Posts Tagged ‘Vincenzo Iaquinta’

Catania 1-2 Juventus: Last-Gasp Goal by Poulsen and the Bianconeri Hang On (Serie A Matchday 23)

Monday, February 9th, 2009

In circumstances like these it might be easy to repeat the Bianconeri adage, “Juventus never give up“. It’s one that fits. “Character” is one of the single most marking characteristics of this team, and the way Juve achieved their victory over Catania today can only reinforce that image (just like their Coppa Italia match did earlier this week).

Good fortune however (commonly known as “luck”) was a strong contributor today as well. Playing with 10 men for almost 80 minutes of play the Bianconeri managed to steal away the three points right into stoppage time, a close-range redirect that ended a streak of two consecutive home league losses and keeps the evil Inter rivals within reasonable reach.

Also of all people, the unlikely match-winner was last Summer’s most criticized Bianconeri recruit. In a period where everyone eagerly awaited the arrival of Xabi Alonso, the black & white fans had to settle for a rugged Danish defensive mid, a player whose fame in Italy was exclusively limited to a close encounter with Totti’s DNA during Euro 2004. And today him of all people, was Juve’s saviour.


10-Men Inter Reclaim Their +6 Serie A Lead as Juve & Milan Stumble (Serie A Matchday 21)

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

As a Bianconero, big disappointment lingers in my mind after Wednesday’s Serie A action. Not only did an unrecognizable (and Del Piero-less) Juve lose away to Udinese, but Inter Milan‘s concurrent win over Catania (and AC Milan‘s draw to Genoa) restores the Nerazzurri’s +6/+8 lead, leaving us to wonder if the current order of the top three Serie A teams will ever change again.

Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’ve been following the soccer scene for quite some time now and I’ve got this hunch: usually during a title race, when the top team loses some ground only to regain it the following week, they are keeping their lead till the end. I’ve got no scientific or tactical evidence to support this theory, it is what it is: a hunch. But based on my previous years of Serie-A watching experience, it is somewhat reminiscent of the Juve vs. Parma and Juve vs. Inter title races of the late 90′s.

Secretly of course, I want to believe otherwise…


Juventus 4-1 Genoa: Bianconeri On Top of the Serie A Mountain Again (Serie A Matchday 12)

Friday, November 14th, 2008

915 days, aka two years and a half since May 14, 2006: that’s how long Juventus had to wait to breathe top-ranking air in the Serie A again. Granted, it’s an ex-aequo lead for now, and too bad if those sharing 1st place with the Bianconeri are eternal rivals Inter Milan (set to clash at San Siro on November 22). This, and Juve’s seventh consecutive win (the fifth in Serie A) must sure feel good for Claudio Ranieri, who not even one month ago was seriously linked with the backside of the president’s boot.

On Thursday (for Serie A’s early matchday 12 encounter) Juve’s victims were Genoa, beaten with a (perhaps too) severe score of 4-1, goals courtesy of Grygera, Amauri, Iaquinta, and an own goal by Papastathopoulos. Genoa played well in the first half despite ending 2-0 down, but their wastefulness in front of Alex Manninger’s goal cost them dearly: after the break the Rossoblu lost whatever grip they had, worn down by the combativeness of an omnipresent Giorgio Chiellini and the talent of the ever-present Alessandro Del Piero (who may have not put his name on the scorers, but was capital in pulling the strings of well-directed passes for his teammates). Diego Milito saved face for the visitors, thanks to a penalty shot after a Legrottaglie handball.


Bate Borisov 2-2 Juventus: Bianconeri Saved by Iaquinta, Close Shave in Minsk (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

After Catania and Sampdoria in Serie A, Juventus obtained their third consecutive draw in less than a week, this time in the UEFA Champions League. And don’t be fooled by the name: if drawing against Bate Borisov (a Belarusian team at its European top competition debut) might seem like a bad result on paper, the Bianconeri can actually be quite thankful for the point they obtained in Minsk today.

Indeed, his team’s apocalyptic initial 30 minutes (Juve were down by two goals in the 23th) could have very well cost Claudio Ranieri his first defeat of the season, but fortunately Juventus’s reputation as the “team that never gives up” isn’t for nothing. Grabbing the match by the gonads, the Bianconeri held their head up high and managed to grab the equalizer before half-time, courtesy of two tallies by Vincenzo Iaquinta. Scary times in Minsk these days… must be the cold.

