Archive for November 24th, 2007

Italy’s Unemployed Best: Marcello Lippi and Fabio Capello linked to England Job

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

For those interested (since that seems to be the talk of the moment, in England of course but also abroad), you can check out my latest Soccerlens article below on the possible candidates to succeed Steve McLaren as England manager. I’ve posted the parts concerning Fabio Capello and Marcello Lippi below. My pick is Capello personally, given that according to Gazzetta della Sport, Capello is scheduled to travel to London over the week-end. Coincidence?

Sun Sports: McLarend

The names tied to Steve McLaren’s succession as England manager are flocking, both in the British press as well as abroad. The job divides opinion: some consider it one of the top international posts, while others see it as a poisoned chalice, but either way the English FA should be making a decision within the next week. So meanwhile while we wait, let’s have a look at the potential candidates.

Read the full article on Soccerlens

Marcello Lippi

Marcello LippiUnlikely. According to his declarations in Gazzetta dello Sport‘s videochat, the Italian World Cup champion said “I like the Premier League, but I don’t speak English. That, for my approach to see and live football is a big handicap. I could be a national coach again, but never France and if I had to choose, I prefer Spain over England“. If you’re not convinced, Lippi just refused the seat of Birmingham City

Fabio Capello

Fabio CapelloIn the end, the most likely winner of the “race-to-the-England-bench” might be a foreigner, the only one so far who declared he’d be interested and available. “The challenge of coaching a national side like England would be something different. The job is not about coaching every daysaid Capello to the BBC, confirming the previous declarations he’d made during the Italy-Faroe Islands commentary. He added: “It would be a very difficult challenge but a very exciting one“. According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta della Sport, Capello is scheduled to travel to London over the week-end. Coincidence?

Right now, my money is on Fabio Capello. If I were the English FA I’d jump on the occasion this instant: the man is a bit arrogant (but in no way to the extent of José Mourinho), plays defensive football which might not please the English fans too much, but more importantly he can win, win, win! Capello is a winner and a tactical mastermind, one of the most respected managers of Italian football. Wherever he’s gone, be it the golden years of AC Milan, or Real Madrid, AS Roma, or Juventus, he’s collected boatloads of trophies.

In football, you can complain all you want that your team isn’t playing spectacularly or that you’re winning every match by 1-0, but all that matters in the ends are results: I am sure the English fans would be ready to forgive Capello if he takes them to a World Cup victory (not that I see that happening anytime soon, but who knows…). If the ex-Real Madrid coach is truly interested in managing England, the FA would be fools to pass this opportunity up, despite the fact that he’s a foreign manager.

Daily Mail’s headline for November 23: “Why Should He Get A Penny”Meanwhile, the ink is still flowing on now-sacked Steve McLaren, especially due to Macca’s refusal to resign after being knocked out of Euro 2008 contention, thereby obtaining a cushy ₤2.5m compensation from the English FA for terminating his contract. The Daily Mail titled “Why Should He Get A Penny in their print edition and included a photo of McLaren & wife ready to depart to the Caribbean, where the couple just recently purchased a house. Not much worse than the Daily Express to be honest, which reported that a train driver of the London Underground (or subway if you prefer) spoke the following message on the train intercom, to explain the lateness of his convoy: “I apologize for the delay, but we are receiving reports that a man may be blocking the rails in front of the head carriage. We are hoping it is Steve McLaren“.

Futsal Euro 2007: the Azzurri Qualify for the Final!

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

UEFA Futsal Championship logoRemember that UEFA Futsal Championship I was telling you about a week ago? 

The “Euro 2007 of Indoor Soccer” has now reached the playoffs stage, and our own Azzurri team has made it to the tournament final yesterday, by beating Russia in a spectacular and intensity-laden semi-final match. The match ended 2-0 thanks to the goals of Grana and Fabiano.

Italy are sailing towards the UEFA Futsal Championship final, when on Sunday (12:00pm ET) they will try to take back the title they won in 2003 and unluckily lost 2 years later in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Protagonist of the semi-final game tonight was the Azzurri’s high tolerance for suffering in the key moments of the match, and an incredible Fabiano Assad: the Brasilian-born Azzurri defender completely neutralized the main Russian target man, and capped the night by scoring the goal that clinched the game. The goal is near for Italy, as the Azzurri will try to take their final step towards victory on Sunday evening.

Futsal Rules in a nutshell

• Games are played on a rectangular pitch approximately 40m long and 20m wide. Playing surface is usually made of wood or artificial material (flat, smooth, non-abrasive).
• Duration of the match is two periods of 20 minutes, with a 10-15 min. half-time interval. Clock is considered “out of play” (that is, time is stopped every time the ball is out of play for a kick-in, free-kick, corner-kick etc.). Teams are entitled to a one-minute time-out in each half.
• Matches are played 5 vs. 5 (including the goalkeeper). Team roster includes 14 players, with unlimited substitutions allowed.
• Kick-ins are taken instead of throw-ins, and must be taken within 4 seconds of the player taking possession of the ball.
• Fouls & free-kicks: for the first 5 accumulated fouls recorded against either team in each half, the players of the opposing team may form a wall to defend a free-kick. Beginning with the 6th accumulated foul recorded against either team in each half, the defending team’s players may not form a wall to defend a free kick, and all the other players (except the kicker) must remain BEHIND the ball (i.e. behind an imaginary line that is level with the ball and parallel to the goal line). No player may cross this imaginary line until the ball has been struck and starts to move.

The Italian coach Alessandro Nuccorini left Montovanelli and Jubanski out of the starting line-up, keeping Bacaro, Zanetti, and Pellegrini despite their muscular problems. The Azzurri began the match with Feller in goal, and a 4-men line-up with Forte, Pellegrini, Bertoni, and Morgado. On the other side Russian coach Oleg Ivanov (who used to be the backup keeper of legendary goalie Lev Yashin, in Dinamo Moscow’s later 1960′s) picked Zuyev in goal, as well as Kobzar, Malychev, Pelé Jr. and Cirilo as field players. A strong Russian team, ready to face some highly motivated and skilled Azzurri.

Nando Grana (right) celebrates his opener with Carlos Morgado and goalkeeper Alexander FellerItaly identified the main danger in this match to be Cirilo, the Russian-naturalized Brazilian striker and one of the best pivots opertating in Europe at the moment. For that reason, the Italian coach wanted his team to be very aggressive right from the start, intructions executed to the letter by his players. After 2’36” the Azzurri opened the score: Forte sidestepped his marker Kobzar, forcing him to commit a foul at the 15m distance. Nando Grana subbed on for Pellegrini to take the free-kick, and slammed the ball home (exploiting a deflection from the Russian wall). 1-0 Italy.

That was actually the only foul the referees called in the first half, allowing the game to flow perhaps more than it should. In the end however, it benefitted the Azzurri because Russians didn’t recover from their early shock until the last portion of the first 20 minutes, and had to concede the attempts of Fabiano (toe-pointed effort), Bertoni (hard shot with a wide angle), and Grana (incredible one-on-one chance in the 10′ missed by the Italian). Meanwhile the Russian striker Cirilo was trying his best, but was being relentlessly marked down by Fabiano and Forte. In the 9th, he managed to get rid of Pellegrini and tried a close-range shot, but it was wide.

In the 2nd half, Russia came back on the field with guns blazing, and the first 10 minutes were an endless suffering for the Azzurri. First, Pellegrini saved an almost clear goal on Pelé Junior’s shot, then it was the turn of the goalkeeper to keep Shayakhmetov’s effort out of the net. Italy replied with Foglia (straight on the goalie), but Russia had clearly gotten momentum on their side at this point. Nonetheless, lady luck helped out the Azzurri a bit: between minutes 26 and 28, Russia obtained two back-to-back golden chances but couldn’t produce. First Cirilo adeptly turned and slammed a shot onto the crossbar (with the entire Russian roster claiming the goal for a rebound over the line), then less than a minute later it was Pelé Junior’s turn to hit the woodwork, by stamping a left-footed rocket onto the post. The scoreline remained 1-0 for the Italians.

A great all-round performance from Italy’s Fabiano Assad earned him the title Carlsberg Man of the Match in the semi-final defeat of Russia. He was the busiest player in the superb Azzurri defence before clinching victory with a powerful shot midway through the second half.It was a sign of destiny almost, because in min. 30’40” Fabiano Assad (who earned the man of the match award for his efforts tonight) put the final mark on a perfect performance with the 2nd and last goal of the game: stealing the ball from Maevskiy, eluding the guard of the others, and slamming the ball home from the right side. 2-0 Italy!

That goal was the nail in Russia’s coffin, who continued to fight until the end nonetheless, trying to use Maevskiy as moving keeper and gain a numerical advantage in offense. It was however too late, and Italy finished the match victorious, even getting the chance to increase their lead through Grana, Foglia, and Morgado.

On Sunday Novemeber 25, the Azzurri will contend the Euro Championship title to Spain, who eliminated Portugal in the other semi-final, after a 4-3 penalty-shoot win (2-2 in regular time). FORZA AZZURRI!


 Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
UEFA Futsal Championship
Football Union of Russia
GOALSCORERS: 2’ 36’’ Grana (I), 30’40’’ Fabiano (I)
ITALY: Feller, Grana, Pellegrini, Bertoni, Bacaro, Assis, Fabiano, Foglia, Morgado, Zanetti, Forte, Farina. Coach: Nuccorini.
RUSSIA: Zuyev, Shayakhmetov, Foukine, Kobzar, Pelé Junior, Duschkevich, Maeviskiy, Cirilo, Chistopolov, Kharmadiyev, Malychev, Stepanov. Coach: Ivanov.


Note: Special thanks to Gazzetta dello Sport for their reports on the UEFA Futsal Championship. Also for MATCH HIGHLIGHTS of the Group Stage game vs. ROMANIA (7-1), see below: