Archive for November, 2007

Serie A Matchday 13 – Week-end review

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Serie AHere are the results and summaries for matchday 13. Full video highlights here.

As usual, the GOALS of the WEEK: there were some nice goals scored this week-end (such as David Trezeguet’s lovely bicycle kick vs. Palermo or Marcelo Zalayeta’s gems vs. Catania). However, this week I’ve picked set pieces: two lovely free-kick deliveries that left no chance to the opposing goalkeeper, and who better to feature in such a spotlight than Serie A’s top marskmen of the free-kick art, Alessandro Del Piero and Andrea Pirlo. Enjoy!

Del Piero’s inswinging 25m shot over the wall inside the right postPirlo’s 30m lofted kick fools the keeper with its unpredictable trajectory

Serie A – day 13
Genoa – Roma
0 – 1
Inter – Atalanta
2 - 1
Cagliari – Milan
1 - 2
Empoli – Torino
0 - 0
Lazio – Parma
1 - 0
Livorno – Sampdoria
3 – 1
Napoli – Catania
2 – 0
Reggina – Fiorentina
0 - 0
Udinese – Siena
2 – 0
Juventus – Palermo
5 - 0

Serie A Matchday 13 – Storming Juventus drive a 5-goal Hurricane past Palermo

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

Serie A

It was certainly a very busy Sunday this week. First, there was the South Africa 2010 World Cup Preliminary draw in the early afternoon. Then less than two hours later, the Euro 2007 UEFA Futsal Championship final (report coming up Monday here on mCalcio). Add the multitude of Serie A and Spanish Liga matches… and we get quite the soccer overdose! Overdose? Nah, never in soccer… although, the shots might have been a little too much for Palermo at the Stadio Olimpico of Turin tonight: the Rosanero were completely dominated by an extremely entertaining Juventus team, and had to pick the ball in their net five times, courtesy of David Trezeguet (marvelous bicycle kick), Vincenzo Iaquinta, Marco Marchionni, and an Alessandro Del Piero double.

Serie A Matchday 13 - Juventus 5-0 Palermo

Is this Juventus capable of contending another Scudetto title? Five goals to Palermo could be the start of an answer, a response which should include the difference in level between Inter, Roma, Udinese, Fiorentina, and (namely) Juventus, and the “lower” teams of the league rankings (AC Milan included, at least for now). With or without their emblematic captain Del Piero, on his return from the international break Claudio Ranieri seems to have found an extremely motivated Juventus team: cynical, in great condition, capable of transforming into goal at least half of the scoring chances they obtained. The fact that Palermo weren’t putting up too much a fight certainly helped.

Legrottaglie, Trezeguet, and Iaquinta celebrate Juve’s openerTactically, there were some good and bad news for either coach. Palermo’s Stefano Colantuono had to deal with the absences of keeper Alberto Fontana and ex-Bianconero Fabrizio Miccoli, and so started backup Federico Agliardi in net. Due to the absence of his “motor” striker, the finishing job was left in the lone hands of target man Amauri, supported by Franco Brienza as playmaker. Mark Bresciano was back from his injury, but was precautiously left on the sidelines. On the other end, Ranieri was counting on the recovery of Zdenek Grygera, but apparently the Czech right-back’s international duty injury was more serious than anticipated. The Juve backline was therefore composed of Zebina (back from suspension), Legrottaglie, Criscito and Molinaro. Up front, Iaquinta was given a starting role next to Trezeguet, at the expense of captain Del Piero.

Overall, one could say that in this match Juve didn’t miss a beat, much to the contrary of Palermo. In particular, the approach to the match was entirely different for the two teams: Trezeguet and Iaquinta might not be the best free-flowing striking pair of the Italian league, but their movement of the offside line can create disagreements to the majority of Serie A teams. Not to mention that their finishing (Trezeguet’s in particular) is rivaled by none (or close). The Frenchman was the first to open the score for the Bianconeri, when in the 29th a corner-kick by Mauro Camoranesi was nicely laid-off by Nicola Legrottaglie, and David Trezeguet armed his bicyle kick shot to put the ball in the net. 1-0 Juve.

Shortly before the break, Juve made it 2-0: a push on the wing by Camoranesi was followed by an accurate low cross for Vincenzo Iaquinta on the first post. The Juve striker skilfully tackled the ball to protect it from Andrea Barzagli’s intervention, then flicked it onto the first post avoiding the keeper’s rush. A goal by a pure striker!

