It’s not easy being a big club from Serie A lately, especially during pre-season friendlies. This Saturday, the clubs from the English premier league demonstrated to be on a much more advanced stage of preparation than their Italian counterparts.
The biggest and perhaps most surprising result of the day is Inter’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa. Far from their form of their previous match vs. EPL champions Manchester United, the Nerazzurri stumbled at Villa Park against an opponent that promptly exploited all the space that it was given. Team manager Mancini’s choice of adopting a new 3-man defense scheme did little to help in the equation, leading to Aston Villa’s first goal only 18 minutes into the game. The stabs of Laursen (47’) and Barry’s second goal (68’) put a well-deserved victory on ice for the Villans, who brought danger to the goal defended by Julio Cesar on a good number of other occasions. Only notable highlight for Inter: a narrowly wide chipped shot by Ibrahimovic, following a skillful dribble between two Villan defenders.
|GOALSCORERS: 18’, 68’ (pen.) Barry (A), 47’ Laursen (A)|
|ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Taylor – Cahill (46’ Gardner), Mellberg (71’ Berger), Laursen (80’ Osbourne), Bouma – Young (72’ Maloney), Barry, Reo-Cocker, Moore – Petrov, Agbonlahor (71’ Harewood). Coach: O’Neill.|
|INTER (3-4-1-2): Julio Cesar – Materazzi (46’ Solari), Samuel (78’ Fatic), Chivu – Cesar (83’ Desenclos), Stankovic, Dacourt, Maxwell – Jimenez (46’ Figo) – Cruz (46’ Suazo), Ibrahimovic (63’ Adriano). Coach: Mancini.
In the second match of the day, A.S. Roma visited West Ham at Upton Park. Much more welcoming than Villa Park was for the Nerazzurri, the Hammers stadium saw its local team emerge victorious in a match which perhaps should have granted the Giallorossi a much better result. Indeed, the team coached by Luciano Spalletti was the true protagonist of the game, with over 60 minutes of incessant assaults on Robert Green’s goal, through the likes of Totti, Esposito, Taddei, and Giuly. Roma was in fact first to open the score in the 13′ min, thanks to its French winger Ludovic Giuly who exhibited all his technical mastery smashing a rocket into the top corner from the edge of the box (following a good feed from Taddei). Roma had then several chances to increase its lead, but lacked in the finish department. Mauro Esposito (new signing from Cagliari) notably showed great agility and verve, but squandered two of his best tries in front of the Hammer goal. West Ham on the other hand, despite playing poorly for the first hour, cynically exploited its only two real opportunities of the match, capitalizing with McCartney (63’) and Ashton (65′) in the 2nd half. At the end of the day: some very good plays by Roma, but the victory to the Villans.
|GOALSCORERS: 13′ Giuly (R), 63’ McCartney (W), 65’ Ashton (W)|
|WEST HAM (4-4-2): Green (46’ Wright) – Neill (87’ Gabidon), Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney – Ljungberg (73’ Pantsil), Bowyer (87’ Cole), Noble, Boa Morte (28′ Etherington) – Zamora (46’ Ashton), Bellamy (79’ Mullins). Coach: Curbishley.|
|ROMA (4-2-3-1): Curci – Panucci, Mexes, Kuffour (46’ Cassetti; 60’ Rosi), Tonetto – De Rossi (77’ Barusso), Aquilani (70’ Vucinic) – Esposito (55’ Brighi), Giuly (83’ Pit), Taddei (77’ Alvarez) – Totti (77’ Nonda). Coach: Spalletti.|
Best result of the day for the Italian teams: Juventus’s 1-1 draw against Keane’s Sunderland. The Bianconeri ended their 3-match foreign tour with a draw (following defeats against Newcastle (0-2) and Hamburg (0-1)), but the game left still many questions unanswered (concerning the Juve defense notably). Despite new signings Grygera and Andrade, the Vecchia Signora is still lacking the presence of a strong re-assuring center-back, and if you add to that the occasional goofs that Zebina and Boumsong have “delighted” the Juve fans with over the past years, it might be a very long season indeed for Buffon & Co. On the upside, Juve’s midfield and attack is operating at full steam, and Ranieri’s team showed some very good bits of football when they play-tested their new attacking trio Del Piero-Trezeguet-Iaquinta. The Frenchman and the new signing from Udinese notably had the best chances in the 1st period, but found
Sunderland’s keeper Fulop in fine form. The tying goal (following Murphy’s opener in the 8th min.) came from the feet of Molinaro, who exploited a great headed set-up by captain Del Piero, and found the twine in the 88’ with a brilliant diagonal strike. Sunderland almost clinched the victory in the dying seconds, but the post came to Buffon’s rescue as he was beaten on a slamming 25-yd. effort by Stokes.
|GOALSCORERS: 8’ Murphy (S), 88’ Molinaro (J)|
|SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Fulop – Halford (85′ Kay), Nosworthy, McShane (75’ Anderson), Wallace (69’ Collins) – Miller, Whitehead (60’ Yorke), Etuhu (60’ Stokes), Richardson – Chopra (60’ Connolly), Murphy (69’ John). Coach: Keane.|
|JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon (46’ Belardi) – Zebina (46’ Birindelli), Andrade, Grygera (46’ Molinaro), Chiellini (72’ Criscito) – Salihamidzic (46’ Del Piero), Almiron (69’ Zanetti), Tiago (60’ Nocerino), Nedved – Trezeguet, Iaquinta (74’ Palladino). Coach: Ranieri.|
There’s still a lot of work left for Italian teams, but given that the Serie A doesn’t begin until August 26 (contrary to the English Premier league, kicking off next week) there is still plenty of time.