended 2-2.

In the case of Netherlands vs. Romania, the term “biscotto” is being used because both teams would benefit from a Romanian victory: Romania would qualify to the quarter-finals as 2nd-ranked, Netherlands would simultaneously get rid of two title favorites Italy and France (which, in case you didn’t notice, could potentially play Holland again in the Semi-Finals).

That’s for the Italian etymology lesson. With that said, everyone in Italy (and in France I guess) can only hope that Netherlands will be good sports and play their last match to win (despite the fact they will undoubtedly field many reserve players).

Gazzetta tells us more about it:

MOEDLING (Austria), 14 June 2008 – And now it’s France-Italy. Rather, it’s Netherlands-Romania. Just like four years ago in Portugal, the scary shadow of a “biscotto” (an unspoken agreement) hangs over the fate of the Azzurri. And over that of their French neighbours. Michel Platini, UEFA President, will be sitting next to FIGC President Giancarlo Abete in the stands at Letzigrund Stadium in Zurich. It’s a common fate.

MARCO AND FATE – Hitting the nail right on the head… What will Holland do? What will be their starting line-up? Will they give Romania the green light? Those are all valid questions. William Gaillard, UEFA spokesman, stated that “no one can impose a specific line-up on a coach.” Especially when the team has already qualified for the next round. It’s a gargantuan dilemma in other words, but Roberto Donadoni doesn’t have doubts.

I know Marco Van Basten quite well” says the Italian coach. “He is an honest, fair and competent man and these qualities are already a guarantee.” The Don trusts his friend, whom he hasn’t seen in six months except for the sad circumstances on Monday in Bern. The Azzurro coach considers the Oranje’s so-called ‘second team’ to be very interested in proving their value, both to their coach and to the first team. And he gives an example: “In the group round of Euro 2000, we had already qualified but we beat Sweden 2-0 with many ‘reserves’” (indeed, Dino Zoff made eight changes for that game).

DIFFERENCE OF OPINIONS – The opinions run high in the Dutch camp. Giving away the match? “We always play to win“, reassures Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar. This opinion is shared by Arjen Robben, one of the Oranje’s stars against France: “It will be a game where we can have fun, but we are playing to win; I always play to win.” Ruud van Nistelrooy has a different opinion and honestly admits: “These matches are tackled differently when you don’t have to worry about qualifying.”

Euro 2008: Netherlands 3-0 Italy – Azzurri Crushed in their Tournament Opener, Or: Cannavaro Where Art Thou?

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Netherlands 3-0 Italy. The Azzurri’s adventure at Euro 2008 could not have started worse. 3 goals like the 3 words which can be used to describe today’s match: offside, counter-attack, and defense (or lack thereof).

Why offside? The pivotal point of the match (Italy’s poor performance aside) was without question the controversial non-call on Ruud van Nistelrooy’s opening offside goal. Why counter-attack? The Dutch were absolutely lethal at scoring, right after their opponents had failed to do so: two out of the three goals were on a counter. Why defense? The goals conceded by Buffon today (offside excepted) can in large part be blamed on the Azzurri defense, a defense which at its first test without iconic leader Fabio Cannavaro, completely fell apart under the Oranje pressure.

At the end of the day, today’s crushing 3-0 defeat hangs like a big sword of Damocles directly over Roberto Donadoni’s head. The next match vs. Romania will be “do or die” for Italy. And yes, it’s only match 2 of the tournament.


Tactically, there were two big question marks in Donadoni’s match eve: who to pick for his midfield and who to pick for the defense. Regarding the former, the Don stayed faithful to his pro-AC Milan convictions and decided to opt for Massimo Ambrosini (over Giallorossi Alberto Aquilani/Daniele De Rossi). Ambro had been on fire during training lately and with the added contribution of Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, would form a defensive dam in the center designed to contain the creativity & verve of the Oranje’s playmaking trio (Van der Vaart, Sneijder, and Kuyt). Regarding the defense, the blow inflicted by Fabio Cannavaro’s injury still wasn’t fully digested, but common sense seemed to point out towards Andrea Barzagli‘s and Marco Materazzi‘s confirmation (hoping that Matrix would strike a line through his mediocre 2007-08 campaign with Inter, and return to his WC2006 goal-scoring form).

At least that was the plan.

Things started off rather well for the Azzurri, who only took 3 minutes into the game to send a clear message to van der Sar & colleagues: we’re out here, we’re hungry. Antonio Di Natale got rid of his marker on the right wing and was in a good position to provide danger, but his cross towards Luca Toni was too deep and ran harmlessly across goal. 10 minutes later, LucaBomber put his 1m94 to work and got his noggin to a Rino Gattuso cross. Wide. If only Toni had seen Di Natale’s run in the middle, completely unmarked…

That, essentially was the last bit of evidence that Italy was “alive” in the first half. The ensuing half-hour until the break was  all to the benefit of Marco Van Basten’s men, able at exploiting a greater ball possession and the speed & technique of their wing players. In minute 18, a through ball by Kuyt for Van Nistelrooy found the Real Madrid man in the clear, but the presence of Buffon destabilized the Dutch striker just enough to send him to the side and mistime his cross. Had he tumbled to the ground (Buffon had a slight touch rushing out), the Dutch would have had serious claims to a penalty. 5 minute later, RVN was into the heart of the action again, as he narrowly missed connecting with a Wesley Sneijder free-kick (Materazzi was key in deflecting the ball just enough). Italy were under pressure.

Too much pressure. In minute 26, the goal: free-kick from the left to the far post, Buffon punched the ball (falling over Panucci in the process) and the ball arrived to Van Bronckhorst. The ex-Barcelona wing-back went for the half-volley, and found Ruud Van Nistelrooy comfortably placed at the second post to deflect the ball in. The only problem? RVN was a good 2-3 yards offside and no, Panucci wasn’t keeping him on (not by lying motionless a good 6 yards out of the field). Regardless, 1-0 Netherlands.

5 minute later, another turning point of the match: a corner-kick by Pirlo found a deflection in the box, and was saved off the line by Van Bronckhorst. The Dutch defender was having quite a day today: assist provider, goal saver and (as we will see later), also goalscorer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, the counter: Holland in possession and out to the opposite side, Van Bronckhorst (him again) provided a long cross towards Kuyt (left to right), and the Liverpool striker’s re-directed header turned into a great assist for Wesley Sneijder (completely forgotten by the center-back pair). The birthday boy (turning 24 today) offered himself the perfect gift, and got his foot on the Oranje’s second goal of the game. 2-0 Netherlands, the Azzurri’s morale in tatters. 2-0 could even have become 3-0 before the half ended, had Gigi Buffon’s miraculous foot save on RVN (through on goal once again, forgotten by Materazzi) not kept today’s Azzurri semi-hopes alive.

Outplayed and outscored (albeit with some rather bad luck on the first goal), some drastic changes were necessary at the break for the Azzurri to turn this one around. Instead, Roberto Donadoni confirmed his 11-man line and operated the first substitution only 9 minutes into the half. A rather lost Marco Materazzi left his place to Fabio Grosso, thus shifting Zambrotta to the right side and moving Christian Panucci to the center. A change which brought back some stability in the Azzurri back-line, if only for a short while. However what was really lacking in the Azzurri today (unbelievable as it may seem) was some fighting spirit, an inherent desire to say “we will not stand by this scoreline”. Zambrotta’s blast wide in the 53rd (after a lovely dribble on Kuyt) and Toni’s weak effort in the 60th were signs some new life had to be injected into the Azzurri attack.

Trying to find just that, Donadoni inserted Alessandro Del Piero (on for Di Natale) and then later Antonio Cassano (on for Camoranesi). The Juve captain immediately got into the match, dribbling, shooting, obtaining fouls. His good effort in minute 66 was saved by Van der Sar, then Cassano gave his contribution by looping a perfect ball for Luca Toni just five minutes later, setting up the Bayern giant completely in the clear. Incredibly, LucaBomber failed the impossible and made a mess of his shot (over and wide). It seemed as though Italy were “back in it”, if not by the scoreline at least mentally. Edwin van der Sar had to summon his best goalkeeping talents to keep a Fabio Grosso 6-yard finish and a 25m Andrea Pirlo free-kick out of his goal.

The previous 10 minutes were only a glimpse though, because the Dutch midfield was just having a field day on the other end, cutting through the Azzurri defense like butter. Stemming from Pirlo’s parried free-kick, the Dutch counter-attack proved once again lethal for Gigi Buffon: the Italian nº1 did what he could on Kuyt’s mid-range effort, but on the ensuing cross Giovanni van Bronckhorst was left all alone (again) by the back-line, and comfortably added insult to injury to the defence’s nightmarish night. 3-0 Netherlands, that’s a wrap folks!


Royal Netherlands Football Association (Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond or KNVB) NETHERLANDS-ITALY
[Match Highlights]
 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 26’ Van Nistelrooy (N), 31’ Sneijder (N), 79’ van Bronckhorst (N)
NETHERLANDS (4-2-3-1): Van der Sar – Ooijer, Boulahrouz (77’ Heitinga), Mathijsen, van Bronckhorst – de Jong, Engelaar – Kuyt (91’ Afellay), van der Vaart, Sneijder – van Nistelrooy (70’ van Persie). (bench: Timmer, Stekelemburg, de Zeeuw, Robben, Melchiot, Bouma, de Cler, Huntelaar, Vennegoor). Coach: Marco van Basten
ITALY (4-3-3): Buffon – Panucci, Barzagli, Materazzi (54’ Grosso), Zambrotta – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Camoranesi (75’ Cassano), Toni, Di Natale (64’ Del Piero) (bench: De Sanctis, Amelia, Chiellini, Gamberini, De Rossi, Perrotta, Aquilani, Quagliarella, Borriello). Coach: Roberto Donadoni.


Netherlands 3 – 0 Italy Euro 2008 – MyVideo