Juventus started this match, quite litterally, “horror-style“. Claudio Ranieri had decided to make a last-minute change to his “two-defensive-mids-wing-attack” formation, and inserted Sebastian Giovinco in lieu of Mauro Camoranesi (who moved to central midfield) on the right wing. What may seemingly have been a good move in terms of optimizing playmaking, actually turned out to be a logistics error of colossal proportions. The Bianconeri were spread too widely on the field, always outnumbered by their Bate opponents during ball possession, and without a defensive mid partner to aid him in the center, Momo Sissoko’s recuperation duties heavily suffered.

FC Bate on the other hand, exhibiting a dynamic 4-5-1 formation (with active & motivated players on the wings), immediately took advantage of Juve’s tactical problems. The first goal, arriving partly because of a Chiellini offside trap error and partly because of Legrottaglie’s injury (he’d have to be replaced by Dario Knezevic), was just the tip of the iceberg-disaster yet to come. exploiting a Dmitri Likhtarovich through ball, Bate’s nº10 Sergey Krivets escaped through on goal, dribbled past Manninger and deposited the ball into the empty net. 1-0 Bate. Juve supporters pinched themselves… were they dreaming?

Just 5 minutes later, the (bad) dream turned into a (horrible) nightmare, because the home team made it two. Cue assist nº2 for Likhtarovich, delivering a long cross from the left towards Igor Stasevich on the opposite post. Nedved (what was he doing defending?) missed the interception, and the Belarusian midfielder powered an accurate header towards the far post. Manninger didn’t even move. 2-0 Bate.

At this point, the psychological blow would have been too hard for an ordinary team to overcome. Not for Juve: it was time to put the “grinta” (fighting spirit) factor into the equation. Alex Del Piero sounded the charge (good free-kick attempt below the bar, saved by Veremko), shortly followed by Giovinco and Iaquinta: Super-Seba provided the passing, Vincenzo the finishing. First, a good cross by the Bianconeri youngster (receiving full marks for his first European performance tonight) found the header of the ex-Udinese striker. 2-1.

Fifteen minutes later, and in the last minute of stoppage time, Vincenzo made it two. Another good run and pass by Giovinco was well-finalized by Iaquinta, sending the ball between the keeper’s legs to tie the game. 2-2. Juve supporters now breathing again.

At the restart, Ranieri fixed the central midfield leak by replacing Camoranesi with Claudio Marchisio. Juventus turned to their usual wing-attack formation, coupled with the odd percussion of Sissoko (more and more reminiscent of Patrick Vieira) down the center, but it was still Bate giving Manninger scares. Such as in minute 55, when Aleksandr Volodko was litterally given a “rolling penalty-kick” opportunity, but incredibly ballooned his shot over the bar.

It was however the last scare of the night for the Bianconeri, who picked up the pace and took control of the proceedings. Del Piero‘s contribution growed exponentially, with the Juve captain coming close to the left (chipped acrobatic shot over the goalkeeper) and then the right post (diagonal left-footed effort after a 1-2 pass with Giovinco, wide). It was essentially the last highlight of the game, which even saw the appearance of Amauri (on for Iaquinta) in the final minutes.

In the end, as the Bate supporters celebrated their first point in the UEFA Champions League, Ranieri can be moderately satisfied with the outcome. Sure, Real Madrid went to beat FC Zenit 2-1 in the other game (and now count 6 points over Juve’s 4 in the group), but there’s still plenty of matches left in Group H. Huh? Just four you say?


 FC BATE Borisov
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 17’ Kryvets (B), 23’ Stasevich (B), 29’, 45’ Iaquinta (J).
BATE BORISOV (4-5-1): Veremko – Kazantsev, Sosnovski, Rzhevski, Yurevich – Likhtarovich (70’ Sivakov), Volodko, Kryvets, Stasevich, Nekhaychik (86’ Mirchev) – Rodionov (92’ Pecha). (bench: Gutor, Bliznyuk, Skavysh, Sakharov). Coach: Goncharenko.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Manninger – Grygera, Legrottaglie (18′ Knezevic), Chiellini, De Ceglie – Giovinco, Camoranesi (46’ Marchisio), Sissoko, Nedved – Del Piero, Iaquinta (81’ Amauri). (bench: Chimenti, Salihamidzic, Molinaro, Marchionni). Coach: Ranieri.


Trofeo TIM 2008-09: Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan Pre-Season Showdown Favors the Rossoneri

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

You just gotta love the month of August in Italy, and the regular occurrence of triple-team tournaments. The “Triangolare” format (as they call it down in the Old Boot) seems to be an Italian specialty because I have yet to see it appear regularly elsewhere in Europe (feel free to prove me wrong in the comments). With prestigious tourneys such as the Trofeo TIM and Trofeo Birra Moretti, these series of friendlies provide Serie A fans with interesting pre-season insights on their favorite teams.

So, while we wait for the “Birra Moretti” (August 25, featuring Juve, Milan, Napoli), last week was the turn of the Trofeo TIM and the first chance to see Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan face off against one another, albeit with different levels of preparation and in matches of reduced length. The game format is the following: each game consists of one single half of 45 minutes; should the game still be tied at the end of regulation time, it wil go straight to penalty shots. Points are attributed as follows: 3 pts. for a win, 2 pts. for a P.K. win, 1 pt. for a P.K. loss, 0 pts. for a loss.

In front of the 20,000 spectactors of Stadio Olimpico di Torino, let’s see how it all went down.

Juventus vs. AC Milan

Juventus F.C.A.C. Milan

(From Gazzetta): In the first 45 minutes, Juve manager Claudio Ranieri picked his classic 4-4-2 formation; Buffon in net, Grygera-Chiellini-Mellberg-Molinaro at the back, Marchionni and Nedved on the wings and Sissoko-Tiago in the center (with the former operating as defensive mid and the former in a playmaking role), and Trezeguet-Iaquinta up front. As for AC Milan, many players were unavailable for Carlo Ancelotti (Maldini and Inzaghi still recovering from injuries, Ronaldinho and Pato away with the Brazilian olympic team, and Mathieu Flamini unable to join the party due to a muscular problem) so the Milan manager also stuck with the “classics”, namely Milan’s patented Xmas tree formation: Kalac – Zambrotta, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski – Brocchi, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf, Kakà – Paloschi.

It didn’t take very long for the match to pick up pace: in minute 2 Massimo Ambrosini already had to chance to shoot on target (deflected by Tiago), while one minute later it was Alberto Paloschi’s turn to fire one at Buffon. In other words, the Rossoneri seemed keen on proving that despite the many absentees this team “wanted some”. As indeed did Clarence Seedorf, who in the last month seemed to elicit interest just because he was “the guy with the nº10 shirt”, till Ronaldinho finally picked 80. Indeed, the Dutch international donned his “super-goal” shoes and slammed a wonderful 25m-strike straight into Buffon’s top-right corner. 1-0 Milan.

Just 60 seconds later, Juve made it 1-1: a Grygera cross was tackled into the net by David Trezeguet, via Kalac’s wide open legs. While Milan certainly was showing touches of class, the Bianconeri’s determination (even in friendly matches) needed to further introduction, and the fact Giorgio Chiellini was being the usual rock in center defense (damn were the Azzurri lucky to have him at Euro 2008!) could not hurt either. In fact, in minute 11 Ranieri’s boys actually took the lead through Marco Marchionni, exploiting yet another Grygera cross (deflected by the Milan defense) to beat Kalac with a precise header. 2-1 Juventus and looking strong.

Back on the other end, Kakha Kaladze fell short of redeeming his defensive mistakes by incredibly missing an easy finish (minute 16), while five minutes later a Marek Jankulovski howitzer was deflected wide by Buffon. Signs that AC Milan were still alive & kickin’. But so was Juve: in minute 40 the Bianconeri could have made it 3-1 as Pavel Nedved (yes, Furia Ceca is still around for one more season) narrowly missed the post from the edge of the box.

However this clearly was Clarence Seedorf‘s night, as the Dutch midfielder seemed to make a point in proving that Ronaldinho or no Ronaldinho, he’s still the guy with the starting spot at AC Milan. In minute 42, picking up a loose corner-kick clearance by Sissoko, Seedorf put his super-boots to work one more time and pierced Buffon’s top-right corner again. Boo-ya! 2-2 the final score, time for penalties. With the misses of Trezeguet (don’t let him shoot penalties anymore!!) and Tiago for Juve, the 2-point P.K. win went to AC Milan.


2-2 (4-6 p.s.o.)
A.C. Milan
GOALSCORERS: 8’ Seedorf (M), 9’ Trezeguet (J), 12’ Marchionni (J), 43’ Seedorf (M).
PENALTY SHOOTOUT: Trezeguet (J) wide, Kakà (M) goal, Iaquinta (J) goal, Pirlo (M) goal, Chiellini (J) goal, Jankulovski (M) goal, Tiago (J) saved, Paloschi (M) goal.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro – Marchionni, Sissoko, Tiago, Nedved – Iaquinta, Trezeguet. Coach: Ranieri.
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Kalac – Zambrotta, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski – Brocchi, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf, Kakà – Paloschi. Coach: Ancelotti.


Juventus vs. Inter Milan

Juventus F.C.F.C. Internazionale Milano

For Juventus to tame an evidently still unfit & unprepared Internazionale, a Vincenzo Iaquinta goal was clearly sufficient. For their second match Claudio Ranieri operated a whole line of changes, keeping only Buffon, Molinaro, and Sissoko compared to the original team. Thus the Bianconeri stepped back onto the field with Buffon – Zebina, Knezevic, Legrottaglie, Molinaro – Camoranesi, Sissoko, Ekdal, F.Rossi – Amauri, Del Piero. As for Inter’s first appearance tonight, José Mourinho fielded his favorite 4-3-3 formation with Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi, Maxwell – J.Zanetti, Vieira, Cambiasso – Balotelli, Adriano, Mançini.

Unlike the sparkling start of Juve-AC Milan, the night’s second fixture took a little while to become interesting, both teams evidently taking a bit longer to study each other’s movements. With good reason too, because unlike last year when the Bianconeri were just coming out of a season in Serie B, this year Ranieri’s team is claiming a definite role in the Scudetto race. Interisti, you have been warned! In minute 6, Adriano (yup, he’s back and José’s counting on him this season) received a good ball inside the box, but the Brazilian’s first touch betrayed him as he allowed the Juve defense to clear. One minute later, bad news for Mourinho as Marco Materazzi was forced off due to a muscular strain, and with Samuel, Córdoba and Chivu still unavailable, Inter was left facing a real Center-D problem. On came Dejan Stankovic (greeted with a plethora of boos) thus forcing Esteban Cambiasso to backtrack to the backline.

In minute 11, Alessandro Del Piero came close to opening the score (his powerful instep finish was deflected wide by Maxwell), shortly imitated by Adriano on the other end (Knezevic doing the deflection job here). Alas for Juve (and neutral spectators looking for goals), twelve minutes after Materazzi it was Amauri’s turn to leave the field injured (head-to-head collision with Vieira), forcing Ranieri to put Vincenzo Iaquinta back in. This actually turned out to be a good move for Juve though, because the Calabria-born striker exploited a perfectly-timed long ball to get behind the Inter defense, control the ball on the edge of the box, and beat Julio Cesar with a powerful shot low on the left side of the goal. 1-0 Juventus.

Overall and based on the level of play seen so far, the Bianconeri certainly deserved their lead: Inter’s passing was leaving something to be desired, their striking trio still lacking teamwork, and the team as whole severely lacking fitness. The Nerazzurri it must be said, had the excuse of beginning their pre-season training later than Juve (who will be playing the preliminary round of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers), but still one was perhaps expecting something more from the Serie A title holders. The positive note of the evening for Mourinho though was the good form of Adriano, back to Italy after his loan spell at Sao Paulo and capable in minute 43 to force Buffon (still the world’s best) to his only real “save” of the night.

Before the match ended, there was still time for Christian Poulsen and Giorgio Chiellini (on for Sissoko and Molinaro) and Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo (on for Stankovic and Balotelli) to make an appearance, and for Del Piero to showcase his still lethal (but not tonight) set pieces skills (double post on a great 25m free kick, leaving Julio Cesar to watch). The match ended 1-0 for Juve.


F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 27’ Iaquinta (J)
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Knezevic, Molinaro (40’ Chiellini) – Camoranesi, Sissoko (26’ Poulsen), Ekdal, F.Rossi – Del Piero, Amauri (20’ Iaquinta). Coach: Ranieri
INTER (4-3-3): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi (8’ Stankovic, 35’ Crespo), Maxwell – Vieira, Cambiasso, J.Zanetti – Mançini, Adriano, Balotelli (35’ Figo). Coach: Mourinho.


AC Milan vs. Inter Milan

A.C. MilanF.C. Internazionale Milano

Unlike Juventus, Milan manager Ancelotti decided to include his goalkeepers in the substitution rounds. Indeed, it looks like Christian Abbiati and Zeljko Kalac are roughly at equal chances of starting this season (with Dida set to remain in the stands, refusing the termination of his contract). The Rossoneri thus operated six changes compared to their match vs. Juve, fielding Abbiati – Oddo, Simic, Digao, Favalli – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf – Kakà, Paloschi. As for Inter, there were many changes for the Mourinho boys as well, including the appearance of newest recruit Sulley Muntari: Toldo – Maicon, Burdisso, Maxwell, Cambiasso – Dacourt, J.Zanetti, Muntari – Figo, Crespo, Mançini.

Now, tonight’s first match (Juve-Milan) had been an exciting goal-laden spectacle while the second one (Juve-Inter) dropped the intensity level somewhat. Continuing on this decreasing trend alas, the third game proved to be a total dud (or almost), a great example that “leaving the best for last” isn’t always true. Indeed, the only player attempting some kind of percussion forward in the initial minutes was Kakà for AC Milan, and even then his shots were easily saved by Toldo (min. 4) or wide (min. 9). In fact, after 15 minutes it was already time for Inter to make their first changes, as Luis Jimenez and Mario Balotelli stepped on for Maxwell and Mancini.

Five minutes later, it was Milan’s turn as Ambrosini and Seedorf left their place to Antonini and Brocchi, and the newcomers immediately got to work to re-ignite the play (shots in minute 20 and 21 deflected into corner). Inter in all of this? First real chance in minute 24 (scramble inside the box, last touch by Dacourt and great save by Abbiati), shortly followed by Muntari’s howitzer in minute 26 (parried again).

More changes followed for both teams (Primavera’s Chinoye & Strasser for Paloschi & Pirlo in AC Milan, Suazo & Adriano for Crespo & Balotelli in Inter) but without major changes in the scoreline. Balotelli did have a few good opportunities before leaving the field, but the Italo-Ghanaian youngster (who will soon get full Italian nationality on his 18th birthday) was obviously not in a good night of form. The match thus ended 0-0 after regulation, proceeding to penalty shots (again) where the errors of Figo, Jiménez, and Muntari proved decisive (or rather, decisive were the excellent saves of Abbiati on the aforementioned shots). 4-3 AC Milan the final score, making the Rossoneri Trofeo TIM winners.


0-0 (4-3 p.s.o.)
F.C. Internazionale Milano
PENALTY SHOOTOUT: Kakà (M) goal, Adriano (I) goal, Oddo (M) saved, Figo (I) saved, Jankulovski (M) goal, Suazo (I) goal, Favalli (M) wide, Jiménez (I) saved, Brocchi (M) goal, Santon (I) goal, Digao (M) goal, Muntari (I) saved.
MILAN (4-3-1-2): Abbiati – Oddo, Digao, Simic (47’ Jankulovski), Favalli – Gattuso, Pirlo (42’ Strasser), Ambrosini (16’ Antonini) – Seedorf (21’ Brocchi) – Kakà, Paloschi (27’ Osuji). Coach: Ancelotti.
INTER (4-3-3): Toldo – Maicon, Burdisso, Cambiasso (42’ Santon), Maxwell (16’ Jiménez) – J.Zanetti, Dacourt, Muntari – Figo, Crespo (30’ Suazo), Mançini (16’ Balotelli, 43’ Adriano). Coach: Mourinho.