Del Piero has just scored one of his trademark free-kicks: Juve 3-0 PalermoIn the 2nd half, the rhythm didn’t change much for Palermo: slow, inaccurate in their passing, the Rosanero were having an enormous amount of trouble even keeping possession for more than a few seconds at a time. Only chance worth mentioning, a (semi) dangerous rotating shot by Cristian Zaccardo, that Buffon stopped on the first post. Aside from that, it was all Juve once again. Iaquinta left the field with a little knock (probably cramps) and left his place to Alessandro Del Piero, and the Juve captain didn’t take very long to leave his mark on the match: within 3 minutes of his entrance, Juve won a free-kick 25m out on the right side, and “Pinturicchio” delivered a delicious inswinging parabola that left Agliardi rooted to the spot. 3-0 Juve.

3 minutes later, cue another goal by a fresh substitute: this time it was Marco Marchionni (back on the field after a knee injury that kept him out for 3 months), ready to exploit a lightning-fast Bianconeri counter-attack finalized by an inch-perfect Del Piero assist. Out on the right wing, Marchionni waited for Agliardi to rush out and anticipate the pass to the center, then slid the ball into an empty net. 4-0 Juve.

The final cap on the game was a Pavel Nedved incursion on the left, followed by a Giuseppe Biava sliding tackle inside the box. P.K. and a double for Alessandro Del Piero. 5-0 the final score. In anticipation of Milan-Juve next week-end, quite an appetizing hors d’oeuvre for the Bianconeri today.

Juventus F.C.
JUVENTUS-PALERMO
5-0
[Match Highlights]
U.S. Città di Palermo
GOALSCORERS: 32′ Trezeguet, 40′ Iaquinta, 70’, 91′ pen. Del Piero, 75’ Marchionni
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Zebina, Legrottaglie, Criscito, Molinaro – Camoranesi (71’ Marchionni), Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Nedved – Iaquinta (67’ Del Piero), Trezeguet (77’ Palladino). (bench: Belardi, Birindelli, Salihamidzic, Tiago). Coach: Ranieri.
PALERMO (4-4-1-1): Agliardi – Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava, Pisano – Diana, Guana (75’ Migliaccio), Simplicio, Caserta (46’ Cavani) – Brienza (60’ Bresciano) – Amauri. (bench: Fontana, Rinaudo, Cassani, Gio.Tedesco). Coach: Colantuono.

.

As a bonus, a sample of match pictures courtesy of Kataweb Sport

Juve 1-0 Palermo: David Trezeguet’s bicycle kick finds the net

Juve 1-0 Palermo: David Trezeguet’s bicycle kick finds the net

Trezeguet celebrates the opener with Legrottaglie and Iaquinta
Trezeguet celebrates the opener with Legrottaglie and Iaquinta

Juve 2-0 Palermo: Pure goal-poaching by Vincenzo Iaquinta
Juve 2-0 Palermo: Pure goal-poaching by Vincenzo Iaquinta

Juve 3-0 Palermo: Free-kick marvel - Del Piero arms his magic right foot, and it’s curtains for the Rosanero
Juve 3-0 Palermo: Free-kick marvel – Del Piero arms his magic right foot, and it’s curtains for the Rosanero

Criscito, Nedved, and Nocerino surround the Juve captain after his goal
Criscito, Nedved, and Nocerino surround the Juve captain after his goal

Juve 4-0 Palermo: A fake on Agliardi, an open net - Marchionni doesn’t need an invitation - 4th goal for Juve
Juve 4-0 Palermo: A fake on Agliardi, an open net – Marchionni doesn’t need an invitation – 4th goal for Juve

Marchionni can smile again after his long injury, Trezeguet and Nocerino agree
Marchionni can smile again after his long injury, Trezeguet and Nocerino agree

Juve 5-0 Palermo: Del Piero gets his double - a fifth Juve goal for good measure
Juve 5-0 Palermo: Del Piero gets his double – a fifth Juve goal for good measure

World Cup 2010 Preliminary Draw – Italy get Bulgaria, Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, and Montenegro

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

South Africa 2010The Preliminary Draw of the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup has just taken place in Durban, South Africa. The UEFA (Europe), CONCACAF (North-America), CAF (Africa), and AFC (Asia) regions now know the qualifying rounds for their road to 2010,  and current World Champions Italy have been drawn in Group 8 with Bulgaria, Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, and Montenegro. A relatively “easy” group all things considered.

Other interesting clashes include Portugal/Sweden/Denmark in Group 1, Czech Republic/Poland in Group 3, Germany/Russia in Group 4, Spain/Turkey/Belgium in Group 5, France/Romania/Serbia in Group 7, Netherlands/Scotland/Norway in Group 9.

As for England, they have been drawn in group 6 with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra, and… get this: Croatia, the same team that killed their Euro 2008 hopes earlier this week!! There will undoubtedly be an air of revenge at Wembley stadium…

Full list below.

.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Portugal Greece Czech Republic Germany Spain
Sweden Israel Poland Russia Turkey
Denmark Switzerland Northern Ireland Finland Belgium
Hungary Moldova Slovakia Wales Bosnia-Herz.
Albania Latvia Slovenia Azerbaijan Armenia
Malta Luxembourg San Marino Liechtenstein Estonia

.

Group 6 Group 7 Group 8 Group 9
Croatia France Italy Netherlands
England Romania Bulgaria Scotland
Ukraine Serbia Ireland Norway
Belarus Lithuania Cyprus Macedonia
Kazakhstan Austria Georgia Iceland
Andorra Faroe Islands Montenegro

Futsal Euro 2007 – Italy and Spain Ready to Face Off in the Final Match

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

UEFA Futsal Championship logoFollowing their brilliant 2-0 victory against Russia, at 18:00 today the Azzurri Futsal team will try to open the doors of Paradise: the road leading to the European title is at its final crossway, and needs one final burst of the gas pedal to reward a team who has collected 18 victories in its last 19 games (the Euro 2007 opening match vs. Portugal ended 0-0). Not only that, the Azzurri have reached the final by conceding only 1 goal in the tournament so far (in the 7-1 victory against Romania). Today at 18:00 hours, in the Pavillhao Multiusos do Gondomar, Italy and Spain will be contending the crown of the 5th Futsal championship. The Azzurri have already won it in 2003, the Furia Roja in 2001 and 2005.

Futsal Rules in a nutshell

futsal_field.jpg
• 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.

Mutual respect between Italy coach Alessandro Nuccorini (left) and Spain’s José VenancioItaly and Spain are probably the strongest teams in the Futsal world at this present time, despite the fact they are both ranked behind Brazil (at 2nd and 3rd spot respectively) in the FIFA Futsal rankings. It promises to be a very exciting match. “They are the strongest team in the world, and they just demonstrated it once again in the semi-final game vs. Portugal” says Italian coach Alessandro Nuccorini. “Only Spain could have managed to pull from 0-2 to 2-2 in the last 5 minutes of the game, showing their spirit in fighting against a home crowd of delirious Portuguese fans“. Meanwhile, Spanish coach José Venancio Lopez claims that “Italy have been the strongest team in the tournament so far. They have only conceded one goal in four games: that says it all about their defence” he told uefa.com. “We know that if we want to win this championship there will be some tough periods. It won’t be easy“.

Among the Azzurri, there are actually 7 players playing in Spain at the moment (Bacaro, Pellegrini, Fabiano, Bertoni, Assi, Zanetti, Farina), in one of the strongest leagues of Europe. It will be a “game-within-a-game” for most of them. “We know each other very well” admits Edgar Bertoni. “I will be playing against 4 of my club teammates on Sunday (note: Luis Amado, Jordi Torras, Daniel, and Andreu, all players of the Interviu Fadesa club). No really, today we have to win at all costs, otherwise I’ll have to endure them in the changing room for God knows how long” concludes Bertoni with a smile.

Italy captain Nando Grana (left) and Spain’s Javi RodríguezFor Bacaro, the “friend list” contains only 3 players: Juanjo, Alvaro, and Kike, teammates in club team ElPozo Murcia. “They aren’t unbeatable” says the Italian striker. “It’s not like it used to be, now we are on the same technical level“. Whether that is the case or not, the Azzurri also contains players who once participated in La Liga but who then decided to get back to their home country: Grana, Morgado, and Montovanelli. “There is great respect, because we know their strength” says Grana, the Italian captain. “But we also know our own strength. If we play with our trademark fighting spirit and determination, we can do it!“. One other reason to do it, for instance, would be to avenge that World Cup 2004 final which denied the Azzurri the World Champions title. “That match is still in everyone’s mind” concluded coach Nuccorini. “But compared to that time, I see my players in a much more serene state of mind“. A good omen for the future?

Match History

Italy and Spain have faced off 26 times in the past: history counts 15 wins for Spain, 9 for Italy, and 2 draws. 75 goals have been scored by the Furia Roja and 59 by the Azzurri. Except for the 2004 World Cup final, recent matches however seem to favor the Italians: 2-1 in the Four Nations 2000, 2-0 in Euro 2003, 3-1 in Euro 2005, and 3-2 in the 2004 World Cup Group Stage.

Player History

Here’s the international career of the 14 Azzurri players of Euro 2007:

Player
Caps
Goals
Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio 
Grana
86
43
Foglia
82
52
Bertoni
69
30
Montovanelli
49
13
Morgado
45
28
Pellegrini
43
7
Fabiano
42
24
Bacaro
42
22
Zanetti
35
25
Feller (GKP)
33
/
Forte
24
7
Farina (GKP)
22
/
Jubanski
20
9
Assis
6
1

And for comparison, the best 4 players of Spain:

Player
Caps
Goals
Real Federación Española de Fútbol 
Javi Rodríguez
122
74
Luis Amado
114
56
Andreu
96
78
Daniel
94
60

The 3rd place consolation match between Russia and Portugal will take place at 16:00. Kick-off of the final game between Spain and Italy will be at 18:00 CET. FORZA AZZURRI!!

Note: Special thanks to Gazzetta dello Sport for their final game preview on the UEFA Futsal Championship. To wrap up this report, MATCH HIGHLIGHTS of all the Azzurri matches on their way to the final. Enjoy!
.

16/11 – Group Stage Game 1 – ITALY 0-0 PORTUGAL


.

18/11 – Group Stage Game 2 – ITALY 7-1 ROMANIA

.

.21/11 – Group Stage Game 3 - ITALY 4-0 CZECH REPUBLIC


.

23/11 – Semi-Finals – ITALY 2-0 RUSSIA

World Cup 2010 – UEFA Qualifiers’ Draw to Unfold Today

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

South Africa 2010While the qualification race for the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup has already started (in the region of South America), the build-up to the biggest football show on Earth is about to step up a gear, with the staging of the UEFA (Europe), CONCACAF (North-America), CAF (Africa), and AFC (Asia) regions Preliminary Draw in Durban this week-end. The whole ceremony will be broadcast live at FIFA.com who will also be providing live commentary of the event, including a special application showing the draw as it unfolds.

Update:
The European Groups have been drawn: our own Azzurri, the current World Champions Italy have been drawn in Group 8 with Bulgaria, Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia, and Montenegro.

Other interesting clashes include Portugal/Sweden/Denmark in Group 1, Czech Republic/Poland in Group 3, Germany/Russia in Group 4, Spain/Turkey/Belgium in Group 5, France/Romania/Serbia in Group 7, Netherlands/Scotland/Norway in Group 9.

As for England have been drawn in group 6 with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra, and… get this: Croatia, the same team that killed their Euro 2008 hopes earlier this week!!

.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5
Portugal Greece Czech Republic Germany Spain
Sweden Israel Poland Russia Turkey
Denmark Switzerland Northern Ireland Finland Belgium
Hungary Moldova Slovakia Wales Bosnia-Herz.
Albania Latvia Slovenia Azerbaijan Armenia
Malta Luxembourg San Marino Liechtenstein Estonia

.

Group 6 Group 7 Group 8 Group 9
Croatia France Italy Netherlands
England Romania Bulgaria Scotland
Ukraine Serbia Ireland Norway
Belarus Lithuania Cyprus Macedonia
Kazakhstan Austria Georgia Iceland
Andorra Faroe Islands Montenegro

.

Seems like UEFA and FIFA like to coordinate things, because the Euro 2008 Group Stage draw is set to take place just a week after the World Cup Prelim draw. In any case, this time the way the teams have been seeded should provide for a more equal balance of the European groups. World Champions Italy have been inserted in Pot 1, along with Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Croatia, and Greece. England, who are currently 12th in the FIFA Rankings, have been excluded from the Top Seeds and inserted into Pot 2.

53 European countries will be separated Sunday in 6 pots (5 pots of 9 teams, 1 pot of 8), which will be used to draw 8 Qualifying groups (6 groups of 6 teams, 1 group of 5). The top-ranked team from each group will automatically earn their ticket to South Africa 2010, while the 8 second-best will have to go through a two-legged play-off qualifying round.

For a preview of the CONCACAF draw (which includes teams like USA, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica), you can check the Climbing the Ladder blog article

The draw will take place today in Durban, South Africa at 17:00 local time (i.e. 15:00 UK time and 10:00 ET).

Pot
Teams
1
Italy, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Croatia, Greece
2
England, Romania, Scotland, Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Israel
3
Norway, Ukraine, Serbia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium
4
Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Moldova, Wales, Macedonia, Belarus, Lithuania, Cyprus
5
Georgia, Albania, Slovenia, Latvia, Iceland, Armenia, Austria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan
6
Liechtenstein, Estonia, Malta, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Andorra, Faroe Islands, San Marino