Archive for August, 2007

Serie A day 1 – Sunday

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

With all the MISN-related craziness (see previous post) and the fact I had my driving exam yesterday (which I passed, yay me) I’ve barely had time to post something about Sunday’s games. By this time I’m sure you’ve all checked the news & results, so I’ll keep this short. Here goes.

Rest of the ‘Big 4′ answer to Juve’s call… well, almost everyone

The 4 big contenders for the Scudetto (see my Serie A prediction post) have all delivered the goods this week-end. All except Inter.

Kakà celebrates his first double in the 2007-08 seasonMilan made mincemeat out of Genoa, dominating the entire game and scoring all 3 goals of the final 3-0 scoreline in the 1st half (courtesy of Ambrosini and a Kakà double). In the evening, Roma delighted the Olimpico supporters by beating Palermo 2-0, in a highly entertaining fixture (goals by Mexès and a marvelous strike by Aquilani).

Meanwhile, the only team that stumbled on the 1st day of the league is Mancini‘s Inter. In the game vs. Udinese, the initial Nerazzurri goal by Stankovic was marred by a silly defensive mistake of Julio Cesar in the 2nd half, which led the Inter keeper to handle the ball outside his area. An obvious red card ensued, forcing Toldo to come off the bench to replace his teammate, but little could he do on Udinese’s equalizer, gracefully gifted by an own goal of Inter defender Ivan Córdoba.

Some Italian soccer blogs I’ve been browsing titled “Nuova stagione solita Inter” (new season, same old Inter), in the sense that based entirely on this first day, everything seems to be back to normal in Serie A: Milan and Juve are winning convincingly, Roma is showing some great creative soccer, and Inter, despite an impressive roster full of overpaid internationals, are stumbling. Yup, it’s glad to have calcio back. :razz:

Here are the match highlights of the ‘Big 4′ games (for Juve, see my Saturday post):

Genoa CFC
GENOA-MILAN 0-3
AC Milan
F.C. Internazionale
INTER-UDINESE 1-1
Udinese Calcio
U.S. Città di Palermo
PALERMO-ROMA 0-2
AS Roma Calcio

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In other news: Baldini-Di Carlo… or ass-whooping re-invented

When Catania coach Silvio Baldini told his players “let’s go out there and kick some ass”, he sure meant it. In fact, he figured the best way to pass the message along would be to make a little demonstration.

In the 85th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw vs. Parma, Baldini walked back over to Parma manager Domenico Di Carlo and following a verbal argument, landed his leg in Di Carlo’s backside after the Parma coach had turned away. Now we may all get shocked at the severity of the act (because after all, it’s a physical aggression from one coach to another, and it could have as easily been a punch in the face), but there’s something very ‘Three Stooges’-like about this, and it’s actually pretty funny to watch:

In the latest news, Baldini has been fined €15,000 and suspended for a month for his behaviour. Previously, Baldini had refused to apologize to Di Carlo (even though he apologized to a whole bunch of other people, including Catania & Parma supporters, the city of Catania, the Catania players, the team president, the president’s daughter, the president’s daughter’s dog, etc). Ok I’m exaggerating, but the point is he apologized to everyone but Di Carlo. “You don’t kick someone in the backside for no reason do you?” he declared, “I won’t apologize to him because he does not deserve it”. Ahh Serie A, I’ve missed you so much.

Here are the full results for Serie A’s day 1. Standings can be found here.

Serie A – day 1
Lazio – Torino
2 – 2
Juventus – Livorno
5 – 1
Fiorentina – Empoli
3 – 1
Genoa – Milan
0 – 3
Inter – Udinese
1 – 1
Napoli – Cagliari
0 – 2
Parma – Catania
2 – 2
Reggina – Atalanta
1 – 1
Siena – Sampdoria
1 – 2
Palermo – Roma
0 – 2

MISN – Summer Lachine game 15 (vs. Trakia)

Monday, August 27th, 2007

MISN? What’s this? 

Hello MISN,

On Thursday August 23rd we played game nº15 of the Summer 2007 Lachine indoor league, vs. Trakia.

