Still a week left to the start of Serie A. While we wait for the Italian league to begin (not forgetting the Italian Super Cup match Inter vs. Roma today), why not have a look at some of the big games this week-end had to offer? Sometimes, there are great match-ups in other major leagues in Europe, and anyone who loves soccer will never refuse to watch a good match of the beautiful game!
The first set of big match-ups started Saturday with the German league. The match of the day was undoubtedly Werder Bremen vs. FC Bayern, a fixture which pitted the 3rd vs. 4th-ranked of the 2006-07 season. This game had also a particular meaning for one of Bayern’s newest recruits, Miroslav Klose, who would be playing against his previous club as early as the 2nd day of the league!
I had the opportunity to watch this game live on GolTV, and boy… are Bayern looking impressive. Their new signings have literally transformed the team, Franck Ribery above all (a dynamo!!) who was at the origin of many of Bayern’s goals today. Other contributions were by newcomers Klose, Altintop (1 assist), and of course our own Luca Toni (1 penalty obtained, 1 goal, 1 assist) who has been on the mark for every Bayern league game so far! Final score 4-0 for Hitzfeld‘s team, in a Weserstadion game which will undoubtedly leave a very sour taste in the Bremen players’ mouth.
The other match of the day (Schalke vs. Borussia Dortmund) ended slightly better for the home team. Schalke completely dominated their adversaries, and brought an easy 3 points home with goals by Bordon, Pander, Asamoah, and Kuranyi (Valdez the lone scorer for Dortmund).
Crossing the Channel now on Sunday, for the English Premiership.
The first big match of the day was of course the Manchester derby, opposing Man City vs. Man United in a game which meant a lot for Ferguson‘s team. Indeed, their league debut has been somewhat rocky so far (2 draws in the first 2 games) so this was the perfect opportunity to set the boat in the right direction. The fact that Rooney was injured with a broken foot and C. Ronaldo suspended for 3 games didn’t help though, and City were going to exploit the situation. United had most of the chances in the 1st half but couldn’t capitalize, allowing City to score on their only real opportunity of the game. New signing Geovanni obtained the pass from Johnson and advanced all the way to the edge of the box, blasting a great shot from long-range that curled inside Van der Sar‘s post. United tried to equalize in the 2nd half, literally sieging City’s goal (defended by none other than Peter Schmeichel‘s son, Kasper) but to no avail. Final score 1-0 for Manchester City, and decidedly the worst Man Utd start of the league in years (2 points in the first 3 games). Note that City’s Rolando Bianchi came on for Elano in the 63rd, but didn’t do much.
In the other match of the day, Liverpool played host to Chelsea in EPL’s first big match-up of the season. Fernando Torres opened the score for Liverpool in the 16th, exploiting a good pass from Steven Gerrard and dribbling past Ben Haim to put a low into the bottom right corner of the goal. However, Mourinho‘s team pulled it together in the 2nd half and equalized through a (highly debatable) Frank Lampard penalty shot in the 62nd. There were great protests from the Liverpool players for the penalty call, supposedly stemming from a Steve Finnan foul on Florent Malouda (replays showed there was very little contact between the two players). Final score 1-1.
Finally, Italy wasn’t the only place with Super Cups this week-end. The league hasn’t begun yet in Spain, but Sunday was set aside for the 2nd leg of the Spanish Super Cup, played at the Santiago Bernabéu and featuring Real Madrid vs. Sevilla. The first leg at Estadio Ramón Sánchez had ended 1-0 in favor of the Sevillan team, so this match was a make-or-break opportunity for Bernd Schuster‘s squad.
Things didn’t set off on the right foot for the Merengues, down by one goal after 17 minutes following Renato‘s effort. Real’s new left-back signing from Holland, Royston Drenthe, managed to equalize the mark shortly after with a spectacular 35m effort below the bar, however only a few minutes passed before Renato headed in his 2nd of the game(again, from a pass by Duda) making it 2-1 for Sevilla in the 29th. Things went from bad to worse for Real, after the ref spotted a handball in the box by new Madrid signing Pepe giving Frédéric Kanouté the chance to make it 3 from the spot (and he did).
The Madrileños were given a glimmer of hope as Fabio Cannavaro (1st career goal with Real) headed in a free kick from Wesley Sneijder shortly before the end of the half, but this was clearly Sevilla’s night. Despite Sergio Ramos‘s header in the 78th that tied the score to 3-3, the Andalusians had time to put in yet two more goals through their man of the match Kanouté. Italy’s Enzo Maresca played only the final 12 minutes, but had the chance to contribute as he started the play leading to Sevilla’s 5th goal in the 90th. Final score 5-3 for Sevilla.
Stay tuned for a full report on the Italian Super Cup.