Archive for April 20th, 2008

Torino 0-1 Inter Milan: The Scudetto Gets Closer to Northern Italy… (Serie A Matchday 34)

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Serie ASunday’s Torino vs. Inter serves to prove a very simple fact: when you’re playing one of the Big four, you must be careful at not making even a single mistake, failure of which you’ll be paying a heavy price. Torino got the full positive effect of their manager change this week-end, but even the team’s new-found pride and new (old) manager Gianni De Biasi could not stop their Inter opponents from getting one step closer to another Scudetto.

Indeed, Julio Cruz’s 30th-minute goal was sufficient for the Nerazzurri’s 23rd win of the season, but it wasn’t easy for Roberto Mancini’s boys. No, this was a hard-fought victory, but a likely determining one nonetheless: the lead over 2nd-placed Roma is now +6, and with 4 matches to go (aka 12 possible points) I really don’t see what is going to stop Inter now. Not even Carlo Ancelotti

(From Gazzetta): TURIN, 20 April 2008 – Torino’s battling spirit was once again back for everyone to see in Gianni De Biasi’s first game in charge at the club, but the new manager had been very clear in his pre-match comments: “I don’t want any praise, I just want points“. The problem was that Inter were also seeking points, and went about getting them with a cynicism that is (more often than not) stronger than heart. Just ask Roma, who now find themselves 6 points behind the Nerazzurri.

MORE THAN JUST GRIT AND DETERMINATION – The Toro team fielded by manager De Biasi demonstrated to be much more than a side just desperate for points. There was in fact much more to the Granata’s play, as the home team developed fast football, some sublime plays (in particular from Rosina, back to his usual role as playmaker) and plentiful use of the wings, especially the right where a lively Marco Motta was a constant threat. This brought many chances for Torino in the initial minutes, notably from Roberto Stellone and Alessandro Rosina. The two players both came close to the mark in quick succession (from short and long range), right until Marco Di Loreto’s golden opportunity: collecting a corner-kick from Rosina, the center-back’s header missed the frame of the goal only by a whisker (with Dellafiore a hairbreadth away from the winning deflection).

There was however an Achilles’ heel to this new-look Torino side, as the defence seemed particularly shaky,  starting from goalkeeper Alberto Maria Fontana (early in the match, the Torino nº1′s horrendous charge out of his own area almost gifted Maicon a goal) and right through to the various misunderstandings among defenders. It was precisely through one of these errors that a seemingly passive Inter side scored their goal: Mario Balotelli (featuring more and more in Roberto Mancini’s starting plans lately) took a corner-kick, and the Granata defenders were left completely static as Julio Cruz popped up to score with his head. 1-0 Inter on effectively their first real chance of the game.

The Granata then turned sloppy risking to concede a second goal, but soon re-established stability, especially on the right wing where the Motta-Diana combination dominated proceedings. Inter manager Roberto Mancini was therefore forced to take off Balotelli in favour of Cesar, in an attempt to rein in the opposition with a cautious 4-4-1-1, with Cruz as the lone striker and Stankovic in support. This tactical reshuffle allowed Inter to contain their opponents’ energy surges, and go into the break with a 1-0 lead.

THE SECOND HALF - The second half began in the same vein as the first, with Torino showing that they were not yet ready to throw in the towel (both on a physical and tactical level). Mancini thus found himself tinkering with his team again, also due to a knock to Esteban Cambiasso: on came David Suazo to give Inter back its two strikers in a 4-4-2 formation. De Biasi also brought on another striker soon after that, throwing in Nicola Ventola at the expense of a very good Motta, who was perhaps showing signs of tiredness. 

In spite of the changes though, there were very few notable chances in the game from that point onwards. Torino enjoyed most of the ball possession but were too predictable in their play, with crosses that the Inter defence dealt with easily and the odd shot from distance. At the other end, with Torino pushing forward Suazo tried to take advantage of the spaces opening up, but only to lift the pressure off the Nerazzurri.

In the final stages De Biasi had one last go sending on Sasa Bjelanovic, but in spite of some good plays Torino were simply unable to find the back of the net. With one single chance, Inter had grabbed a vital 3 points and now found themselves incredibly closer to the 16th Serie A title of their history.


[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 30’ Cruz (I).
TORINO (4-4-1-1): Fontana – Motta (69’ Ventola), Dellafiore, Di Loreto, Pisano – Diana, Corini, Grella (72’ Bottone), Lazetic (86’ Bjelanovic) – Rosina – Stellone. (bench: Ferrauto, Rubin, K.Asamoah, Barone). Coach: De Biasi.
INTER (4-4-2): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi, Chivu – Stankovic, J.Zanetti, Cambiasso (56’ Suazo), Maxwell – Cruz (88’ Rivas), Balotelli (37′ Cesar). (bench: Toldo, Maniche, Pelé, Crespo). Coach: R.Mancini.


Atalanta 0-4 Juventus: Del Piero’s Hat-Trick Puts the Bianconeri One Step Closer to Champions League (Serie A Matchday 34)

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Serie ALadies and gentlemen, this is the year of mystery player nº 10. We were all talking about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo early this year, when the Portuguese funambulist and the magnificent Swede were scoring goal after goal, and deserved all the praise that was coming to them. In the second part of the season however, Zlatan (pretty much like the rest of Inter) lost a bit of his form, and while our mystery player probably won’t equal Ronaldo’s achievements this year (38 goals with Man Utd and still counting), he’s certainly risen to front stage spotlight. A very bright spotlight.

Alright, that was a very weak attempt at suspense from my part. I’m sure you’ve all guessed that our mystery player is none other than Alessandro Del Piero. On Sunday, the Juventus captain collected 3 goals, 1 assist, and left the playing field under the cheers of an unanimous standing ovation (Atalanta supporters included). It always breaks my heart when I mention this, but I still doubt that Donadoni will call Del Piero to Euro 2008. Numbers however, speak for themselves: 17 goals in Serie A (1 goal behind David Trezeguet and 2 behind topscorer Marco Borriello), 20 in total this season, and 151 in the Italian top flight. Only an idiot would keep this man at home this Summer, but who knows…

As for the match itself, I’ll quote KwSport by saying this was a match of “threes“. Three like the goals of Del Piero, three like the consecutive victories of Juventus (only 1 point away from mathematical Champions League certainty) and three like the consecutive losses of Atalanta. It seems that the Bergamo Nerazzurri have already left for holiday…