Archive for April, 2008

Serie A Matchday 34 – Week-end Review + GOALS of the Week (2007-08)

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Week-End Reviews

Here are the results and summaries for matchday 34. Full Video Highlights here.

Italian Calcio Blog week 34 review

Italian Calcio Blog

Gazzetta in English week 34 review

Gazzetta dello Sport

MILAN, 20 April, 2008 – Juventus have almost secured a spot in the Champions League, although Milan and Sampdoria are still in the race; meanwhile at the bottom, things are not looking good for Empoli, Reggina and Parma. These are the results of round 34.

Boosted by an unstoppable Del Piero who scored three goals, Juventus had an easy day in Bergamo: the 4-0 landslide against Atalanta (first goal by Legrottaglie after only one minute of play) gives the bianconeri the almost absolute certainty they will have a spot in the Champions League.  AC Milan had in mind Fiorentina‘s victory against Palermo, so Super-Kaká’s three goals and a couple of goals by Inzaghi and Pato led the rossoneri to a final 5-1 against Reggina, keeping their Champions League hopes still alive. Meanwhile Sampdoria‘s 3-0 victory over Udinese (with goals by Cassano and Bellucci (2)) keeps the Ligurian team in the race for 4th place.

At the bottom of the standings, important wins by Cagliari (2-0 over Empoli with goals by Acquafresca and Fini) and Catania (1-0 against Lazio, a penalty kick by Spinesi). Dramatic defeat at home for Parma against Napoli: the home team ended the 2-1 match with eight players (Gasbarroni, Falcone and Mariga were sent off). Genoa won 1-0 in Siena.

As for our league leaders, Roma were stopped by Livorno (1-1) at the Olimpico on Saturday, leaving the way open for Inter (victorious 1-0 over Torino) to take a +6 lead. The Scudetto is very very close at being painted in Nerazzurro again.



Quality’s back en masse folks! Our selection expands, and be sure to check every single goal because it’s worth it! 

This week, the goal-of-the-week award goes to Edgar Barreto. Now, some of you may think that Fini’s half-volley deserves first spot over Barreto’s control and slamming strike into the top corner (not that the goal-of-the-match helped Reggina much vs. AC Milan), but in my opinion both goals are equally nice, with Fini’s perhaps having a higher difficulty quotient.

So, to make my final choice this week I didn’t flip a coin or anything, but simply went with the video which featured the goal ‘exclusively’ (i.e. no match highlights reel where you have to fast-forward to the play in question). Call it a “logistical” choice if you will :) but quality stuff nonetheless:


Results Summary


Serie A – day 34
Roma – Livorno 1 – 1
Fiorentina – Palermo 1 - 0
Atalanta – Juventus 0 - 4
Cagliari – Empoli 2 - 0
Catania – Lazio 1 – 0
Milan – Reggina 5 - 1
Parma – Napoli 1 - 2
Sampdoria – Udinese 3 - 0
Siena – Genoa 0 - 1
Torino – Inter 0 - 1

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…

Roma 1-1 Livorno: Totti’s Knee Goes Crack as Roma are Blocked by Livorno (Serie A Matchday 34)

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Serie AAt the cost of sounding redundant, it looks like the Scudetto race has finally picked its winner. Yeah yeah I know, I must have said this a million times already and every time Roma slipped up, Inter proved my ass wrong by fu**ing up a week later.

This time however, looks like it’s curtains down for Roma. To put it simply, this was not a good week-end for the Giallorossi: they tied their home fixture vs. Livorno (a match which they dominated from start to finish, but during which they simply could not capitalize) and more importantly, they lost Francesco Totti till the end of the season. Yeah that same old knee again, only this time it’s serious: anterior cruciate ligament damage, operation necessary, bye bye Il Capitano for at least 5 months. Good thing he doesn’t have Euro 2008 to worry about, but I doubt that will make Roma supporters feel any better…

Now all Inter has to do is win vs. Torino tomorrow. With 4 matches left (after the Sunday fixtures), a +6 lead would pretty much guarantee the Nerazzurri’s 16th Scudetto of their history. 

But to go back to the topic at hand, the desperation of Daniele De Rossi after the final whistle was the perfect image of today’s Roma vs. Livorno match. Luciano Spalletti’s men litterally dominated the encounter from the first minute to the last, against an Amaranto team entrenched into their own half and incapable of producing any kind of reaction after going down by one. However, all the scoring chances in the world are fairly pointless if you can’t put in the back of the net, and Roma could do it only once today.

AS Roma\'s captain Francesco Totti has to leave the field after a knee injury (Roma 1-1 Livorno, Serie A Matchday 34, April 19, 2008)As for Livorno, they can be extremely happy at the final result: today’s draw should almost feel like a victory to the Amaranto, because Giancarlo Camolese‘s tactics against Roma today were purely and simply “all out back”. His initial 3-5-1-1 formation rapidly turned into an ultra-defensive 5-4-1, with Francesco Tavano (theoretically the lone ‘striker’) always retreating into his own half in order to contain the Giallorossi’s ball possession. With 11 men behind the ball, all the visitors could hope for was avoid taking any goals and then hope for a lucky break. Alessandro Diamanti‘s free-kick 10 minutes from the end provided just that.

Describing the first 45 minutes as “one-sided affair” would probably be putting it mildly. Things were pushed so much to the extreme that Roma’s keeper Doni could have probably left his post, walked out of the stadium, and enjoyed a cappuccino in a nearby coffee house. Yup, that bad. However like I said before, ball possession and shooting opportunities are worth squat if they don’t turn into goals, and on that aspect the Livorno defense was proving to be quite solid. All that Roma could muster in the first half-hour were corner-kicks, the first real shot of the match arriving in minute 36, a volleyed effort by Francesco Totti which Marco Amelia parried away.

On that very same chance, the Roma captain unfortunately had to leave the field feeling a crack in his knee (which was already in weakened condition at the start of the match), thus forcing Spalletti to bring in Mancini and reposition Vucinic at the top of the pyramid. In the 40th minute, a great Juan header was cleared off the Livorno line by De Vezze, and 5 minutes later Vucinic saw his close-range effort end narrowly wide. Roma had had its chances, but the score was still goalless.

The script didn’t offer many changes in the second half, and the Giallorossi picked up their monologue right where they had left off. In minute 53, Daniele De Rossi had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, but incredibly missed the goal on what could safely be considered an open-net chance, but fortunately for him Mirko Vucinic didn’t make the same mistake just a minute later. Exploiting an aerial pass by David Pizarro, the Montenegrin striker executed a delicate chipped header, putting the ball out of Amelia’s reach and into the net. 1-0 Roma.

Contrary to expectation, Livorno’s tactics changed very little after they conceded the goal. In fact Roma continued to push forward, obtaining chance after chance in front of Marco Amelia, and it was only thanks to him (with some help from the defense) that Livorno stayed afloat in this match. The shots by Pizarro, Vucinic, Taddei, and Cicinho were all parried away or wide of the mark, at which point Camolese decided to give his main striker Tavano a helping hand: on came Alessandro Diamanti, playmaker extraordinaire and free-kick specialist. And what a free-kick that was in minute 83, the kind that give you important points in the battle against relegation, and also kill Scudetto hopes. 1-1.

