Posts Tagged ‘Vllaznia’

Napoli 5-0 Vllaznia – Party Time at San Paolo, Azzurri Qualify for the UEFA Cup

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

14 years. Believe or not, that’s how long Napoli supporters had to wait before seeing their team in Europe again. As the French would say, c’est maintenant chose faite (it’s a done deal): after a whopping win over an invisible Vllaznia, the Azzurri have qualified for the UEFA Cup And what better way to celebrate at San Paolo, than to crush your opponents with five unanswered goals?

This almost seems like a “come-back year” doesn’t it? Juventus are back in the UCL after 2 years of purgatory, Fiorentina have been absent for even longer (8 yrs), and now Napoli, returning to European Cup competitions after 14 long seasons. Life seems to be smiling on Serie A clubs lately, let’s hope it lasts.

Of course now, all Neapolitan eyes will be turned towards Monaco, where the next round draw will take place on Friday. The good thing for Reja, is that his team will avoid “home” clashes with AC Milan, Udinese, or Sampdoria. However since Napoli are not seeded, there’s a very real risk of facing teams like Benfica, Sevilla, Valencia, Ajax, or Tottenham.

Fingers crossed…

(From Gazzetta): Returning to Europe playing, in essence, a training match feels good doesn’t it? Yes, because “training match” is exactly the right term to define Napoli’s fixture vs. Vllaznia on Thursday: you can slap as many “UEFA Cup preliminary round” tags on it, it still doesn’t change the fact the match ended with five goals for the home team (much to the delight of the Stadio San Paolo crowd) and could have actually been far worse for the visitors.

Truthfully, the 3-0 away win of August 14 had already placed Napoli in a very comfy spot for this one, but Edy Reja’s boys were determined to provide their supporters with some entertainment. And the main provider of said entertainment was, much to everyone’s surprise, center-back Leandro Rinaudo. Two goals (the first and the third of his team) stemming from set-pieces, cooly finished with an instep shot. A la striker.

Speaking of strikers, the biggest expectations really came from Marcelo Zalayeta, back to his first starting role since his serious Winter knee injury. El Panterón certainly had a point to prove tonight after so many months on the sidelines, and animated the Napoli attack with great determination (alongside Inacio Pià). Zalayeta’s short-range accuracy was still deficient however, much to the contrary of his Brazilian counter-part (scorer of the 2-0 goal).

And while we’re on the subject of strikers, one must make a necessary reference to the “Napoli Argentine club”, Ezequiel Lavezzi in particular. El Pocho was, alongside Rinaudo, the main protagonist of tonight and this despite not even starting the game. His entrance in minute 70 litterally resulted in an explosion of joy for the crowd, which grew even greater after his 4-0 tally (too “easy” almost, after yet another Vllaznia defensive mistake).

To cap up a productive evening, Marek Hamsik put his signature on goal nº5, another easy tap-in well set-up by German Denis. A triumphant 5-0, to say the least. Let’s see now if Reja’s boys can repeat their performance for their Serie A opener, this Sunday against Roma.


[Match Highlights]
KS Vllaznia Shkodër
GOALSCORERS: 41’, 53’ Rinaudo (N), 52’ Pià (N), 79’ Lavezzi (N), 88’ Hamsik (N)
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Gianello – Santacroce, P.Cannavaro, Rinaudo – Montervino, Pazienza, Gargano, Dalla Bona (62’ Hamsik), Grava – Zalayeta (76’ Denis), Pià (68’ Lavezzi). (bench: Iezzo, Bruno, Blasi, Maggio). Coach: Reja.
VLLAZNIA (4-4-2): Grimaj – Beqiri, Smajlaj, Bashiq, Lici – Osja, Belisha (85’ Hoti), Doci, Bohadu (84’ Kaci) – Sinani, Nallbani. (bench: Ndoja, Rrabostha, Shtubina, Mohammed, Balaj). Coach: Canaj.


Vllaznia 0-3 Napoli: Pià and Denis Lead the Azzurri into Europe (UEFA Cup Preliminary Round)

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Three out of three for Italian teams in Europe. After Fiorentina (2-0 vs. Slavia Prague) and Juventus (4-0 vs. Artmedia Bratislava), Napoli also put their next round UEFA Cup qualification on ice, as they travelled to Albania and defeated Vllaznia with a score of 3-0. Main man of the night: Brazilian striker Inacio Pià, who despite not being the preferred choice of coach Edy Reja (Ezequiel Lavezzi was with the Olympic team and Marcelo Zalayeta was injured) scored a beautiful double on Thursday night.