The month of August had been a very rough one for MISN Impossible. After our great match form and the many consecutive victories of June-July, we had suffered a huge blow by losing our players one after the other for various reasons (holiday, work, and injuries). Our roster was effectively decimated, and our morale was at its lowest because of our recent streak of 3 winless games (2 silly draws and 1 huge defeat (1-6!) in which we effectively were ridiculed by our opponents).

However, the 2-1 victory against Ukraina last week showed that even against impossible odds the MISN spirit was still alive, and that we could rise to the challenge in very difficult circumstances!! The win gave us a much-needed morale boost for our next game, the match that would be key to decide the title winner of the 2007 Summer Lachine league! This week, we played against co-leaders Trakia!!

Summer Lachine 2007 - rankings after game 14

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In the table above you can see the team standings after 14 games (i.e. before today’s game). We were tied with Trakia on points, and with only 4 games left in the season (including today’s) it was capital to win this game tonight, also because of the much better goal differential our opponents possessed!

Attendance-wise, we continued our worst absentee-period of the season:

1) Absent long-term: Saad, Alex, Renaud, Güven, Can, Ludo, Santi, Denis
2) Injured long-term: Amer, Tevin
3) N/A this week: Nafee, Danny, Zaid, Imad, Simiso, Sami
4) Recovering from injury: Kevin

Yes, this week even the emergency substitutes were unavailable, would you believe it? Brace yourselves though, because attendance was going to be the least of our problems today. For anyone that’s read Homer’s Odyssey (the writer from ancient Greece, not the one on Fox) our adventure today was so ‘rocambolesque’ it had nothing to envy to Ulysses’ journey (or close).

Let us start from the beginning.

It was 6:00pm on Thursday afternoon (3 hours before the game), and I was peacefully going through my work shift at client services inside the McGill gym, when I receive a call from our keeper Jan. Given that most of our team is M.I.A these days, Jan is one of the few members of the team roster to have car available this week. So needless to say we are all counting on him to get us to Lachine (which is a good 20 minutes away by car) safely. Anyways Jan calls me, and tells me that his car broke down earlier in the afternoon. His mechanic says that he won’t be able to fix it until later next week, which means we are basically stuck without a means of transportation.

Oh but wait, one of our other players Bardia has a car!! He can take a few of us there, and then the rest of us can take the bus! Right?

Wrong! I call Bardia from work, explain the situation, and guess what I hear? “Oh shit man, Jan’s car broke down are you serious? Cuz mine isn’t working too great either, I was driving this afternoon and had to stop because smoke was coming out of the radiator. I put more water in, but I think there’s a leak”.

Great. Are we gonna have to walk or something?

Anyways, Bardia tells me the car will start, but he doesn’t know how long it can last. So I call back Jan, and we decide to re-arrange our car pick-ups. Me, Jan, Kevin, and Jon will go with Bardia, and Bruno & Abbes will take the bus. Sounds good? Good. I make all the necessary phone calls, and we’re all set.

It’s almost close to 7:45, the game’s at 9:00pm so we’re going to have to move soon. I’m wrapping up my shift at the gym (in which I had to train a new recruit by the way, which considerably slowed me down during wrap-up), and decide to call Jan before I leave. Change of plans! Jan tells me he’s running downtown to rent a car (he’ll need one anyway the day after), and so maybe he can pick up the others as well (those going by bus). Mmmmh ok, that’s a good idea… looks like our luck might be changing after all (oh, but I’m so naive).

Car problems…It’s 8:15, we’re at the meeting place where Bardia is supposed to come pick us up, and he’s not there. Guess he had trouble starting the car or something. We wait until 8:30, Bardia finally shows up, we’re on our way. We get to about the level of Atwater (for those that don’t know Montreal, that’s about a 5-minute drive), and Bardia’s radiator light starts flashing. Uh oh. Overheating? We have to make a decision now, and make it fast: can the car hold all the way to Lachine? Will it break down on the highway, leaving us stranded? Are we taking the chance?

Bardia decides not to. We stop the car at Atwater, and decide to take a cab. Fortunately, there’s a line of cabs right in front of the AMC movie theater, so we grab one, hop in, and tell the driver to push on it. It’s 8:40pm, and we’re finally on the highway! Meanwhile, our keeper Jan seems to have finally arrived at the car rental, fill out the paperwork, and leave with a brand new Chrysler PT Cruiser. He’s now on his way to pick up Abbes & Bruno at Lionel-Groulx, phew we might be able to make it after all!

But wait, there’s a catch (was going all too well right?): Abbes is stuck at work and won’t be able to make the game. Great, the only substitute we had is now gone, we’re going to have to play the entire game without subs.

On the highway, we are all cursing at the odds & possibility of two of our cars breaking down simultaneously!! But speaking of curses and breaking down, allow me to go on a tangent here… it’s not just us! It’s the whole city of Montreal!! Indeed, we just get news that there seems to be a crack in a pedestrian tunnel below the Maisonneuve street, with possible danger of collapse! This forces the city to completely shut down the Green line of the subway, and block the whole neighbourhood for as long as repairs last!

It’s decidedly not our week…

We get to Lachine (late), with barely any time to warm up. Our transportation adventure has just ended, but not our rotten luck. That would actually persecute us all the way into the game.

Here was our line-up:

Keeper:
Jan
Defense:
Kevin
Jon
Bruno
Offense:
Marco
Bardia
AC

The MISN players get ready for the game…

So here we are, 7 players on the field, no substitutes, playing against the team tied with us at 1st-place! Talk about ideal conditions…

Surprisingly, we manage to get the first chance of the game. A short pass from the right wing gets redirected through the feet of AC to the left, for an unmarked Marco (that’s me… for those reading this for the first time, I find it easier to talk about myself in the 3rd person during match reports). Our Italian winger goes for the one-time instep shot, which is fairly weak, yet accurate… but not accurate enough: it hits the post and goes wide! Darn!

In any case, the game is far from being overly dominated by our opponents (higher in numbers with several subs) like we expected: despite our limited resources we are holding our own, and even get a few chances to score! AC is pressing hard against the Trakia defenders, and Bardia is trying to work his dribbling magic to penetrate our opponents’ defense.

10 minutes into the game, we get another good chance. A great cross by Kevin from the right wing finds the header of AC on the 2nd post, but our Turkish striker can’t direct his effort and the ball goes over the bar!

On the other end, Trakia is keeping our defensive line busy as well. Kevin, Jon, and Bruno are holding tight, and when the ball slips through behind them Jan is vigilant in keeping it out of the net. However, remember that bad luck I was talking to you about? Well here it comes.

A series of Trakia shots from mid-range find Jan’s hands ready, but on the last shot our keeper can only parry the ball away. It rebounds from him in front of the net, in a good position where Jon can clear it. However, his clearance doesn’t go very far. Instead, it hits Kevin right in the face, bounces back, surprises Jan off his balance, and rolls into the net. For Trakia, it’s maximum value for minimum effort. 0-1.

The MISN supporters, cheering their team on… will it be enough?We don’t give in however, and continue to press forward. Eventually, we obtain our tying goal. A series of passes on the right wing eventually brings the ball to AC in the center, close to the penalty spot. Our striker goes for the rotating half-volley, and sends the ball low into the corner where the Trakia keeper can’t reach! 1-1!

The ref brings the half to an end, and up to this point, we can be satisfied of the scoreline and our performance. Our defense is holding together, we have created equal scoring chances as Trakia, and the only goal we conceded was an own goal from an unlucky bounce. There’s plenty of room to even win this game!

So on we go, back on the field for the 2nd half! We try to continue our overlap movements, shifting the ball with quick passes through the center and opening up our strikers on the wings. It’s hard though, because our opponents are more fresh and they keep marking us very closely. If the decider of this game comes down to stamina, we might end being on the losing end, so have to score quick! Unfortunately, it goes the other way.

We end up losing the ball in defense due to excessive dribbling, and on the counter the two Trakia strikers easily combine to blast the ball into the net. Two last-ditch saves by Jan cannot help, and we find ourselves trailing once again. An avoidable 1-2.

We’re about midway into the 2nd half at this point, and fatigue is starting to take its toll. Our passing and running isn’t as accurate, and the Trakia players are pushing forward more frequently which makes things even harder on us. Nevertheless, in a burst of energy and high marksmanship, we manage to pull level again!