The final Roma assault (Daniele De Rossi‘s in particular) bore no fruits, as Marco Amelia provided once again his best Gandalf impression (“You… shall… not… pass!” Get it? Ok never mind…) and shut the door to the goal. All eyes will now be towards the Stadio Olimpico of Turin, when Inter visit Torino on Sunday afternoon. As a Juve fan I can’t believe I’m saying this but… in the interests of keeping the race alive: Forza Granata…


[Match Highlights]
 A.S. Livorno Calcio
GOALSCORERS: 9’ Vucinic (R), 83’ Diamanti (L)
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto (77’ Panucci) – De Rossi, D.Pizarro – Taddei (83’ Giuly), Perrotta, Vucinic – Totti (38′ Mancini). (bench: Curci, Panucci, Antunes, Brighi, M.Esposito). Coach: Spalletti.
LIVORNO (3-5-1-1): Amelia – Grandoni, Knezevic, Galante – Pulzetti, Melara, E.Filippini, Bergvold (65′ Diamanti), Pasquale (84’ A.Filippini) – De Vezze (70’ Loviso) – Tavano. (bench: De Lucia, Pavan, Vailatti, D.Tristán, Rossini). Coach: Camolese.


Coppa Italia Semi-Finals – First Leg Action Favors Roma, Inter and Lazio Tie

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Coppa Italia Tim Cup 2007-08

With the Juventus vs. Parma game, I almost forgot the little bit of Coppa Italia action we had Wednesday night. Not that the competition is all that exciting to be perfectly honest, but for the sake of being thorough, here goes. You’ll pardon me if I borrow a few words from La Gazzetta dello Sport though.

In the first leg of the first semi-final of the Coppa Italia, Roma beat Catania 1-0, the Giallorossi playing some good, entertaining football, but guilty of missing a lot of chances (something reflected in the measly 1-0 final score line). The goal however, scored by Giallorossi captain Francesco Totti, was certainly worthy of the best: the Roma talisman scored with a stunning right-footed shot from outside the area, just one minute into the second half.

Roma played the rest of the game pretty much in control the whole time, but Catania keeper Ciro Polito was stunning in keeping his goal safe, and giving his side a slim chance for the return leg.

[Match Highlights]
 Calcio Catania
GOALSCORERS: 46’ Totti (R)
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Curci – Cicinho, Mexès, Panucci, Antunes (83’ Tonetto) – Brighi, Perrotta – M.Esposito (60’ D.Pizarro), Giuly (76’ Vucinic), Mancini – Totti. (bench: Bertagnoli, Juan, De Rossi, Taddei). Coach: Spalletti.
CATANIA (4-3-2-1): Polito – Silvestri, Silvestre, Stovini, Alvarez (82’ Sabato) – Gazzola (46’ Izco), Edusei, Gia.Tedesco – Martinez, Mascara – Spinesi (71’ Morimoto). (bench: Ge.Rossi, Terlizzi, Biagianti, Baiocco). Coach: Zenga.



In the other semi-final (played later in the evening at the San Siro) Inter and Lazio could not get past a 0-0 draw, which in all honesty turned out to be quite a drab match. Inter manager Roberto Mancini decided to give his usual starters a round of rest, and opted to field a line-up with many changes compared to the Nerazzurri’s previous match. On the other end,  Lazio coach Delio Rossi seemed to give much greater importance to the match, playing his best players with the only notable exception of Rolando Bianchi up front.

In the first half, it was Lazio who enjoyed all the better chances, with Delio Rossi’s men perhaps a little wasteful. After the break Inter were much more dangerous, and half way through the half came very close to opening the score through Nicolas Burdisso (the Argentine defender hit the crossbar. The final scoreline was a fair result for both sides, who will have to do just a little bit better next time, in order to earn their ticket to the final game (the return leg is scheduled for May 7).


[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
INTER (4-4-2): Toldo – Burdisso, Materazzi, Chivu, Cesar – Figo (39’ Bolzoni), Jiménez (76’ Siligardi), Maniche, Solari (78’ Cambiasso) – Crespo, Suazo (bench: Orlandoni, Rivas, Fatic, M.Filippini). Coach: R.Mancini
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Ballotta – Zauri, Siviglia, Cribari, Radu – Dabo (81’ Manfredini), Ledesma, Behrami (60’ Mutarelli); Mauri – Pandev (89’ Tare), Rocchi. (bench: Muslera, Rozenhal, De Silvestri, Meghni) Coach: D.Rossi