In two weeks’ time, the Neapolitans will rendez-vous with history at Stadio San Paolo, as they attempt to return to the UEFA Cup 14 years since their last appearance.

(From Gazzetta): So indeed, with El Pocho out to Beijing and El Panterón in the infirmary, super-sub striker Pià was given the responsibility to put the ball in the net. And so he did and quite well too, forming a good scoring partnership with last year’s Argentine league topscorer, German Denis (still trying to find his mark in Naples, but on a good road to progression with his goal today). It’s no coincidence that Pià’s been a main protagonist in Napoli’s pre-season so far (scoring 2 goals against Eubelbach and 1 against Zte), because his explosive pace was just what the doctor ordered to overcome the Vllaznia defenses (very far from the Serie A standard, mind you).

The first half ended with a score of 1-0 Napoli, but the Azzurri’s lead could have been far more severe. After the match opener (minute 28: forward push by Christian Maggio on the right wing, deflected cross and volleyed effort by Pià), the Brazilian striker squandered at least two other scoring chances, all the while the Napoli defense easily controlled the proceedings. The only “scares” for the Azzurri supporters were a missed intervention by goalkeeper Iezzo, and a Sukai header off target.

Just after the restart, Napoli made it two. Through on goal, Pià (once again) delivered a beautiful chipped shot over the keeper, leaving him no chance and increasing his team’s lead. With two away goals, it became clear that Napoli had virtually clinched their qualification, but opposing striker Sukai had other ideas. Indeed, his left-footed effort through a wall of Napoli legs almost surprised Iezzo, who was skilled however at parrying the shot.

Then, as Vllaznia appealed for a penalty for a Rinaudo foul on Lici (referee booked the player for diving instead), Napoli made it 3-0 about 15 minutes from the end. De Zerbi delivered a perfect assist for Denis, who despite being closed down by two defenders, managed to fire a one-time effort to beat the Albanian keeper for the third time. 3-0 Napoli FT, and Serie A teams with a great beginning in Europe…


KS Vllaznia Shkodër
[Match Highlights]
 S.S.C. Napoli
GOALSCORERS: 28’, 46’ Pià (N), 75’ Denis (N)
VLLAZNIA (4-4-1-1): Bishani – Beqiri, Bashic, Tell, Belisha (46’ Lici) – Smajlai (64’ Bohadu), Nalbani, Osja (83’ Hoti), Lika – Sukai – Kali. (bench: Grimaj, Sinani, Hoti, Doci, Shtubina). Coach: Canaj.
NAPOLI (3-5-2): Iezzo – P.Cannavaro, Rinaudo, Contini – Maggio, Pazienza, Blasi, Hamsik (80’ Montervino), Vitale (73’ Grava) – Pià (69’ De Zerbi), Denis. (bench: Gianello, Santacroce, Amodio, Bruno). Coach: Reja.


UEFA CL Preliminary Round Draw – Good Picks for Juventus and Fiorentina

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup Preliminary Round - Juventus, Fiorentina, and Napoli

Amidst the lot of international friendlies & tournaments (Emirates Cup, Russian Railways Cup, and such), I almost forgot to mention the UEFA Champions League Prelim. Round draw last week. Indeed, on Friday August 1 the UEFA Headquarters in Nyon (Switzerland) hosted the draw for the European Cups Qualifying Round, and Serie A teams can be fairly satisfied with the picks, avoiding “tough nuts to crack” such as Atlético de Madrid, Galatasaray and Dynamo Kiev.

Here are the results: Fiorentina will take on Czech team Slavia Praha, whereas Juventus will square off against the winner in the Tampere (Finland) vs. Artmedia (Slovakia) match. Also a good draw for Napoli (involved in the UEFA Cup), who will face Albania’s Vllaznia.

Champions League
Tampere / Artmedia
Slavia Praha


Juventus, Napoli, Fiorentina


(From Gazzetta and KwSport): At a glance, the appetizer of the Champions League should be easy to digest for Juventus, who will have to face the winner in the Tampere (Finland) and Artmedia (Slovakia) match in order to qualify for the group stage of the 2008-2009 Champions League. We’ll have to wait until the second leg between both teams (held on August 6), in order to know who will compete with Juve for a ticket to the group stage. In the first leg of the second qualifying round (played in Finland), Artmedia Bratislava won 3-1 with goals from Pospech, Obzera and Piroska (Nieme scored the consolation goal for the home team). A Slovakian defeat therefore, would come as a big surprise.

Certainly not an ‘evil’ draw for us” was Claudio Ranieri‘s comment from Juve’s training ground in London (Juventus were scheduled to play Arsenal the following day). “Given their 3-1 away result I really think we’ll be facing the Slovakian team in the end, and with the other possible opponents we could have got, it was a pretty good draw I’d say. Our main concern was to face a team much much further than us in their level of pre-season preparation, and that’s been avoided” concluded Ranieri.

Artmedia Bratislava (FC Artmedia Petržalka)Some of you might not remember Artmedia, but the Slovakian team is no stranger to the top European competition. In fact they already faced off against a Serie A team before, when during the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League campaign (after their preliminary round wins over Celtic -with an astonishing 5-0 home win- and Partizan Belgrade -in penalties) they landed in the same group as Porto, Rangers, and… Inter Milan. While not clinching a playoff ticket, Artmedia managed however to grab 3rd spot in the group and qualify for the UEFA Cup, thanks to an away victory to Porto and 3 draws (against Porto and twice against Rangers). The team is managed by Wladimir Weiss, a big fan of teamwork and collective play, and will be counting on the technique & long-shot abilities of playmaker Jan Kozac.

Slavia Prague (Czech: SK Slavia Praha)As for Fiorentina, they have a slightly spicier dish in front of them having to take on Slavia Praha, an expert Czech team and one of the main regulars in the European tournament. The Czechs make of their youth component one of their strongest points, to which the experience of players such as Vladimir Smicer brings added quality and reference points. Up front, the dangerous goalscoring form of Tomas Necid (which peaked in the U-19 tournament last July) should keep the Viola defense on their guard. In last year’s UCL, Slavia Praha (holder of 15 national league titles, including 13 from the old times of Czechoslovakia) managed to come out 3rd (and thus qualify for the UEFA Cup) in a group made up of Arsenal and FC Sevilla.

It’s a tough pick of the draw against a top-notch squad“, was Viola manager Cesare Prandelli‘s first comment. “We all know the level of football played in the Czech Republic“, he added. “I have also seen it in the European Cup.” It will be a difficult match and we’ll play to the best of our ability“. The first leg will take place on August 12 or 13 and the second leg two weeks later.

UEFA CupNapoli can also smile after ending up with Albania’s Vllaznia as the pick of the draw for the 2º qualifying round of the UEFA Cup. They will play the first leg in Albania on August 14 and the second match at Stadio San Paolo on August 28.


Atletico Madrid vs. Schalke 04 should provide some good entertainment, while Turkish champions Galatasaray will play the always tough Steaua Bucharest. Unless some apocalyptic event occurs, Spartak Moscow will be waiting for Dynamo Kiev (still needing to play the second leg against an already-defeated Drogheda) and finally, as Arsenal take on Dutch rivals Twente and El Niño‘s Liverpool play Standard Liège (Belgium), Barcelona have it relatively easy: they will play the winner in the Beitar (ISR)-Wisla Krakow (POL) match.


UEFA Champions League

Full UCL Preliminary Round Draw

Anorthosis (CYP) / Rapid Wien (AUT)
Olympiakos (GRE)
Vitória SC (POR)
Göteborg (SWE) / Basel (SUI)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Domâžale (SVN) / Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Schalke 04 (GER)
Atlético Madrid (SPA)
Aalborg (DEN) / Modrica (BIH)
Rangers (SCO) / Kaunas (LTU)
Barcelona (SPA)
Beitar (ISR) / Wisla Krakow (POL)
Levski Sofia (BUL)
Anderlecht (BEL) / B. Borisov (BLR)
Standard Liège (BEL)
Liverpool (ENG)
Inter Baki (AZE) / Partizan (SRB)
Fenerbahçe (TUR) / Budapest (HUN)
Twente (HOL)
Arsenal (ENG)
Spartak Moskow (RUS)
Drogheda Utd (IRE) / Dynamo Kiev (UKR)
Juventus (ITA)
Tampere (FIN) / Artmedia (SVK)
Brann (NOR)
Marseille (FRA)
Fiorentina (ITA)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Galatasaray (TUR)
Steaua Bucarest (ROM)
Panathinaikos (GRE) / Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)
Sheriff (MDA) / Sparta Praha (CZE)