A great 1-2 combination between Bruno and Bardia brings our Iranian playmaker forward on the right wing. With a Trakia defender closing down on him, Bardia takes aims and fires his shot precisely inside the first post from a difficult position! We tied it, 2-2!!!

However, lady luck is not being kind to us today, oh no she isn’t.

There’s about 5 minutes left into the game when Trakia obtains a kick-in from the left wing. The kicker decides to take a hard shot on net, which seems to be central enough that it won’t bother Jan. However, a foot deflection by Jon (standing as the lone wall player) gives the ball just enough spin to confuse our keeper yet again, and allow the ball to slip inside the post. 2-3. ARGHHHH!!!

Kevin’s return from injury wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of our net today…It’s a hard blow to our morale. We had come back twice in the game already, but with tired players, no substitutes, and only 4 minutes left it just wasn’t going to happen today. Trakia even obtains another goal as a pass in the center leaves one of their players completely unmarked, with no pressure whatsoever. The forward then simply has to adjust an accurate & powerful shot low into the corner, making it 2-4. That was the first ‘real’ goal of the game for Trakia, but the scoreline doesn’t discriminate on beauty, and we end up losing our big clash.

2-4 final score.

Scorers:
AC
Bardia

We did what we could boys. From the beginning of the day it seemed as if fate had set off a ‘conspiracy’ against us. Only 7 people ready to play, two cars breaking down, no warm-up time, and 3 stupid goals (2 of which were own goals). If someone was sending us a message that we weren’t supposed to win today, it couldn’t have been more clear.

Trakia‘s victory today leaves us in a very tricky situation in the rankings. We are now 3 points behind them, with 3 games left in the season. If the league rules are anything like last year, a tie for points in the final standings should result in a mini-faceoff game, in which the two tied teams will face each other in order to decide the League Champions. In other words, if we are tied with Trakia on points after game 18, we will be playing them again before playoffs to decide who is the Champion. However, for that to happen, Trakia will have to lose one of its remaining games, and I don’t mean to be discouraging, but they don’t exactly have the hardest of schedules.

Either way, our job will be to turn our next 3 league games into victories, no matter what! Some of our main guys should be back from holiday next week (and almost our full roster in 2 weeks), which means that even if we don’t win the league, we have to build up our momentum for playoffs, where’s it’s going to be a whole other balllpark! We’re going to face Trakia again, and when we do, we’re going to prove who is the better team!

Don’t let 2 own goals and a defensive mistake get you down guys, we are much better than this!

GO MISN!!!!

-Marco-

Serie A day 1 – Saturday

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

Ok, I’m still hesitant on how to cover each matchday in the future, because if I do a full game report for each game it’s going to take me forever. So I guess what I’ll do is write a short summary for the day, and cover the important games in detail. Since there were only 2 games on Saturday and it’s the first day of the season, I guess I can write something a little bit longer. :twisted:

Saturday scores: Juve is back with a bang!

Trezegol celebrates with Iaquinta. The two players were Juve’s heroes for this first day of Serie AJuve’s back with a BANG my friends! In my Serie A preview I stated the Bianconeri would be very hungry this season (kind of a given, right?), and it didn’t take them very long to prove it. On the first gameday of the 2007-08 Serie A season, Livorno resisted as long as it could against Ranieri‘s men, keeping their organization & team structure sort of intact even after they conceded the 1st goal. However, the last 20 minutes were fatal for Orsi‘s troops, and at the end of the day they are looking “piccoli piccoli” (tiny tiny, as we’d say in Italian), trampled by the fury of the Bianconeri players…

The ’Tinker Man’ utilized yet another novel formation today, by dropping Salihamidzic (finally in great form tonight!) to a right-back role, and inserting Nocerino in the starting line-up on the right wing. With the support of Chiellini on the opposite wing and the duo Andrade-Criscito in the center, this was probably the best-organized Juve defense I’ve seen in months (still not perfect, but much much better that what they showed in the pre-season). It must be said that Rossini and Tavano‘s poor form tonight didn’t give them too much concern, but the Juve supporters can nonetheless be optimistic about improvement.

It didn’t take Juve very long to grab the reins of the game. After an initial “studying” period for both teams, the Bianconeri were the first to get on the scoreboard, after a nicely executed short corner combo between Nedved & Del Piero. The ensuing cross of the Juve captain found the noggin of David Trezeguet in the 6-yard box, and you know what that meant… guaranteed goal! 1-0 for Juve in the 25th. The half ended on that scoreline, although Juve knocked on Amelia‘s door several other times through Chiellini (long-ranger), Trezeguet (from 12 yards), and Del Piero (free kick) all shots parried by the Livorno keeper.

In the 2nd half, both managers decided to rotate some personnel: out Del Piero (Ranieri decided to give the captain a rest), in Iaquinta, and for Livorno out Tavano (ineffectual) and in Diego Tristán (at his debut in Serie A). The Spaniard resulted to be much more mobile than his predecessor, and with him Livorno somewhat picked up their pace in offense. However, the real turning point of the game would be Iaquinta, as the Azzurri forward was at the origin of most of Juve’s ensuing goals. Firstly, he obtained (and transformed) a penalty shot following a shirt pull by Galante in the Livorno box. Then, he caused a lucky deflection from a shot by Nedved (sending the ball out of Amelia’s reach for the 3-0), and to finish it off gave the assist to Trezeguet for Juve’s 4th goal. Not bad for his first official match with the Bianconeri (and much much better than what we’d seen so far in pre-season friendlies).

David Trezeguet, age 29, scored an hat-trick todayAt this point Livorno was dead & buried, their defense all over the place. That left the time for yet another easy Juve goal: through ball by Nedved for Nocerino, short pass from the right wing, Amelia messes it up, and Trezegol applies the finish. 5-0. Livorno had time to save face with an accurate long-range effort by Loviso (looked more like a shot of desperation really), but there would be only one team walking out of the Stadio Olimpico with their head up high today.

A message for all the Bianconeri supporters out there: don’t get too overly excited just yet: the team still has a long way to go in Serie A this year. For the first 60 minutes (with the score still on 1-0), Livorno could have tied the game on several occasions, especially when Rossini and Galante were allowed to jump high and get too many free headers for my taste. Nonetheless, today was a great result for the Bianconeri because they sent a clear message to all the other title contenders: ’we’re back, and we mean business so prepare yourselves’!! 

Game on!!
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JUVENTUS-LIVORNO 5-1
 A.S. Livorno Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 29’, 87’, 92’ Trezeguet (J), 71’, 86′ Iaquinta (J), 95′ Loviso (L)
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Salihamidzic (74’ Zebina), Andrade, Criscito, Chiellini – Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Almirón (79′ Tiago), Nedved – Del Piero (60’ Iaquinta), Trezeguet. (bench: Belardi, Molinaro, Camoranesi, Palladino). Coach: Ranieri.
LIVORNO (4-4-2): Amelia – Grandoni, Knezevic, Galante, Pasquale – E.Filippini (56’ Volpe), Loviso, Pulzetti, A.Filippini – Rossini (74’ Diamanti), Tavano (53’ Tristan). (bench: De Lucia, Balleri, Pavan, Vidigal). Coach: Orsi

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Lazio-Torino

In the other game of the day (played earlier), Torino battled Lazio in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. I didn’t get the chance to watch this one, but apparently it was a fairly exciting game, which included a delightfully chipped shot goal by Alessandro Rosina.

Alessandro Rosina, age 23, author of a Totti-like marvelous chip

Lazio replied to Rosina’s initial goal with two quick goals in succession, firstly by Pandev (56′) then Rocchi (61′). However, Vailatti put things level only 7 minutes later, for a final score of 2-2 in the opening match of Serie A.

You can find the full report at Channel4.com and full video highlights on YouTube.

Serie A 2007-08 – Season Predictions

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

 Lega CalcioSerie A

With the new Serie A season at our doorstep, it seems natural that I’d step on the bandwagon of pre-season prediction craziness, and post my picks for the Serie A rankings. I won’t go through each of the teams in detail, because that would take too long and there’s plenty of other sites for that. I will however give my picks for the Scudetto contenders and the spots for Champions League.

Let’s get started. :mrgreen:

Inter

This season is Inter’s chance to prove that last year’s Scudetto wasn’t a fluke. Inter’s big rivals Juventus are back, and Milan’s point deduction is no more, so the game is on!!

Inter hasn’t been overly active on the transfer market, but their big summer reinforcement seems to have integrated into his new team very nicely, I’m talking about Cagliari signing David Suazo. His partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been highly impressive in the pre-season, as these two have been responsible for most of Inter’s goals so far! In fact, it is very likely that the duo will be Mancini‘s starting line-up in front, since Adriano is still trying to find his form from the 2003-04 Parma season (in fact, there’s even rumors he might go back to his old club on a loan deal). Inter’s other major signing Christian Chivu is a nice addition to the squad, and will prove useful both as a central defender and left side-back (with the added bonus of being a free kick specialist). 

The Nerazzurri have always had an exceptional roster of players this past 10 years, yet they always seemed to ‘get lost’ at some point into the season, a factor which denied them the Scudetto on many occasions.  Last year however, with Milan and Juventus out of the picture (and Roma’s poor form), no one was there to keep the pressure on Inter, allowing them to take the title with a 22 point lead! So the biggest question for this season, is can Inter’s mental strength carry on all the way through the end?

Prediction: 1st or 2nd-placed.

Milan

Freshly decorated UEFA Champions League winners, the Milan team is looking at a strong come-back in the leading teams of Serie A. Their squad is strong, experienced, and has made of winning an habit (which is perhaps the biggest advantage they have over Inter).

Transfer-wise much like Inter, Milan hasn’t made any huge signings this summer, with the exception of young Brazil talent Alexandre Pato and veteran midfielder Emerson from Real Madrid. Both these players will be very useful for Ancelotti, even though Pato will not be able to play until January (Milan has reached the max. cap of non-EU players for the year 2006). However, if we add the transfers of Massimo Oddo and Ronaldo from January 2006, then no one can deny that Milan’s team has gotten even stronger this past year.

I expect the Rossoneri to be strong contenders for a repeat of their Champions League title, as well as being the prime candidates for the Scudetto this year.

Prediction: 1st or 2nd-placed.

Juventus

It’s the big return of the ‘Old Lady’ to Serie A! After a year of purgatory in the second division, the Calciopoli scandal and the Moggi shadow are far behind. It’s time for the Bianconeri to start anew, and in terms of pure motivation they will be perhaps the strongest team to contend with. All the veterans that stuck with the team in Serie B (Buffon, Nedved, and Del Piero in particular) have become absolute idols for the Juve supporters, and with their new stadium, we can rest assured that the home crown will give a huge boost to Ranieri’s men.

Juve have perhaps been the most active team of the ‘Big 4′ in terms of transfers. Balzaretti, Kovac, Tudor and Bojinov left, but many very good signings have come in their place. The addition of Grygera and Andrade will provide much-needed help for the Juve backline, and the arrival of midfielders Tiago and Almirón will try to re-create the Vieira-Emerson iron block of the pre-relegation era.  Finally, the purchase of Udinese striker Vincenzo Iaquinta should provide a nice addition to Juve’s offensive options, which already include seasoned stars such as Del Piero and Trezeguet.

The pre-season hasn’t been particularly brilliant for the Bianconeri, who showed they still had a lot of work to do (in defense especially) before being competitive. However, with the arrival of an experienced manager such as Claudio Ranieri at the helm, and the great history that follows Juventus in the Italian league, they will be a very strong force to be reckoned with. I don’t expect a Scudetto, but I definitely expect them to get a Champions’ League spot.

Prediction: 3rd or 4th-placed.

Roma

Despite their performance this decade has brought home only 1 Scudetto (and 3 Coppa Italia’s), Roma have been strong competitors for the title almost every season since their 2000-01 Champions spell. There is no doubt that the Giallorossi possess incredible technical baggage, and the presence of a certain Francesco Totti as playmaker will inspire fear in many Serie A defenders. All they need is a cohesive game plan to bring it all together, something the Roma fans are hoping coach Luciano Spalletti will provide.

The departure of Chivu to Inter has been a fairly big blow in Roma’s roster, despite the arrival of experienced Brazil center-back Juan from Leverkusen. Philippe Mexès has been in great form in the pre-season, but he may yet not be enough to provide Spalletti’s team with the reliability they need. However, the latest transfer of Cicinho was an excellent operation for the Giallorossi, and even though he’s more of an offensive side-back, he’ll be a great addition to Spalletti’s roster. 

In addition to captain Totti, Roma’s midfield can count on the energy of Daniele De Rossi and the skill of Alberto Aquilani, as well as the great speed of Mançini, Taddei, and new arrivals Giuly and Esposito on the wings. What Roma seems to be lacking however is a strong target man at the front, something Vucinic can’t really provide.

When Roma ‘turn on their game’, run for cover (see Inter’s 2-6 defeat in Coppa Italia final last season)! The key for the Giallorossi is to keep their game ‘on‘ for the entire season, something easier said than done given the team’s record.

Prediction: 3rd or 4th-placed.
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Outsiders

Without going too much into detail, there’s certain teams that always seem to lurk close to the zone of European cup qualification, so it’s interesting to take a short look at those.

Ever since their Scudetto in 1999-2000, Lazio have pretty much always been there at the top to contend for a CL spot. Last year was a very good season for the Biancocelesti, who finished 3rd despite their initial point deduction! Ok it was only 3 points :razz: but still! The likes of Pandev and Rocchi are always dangerous in front, so I expect Delio Rossi‘s team to be at the doorstep of Champions League or at the very least qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Sampdoria are the team which I predict to be the real surprise of the season, especially because of the excellent signings they made in offense. Ok, Quagliarella has gone to Udinese and Flachi is suspended for 2 years for cocaine consumption, but look who’s there to replace them: Vincenzo Montella, Andrea Caracciolo, and Antonio Cassano! If Cassano can keep his head in check, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Samp finish in the top third.

Finally, a few words on Fiorentina, Palermo, and Udinese. All these teams did well last season, but I expect it to be much harder for them this year. Luca Toni‘s transfer to Bayern (as well as Reginaldo‘s to Parma) will leave a huge gap in the Fiorentina offensive options, something that I doubt over-ripe Christian Vieri will be able to fill. As for Palermo, they signed Fabrizio Miccoli from Juve (a great buy!) to pair up with Amauri, but lost key players Corini, Caracciolo, and Di Michele. Udinese will have the same problem with the departure of Iaquinta, Muntari, and De Sanctis. Quagliarella was a great signing, but will he be enough?

Prediction: 5th: Lazio
6th: Sampdoria
7th: Fiorentina
8th: Udinese
7th: Palermo

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Ok so enough babble, here’s the full table of my predictions. :) We’ll see how close I was in 9 months!

If you want a complete analysis of each team individually, check out Fox Soccer Channel analyst Bobby McMahon’s article here. McMahon isn’t exactly a Serie A expert, but he’s very erudite on all soccer in general and his opinions are often spot on.

Marco’s Serie A 2007-08 predicted ranking

1. Milan
2. Inter
3. Juve
4. Roma

5. Lazio
6. Sampdoria
7. Fiorentina

8. Udinese
9. Palermo
10. Torino
11. Napoli
12. Parma
13. Atalanta
14. Livorno
15. Empoli
16. Genoa
17. Reggina

18. Cagliari
19. Catania
20. Siena

Serie A minus-1: we’re almost there!!

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Lega CalcioWell it’s Friday and there’s only 1 day left to wait!! While most of the other European leagues have already begun (with the exception of Spain, also starting this week-end), it’s finally time for the Italian Serie A to kick off its 2007-08 season!

I can’t tell you how excited I am, as I expect this to be one of the most competitive seasons yet! Why? Very simply because it’s the first post-Calciopoli scandal season where all the top teams are present (Juventus coming back after the Serie B purgatory, and AC Milan, Lazio, and Fiorentina not starting with negative points this time). Inter regained their confidence with their last 2 scudetti (after 15+ years of Serie A drought), so this will be their first real season: with all the other big clubs present, they must prove that they still got what it takes to rise above the average!! Inter fans, prepare yourselves for some very tough matches! :)

Serie AThe Serie A will officially kick off at 18:00 CET Saturday with Lazio-Torino, followed by Juventus-Livorno (20:30 CET). Sunday will see the rest of the teams involved (15:00 CET), and Palermo-Roma in the evening (20:30 CET).

Get in front of your TVs people! :mrgreen: