Archive for May, 2008

I Heart ADP

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Come get your own “I Heart ADP” pin over at The Offside. :mrgreen:


UEFA Cup 2007-08 FINAL – Zenit 2-0 Rangers: the Scottish Fort Surrenders to the Russian Armada

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Three years after CSKA Moscow’s victory against Sporting, the UEFA Cup returns to Russia. To Saint Petersburg to be precise and into the trophy room of FC Zenit, who will be adding their first European cup to their club history record. At the City of Manchester stadium (home of Man City), the club sponsored by gas superpower Gazprom beat Rangers by 2-0, and prevented the Scottish team from returning to glory, 35 years after their Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1973.

There will be no “quadruple” for manager Walter Smith this year. but no result was ever more just that Wednesday night’s match. After Villareal, Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen, and Bayern Munich, the Russian Premier League champions got rid of Rangers as well, and by the looks of it that may not be their last European victim yet. UEFA Champions League teams beware…

As expected, this wasn’t exactly a match with great footy on the menu. Zenit may well have delighted neutral spectactors with their speed, technique and goalscoring abilities, when it came down to breaking up Rangers’ iron defense, their play was shall we say… blocked. Walter Smith’s 4-5-1 tactics (with Jean-claude Darcheville the only man not defending behind the ball) had done wonders to get Rangers to the final, so there was really no reason to change them for their most decisive match. The only thing that could have “unlocked” the monotony and ultra-tactical focus of the first half (a goal namely) didn’t arrive, and it wasn’t short of Tekke, Arshavin, and Fazyulin trying. The absence of UEFA Cup topscorer (tied with Luca Toni) Pavel Pogrebnyak was leaving a mark…

In the second period, same story: Zenit tryed to open things up, Rangers immediately closed them down. In minute 55 however, the Gers could have taken a surprising lead: Darcheville broke through the Zenit defense, and forced keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev to a save. The ball couldn’t be cleared, it landed to Barry Ferguson and eventually struck the post before going wide. Rangers’ big chance was followed by another shortly after (not quite as big) through Steven Whittaker, but the biggest of the match was reserved for Zenit (through the feet of talented Andrei Arshavin). Through on goal on the left wing, and skipping past Gers keeper Neil Alexander, the Russian winger couldn’t however shoot fast enough and allowed Saša Papac to clear his chipped shot on the line.

There was little Rangers could do in minute 72 though, as Igor Denisov broke through after a lovely passing exchange with Arshavin, and torpedoed Alexander with a low shot to his left. 1-0 Zenit, and decidedly not the ideal situation for Walter Smith, both tactically and psychologically. Indeed, not only was his team now forced to attack (uncommon) but they had less than 20 minutes to do so. Psychologically in particular, the shock was quite hard to absorb because Zenit could have doubled their lead, and only a few minutes after their first goal (Zyryanov receiving from Arshavin and hitting the post).

Smith then brought on strikers Lee McCulloch and Kris Boyd, and it almost looked as if Rangers could ring an equalizer (their biggest chance coming through Nacho Novo) right before the end of the match. Instead, Zenit put the final nail in the Gers’ coffin deep into stoppage time: Fatih Tekke got through on the left, applied a cushy cross for Konstantin Zyryanov who then only had to tap it in. 2-0 Zenit and game over. Dick Advocaat’s mission was accomplished: after bringing glory to Rangers for so many years, the Dutch manager had put Zenit on the top of Europe. One thing is for sure now though: no one will be underestimating the Russian team anymore…


 FC Zenit St. Petersburg ZENIT-RANGERS
[Match Highlights]
 Rangers F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 72’ Denisov (Z), 93’ Zyrianov (Z)
ZENIT (4-3-2-1): Malafeev – Anyukov, Shirokov, Krizanac, Sirl – Zyrianov, Tymoschuk, Denisov – Fayzulin (92’ Kim Dong) Arshavin – Tekke. (bench: Contofalsky, Radimov, Dominguez, Ricksen, Ionov, Gorshkov). Coach: Advocaat.
RANGERS (4-5-1): Alexander – Broadfoot, Cuellar, Weir, Papac (76’ Novo) – Davis, Hemdani (81’ McCulloch), B.Ferguson, Thomson, Whittaker (86’ Boyd) – Darcheville. (bench: G. Smith, Dailly, Faye, Adam). Coach: W.Smith.


Partita del Cuore: Maradona’s Back on the Football Field

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Invited by Francesco Totti and Italian pop singer Eros Ramazzotti, Diego Armando Maradona has picked up his football boots once again. The Partita del Cuore is a yearly humanitarian event in Italy, and what it comes down to is basically a charity match between Italian celebrity figures, plus a selection of professional football players (usually from the golden years).

This year, it was Nazionale Cantanti (Italian Singers national team) vs. Unica, a team composed of players, TV personalities, and actors. The charity they sponsored was Fondazione Parco della Mistica, a foundation dedicated to the restructuring of 82 acres of land outside of Rome. On Monday, both teams stepped onto the grass of the Stadio Olimpico of Rome, and the thousands of fans in the stands had once again the pleasure to see Diego Maradona in action.

Here were the starting line-ups:

Nazionale Italiana Cantanti: Daniele De Rossi (goalkeeper), Mogol (captain), Paolo Belli, Gianni Morandi, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Enrico Ruggeri, Raoul Bova, Luca Barbarossa, Gigi D’Alessio, Diego Armando Maradona, Eros Ramazzotti.

Unica: Andrea Lucchetta (goalkeeper), Marco Carta, Luciano Spalletti, Claudio Amendola, Enrico Fabris, Aldair, Sebastiano Somma, Bruno Conti (captain), Giancarlo Fisichella, Zico, Angelo Peruzzi.

Managers: Francesco Totti and Gianluigi Buffon.

Referee: Stefano Farina.

Yes, I liked the idea of playing De Rossi in goal and Peruzzi as a striker too. :D For the record, the match ended 6-6 with goals by Ramazzotti (4), Antonacci, and Maradona (on a penalty kick) for the singers, and Fisichella (2), Amendola, Dovizioso (the MotoGP pilot), Moelgg (Italian alpine skier) and Fabris (Italian ice skater) for “Unica”.

Here’s a video of the event. Check out the super-goal by Eros Ramazzotti by the way… wow! In pure “à la Del Piero” style, no wonder Ramazzotti’s a staunch Juventus fan, huh? You think ADP’s been giving him lessons? :)

And here’s some more photos of Maradona in action (courtesy of KwSport):

Portugal’s Euro 2008 Roster – 23 Players, No Maniche

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

The tournament debut approaching, managers from all Euro 2008-bound will soon be making their final call-up lists for this Summer’s big competition. The deadline imposed by UEFA is officially May 28, but while other coaches prefer to keep their options open by making “pre-selections” of 28-30 players, Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari went straight to the point today and gave his final List of 23 who will be travelling to SwissAustria in June.

The biggest notable absentee is Inter midfielder Maniche, a player who regularly featured in the squad during the qualifier campaign. This season however, his playing time at Inter Milan and before, at Atletico Madrid) has been scarce at best, which is the likely reason why the Portuguese manager decided to drop him. Still, his absence makes for quite a shock.

If you want to know more about the selections, has the full story here.  Alternatively, you can check out the discussion over at here.

Here’s the full list:


Goalkeepers: Club:
Ricardo Pereira Betis
Quim Silva Benfica
Rui Patricio Sporting
Miguel Monteiro Valencia
Jose Bosingwa Porto
Paulo Ferreira Chelsea
Ricardo Carvalho Chelsea
Fernando Meira Stuttgart
Bruno Alves Porto
Pepe Real Madrid
Jorge Ribeiro Boavista
Raul Meireles Porto
Joao Moutinho Sporting
Deco Barcelona
Armando Petit Benfica
Miguel Veloso Sporting
Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester Utd
Simao Sabrosa Atletico Madrid
Ricardo Quaresma Porto
Nuno Gomes Benfica
Hugo Almeida Werder Bremen
Nani Manchester Utd
Helder Postiga Panathinaikos

Has Alessandro Del Piero’s Return to the Azzurri Finally Arrived?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

That’s a big one, right? Big enough to deserve its very own detailed and analytical answer I’m sure.

So why don’t you go have a look over at The Offside, and read my Will Alessandro Del Piero Be Going to Euro 2008? post? :wink: