Archive for January, 2008

Azteca Graffiti – The Mythical World Cup Stadium Gets an Artistic Makeover

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Azteca Graffiti - The Mythical World Cup Stadium Gets a Real Artistic Makeover

It is an iconic figure in Mexican culture, and a veritable monument in the history of soccer. It has hosted two World Cup finals (1970 and 1986), been witness to one of the most exciting matches in World Cup history (Italy-Germany semi-final, 4-3, June 19, 1970) and the Hand of God of Maradona. However like many monuments across the world, the fate of the Estadio Azteca is to endure the endless abuse of weather erosion and vandalism, be in the form of broken beer bottles, dogs marking their territory, or spray paint. Lately however, the Mexico City authorities have found a way to provide the mythical soccer stadium with a proper make-over, and give it a second youth.

A contest organized for the best graffiti artists of South America, transformed the outer stadium structure in a veritable outdoor museum, which now exhibits artwork pieces illustrating the greats of soccer history, from Pelé and Maradona, to Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. Prize money for the “best creation” ranged from $1,500 for first prize, to $1,000 and 500 for 2nd and 3rd-ranked, as well as many other lesser awards. “I think initiatives like this will help in changing the negative stereotype of the graffiti artist” declared one contender. “This is real street art, and is the form of visual communication that is closest to the people” he concluded.

After a first selection, for which the aspiring artists sent out their artistic resumé, the elected few armed themselves with the 1,200 liters of paint and 9,000 bottles of spray kindly provided by the event sponsor and got to work, in what turned out to be real showdown of paint jets. The end result? See for yourselves…

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All 20 Images below courtesy of KwSport

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MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 game 14 (vs. J.S.S.)

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday January 26th we played game nº14 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. J.S.S.

After our victory against Boca Juniors last week, we were officially on a 2-match winning streak. One thing that was sure about our previous match is that we didn’t play well, in fact we didn’t play well at all. Nonetheless, we walked away with the 3 points (so capital for team confidence and to improve our situation in the standings) and today we were going for a repeat, with the clear intention of continuing our run of victories for as long as possible.

Our opponents for the day were J.S.S., a team just below MISN in the Division 2 standings (with 16 points, 5 wins, 1 draw, and 7 losses, as well as 41 goals scored and 45 goals conceded). We weren’t expecting formidable opposition, but we sure as hell weren’t going to commit the same mistake as last week, when we underestimated Boca Juniors and almost paid a heavy price.

MISN - Winter Lachine 07-08 game 14 (vs. J.S.S.)

Attendance-wise, we had a good turn-up this time. We were counting on the presence of at least 11 players, with perhaps 1-2 extra players coming in at the last minute, but it actually turned out that 2 of our confirmed individuals (Saad and Saber) were a no-show, so we ended up with only 3 substitutes. Compared to our Xmas holidays horrendous roster problems however, this was more than enough.

1) Absent long-term: Tim
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Güven
3) N/A this week: Saad, Saber, Alex

Here was our line-up:

Keeper:
Jan
Defense:
Marco / Bruno
Jon
Kevin / Eric
Offense:
Nafee
Bardia / Can
Santi

We started the game, and immediately took control of the ball possession. We played the first 10-15 minutes essentially into our opponents’ half, but could not find the breach to open the score. That wasn’t due to lack of opportunity though…

Here is a full list of our scoring chances in the first quarter. Passing around the ball (combining through Nafee, Can, then to Santi across the goal), the sphere ended to our Argentine winger in excellent position on the left, but his one-time finishing shot was onto the foot of the keeper, and a very good chance went begging. A few minutes later, Can was sent through on the left wing, one-on-one with the keeper, but his instep finish to the right post found the keeper ready to neutralize the danger. Two very close chances missed!! Marco, Kevin, and Bruno also had a few shots on net, but they were either parried by the defense, or wide of the target.

Eventually, pushing forward Bardia took a shot which was deflected by the defense. Waiting for Nafee to make a run onto the 2nd, our Iranian playmaker crossed a very nice ball onto which our Moroccan winger connected with a diving header! A spectacular, but also very accurate move, because the ball slipped into the left post of the goal eluding the keeper’s vigilance. 1-0 MISN.

A few minutes before the end of the half, J.S.S. tried a penetrating pass on our right wing but found the foot of Marco ready to deflect. The ball landed to Santi with acres of space in front of him, and only one defender to contend. Taking his time, our Argentine winger sidestepped the first marker, slowed down, took the ball past another defender (who had made the run back), then from the left and using the inside of his left foot, he coolly deposited the ball onto the right post! A great individual effort, and 2-0 MISN!!

The half ended on that scoreline, marking the end of 25 minutes during which we had produced some very good plays. We needed to keep up our efforts, maintain our vigilance in defense, and perhaps improve the accuracy and speed of our passes, to take quicker shots in front of the net.

We continued our efforts in the 2nd half, trying to get close to the goal to clinch the deal. Marco moved up to a striker position to give our forwards some time to breathe (we had only one subs for forwards), and almost increased MISN‘s lead by another goal. His one-touch combination with Nafee and Bardia set up our Italian winger on the edge of the box, but his angled effort was parried away by the keeper.

About 10 minutes into the half, Can obtained the ball on the left wing and attempted to get a shot on goal, but found the opposition of a J.S.S. defender in front of him. Shielding the ball and keeping it under control, he resisted to a few challenges of his marker, managed to turn around and slip the ball across the goal on the right wing. On came Santi completely unmarked, to deposit the ball in extension into the empty net. 3-0 MISN!

With a 3-goal lead, we were now in the comfort zone and could let go of some pressure a little bit. Our opponents on the other hand were now forced to expose themselves more, push a few of their players up, and give us a few counter-attacks to exploit. Unfortunately our accuracy on a few of these left something to be desired, and Santi had a few one-on-one opportunities neutralized by the keeper, as he couldn’t turn around on time for the finish.

With about 10 minutes left, J.S.S. came back in the game in a somewhat surprising fashion, given that they passed the ball from right to center, and one of their defenders took a one-time instep shot that had enough power and precision to surprise Jan onto the left post. 3-1, but that J.S.S. player was left way too much space for my taste…

As a result, we felt a little bit under pressure for these final minutes, but the good defensive work of Jon, Kevin, Marco, Eric, Bruno, and Nafee (as well as the saves of Jan when needed, although he didn’t have a lot to do today) kept danger at bay.

Eventually ref called full time, and MISN walked away with its 3rd straight win in 3 games!!
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3-1 final score

Scorers:
Santi (2)
Nafee

Yellow cards:
/

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A good win boys! We played an intelligent game throughout, not taking too many risks and defense, and eventually got rewarded for our offensive efforts despite a few initial misses in the 1st half.

Our 9 points in the past 3 games feel like a great morale booster, as we now have the confirmation that if given the proper number of players, our team can go out there and play the game it knows how to play. More importantly, we are just receiving further confirmation that our current ranking position really doesn’t reflect the true value of MISN, and that we really have what it takes to bring home the cup when playoffs arrive.

We have now laid 3 bricks for our 2008 skyscraper, and by the looks of it, the December/January times of cement shortage are over. Let’s keep this up.

GO MISN!!

-Marco-

UEFA Soccer Team of the Year 2007

Friday, January 25th, 2008

UEFA Soccer Team of the Year 2007 on mCalcio

After 3.75 million votes were cast by 277,985 users, the uefa.com Team of the Year 2007 has been revealed last week.

After much thinking and a lot of videotape viewing (mostly Champions League matches probably), the UEFA writers have come up with 60 nominations, which were then submitted to the general public of the uefa.com website. Users were asked to select eleven players and one coach to make up the Finest team of 2007.

Now, unlike awards such as L’Équipe’s Best 11 Soccer Players of 2007 (voted by journalists) this award was made by popular vote, so even if you don’t agree with the selections (and I’m sure none of you will 100% :D ) know that this team was chosen democratically. Nevertheless, feel free to give your 2 cents (and fire away your insults) in the comments section.
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Uefa.com “Team of the Year” concept

Uefa.com - Europe’s football websiteThe first uefa.com users’ Team of the Year poll was launched on 12 December 2001. The criteria for Team of the Year concept was straightforward and presented in simple terms: “Naturally, there were many fine individual displays too [in 2001], and rather than impose our own “expert” selections of the top players of the year, uefa.com is asking the real experts, the site’s users, to vote for their Team of 2001.”

The users responded with a cumulative poll of over 3 million votes before the first uefa.com “Team of the Year” was announced on 3 January 2002. Since then the concept has been the same: uefa.com writers have come up with 60 nominations and the uefa.com users have selected the eleven players and one coach to make up the final selection. The first such selection reflected was not dominated by any one club, with UEFA Champions League finalists Bayern Munich and Valencia both having two players chosen, while UEFA Cup winners Liverpool had one player and one coach in the dream dozen.

In total 47 individuals have been selected on the 6 uefa.com users’ Team of the Years. By far the most successful player has been French forward Thierry Henry. He was selected on the first four teams, missed out by a mere 1,000 votes on the Team of 2005 before garnering his 5th selection in the 2006 team. Zinédine Zidane was selected in the first 3 teams, while Pavel Nedvěd, Alessandro Nesta, Gianluigi Buffon, Carles Puyol, Ronaldinho and José Mourinho have also all appeared in 3 selections.

The official website of the award can be found here.
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UEFA Soccer Team of the Year 2007

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Iker Casillas
Goalkeeper
IKER
CASILLAS
Real Madrid
Often nominated but not selected till now, Iker Casillas has been one of Europe’s best keepers. Only 26, he has 73 Spain caps and has appeared 84 times for Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. He was in stellar form in 2007, playing a key role as Los Merengues regained the Spanish title. He finished more than 10,000 votes ahead of Petr Čech, with whom he shares a birthday, polling more than 90,000 votes.
Other nominees: Petr Cech (Chelsea), Andrés Palop (Sevilla), José Manuel Reina (Liverpool), Edwin Van der Sar (Man Utd)
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Daniel Alves
Right-back
DANIEL
ALVES
Sevilla
After just missing out on the 2006 team, archetypal attacking full-back Daniel Alves edged out the more defensive-minded Sergio Ramos in this year’s lineup. Alves is to the right flank what compatriot Roberto Carlos is to the left. Always looking to attack without shunning defensive duties, Alves was a central figure in Sevilla’s second successive UEFA Cup triumph and also scored in Brazil’s Copa América final victory.
Other nominees: Massimo Oddo (AC Milan), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan)
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Alessandro Nesta
Central defender
ALESSANDRO
NESTA
AC Milan
After sitting out Italy’s 2006 FIFA World Cup win, Alessandro Nesta may have had a point to prove on his return and he did so with an excellent display for Milan in the UEFA Champions League final. He then helped the Rossoneri triumph in the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, where he scored a goal in the decider.
Other nominees: Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Kolo Touré (Arsenal), Nemanja Vidić (Man Utd)
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John Terry
Central defender
JOHN
TERRY
Chelsea
John Terry topped the poll for central defender despite the fact he missed a lot of the year through injury. However, when he was playing, Terry showed enough to confirm his status as one of the best stoppers around. He scored the first international goal at the new Wembley in June and also led Chelsea to FA Cup and English League Cup glory as well as to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the third time in four seasons.
Other nominees: Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd), Paolo Maldini (AC Milan), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Kolo Touré (Arsenal), Nemanja Vidić (Man Utd)
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Eric Abidal
Left-back
ERIC
ABIDAL
Lyon/Barcelona
The France defender pipped last year’s winner Philipp Lahm by less than one per cent of the vote. Yet there is no doubt that Abidal is one of the finest full-backs around. He started the year with Lyon and his partnership with Florent Malouda was one of the strongest left sides in the game as he claim a third straight Ligue 1 crown. He has since impressed with Barcelona and is France’s undisputed No1 at left-back.
Other nominees: Royston Drenthe (Feyenoord/Real Madrid), Patrice Evra (Man Utd), Marek Jankulovski (AC Milan), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)
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Cristiano Ronaldo
Right midfield
CRISTIANO
RONALDO
Manchester Utd
Undoubtedly the finest winger in the world, Ronaldo was in stunning form in 2007. He scored 29 goals for Manchester United in all competitions as they regained their Premier League title and reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. In addition, he netted five times as Portugal qualified for UEFA EURO 2008™. He was chosen as Footballer of the Year by both journalists and his fellow professionals in England and was also voted Portuguese Player of the Year.
Other nominees: Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Aleksandr Hleb (Arsenal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Franck Ribéry (Marseille/Bayern Munich)
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Steven Gerrard
Central midfield
STEVEN
GERRARD
Liverpool
The Liverpool talisman may have lost out to Milan in the UEFA Champions League final, but Gerrard finished well ahead of second-placed Andrea Pirlo in the voting in this category. He also received more votes as captain than any other player, over 40,000. He led Liverpool to a second final in three years and late in 2007 scored in seven successive matches, including the last three UEFA Champions League fixtures as Liverpool made the last 16.
Other nominees: Michael Essien (Chelsea), Cesc Fàbregas (Arsenal), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan), Christian Poulsen (Sevilla)
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Kaká
Attacking midfield
KAKÁ
AC Milan
With 220,333 votes, Kaká topped the poll overall after a brilliant year which underlined his status as the best player in the world. Top scorer with ten goals as Milan won the UEFA Champions League, Kaká also lifted the UEFA Super Cup – scoring in the final – and was picked as best player when Milan claimed the Club World Cup.
Other nominees: Diego (Werder Bremen), Ronaldinho (Barcelona), Wesley Sneijder (Ajax/Real Madrid), Rafael Van der Vaart (Hamburg)
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Clarence Seedorf
Left midfield
CLARENCE
SEEDORF
AC Milan
The most successful player in UEFA Champions League history shone again in 2007 with his fourth final victory. He finished more than 6,000 votes ahead of Ricardo Quaresma to be selected for a second time, five years after his previous inclusion. His campaign was highlighted by crucial strikes against Bayern Munich and Manchester United in the quarter and semi-finals en route to another European success, and also by his 100th UEFA Champions League appearance against Celtic in December.
Other nominees: Ryan Giggs (Man Utd), Florent Malouda (Lyon/Chelsea), David Silva (Valencia), Ricardo Quaresma (Porto)
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Zlatan Ibrahimović
Forward
ZLATAN
IBRAHIMOVIĆ
Inter Milan
In the last 12 months, the mercurial Swedish international has added the consistency to the ability and self-confidence he has always possessed. He was leading marksman for Inter as they secured the 2006/07 Scudetto and he continued in that vein in the final months of the year, finishing as joint top scorer in the UEFA Champions League with five goals from six games.
Other nominees: Afonso Alves (Heerenveen), David Healy (Leeds/Fulham), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), Frédéric Kanouté (Sevilla), Francesco Totti (Roma), Luca Toni (Fiorentina/Bayern Munich), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid)
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Didier Drogba
Forward
DIDIER
DROGBA
Chelsea
Belated recognition for the Ivory Coast striker after he played such a crucial part in Chelsea’s Premier League title triumph of 2006. He top-scored in the English championship in 2006/07 with 21 goals, netted twice in Chelsea’s 2-1 League Cup final victory over Arsenal, and forced in the winner in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley in extra time against Manchester United. He also hit four goals in four outings as Chelsea advanced to the last 16 of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League.
Other nominees: Afonso Alves (Heerenveen), David Healy (Leeds/Fulham), Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan), Frédéric Kanouté (Sevilla), Francesco Totti (Roma), Luca Toni (Fiorentina/Bayern Munich), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid)
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Sir Alex Ferguson
Coach
SIR ALEX
FERGUSON
Manchester Utd
The Scottish manager who led Manchester United to UEFA Champions League glory in 1999 gets a long overdue award after guiding the Red Devils to the ninth title of his remarkable two-decade reign at Old Trafford. He has built arguably his third great United side and after contesting the semi-finals in 2007, he will be hopeful of another UEFA Champions League triumph in 2008.
Other nominees: Carlo Ancelotti (AC Milan), Rafael Benítez (Liverpool), Fabio Capello (Real Madrid), Juande Ramos (Sevilla/Tottenham)

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Inter and Juventus Face Off to A 2-2 Draw at the San Siro (Coppa Italia Quarter-finals, Leg 1)

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08

WOW! What a game at the San Siro Wednesday night!! And to think that this was just a Coppa Italia match (and thus doesn’t completely earn the “Derby d’Italia” tagline, usually given to any Juve-Inter fixture), but boy… the encounters between Nerazzurri and Bianconeri are never completely ordinary are they, and today was no exception. Crazy events started in the first 10 minutes (a Marchionni injury prompting the insertion of Trezeguet and a 3-striker Juve, followed by a Burdisso red card for a last man foul on Del Piero), and ended in the last 10 (two late goals by Juventus to overcome their 0-2 deficit). If the return leg is anything like the final 45 minutes of this one, there won’t be a single yawn at the Stadio Olimpico in two weeks.

Raffaele Palladino and Nicolás Burdisso

Coppa Italia Quarter-finals, Leg 1 - Inter 2-2 Juventus

At the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza tonight, the Inter supporters had a special welcome in store for their beloved team, with many banners praising the Nerazzurri and thanking them for “a fantastic year 2007″. This according to Gazzetta, was the sign of a very healthy team, confident of their excellent performance in Serie A so far. Yet there remained a nervousness in the players’ minds, as if Juventus, one of the eternal rivals, could somehow spoil the San Siro fest and bring the Nerazzurri march to a brutal halt.

Tactically, both team coaches gave their “reserve” players a small chance to shine, Roberto Mancini by choice (fielding a revamped defensive line with only Marco Materazzi as the usual starter, and a midfield composed of Solari, Maniche, Pelé, and Cesar, in support of Cruz and Crespo), Claudio Ranieri by necessity (Buffon, Nedved, Chiellini, Camoranesi, and Salihamidzic being forced out due to various injuries). Both coaches however had to rapidly re-think their tactics for the evening, because two episodes in the first 10 minutes of the match drastically affected the remaining 80.

In minute 6, Marco Marchionni picked up a knock and was carried off, forcing Ranieri to switch Juve’s initial 4-4-2 line-up to a 4-3-3 (in came Trezeguet to pair up Del Piero and Iaquinta). A few minutes later, enter change nº2: Nicolas Burdisso lost the ball to Del Piero and brought him down close to the box, with the Juve striker clear on goal. For referee Stefano Farina this meant professional foul i.e. a red card for the Inter center-back, thus forcing the Nerazzurri to play the remainder of the match with 10 men. Mancini scratched his head, and decided to drop Cesar into an unusual right-back role, to reform his 4-man defence.

Needless to say the sending off offence was quite a shock to Inter, who were now forced to play a full 80 minutes with a tight lock on their goal, and hope for the best in quick counter-attacks. And surprisingly (or not so surprisingly, given the technical baggage of the Inter players) it worked! Most of the Juve offensives for the first half limited to a David Trezeguet header on an Alessandro Birindelli cross (deflected by Toldo into corner), and a laser shot by Vincenzo Iaquinta from a good free-kick position, also neutralized by the Inter keeper. In fact, Mancini’s team even found the time & space to get close to Juve’s goal, and send shivers down Belardi’s spine with Solari (breakaway on the left wing but inaccurate cross) and Cruz (served by Crespo, but closed down by Grygera before the finish). The half ended 0-0.

At the restart, it didn’t take long for Inter to get ahead and… wait wha? Weren’t they the ones with one man down? WHAT?? They were TWO men down due to temporary injury of Solari????!! Is this for real!?!?!??? Sadly yes. With an excellent assist, the two best players of the match tonight combined to produce the Nerazzurri’s first goal: from Pelé to Julio Cruz, and early header by ‘El Jardinero’ to beat Belardi. 1-0 Inter.

This was really a crappy situation for Juventus (relatively speaking, remember they were still one man up), because now not only were they trailing, but they were forced to deal with the empowered Inter midfield after the substitutions of Solari/Crespo for Cambiasso/J.Zanetti (talk about rock-hard Argentine internationals…). But if you’re a Juve fan reading this, wait it gets worse. From Julio Cruz on the right wing, openining up the play on the left, the ball shifted down to Cesar for a low cross from the opposite wing… back to… Cruz (!), who anticipated Boumsong and scored the 2-0 tally. Unbelievable, but with one man down Inter ruthlessly exploited the two big mistakes of their opponents’ defense, and stabbed their dagger deep into the Juve hearts.

However (and I hate to borrow the old cliché here), Inter should know that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”, especially when you’re playing Juventus. In fact, while the Nerazzurri were on the good end of the equation this week-end (when they came back from behind to win the game vs. Parma), they weren’t going to be so lucky this time. The Nerazzurri have proved time and time again this season that their goalscoring cynicism has no equals, but if there’s one thing Juventus are world-renowned for, it’s that they’re “the team that never gives up”: in true Juve heart, the Bianconeri completely overturned a seemingly desperate situation (with a little help from providence) and fought back to the tie the game in the last quarter.

With Marco Materazzi out of the field (being medicated after a one-on-one collision with Cristiano Zanetti), a Molinaro cross was deflected by Cambiasso straight onto Trezeguet, which provided a perfect assist for Alessandro Del Piero at the center of the box. The left-footed volley of the Juve captain found the twine, and Juve were back in the game. 2-1.

5 minutes later, they were level. With Materazzi now out for good (substituted by Patrick Vieira, another one just back from injury), the Inter defense began showing its leaks, and on Raffaele Palladino’s cross Jean-Alain Boumsong jumped higher than everyone, and slammed his header onto the crossbar past the goal-line. Wait, is that the same Jean-Alain Boumsong who’s 95% certain of leaving for French club Lyon sometime this week? Call it irony, and call it 2-2.

Remained just enough time in the match to see Cruz stamp a shot onto the post (exploiting a Maxwell pass), but the score wouldn’t change anymore tonight. What kind of Juve team will it be next week for the return leg? Probably one without Tiago and the hero of the night Boumsong, and who knows perhaps with a few new faces from the January transfer window (Sissoko? Mellberg?). One thing’s for certain though: it won’t be an ordinary match at the Olimpico, and tonight’s two away goals put Juve at a slight advantage. Only slight.

Jean-Alain Boumsong and Nicola Legrottaglie

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F.C. Internazionale Milano
INTER-JUVENTUS
2-2
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 53’, 73’ Cruz (I), 79’ Del Piero (J), 84’ Boumsong (J)
INTER (4-4-2): Toldo – Rivas, Burdisso, Materazzi (78’ Vieira), Maxwell – Solari (57’ J.Zanetti), Pelé, Maniche, Cesar – Cruz, Crespo (67’ Cambiasso). (bench: Orlandoni, Córdoba, Jimenez, Balotelli). Coach: Mancini.
JUVENTUS(4-4-2): Belardi – Birindelli (68’ Boumsong), Legrottaglie, Grygera, Molinaro – Marchionni (6’ Trezeguet), Nocerino, C.Zanetti, Palladino – Del Piero, Iaquinta. (bench: Vanstrattan, Castiglia, Ariaudo, Tiago, Esposito). Coach: Ranieri.

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MISN – Winter Lachine 07-08 game 13 (vs. Boca Juniors)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Ricard, unofficial sponsor of MISN Impossible

MISN? What’s this?

Hello MISN,

On Saturday January 19th we played game nº13 of the Winter 2007-08 Lachine indoor league, vs. Boca Juniors.

This one has been a year of ups and downs for our team. We started off in October with 2 victories, which were unfortunately followed by as many defeats, and which capped off a first month not exactly up to usual MISN standards. That first month serves however as a good example of how our performances have been evolving up to this point: we have now passed the first part of the 22-game long season, and are now undertaking the “return leg” round (so-to-speak), during which we have every intention of improving the ranking MISN occupies in the standings at this moment.

Now, we started off on the good track with our 4-1 win against Hellas last week (our first win in 6 long matches), and we were fully motivated to maintain our form today against last-ranked Boca Juniors.

MISN - Winter Lachine 07-08 game 13 (vs. Boca Juniors)

Attendance-wise, unlike last week we unfortunately had a good number of absentees for this one, also due to the fact we were confident we wouldn’t need a lot of players, since we were playing a team with 0 victories so far in the season. This was our first mistake of the day, because nothing is more dangerous than a cornered animal.

However, for the sake of telling the story: Eric was unavailable because he was occupied with his McGill Intramural team Rejects, Saber (our latest recruit from last week) was busy working, and Tim was out on holiday to Mexico. On top of that Santi had his mother visiting from Argentina, and Kevin was stuck in Ottawa with some car trouble. On the upside we finally got Saad to show up to one of our games, and (long AT LAST!) Can was back from Abitibi/Turkey, and both their presence proved very helpful today.

1) Absent long-term: Tim
2) Injured long-term: Tevin, Güven
3) N/A this week: Eric, Saber, Kevin, Santi

Here was our line-up:

Keeper:
Jan
Defense:
Marco
Jon
Alex / Bruno
Offense:
Saad / Nafee
Bardia
Can

We stepped onto the field with great desire for victory, and would you believe it, contrary to all MISN traditions we immediately got to a great start.

On the first action of the game, the ball was chipped by Saad over the Boca Juniors defense, for an unmarked Can in the clear. Our returning Turkish striker let the sphere bounce, then fired a shot past the goalkeeper for the first goal of the game. 1-0 MISN with less than 1 minute on the clock.

A few minutes later, we scored the double. With MISN in possession inside the Boca half of the field, a countered pass/cross resulted in the ball looping up in the air, close to Saad a few 5-6 meters outside the area. As it was dropping, our Moroccan winger connected with a volleyed left-footed shot, straight inside the right post of the goal!! 2-0 MISN!

Unfortunately (and this is the “but” of the story), that is when things started going sour. We became too lazy with our passes/controls, and did what in French we could call “pêcher par suffisance”. That is, we did the strict minimum both for defensive and offensive efforts, and it the end it turned out that the “minimum” wasn’t even enough. As a result, Boca Juniors started growing in confidence and utilized their counter-attack tactic to great advantage.

First, they exploited a lost ball on our right wing to send the ball deep to one of their players, and after he won a few one-on-one challenges with our defence (with a bit of luck), one of their strikers managed to get a shot on net which Jan couldn’t prevent from crossing the line. 2-1.

Then, a few minutes later, we conceded a doubtful free-kick just outside the box on the right (which by the way, was given by the Rasta Collina-wannabe ref, you know… MISN‘s big friend), and the Boca set-piece taker curled an instep shot straight into the top left corner. Quite a nice shot I must admit, and not much Jan could do. 2-2, back to square one.

It was thus 2-2 at the half, and we had decidedly underestimated our opponents, and were paying for it. Most importantly, we were playing way below par, rushing the pass under pressure and being very unproductive in offense. If we wanted to walk away from this match with 3 points, we would need to do a lot better.

For the first 10-15 minutes of the 2nd half, we spent a lot of time pushing up and down the field without going anywhere. We had a few good chances, but not much more: Marco and Saad hit the post, Bardia got served a good ball at the penalty spot (following a smart dummy by Saad) but couldn’t finish, and Can had a few tries on net which were too weak to worry the keeper.

We also had a few scares. The Boca players were growing more and more dangerous on the edge of our area, and it took some last-ditch defending from Jon, or some primo goalkeeping by Jan to keep the game tied.

Eventually, we broke through about 10 minutes from the end, as the two Moroccans from our team combined. Nafee pushed forward, passed the ball to Saad on the left wing, then continued his run towards the center. The ensuing cross by Saad connected with Nafee‘s header, and the ball angrily hit the inside of the net for the 3-2 tally.

Unfortunately a few minutes from the end, a defensive mistake cost us possession at the half-line, which enabled a Boca striker to get through on the left, pass the ball across to the center, and a teammate to poke the ball inside Jan’s right post. 3-3 and &*#^$#*!!&# of bloody hell!!!

The situation could have turned from bad to worse just seconds later, when another defensive mistake turned possession to Boca, and left one of their strikers all alone in front of the net. It was then that our keeper Jan pulled out his wizard hat, and magically managed to prevent the ball from crossing the line: a first save pushed the ball back to the striker, and it then seemed like the net was wide open!! Incredibly however, Jan managed to stick his leg out on the striker’s final shot, and deflected the ball into corner, only inches away of the right post!!

That was our good luck break, because on the ensuing play we mounted one final massive assault forward and really broke through the Boca defense, with Jon getting served in a perfect position on the right wing, and finishing with a low shot to the far post! 4-3!!!

Ref called full time shortly after, and MISN obtained another very vital 3 points.

.
.
4-3 final score

Scorers:
Can
Saad 
Nafee 
Jon

Yellow cards:
/

.

Overall, it shouldn’t be too hard to admit we played poorly today. We began with a great start to the match, but then one of these three things took place (or all of the above): we went to sleep, we rested too much on our laurels, and we underestimated our opponents.

In our defense, Boca Juniors is one hell of a weird team: capable of losing 10-0 to a modest adversary, then almost creating the upset by losing only 3-5 to the 4th-ranked team. If anything, the team we played today certainly doesn’t deserve their last-rank spot (which should attest to the fact they have been doing some extra recruiting). However, that should be no excuse for our performance today in which we appeared unmotivated, undisciplined, and considerably lacked in cohesion.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day we still walked away from the match with 3 points, which is the most important thing. We have to consider every future game now with one clear objective in mind: winning the playoffs cup at the end of the season. Building a skyscraper starts by laying out the first brick… we have laid two so far. Let’s keep going, and hope we don’t run out of cement…

GO MISN!!

-Marco-