Archive for May, 2008

Italian Players Around the World (12/05)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Continuing my weekly article inspired by Gazzetta dello Sport, here are the performances of all Italian soccer players operating in foreign European leagues.

Based on Gazzetta’s info, there are currently 22 Italians playing in first divisions abroad, and 9 of them stepped on the field this week-end.

The table below includes the team the player belongs to, their opponents for the week, the number of minutes they played, their contribution (goal, assist), and the final score of the game.
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ENGLAND    
Player Team Opp. mins. Contrib. Score
Carlo Cudicini Chelsea Bolton (bench) / 1-1
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SCOTLAND          
Massimo Donati Celtic Hibernian (bench) / 2-0
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GERMANY          
Luca Toni Bayern M. @Duisburg (injd.) / 3-2
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SPAIN          
Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid @Zaragoza 90 / 2-2
Giuseppe Rossi Villareal Espanyol 90 / 2-0
Christian Abbiati Atl. Madrid Deportivo (bench) / 1-0
Gianluca Zambrotta Barcelona Mallorca 90 / 2-3
Enzo Maresca Sevilla @Betis 17 / 2-0
Morgan De Sanctis Sevilla @Betis (bench) / 2-0
Emiliano Moretti Valencia @Levante (injd.) / 5-1
Stefano Sorrentino Recreativo @Almeria 90 / 2-0
Damiano Tommasi Levante Valencia (injd.) / 1-5
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FRANCE          
Fabio Grosso Lyon Nancy 90 / 1-0
Flavio Roma Monaco Auxerre (bench) / 3-0
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HOLLAND          
Graziano Pellè AZ Alkmaar / SEASON OVER /
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BELGIUM          
Roberto Mirri Mons @Anderlecht (susp.) / 1-2
Alessandro Pistone Mons @Anderlecht 90 / 1-2
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SWITZERLAND          
Stefano Razzetti St. Gallen Aarau 90 / 0-0
Andrea Guatelli FC Zürich @Thun (bench) / 1-1
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POLAND          
Stefano Napoleoni Widzew Łódź Gornik 45 / 2-1
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RUSSIA          
Ivan Pelizzoli Lok. Moscow Tomsk (bench) / 2-0

 

Heroes of the week

No goals again, and no assists either. Luca Toni had a bruised shin and sat out this week-end, Giuseppe Rossi has been playing averagely well but keeping off the scoring charts for some time now, and even usual assist-providers like Enzo Maresca are keeping quiet. So for once instead of goalscorers, let’s turn our attention to those who prevent goals from being scored.

Stefano Sorrentino, age 28Stefano Sorrentino has a had a tough season this year. Recreativo de Huelva hasn’t been exactly brilliant in the Spanish Liga, and they are now 1 point above the relegation zone with one match to go. Their keeper however, has saved their hide many times already and did so again this week-end against Almeria (Mané and Paunovic know something about it). Were the club to be relegated, it’s unlikely the ex-Torino nº1 would remain in the Iberian peninsula, but he will fight till the last breath to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Stefano Sorrentino, age 28As for St. Gallen “oldie” Stefano Razzetti, it was a very emotional day for the ex-Cremonese and Lugano goalkeeper. The 36-year old will be retiring at the end of the season so for his last match with the Swiss side, the St. Gallen coach gave him a spot in the starting line-up. He kept a clean sheet vs. Aarau this week-end and received a standing ovation from his the home crowd, grateful for his many years of service as team captain.

Serie A Matchday 37 – Week-end Review + GOALS of the Week (2007-08)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Week-End Reviews

Here are the results and summaries for matchday 37. Full Video Highlights here.

Italian Calcio Blog week 37 review

Italian Calcio Blog

Gazzetta in English week 37 review

Gazzetta dello Sport

MILAN, 11 May 2008 – Those who thought everything had already been decided were in for a surprise today: we will have to wait to the last round to know who wins the Scudetto this year. Inter were hoping to celebrate early, but drew 2-2 against Siena today, with Roma only one point behind then in the standings. Patrick Vieira opened the score, Massimo Maccarone drew and at the end of the first half, Mario Balotelli’s goal brought peace of mind back to Inter. In the second half however, Houssine Kharja evened the score and Marco Materazzi’s penalty kick was deflected by Alex Manninger, putting a damper in San Siro’s celebratory plans. For Roma however celebration was very much in order, because Panucci’s and De Rossi’s goals sufficed to win over Atalanta and keep Roman hope alive. The last 90 minutes of serie A will be decisive.

THE RACE FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – In the fight for a place in Europe’s top-flight competition Fiorentina moved ahead of Milan today, taking the fourth place in the standings. Facing against a struggling Parma side, La Viola went one goal down very early in the match (headed goal by Igor Budan), but Mario Santana replied for Fiorentina and Franco Semioli and Pablo Osvaldo followed suit. The Gialloblu will have to fight for survival next week, and they’ll have a very tough customer (Inter). On their part, AC Milan (in fourth place before today’s game after winning the derby last week), lost at Stadio San Paolo against a stunning Napoli side (goals from Marek Hamsik, Maurizio Domizzi and György Garics) before Clarence Seedorf scored the Rossoneri’s consolation goal. The Neapolitans move ahead of Genoa in the standings, who fell today in Marassi at the hands of a Lazio. Inspired by the return of Stefano Mauri, the Biancocelesti overcame the Rossoblu through their striking duo Pandev-Rocchi (1 goal each).

THE BATTLE AGAINST RELEGATION – The first veredict was signed today at the bottom of the standings: Livorno are down to Serie B. The Amaranto lost their last chance for survival in Serie A against Torino (goal from Alessandro Rosina) and bid farewell to Serie A one week before the end of the season. The Granata are safe, and so are Cagliari: the Sardinians (who looked somewhat lost up to only a few months ago) secured their stay in Serie A today, during the first ten minutes of the second half of their match vs. Udinese (goals by Robert Acquafresca and Andrea Cossu). Meanwhile, Marino’s Udinese fell behind Sampdoria in the standings, who won 2-0 in Palermo (goals from Antonio Cassano and Christian Maggio) in Amauri’s last match in front of his fans.

Reggina are also safe after winning the “tie breaker” against Empoli with goals from Edgar Barreto and Nicola Amoruso. The Tuscan side can still hope however, thanks to Juventus‘s draw against Catania (temporarily ahead with a goal from Jorge Martinez) with Alessandro Del Piero’s 19th goal of the season (who now join Trezeguet and Borriello in the ‘capocannonieri’ ranking of the league). We won’t know until next week which one of the three – Empoli, Parma and Catania – will join Livorno down to Serie B.

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GOALS of the WEEKGOALS of the WEEK

Aside from all the Scudetto-related excitement of Inter-Siena game, the Fiorentina win over Parma, the AC Milan loss vs. Napoli (and so on and so forth), matchday 37 was also characterized by tons of awesome goals, and after last week’s scarce “weight-loss” menu this comes as a very welcome surprise. I’m not putting all of them here but feel free to check the others out for yourself. I recommend, in particular, Hamsik’s goal vs. Milan or Osvaldo’s tackled volley vs. Parma.

This week, the goal-of-the-week award goes to Edgar Barreto. Boy was this an important win for Reggina, who are now assured of remaining in Serie A another season, but check out the goal that opened the score for the Amaranto! That must have been (at least) a 35-yarder (scroll to minute 01:20):


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Results Summary

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Serie A – day 37
Fiorentina – Parma 3 – 1
Genoa – Lazio 0 - 2
Inter – Siena 2 - 2
Juventus – Catania 1 - 1
Livorno – Torino 0 - 1
Napoli – Milan 3 - 1
Palermo – Sampdoria 0 - 2
Reggina – Empoli 2 - 0
Roma – Atalanta 2 - 1
Udinese – Cagliari 0 - 2

 

Inter Milan 2-2 Siena: Nerazzurri Miss The Chance For an Early Celebration, Roma At -1 (Serie A Matchday 37)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Serie AWell well well… it’s nice to see everything is back in order in Serie A. I was starting to miss matchdays like these: back in the day, amidst all the footy chaos and odd results there was still one fixed constant in the universe, namely Inter’s uncanny ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

If you’ve been following Calcio for longer than 2 years you all know what I’m talking about, right? Ah those days… they sure seemed to be gone after 2006. What, with Inter coming out unscathed of the Calciopoli scandal and creating this super-team of champions (this virtually unstoppable goalscoring machine that should have destroyed everything in its path), one wondered if the average Italian soccer fan would ever find another such perfect team to mock.

Don’t panic people, Inter‘s still here! Indeed, believe or not, the Nerazzurri tied 2-2 at home to Siena today. All they needed was a win and the Scudetto was a done deal: in fact, people in Milan had already prepared bottles of Spumante to celebrate Inter’s 16th title. But I guess that will have to wait one more week. Yes, Inter tied, by blowing away a double lead from Vieira (trumped by Maccarone) and Balotelli (trumped by Kharja), and then by missing the chance to make it 3-2 from the spot (bravo Materazzi). No need for hair-pulling just yet Inter fans, all you need to do is win at Parma next week and the Scudetto is yours. Ah, if only Parma weren’t fighting against relegation and in desperate need for a win themselves…

I’m being mean to Inter, so I should stop. Ultimately, Roberto Mancini’s team will (at 99% certainty) wrap this thing up next week with something like a ruthless 3-0 win, and in the end they’ll have the last laugh. But boy, do they deserve to made fun of right now…

The first 45 minutes of today’s match were, to say the least, unexpected. The entire San Siro stadium was decorated in Neroazzurro, displaying early celebratory banners and T-shirts to galvanize their team into victory. Inter responded by immediately shifting into high gear, making siege of Alex Manninger’s goal. The first attempts by Patrick Vieira (wide) and Marco Materazzi (off the crossbar) set the mood, and it seemed as everything was set for a Siena trashing: it only took 11 minutes after kick-off for the home team to pull in front, as Patrick Vieira applied the headed finish to a Luis Jimenez corner-kick. 1-0 Inter and expectedly, plenty more to come.

Plenty? Not quite. In minute 30, Houssine Kharja got free on the right wing, moved to the center and found the right corridor for Massimo Maccarone. The Siena striker got in behind the defense and torpedoed Julio Cesar low on his right. 1-1, and the San Siro suddenly turned silent. The Nerazzurri supporters did feel a little better later, when the big screen TV announced Napoli had scored vs. AC Milan, but they certainly weren’t expecting their team to have to fight for a victory today. Even more stunning, in minute 41 Siena could have actually taken the lead, but Andrea Rossi (through on goal after a counter-attack) inexplicably shot the ball right at Julio Cesar.

Screams of panic thus turned into sighs of relief for Inter supporters, and then into shouts of joy, because just before the break the Nerazzurri went ahead again. Out on the right wing, Maicon sent in a long throw towards the box, and Vieira flicked it over to the second post for a wide open Mario Balotelli: headed finish and 2-1 Inter. Cue 80,000 San Siro supporters in full delirium mode.

In the second half, probably instructed by their coach to put the nail in Siena’s coffin, Mancini’s boys continued to push forward. Julio Cruz had a good opportunity to make it 3-1, but his left-footed finish (after a great fake-shot dribble on his marker) landed wide of Manninger’s right post. Then, the Inter deck of cards progressively started unraveling. In minute 63. Mario Balotelli had to leave the field due to cramps (standing ovation for him, as he was substituted by David Suazo), and 5 minutes later Siena pulled level. Daniele Ficagna crossed the ball from the right, Burdisso only managed a touch and deflected the ball towards Houssine Kharja. The Franco-Moroccan winger armed a precise instep shot that landed into Julio Cesar’s left-bottom corner. 2-2, the entire Giuseppe Meazza stadium silent once again.

With 20 minutes left to play, all tactics flew out the window for Inter. The entire team was pushing forward, litterally putting 11 Siena men under siege: I mean there was no one (and I mean no one, except for Maccarone) for the visitors that wasn’t defending behind the ball line. Even Materazzi was pushing up, doing more damage than good (his back save in offside position on Cruz’s shot was quite… comical). Just a minute later however, Matrix had the chance to redeem himself: having obtained a penalty shot for a (doubtful) shirt tug from Riganò, the Inter center-back decided he was going to be his team’s hero by transforming the spot-kick himself. Manninger had other plans, and skilfully parried away Materazzi’s shot to the bottom right.

As Materazzi’s dreams of glory shifted from “hero” to “zero” (on the touch line, Roberto Mancini wasn’t hiding what he thought of his center-back ), Inter threw their last resources forward to obtain the 3 points. Mancio even brought on Hernan Crespo but it was all to no effect: the ensuing shots by Jimenez and Cruz were wide, Vieira’s appeals for a penalty were turned down, and the match ended in a 2-2 draw. As the home team left under the boos of the crowd, every Interista across Italy stared at the final result in disbelief. The Serie A season’s epilogue will have to be delayed one more week.
 

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F.C. Internazionale Milano INTER-SIENA
2-2
[Match Highlights]
AC Siena
GOALSCORERS: 11’ Vieira (I), 30’ Maccarone (S), 45’ Balotelli (I), 69’ Kharja (S)
INTER (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar – Maicon, Burdisso, Materazzi, Maxwell (81’ Crespo) – Vieira, Cambiasso (85’ Pelé), J.Zanetti – Jiménez – Cruz, Balotelli (63’ Suazo).(bench: Toldo, Rivas, Maniche, Cesar). Coach: R.Mancini.
SIENA (4-3-2-1): Manninger – Ficagna, Portanova, Loria, A.Rossi – Vergassola, Codrea (46’ Alberto), Galloppa (65’ Riganò) – Locatelli (46’ Coppola), Kharja – Maccarone (bench: Elefhteropoulos, Rossettini, De Ceglie, Frick). Coach: Beretta.

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Serie A: T Minus 180 Minutes – Scudetto, CL, UEFA, and Relegation Battles Are On

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

As we gradually approach this year’s big Summer event (a certain Euro cup), leagues all across Europe are sequentially coming to a close. There are two matches left to play in the Serie A, and there’s still plenty to be decided in the remaining 180 minutes. The Scudetto race is still on (somewhat), the battle for 4th spot hasn’t said its last word, and the UEFA Cup and relegation zones haven’t found permanent residents just yet. Truly, it’s been a while since we saw such an open-ended contest in the Italian league.

Let’s take a look.
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Scudetto

Scudetto

Less than a week ago, Inter seemed to have this thing all wrapped up. However, the loss vs. AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina and the simultaneous victory of Roma away to Sampdoria has kept the suspense alive, but for how much longer? Only one thing separates the Nerazzurri (81 pts.) from the tricolore, and that is obtaining just one more win. Indeed, a victory against Siena on Sunday would mathematically assure Inter their championship title, regardless of Roma‘s (78 pts.) result vs. Atalanta. Just to remind you: in case of a draw in the final league standings, head-to-head records will be used as tie breakers, and Inter are slightly favored over the Giallorossi in that respect.

If (by some miracle) Roma were to win Sunday and Inter were not, the Scudetto will be played out on the last matchday of the season, where the Giallorossi will be playing Catania (away) and the Nerazzurri will be travelling to Parma. Call me crazy, but somehow I don’t see that happening…
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Fourth Spot

Champions League

After a season-long pursuit which had left many Rossoneri fans cringing their teeth and biting their nails, AC Milan (61 pts.) managed to overtake Fiorentina (60) in the 4th position and obtain full control of their Champions League destiny next year. The calendar it must be said, isn’t exactly favoring the Rossoneri though: Napoli (away) and Udinese (home) are the remaining matches of Carlo Ancelotti & Co., a bit more difficult than what La Viola will be faced with (Parma at home, and Torino away).

Still in mathematical contention is Udinese (57 pts.), who will be facing Cagliari (at home) on Sunday but more importantly, will play out their final card vs. AC Milan on matchday 38, i.e. the last day of the season.
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“Zona” UEFA

UEFA Cup

Inter and Roma have qualified for the Coppa Italia final, thereby freeing up another spot for UEFA Cup qualification. If the league were to finish right now, the teams qualifying for Europe’s “consolation cup” (that’s how I call it) would be Fiorentina (60 pts.), Udinese (57), and Sampdoria (56), respectively 5th, 6th, and 7th. With Genoa in 8th position and 48 points, the previous three teams are at least guaranteed to be playing in Europe next season.
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“Zona Salvezza”: Relegation Battle

Relegation

Down at the bottom, nothing’s decided just yet either. Siena (42 pts.) managed to pull themselves to safety last week, and are now mathematically assured of avoiding the drop. The same cannot be said for the 7 teams right below them, and with several direct encounters in the last two matchdays, the battle against relegation promises to be even more exciting than the Scudetto.

Livorno (30 pts.) is currently dead-last in the standings, and will be left facing Torino (home) then Empoli (away). Speaking of Empoli (33), the club lead by Alberto Malesani isn’t exactly comfortable either: second-to-last in the Serie, they will be travelling to Calabria to face Reggina (and then as mentioned, will host Livorno on the last day).

Those with the toughest calendar however are Parma (34) and Catania (35): the Gialloblu will have to battle Fiorentina (away) and Inter (home), while the Elefanti will travel to Juventus before hosting Roma at Stadio Angelo Massimino. Brutal.

As for Reggina (36), the Calabrians have their destiny into their own hands (Empoli at home and Cagliari away), much like Torino (37), who will only need a victory vs. Livorno to be mathematically safe before matchday 38 (Fiorentina at home).

Finally, after a very long and tough season spent at last spot, Cagliari (38) are this close to their “salvezza” miracle. They will only find Udinese (away) and Reggina (home) to stand in their way.

Alessandro Del Piero on The Offside

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Brace yourself blogging world!! After Soccerlens, the great Marco Pantanella has conquered yet another mountainous peak and landed at… The Offside. Ok using ”great” and “mountainous peak” might be exaggerating a tad, but it looked cool when I wrote it.

For those of you have been living under a rock since the 2006 World Cup, The Offside is a blogging network which… Ah, why bother? I’ll just copy-paste their “About” page here below (yeah, the great Marco Pantanella is also a big lazy bum):

The Offside is part of the BootsnAll Travel Network. The site will take a humorous (we think), irreverent (we think) and occasionally insightful (possibly) look at club football from leagues around the world. If there is a sex scandal in England, we’ll be stuck in the middle of it. If a player is traded for a thousand pounds of beef in Romania, we’ll cook the steak. If something interesting happens in MLS, we’ll be just as surprised as you.

Launched after the success of the World Cup Blog, which featured a blogger for each of the 32 teams in the 2006 tournament, as well as one about the referees and another for general tournament news, The Offside will follow the major football leagues from around the world, with an ever-growing community of individual team blogs and a general football blog on the front page. 

Now you’ll say: “Ok great Marco thanks for the background info, but where does Alessandro Del Piero fit in all this?”

Well just recently, The Offside opened their Players section and launched (among others) the Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Lionel Messi blogs. Guess who pitched the idea for a Del Piero blog? :)

So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the blog for all things ADP: