Archive for May 2nd, 2008

Fiorentina 0-0 Rangers: Heartbreak for La Viola, Rangers Advance to the Final on Penalties (UEFA Cup Semi-Finals, Leg 2)

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

What a shame. They played better, they had more scoring chances, and they deserved a win, yet Fiorentina‘s 2008 UEFA Cup adventure ends in the Semi-Finals. The cruel fate of penalty kicks, which has plagued Italians so many times in the past (but which after the 2006 World Cup seemed to be a forgiven affair), condemned the more talented and technical side.

La Viola’s last penalty kick by Bobo Vieri, sent miles over Neil Alexander’s crossbar, is unfortunately the lasting image of a Fiorentina-dominated match, 120 minutes where Rangers did the best with they had. Walter Smith’s all-out defense tactic, hoping the match would come down to a shootout, eventually rewarded the visitors, who will now be contending the UEFA Cup trophy to other surprise finalists, FC Zenit.

Before the match started, the entire Artemio Franchi stadium (joined by La Viola’s youngsters and “old glories”) joined together to sing Fiorentina’s anthem, sort of a “thank you” ritual for the excellent season the team has been having this year. The 40,000 Viola spectators then turned their singing into chanting, supporting their team as the return leg of the UEFA Cup Semi-Finals began. And support they would need, because right from the start Rangers’ tactics were to disrupt their opponents’ passing game in the center, and rely on fast counter-attacks to obtain a valuable away goal. The scoring chances therefore, took quite a while to arrive.

To find the first shot on goal, we had to wait till minute 20, a Riccardo Montolivo mid-range effort which Neil Alexander had no trouble neutralizing. A few minutes later, another shot by the Viola midfielder grazed the crossbar and it seemed as if in this portion of the game, long-range efforts would be the only way Fiorentina could produce anything tangible. Eventually however, the forward runs by Mario Santana and dangerous ball controlling abilities of Adrian Mutu seemed to stir up the Scottish defense, and it looked that if they tried long enough, a goal would arrive for Fiorentina before the half.

Unfortunately, the injury of Marco Donadel (replaced by Zdravko Kuzmanovic) came in the way of these plans, and the match rapidly reverted to its previous stale-mate, with David Weir attentively man-marking Gianpaolo Pazzini and preventing him from doing anything but pass the ball backwards, and Barry Ferguson asphyxiating the playmaking abilities of Fabio Liverani. Not even the generous runs forward of Martin Jorgensen (once again playing in the right-back position) could muster anything for the home team, and the first half thus ended scoreless. 0-0 at the break.

In the second period, the movie script did not change much for Rangers. Containment was their main motivation, even though La Viola’s initiatives were progressively getting more dangerous. Mutu and Pazzini in particular, combined skilfully in the 51st minute when the Romanian striker got down on the left and delivered a perfect cross, but the U21 Azzurrino’s deflection was narrowly wide of the mark. Minutes later, a great rebound shot by Tomas Ujfalusi grazed the crossbar, as the Rangers’ defense progressively started to get more shaky and permit additional space to their opponents.

Shortly after a good free-kick combination between Liverani and Mutu (slammed hard onto the Rangers keeper, who narrowly controlled the ball before Pazzini’s winning tap-in), Cesare Prandelli decided to play the ‘Bobo’ card. Vieri’s 34 years of age don’t permit him to hold more than 60 minutes, but seeing a possible overtime on the horizon, the Fiorentina coach thought it was time to bring in the ex-Italian international, possibly in order to find a winning header on a corner-kick. Bobo actually came quite close on a number of occasions, but either ended up making a mess of the ball or shot it miles over the crossbar. On their part, Rangers reacted with their dangerous counter-attacks (through Daniel Cousin and Steven Whittaker notably), but Sebastien Frey was ready. After 90 minutes still no score… time for extra time.

Continuing onto his work from the second period, Vieri immediately came close with a very good chance from the left, but narrowly missed his aim wide of the post. Prandelli inserted Franco Semioli for Santana in order to give more energy to his attacking trio, but at this point Rangers had decided it was time to hold down the fort. Barely even coming out of their own half, the Scottish visitors found a way to patch up their leaks and kept the net of Alexander safe until the final minute.

Before the ill-fated penalty shootout sequence, there was time for Fiorentina to come close to scoring once again, notably through Adrian Mutu (great volleyed effort deflected by a defender) and Christian Vieri (shots narrowly wide, or over the crossbar). It just seemed it wasn’t going to happen for Fiorentina today because even when it came down to the spot-kicks, Frey gave La Viola’s supporters the illusion of qualification by parrying Ferguson’s first shot, only to take it away moments later with the mistakes of Liverani and Vieri.

With 3 matches left in the Serie A, Cesare Prandelli’s consolation should be aplenty however, if Fiorentina manage to hold their 4th Champions League-qualifying spot at the expense of AC Milan. This time, there won’t be any penalty shootouts involved.


0-0 (4-2 p.s.o.)
[Match Highlights]
 Rangers F.C.
PENALTY SHOOTOUT: Ferguson (R) saved, Kuzmanovic (F) goal, Whittaker (R) goal, Montolivo (F) goal, Papac (R) goal, Liverani (F) saved, Hemdani (R) goal, Vieri (F) wide, Novo (R) goal.
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen, Ujfalusi, Gamberini, Gobbi – Donadel (42’ Kuzmanovic), Liverani, Montolivo – Santana (95’ Semioli), Pazzini (78’ Vieri), Mutu. (bench: Avramov, Dainelli, Osvaldo, Pasqual). Coach: Prandelli.
RANGERS (4-4-1-1): Alexander – Broadfoot, Carlos Cuellar, Weir, Papac – Davis (80’ Novo), Hemdani, Thomson, Whittaker – B.Ferguson – Darcheville (64’ Cousin). (bench: G.Smith, Buffel, Boyd, Dailly, Faye). Coach: W.Smith


FUSSBALL TRIX – The Football Tricks Bible

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

\'Fussball Trix\' front page. Source:<br /> Munz, F. D.(2007): FUSSBALL TRIX, StreetSpot, Munich

This is something that came out in Germany some time ago (in October 2007 I think), but it’s never too late to point out good reading material.

Step into a new world, a world in which football means more than just the result of a game and where no borders are set to your creativity. Football is more than fight and condition, football is above all also art. Show what you are made of, unfold your skills and let yourself be inspired by the bible of “football tricks”.

The knowledge that lies therein will take your play to a new level, and turn you into a powerhouse of the pitch. This book creates a new consciousness for the beautiful game, and is must for all followers of the football art.

The above passage is a Babelfish-translated (slightly edited by myself, thanks to my (fading) knowledge of the German language) introduction to the FUSSBALL TRIX book, as described on the authors’ official website StreetSpot. So what is this all about?

Basically you’ve all seen those Nike “freestyle”, “joga bonito” etc. etc. commercials, in which players showcase their Ronaldinho-like skills with fancy stepovers, Zizou 360ºs, reverse crossflicks and so on, right? Well, this book is meant to teach you how to do those tricks, with accurate descriptions and elaborate ‘how to’ illustrations.

But I think actions speak louder than words, so before I continue let me present the official book video:

Pretty cool right?

Basically the book was written by Florian D. Munz, a Sport Sciences student at TUM University in Munich, and the lad certainly seems to know what he’s doing: both on the playground (when it comes to demonstrating the tricks) and behind the desk (writing/organizing/editing the book). Indeed, despite I could only get my hands on the press-released 14-page demo version (in German), I have to say that for something written by a student the book is very professionally done.

FUSSBALL TRIX is organized into 5 sections: the Prologue (explaining the basic elements of the game), an Introduction (with subheaders like Factors influencing the trick, Your opponent, Speed of execution, Ball control, etc.), and then 3 main chapters called Face 2 Face Trix, Side 2 Side Trix, and Back 2 Face Trix. Each ‘tricks’ section is itself divided into smaller categories (e.g. Fake Trix, Shift Trix, Bypass Trix, Stepover Trix, Spin Trix, ShotFake Trix, and so on).

Navigating through the book is therefore made very easy, and reading the nearly 50 page-long introduction should help every reader familiarize him/herself with the philosophy of football tricks, styles, and the learning tools & requirements necessary to use the book to its maximum potential.

Now my German is a bit rusty, but the great thing I noticed from the 14-page demo version is that each trick is not only fully illustrated with real-life images, but also features a small box indicating which types of opponents are most likely to be fooled by it. FUSSBALL TRIX seems to distinguish 4 categories of opponents (defenders) to that effect:

  1. Disturbers – These are the close man-markers I presume, that barely leave you an inch of breathing space.
  2. Resters – Those that keep their distance, lay back and wait for you to make the first move.
  3. Sidesteppers – Those that move sideward when you turn to one side, the kind you can’t outrun but who should also easily fall for fakes.
  4. Watchers – The “contain” types: you slowly move forward, they slowly move backward -these are good at covering space, but wait until the last possible moment to challenge the ball.

Obviously, a good defender should be capable of adapting any of those 4 “styles” (depending on the situation and the opponent), however I find it extremely useful that the book’s author indicates whether a certain trick is more likely to fool a Disturber, a Rester, a Sidestepper, or a Watcher. An “arrow” diagram (see above) also seems to indicate the suggested speed of execution.

Unfortunately, the only disadvantage of FUSSBALL TRIX is that it is only available in… German. If you don’t speak Goethe’s language, well I guess you could look at the pictures and would still be able to figure out what to do, but you’d miss out on the first 50-60 pages of the book. The good news however: Florian is planning to release a fully translated English version within the year, and the English section of the homepage is set to launch shortly.

The order form on states the book is available for €29.90, shipping fees included for orders within Germany. For orders within Europe extra shipping costs have to added, which amount to €6.00 for fast orders (1-2 days) and €4.50 for normal orders (1-4 weeks). Outside of Europe (including North America): €12.00 (fast) or €4.50 (normal). In any case, even with the language barrier this should be a great read for technique-oriented players of the beautiful game. I will able to tell you more in a few weeks’ time, as Florian has kindly agreed to send me a copy of the book for review. :) I’ll keep you posted.

Author: Florian D. Munz, Student of Sport Sciences at TUM University (Technische Universität München)
408 pages, 246 football tricks in figure sequences, 52 graphic illustrations
fully in color
2nd Edition, revised and extended, ISBN: 978-3-9811922-0-9
€29,90 tax included (shipping incl. for orders within Germany)


StreetSpot ACADEMY

(Note: Once again, this is taken directly from the website, after Babelfish-translation and editing. If it doesn’t ‘sound’ very good, don’t blame it on me :) )


We welcome you cordially to the StreetSpot ACADEMY, the homeland of the beautiful & perfect football.

A player attains perfection by the combination of duel strength, skillful teamwork and sophisticated ball technique – Fighting, Strategy and Style. When these basic elements of football are reunited, they lead it to its ultimate level, Kingstyle.

While the elements ‘Fighting’ and ‘Strategy’ are already controlled by many players, the element of ‘Style’ is still underrepresented in the today’s play. Dismissed by some as showboating and breadless art, the future of play nonetheless lies in technique-oriented football. Our mission is striving towards promotiong and furthering the artistic element present in the beautiful game.

Training Concepts

Football tricks belong to the most spectacular plays in the game of football, but they are not beautiful only to look at. Correctly implemented into a player’s game, they give him considerable power to affect the play, take unexpected shots on goal or create surprising and dangerous openings for himself or his teammates.

Teaching these techniques in football practice was so far considered difficult, if not impossible. Usually one left it to the players themselves, to decide to what extent they wanted to perfect their individual technical repertoire. Simple movements and basic techniques can be demonstrated in training and rehearsed in obstacle courses, but in order for football tricks to be used IN PLAY this is not sufficient.

Constructing on the contents outlined in our “FOOTBALL TRIX” book, we developed a revolutionary training concept where one can learn and immediately apply these techniques. The focus of our training is the demonstration & application of football tricks in actual play situations, as well the types of opponents it works best against.