Archive for February, 2008

Serie A Matchday 24 – Week-end Review + GOALS of the Week (2007-08)

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Week-End Reviews

Here are the results and summaries for matchday 24. Full Video Highlights here.

Italian Calcio Blog week 24 review

Italian Calcio Blog



Believe me as I say this: there hasn’t been such a high concentration of stunning strikes in a Serie A matchday in AGES!! It’s litterally as if all of the week-end goals deserve a spot in the Top 10 (except for P.K.’s maybe). Quite simply: WOW! Yet, I can’t show them all here, but do have a look at SerieAtv’s matchday 24 compilation.

This week, the goal-of-the-week award goes to Parma’s Stefano Morrone. I mean come on… would you have doubted it? Have a look at the Torino-Parma game report I posted on Saturday, and see if you didn’t see that one coming. (scroll to minute 00:53).


Results Summary


Serie A – day 24
Torino – Parma
4 - 4
Reggina – Juventus
2 - 1
Atalanta – Siena
2 - 2
Cagliari – Lazio
1 - 0
Empoli – Catania
2 - 0
Livorno – Napoli
1 - 2
Roma – Fiorentina
1 - 0
Sampdoria – Inter
1 - 1
Udinese – Genoa
3 - 5
Milan – Palermo
2 - 1

Milan 2-1 Palermo: SuperPippo Inzaghi Time (Serie A Matchday 24)

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

Serie A - Milan vs. Palermo

Serie AA good week-end for the Rossoneri. All the while Fiorentina lost vs. Roma, Ancelotti’s boys managed to pull a last-minute victory goal against Palermo, thus reaching La Viola at 4th spot in the Serie A standings. Providing the 3 points for AC Milan today, none other than Mr. Inzaghi: when goalpoaching is the subject at hand, SuperPippo has always got something to say.

Super Pippo Inzagoooooooool… Milan grabs the win in stoppage time

Serie A Matchday 24 - Milan 2-1 Palermo

With Ronaldo out of the picture for a loooong time, the over-hyped (by virtually the entire Italian press) Ka-Pa-Ro formula (aka Kaká-Pato-Ronaldo trio) has sort of disappeared from the radar. Today, Ancelotti fielded the modified Ka-Pa-Gi, with Alberto Gilardino replacing the previously-bald-but-now-not-so-bald Brazilian. However, almost as if trying to compensate for the absence of Auriverde presence on the field, the Milan coach decided to give extensive offensive liberties to Massimo Ambrosini, with surprisingly very positive results. Indeed on the left wing, the contribution of Milan’s de-facto captain today (in the absence of Paolo Maldini) was a lot more devastating than the “official” left winger of the occasion, Marek Jankulovski (the Czech international sure ran a lot, but was also guilty of a lot of missed passes and lost balls).

Amauri tries to get away from Andrea PirloOn the other end, Francesco Guidolin fielded a thick Palermo midfield with Guana-Migliaccio-Bresciano (who will soon be forming a bald men’s club in Sicily), supported by Cassani-Balzaretti on the wings. Up front, Edison Cavani was coupled with the ever-dangerous Amauri Carvalho de Oliveira, the striker which would so-perfectly fill the role of Luca Toni substitute in the Azzurri squad (come on Donadoni… time to get on your knees and beg).

The match at the San Siro tonight can be essentially characterized by two things: Milan’s vivacity with one-touch passing & ball possession, coupled with some enormous defensive brain-freezes which, had it not been for Palermo’s poor finishing qualities, could have resulted in yet another defeat on home soil. Up front, the technical quality of Pato and Kaká is not up for debate, but today the Brazilian duo left a little to be desired, especially the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner. In his defense, Kaká was struggling with a knock on his left knee, which also probably forced his premature substitution at the end of the first half. His substitute Yoann Gourcuff did little to stand above his teammate, save for the assist for Inzaghi’s winning goal in the 91st. But let’s proceed in order.

Mark Bresciano re-direct: Palermo in the leadEarly in the match, the Rosanero grabbed the lead with virtually the first scoring chance of the game: from a long ball forward by Migliaccio, Amauri missed the interception, prompting the insertion of Mark Bresciano right behind him. The Australian midfielder lost little time, and executed an instantaneous half-volley with his instep: it lacked power but not precision, rooting his Aussie buddy Zeljko Kalac (still favored over injured Nelson Dida) to the spot. 1-0 Palermo in minute 9.

The goal was a big sting to Milan’s morale, who immediately began upping the tempo forward, highlighting the clear differential in technique between the two teams. After a long bit of superior ball possession, the Rossoneri re-established the tie in minute 24: a perfect Massimo Oddo delivery inside the box (the Azzurri right-back has been in excellent form lately) found the foot of another Massimo, Ambrosini: a tackling effort close to the left post on which Alberto Fontana was left helpless. 1-1.

Massimo Ambrosini tackles… the ball into the net. 1-1.For the remaining half of the first period, ensued a veritable Milan siege. The Rossoneri wing-backs Oddo and Jankulovski were really pushing forward, supporting their team’s offensive maneuvers and forcing the Palermo wings to drop to defend. This resulted in very little playable balls for Amauri and Cavani, whose timid attempts at creating some danger were deftly neutralized by the Milan defense. However, the Rosanero backline was doing a fair job of its own, preventing Kaká & friends from getting any real shot on target.

At the break, Kaká left his place to Gourcouff, but the course of play changed very little. The only highlights worth the mention were an Alexandre Pato long-range effort in minute 62 (deflected by a Palermo player, it forced Fontana to a very good save into corner-kick), a good Kalac anticipation on Cristian Zaccardo (ready to apply the finish on a Fabio Simplicio free-kick, in minute 66), and an Edison Cavani cannonball in minute 69 (after a sleepy Milan defense had allowed the Uruguyan striker acres to arm his shot). In other words, a poor display for a team who is desperately hunting that 4th Champions League qualifying spot.

So, like many times before, the task of solution provider was left to the incumbent Inzaghi: minute 91, Gourcuff on the left wing, switching the ball to his right foot and providing a perfect cross for Super Pippo inside the Palermo box. Missing the offside trap, the entire Rosanero defense allowed the 2006 World Cup champion to comfortably apply a diving header finish, for AC Milan’s 2-1 final scoreline. The Rossoneri’s Champions’ League spot is one step closer.

Inzaghi’s winning diving header


A.C. Milan
[Match Highlights]
U.S. Città di Palermo
GOALSCORERS: 9′ Bresciano (P), 24′ Ambrosini (M), 91’ Inzaghi (M).
MILAN (4-3-1-2): Kalac – Oddo, Bonera, Kaladze, Jankulovski (84’ Favalli) – Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Kakà (46’ Gourcuff) – Pato, Gilardino (72’ Inzaghi). (bench: Fiori, Simic, Emerson, Brocchi). Coach: Ancelotti
PALERMO (3-5-2): Fontana – Zaccardo, Barzagli, Biava – Cassani, Guana, Migliaccio, Bresciano (55’ Simplicio), Balzaretti – Cavani (88’ Gio.Tedesco), Amauri. (bench: Agliardi, Rinaudo, Caserta, Jankovic, Miccoli). Coach: Guidolin.


Torino 4-4 Parma: When the Goalscoring Gods Go Crazy (Serie A Matchday 24)

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

Torino 4-4 Parma: When the Goalscoring Gods Go Crazy (Serie A Matchday 24)

Serie ASometimes, big surprises can come from where you least expect it. On paper, this Torino vs. Parma match-up had very few people fretting in anticipation: with most of the Granata supporters eagerly awaiting the Tuesday derby with Juventus, and the Gialloblu’s season summarized by ‘an in & out battle of the relegation zone’, there really was not much interest for the neutral supporter. But boy… anyone that did go to the Turin Olimpico Saturday afternoon sure didn’t feel sorry. 8 goals, one post, one crossbar, one missed penalty call, and lots and lots of fair play. Almost surreal for a Serie A fixture.

Serie A Matchday 24 - Torino 4-4 Parma

At the end of the day, those that will feel most sorry for the final scoreline will be Parma. Domenico Di Carlo’s team is really having a rough season to say the least (the Gialloblu haven’t managed to win a single away game the entire year), but blowing away a 3-goal lead must be really be burning inside for the Parma players. But let’s proceed in order.

The biggest emotions of the match took place in the first half: 6 goals and a non-penalty call for handball, at the time when Torino was up by one. Indeed, despite Parma’s initial aggressive debut, the home team were the first to get on the scoreboard: exploiting a long ball forward by Di Loreto, Roberto Stellone got in behind the Parma defense, resisted the return of Fernando Couto, and beat Luca Bucci with a powerful low drive between the keeper’s legs. 1-0 Torino.

The goal galvanized Novellino’s men, who upped the tempo and tactical placement of their players, keeping their Gialloblu opponents inside their own half for a good while. Around minute 15, Torino could have obtained a penalty for a handball inside the Parma box (Damiano Zenoni the culprit), but referee Nicola Ayroldi decided to wave play on. It would have probably made a big difference in the events to follow.

Andrea Gasbarroni’s top-notch free-kick effortDuring Torino’s best playing period, Parma equalized: minute 29, McDonald Mariga (I swear that’s his name) stole the ball inside the Torino box, and launched a backpass for Andrea Gasbarroni. The ex-Juve trainee controlled it and directed a low shot way out of Matteo Sereni’s reach. 1-1. Not even 3 minutes had passed, when Gasbarroni (yet again) lit up the magic light and invented a marvelous free-kick strike from 25m, straight into the top left corner of the Torino goal. 2-1 Parma.

If you thought Parma’s second goal was worth the entrance ticket, the third one (3 minutes from the end of the half) must have left you dumbfounded. Following a Parravicini cross from the left cleared by Natali, the ball rebounded to Stefano Morrone 5-6 meters outside the box. The Parma midfielder didn’t think about it twice, and armed an absolute storming volley with his right foot, swerving into the top right corner of Sereni’s goal!! 3-1 Parma, and undoubtedly the goal of the week (I defy anyone to score a better one this week-end).

Budan makes it four for ParmaWait it’s not over: time for two more goals before the break. What TWO?? Yes two. Torino didn’t even have the time for kick-off, that their opponents made it four: the Granata defense went to sleep allowing Igor Budan to get through on net, and the Croatian striker didn’t fail the finish. 4-1 Parma, but not for long. Indeed, in the last play of the half, Cesare Natali had the chance to compensate for his earlier mistake, and calmly headed an Alessandro Rosina free-kick from close-range (and virtually unmarked). 4-2 Parma at the break, with 45 more minutes to go. Incredible stuff at the Olimpico of Turin.

Walter Novellino must have really pulled the ears of his players at the break, because Torino came back onto the field with a different attitude in the 2nd period. Sequentially inserting David Di Michele, Alvaro Recoba, and Nicola ventola, the Granata’s manager intentions were very clear: get those two goals back at all costs, even with the risk of conceding a few more. A very real risk, especially if one looks at Mariga’s 63rd minute crossbar, which could have brought the score to 5-2. Instead Torino pulled another step closer to the draw, when a Recoba corner-kick from the left found Stellone inside the box, and the Granata striker re-directed the cross inside the bottom-left corner of Sereni’s net. 4-3, and Parma now decidedly under pressure.

Stellone makes it 4-3… Torino’s tying goal is nearToo much pressure eventually, for a team which at the end of tonight will still be looking for their first away win of the season. In minute 82, a long ball by Sereni found the header of Stellone for the flick-on, allowing David Di Michele to slip between Couto and Falcone, and beat the Parma keeper with a chipped shot. 4-4. And would you believe if I told you that Torino actually came close to winning this? In stoppage time, a Gianluca Comotto right-wing cross found the header of Nicola Ventola inside the box… straight onto the crossbar!!

The Granata really dodged a big bullet on this one, but in the end the players must really be praised for their determination and the way they battled to come from 3 goals behind! If Torino plays with the same intensity vs. Juventus, we’re in for a lava-hot ‘Derby della Mole’ on Tuesday.

If any of you are interested in extended highlights of this match, you can find them here on the official Torino site (watch out, 25MB file). Else see the YouTube link below.


Torino F.C.
[Match Highlights]
 Parma F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 11′ Stellone (T), 29′, 32′ Gasbarroni (P), 42′ Morrone (P), 43′ Budan (P), 45′ Natali (T), 69′ Stellone (T), 82’ Di Michele (T).
TORINO (4-4-2): Sereni – Comotto, Di Loreto, Natali, M.Pisano – Diana, Corini (64’ Recoba), P.Zanetti, Lazetic (46’ Di Michele) – Stellone, Rosina (80’ Ventola). (bench: Gomis, Lanna, Grella, Barone). Coach: Novellino.
PARMA (4-4-1-1): Bucci – Castellini, Falcone, Couto, D.Zenoni – Mariga, Parravicini (92’ Cigarini), Morrone, Pisanu – Gasbarroni (75’ Morfeo) – Budan (65’ Corradi). (bench: Pavarini, Rossi, C.Lucarelli, Reginaldo). Coach: Di Carlo.


France Hearts Nike for €320m: Les Bleus Ditch Adidas and Get New Sponsorship Deal

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Fédération Française de FootballA shirt worth its weight in gold. Litterally. Latest news on Friday: France has officially changed its team sponsor. Yup, no more Adidas for Les Bleus, enter Nike.


The contract (which should run from the period of 2011 to 2018) has apparently been reported to amount €320m for the period of 7 years, making the French blue shirt the most expensive ever in the history of soccer.

Adidas - 2008 France national team home jerseySo, in three years’ time no more three-barred stripes for the Frenchies (2008 Adidas France jersey featured right), but a nice little Nike ‘checkmark’ instead. The change, which brings an end to the 40+ years relationship between the French Football Federation (FFF) and the German sports apparel manufacturer, has been motivated essentially by… money (well, what else could it be really?). The Nike-FFF contract has been valued to €42.6m a year, i.e. four times as much as what Adidas were previously paying the French federation. Want some more numbers? That’s €12.5 more than what Nike was offering the English FA, and triple the amount what they are paying the Brazilian federation or what Puma is paying the FIGC (Italian federation).

Ballon PSG NikeIt will be a great opportunity for Nike to ‘catch up’ on the notoriety battle with Adidasdeclared Fabrice Ducceschi, general director of Nike France. Indeed, according to the latest studies, Adidas is recognized by over 60% of the French population, against only 42% for Nike. FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes is quite satisfied with the operation: “I think it can safely be called a success. The operation will have a positive domino effect on the entire structure of French soccer, from the national team to the amateur clubs. We will now be able to adequately finance the war on doping and violence, as well as the youth academies throughout the country“.

It’s a big blow for Adidas, despite the sports company managed to retain contracts with the German and Mexican football federations. As a small consolation, Adidas’s presence within Les Bleus will not disappear completely however: they still maintain individual sponsorship deals with Patrick Vieira, Karim Benzema, and Samir Nasri. Ligue de Football ProfessionnelBut speaking of super business deals, earlier this month the LFP (Ligue de Football Professionel) had announced the renewal of their TV rights contract with premium pay television channel Canal+ and and telecom service Orange: €668m per season for a period of 3 years.

You can say what you want about Ligue 1 soccer and the level of play in France, even boring 0-0 draws are quite expensive in the end.

Soccerlens 2007 Awards – mCalcio Runner-Up in ‘Editor’s Choice’ category

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Soccerlens 2007 Awards - Best Serie A BlogFor those of you who haven’t been following, this month saw the launch of the first official Soccerlens 2007 Awards, rewarding the best soccer blogs on the internet. For each category, the choice was narrowed down to 6 candidates, with being nominated for ‘Best Serie A Blog’.

After one week of voting, time for results. I can’t really say that we almost made it, because… well that would be untrue. The Readers’ Choice poll ended up ranking mCalcio in 4th position, shortly behind Italy Offside (which in my opinion deserved the win) and way behind vote winners Italian Soccer Serie A (authored by our friend Anna Italia).  I guess that’s what happens when you got a lot of friends voting for you… repeatedly :P but in any case, congratulations to Anna for all her hard work. Her enthusiasm certainly shows in each one of her posts, and that’s the main thing.

Soccerlens 2007 Awards - Best Serie A Blog Poll ResultsOn the upside, mCalcio did rank 2nd in the Editor’s Choice category (and no, before you ask, I did not have anything to do with the voting), right behind Italy Offside who got the recognition it deserved. The work of Martha this past year has been absolutely incredible, and it is with great sadness that I learned she would be quitting her blogging tasks this month, due to lack of time. The good news is that, for the moment, she is being replaced by Chris from the Roma Offside, which by the way won the award for ‘Best Blogger’. Those of you who have read Chris’s work before, you know you’re going to get entertainment. Yes he’s a Romanista and entirely biased towards the club of Trigoria but hey, nobody’s perfect…

Anyways, I’d like to thank all of you who voted for me, as well as all those who keep reading my footy ramblings day after day, week after week. You are keeping mCalcio alive! :)

So CHEERS for a great 2007, and here’s to an even better 2008!! :mrgreen: Drinks are on me, courtesy of Carlsberg. Salute!!

Cheers everyone!