Archive for September, 2008

Torino 1-3 Lazio: Can Anyone Stop Mauro Zarate? (Serie A Matchday 5)

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Without the shred of a doubt, the Serie A team which most benefited from their Summer 2008 make-over is Lazio. When the Biancocelesti win, they win big (their average is 2.6 goals/match at the moment). When they lose, they equally lose big. Delio Rossi does nothing by halves and today was no exception, as the three goals conceded by Torino demonstrated.

And speaking of goals, there’s someone at Lazio that has taken quite a knack at scoring them. Pre-season Serie A excitement (in goalscoring terms at least) revolved around the “usual suspects”: Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho, and Del Piero just to name a few. Well, with Zlatan keeping his counter low (2) and Ronnie & ADP yet to score in the domestic league, the topscoring charts are lead by one Mr. Mauro Zarate. With 6 goals in 5 matches (and plenty more to come), the ex-Velez striker (on-loan from Al-Sadd of Qatar) is the symbol of a rejuvenated Biancocelesti side, the surprise lone leaders of Serie A after matchday 5 (waiting for tonight’s AC Milan-Inter Milan derby).

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): Far from being impressed with the 4-point difference in the standings (or with Zarate & Carrizo’s pre-match declarations), Torino threw themselves forward with the clear intention of scoring goals today. Ignazio Abate in particular (back after his Beijing 2008 injury) was roaming free on the right wing, repeatedly pushing down the side and making Radu’s head spin in the process. On the receiving end of Abate’s crosses, Bianchi and Abbruscato provided a constant danger for the Lazio backline, but fortunately for the visiting team Juan Pablo Carrizo was keeping guard.

Then at the 30 minute mark, the match got flipped right on its head. Torino had until then, played better, yet the team taking the lead was Lazio: through on the left wing, Zarate’s run continued inside the box, where some good dribbling work attracted the attention of three Torino defenders. Eventually, the Argentine striker managed to poke the ball towards Goran Pandev, whose instep finish inside the left post left Matteo Sereni no chance. 1-0 Lazio.

A tough blow for Torino, but certainly not devastating. The Granata came back with guns blazing in order to immediately get the equalizer, and they almost did through Elvis Abbruscato just two minutes after the first goal, his chipped shot over Carrizo hitting the crossbar and going wide. Eugenio Corini was keeping busy as well, his trademark free-kicks providing assists for Saumel and Di Loreto’s headers (narrowly wide on both counts). Thus despite a good Torino display, Lazio finished the half in the lead.

In the second period however, the fire in the Granata hearts slowly seemed to lose vigor, all the while Lazio started to pick up momentum. Stefano Mauri had a golden chance to make it two in the 60th, hitting the post straight in front of Sereni, but it was eventually through Zarate (yet again) that Lazio doubled their lead. The Argentine striker obtained the ball 30 yards from goal, took a few steps, and slammed an outswinging blast straight into the top-right corner. Yes, goal-of-the-week stuff. Again!. 2-0 Lazio.

Two goals down, Gianni De Biasi decided to risk it all: Amoruso & Ventola entered the field for Corini & Abate, transforming Torino into a 4-striker formation. Was it enough?

Not really. The final 15 minutes were filled with excitement and highlights-reel moments, but essentially all in Lazio’s favor. First, goalkeeper Matteo Sereni got sent off for bringing down Brocchi inside the box, and since Torino had run out of substitutions goalkeeping duties were left in the hands (litterally) of Nicola Ventola. Little could he do to prevent Mauro Zarate from scoring goal nº6 in the Serie A, putting the Biancocelesti comfortably in the lead. 3-0 Lazio.

Minutes later, Torino were left with 9 men as Pratali earned a second yellow for a foul on Radu, at which point the referee also sent off manager De Biasi for excessive protests. And I guess the consolation goal scored by Nicola Amoruso (penalty kick for a foul of Lichsteiner on Dzemaili) changed very little in a very bad day for Torino, who in light of their next match vs. Udinese will have to do without two important players. Lazio meanwhile, can (at least for the moment) enjoy the view at the top of the Serie A. 3-1 the final score.

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Torino F.C.
TORINO-LAZIO
1-3
[Match Highlights]
S.S. Lazio
GOALSCORERS: : 30′ Pandev (L), 63’, 83’ pen. Zarate (L), 92’ pen. Amoruso (T).
TORINO (4-3-2-1): Sereni – Colombo (72’ P.Zanetti), Di Loreto, Pratali, Rubin – Dezmaili, Corini (59’ Amoruso), Saumel – Abate (69’ Ventola), Abbruscato – Bianchi. Coach: De Biasi.
LAZIO (4-3-3): Carrizo – Lichsteiner, Siviglia, Cribari (23’ Rozenhal), Radu – Brocchi, Ledesma, Mauri (77’ Manfredini) – Foggia, Pandev (69’ Meghni), Zarate. Coach: D.Rossi.

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Fiorentina 1-0 Genoa: Gilardino Rebirth Continues, Viola Fly (Serie A Matchday 5)

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Reverse engines, full 180º, nitro boost. After his team’s brutal mid-week loss to Lazio, Cesare Prandelli must have found the right words to remotivate his men Saturday. A battling and determined Fiorentina side, led by the continued moment of form of a reborn Alberto Gilardino, brushed their Genoa visitors aside and went on to take a vital three points in the Serie A.

And speaking of Gilardino, that’s his third goal in five matches. For someone who the previous season could only score 7 in 30 with AC Milan, goal averages are definitely on the rise. Music to Della Valle’s ears…

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): La Viola started the match with great intensity, looking to pressure their opponents high up the field, aided in no small part by the home crowd support (immediately willing to forget the mid-week 0-3 Lazio debacle). It was only natural then, to see Fiorentina get the first scoring chances in this one: first Mutu (header narrowly wide) then Montolivo (cracking shot from mid-range parried away by the keeper) gave Gasperini’s team the first scares. Then of course there was a certain Gilardino, seemingly back to his “good Parma days”: playing as a real target-man, the ex-Milan striker was shielding the ball, allowing his teammates to overlap (Semioli, Felipe Melo, and Gobbi notably), and providing an otherwise constant danger to the Rossoblu defense.

On the other end, Genoa were having some problems getting “into” the game, especially because their coach had chosen to leave Diego Milito on the side. All that changed in the second half though, when the Argentine striker was inserted into the mix. Well served by a Marco Rossi pass, Milito was given a one-on-one chance with Sebastien Frey almost right away, but the French goalie demonstrated (yet again) why he still is one of Serie A’s best keepers around. Just a few minutes earlier, Ruben Olivera had a good mid-range effort saved by Viola’s nº1.

Alas for the visitors, the two Genoan chances were a prelude to Fiorentina’s goal. The provider? Who else but Alberto Gilardino, La Viola’s man-of-the-moment. Controlling a looping ball inside the Genoa box, the Azzurri striker managed to shield it from three nearby defenders, turn around with a few touches, and send an unstoppable diagonal half-volley straight into the bottom right corner. A pure striker’s goal, the kind Viola supporters had not seen since Luca Toni’s departure to Bavaria. 1-0 Fiorentina

At this point, Prandelli decided to play it safe by inserting Pazzini & Santana for Semioli & Gilardino, just to keep his troops fresh on the field. Fiorentina had a few more chances on goal through Mutu (wide) and Osvaldo (well saved by Rubinho), while Frey dominated his box on the other end and kept his team safe. It was thus a well-deserved win for Prandelli’s side, who can look at Tuesday’s UCL fixture against Steaua Bucharest with renewed optimism.

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 ACF Fiorentina
FIORENTINA-GENOA
1-0
[Match Highlights]
 Genoa C.F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 61’ Gilardino (F).
FIORENTINA (4-3-3): Frey – Jorgensen, Dainelli, Kroldrup, Gobbi – Montolivo, Melo, Donadel – Semioli (66’ Santana), Gilardino (66’ Pazzini), Mutu (83’ Osvaldo). (bench: Storari, Gamberini, Zauri, Kuzmanovic). Coach: Prandelli.
GENOA (3-4-3): Rubinho – Papastathopoulos, Ferrari, Criscito – M.Rossi, Milanetto (41′ Juric), Vanden Borre (60’ Modesto), Bocchetti – Olivera, Palladino, Mesto (51’ D.Milito). (bench: Scarpi, Sculli, Jankovic, Biava). Coach: Gasperini.

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Sampdoria 0-0 Juventus: Lackluster Performance at Marassi, Blucerchiati & Bianconeri Strike Out (Serie A Matchday 5)

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

No deal for Sampdoria and Juventus: based on pre-game statistics, a 0-0 draw was a result almost foretold in advance. On the one hand we had the Blucerchiati, 17th in the Serie A standings with a goaltotal of 2 goals in 4 matches. On the other, the Bianconeri: 4 goals in as many games, and never more than 1 goal scored in each. On a day when even Cassano and Del Piero (woodwork excluded) weren’t in their best form (much to the contrary of the central backlines, lead by the likes of Mellberg, Chiellini, Accardi, Gastaldello, and Lucchini), a scoreless draw was inevitable.

For either team, is it too early to be talking about ‘crisis’ period? Probably, but consider the following. Although this only their second consecutive draw, a team with clear Scudetto and Champions League ambitions like Juventus would be expected to produce offensive efforts just a tad more convincing. Claudio Ranieri & friends have got injuries to blame, but should also be raising questions as to what isn’t working elsewhere. As for Sampdoria, the squad that marvelled Serie A enthusiasts last year and finished 6th in the standings, was nowhere to be seen today. This is a team that after 5 matches, is still looking for their first win in the domestic league: when you have someone like Antonio Cassano on the team that should definitely raise some eyebrows.

(From Gazzetta dello Sport): And so, after their 1-1 home draw vs. Catania on Wednesday, Juventus chalked up another counter-performance Saturday at Stadio Luigi Ferraris. Their Sampdoria opponents played a solid, compact game, much like they had done on matchday 1 against Inter Milan, and had it not been for the “absence” of Antonio Cassano on the field (was he there today? I didn’t notice…) the Blucerchiati could even have grabbed something more than 1 point. Especially because, much unlike the match vs. Catania, Juventus were virtually uncapable of changing the pace of the game, even giving themselves some defensive scares in the final 15 minutes.

The first half of today’s match could essentially be summarized by two words: “physical“, and “not fun” (ok, that’s three words). Sampdoria’s thick midfield formation (3-5-1-1) essentially relied on the interdiction of Sammarco/Palombo/Franceschini in the middle, coupled with the creative genius of Cassano and the long runs down the right wing of Marius Stankevicius (fresh from his Brescia transfer). The Lithuanian winger gave considerable problems to counterpart Cristian Molinaro, even trying the long-range blast on a couple of occasions (wide).

On the other end, Juventus were having a bit of trouble themselves in producing anything substantial. Both wings were well-defended by Sampdoria, while the presence of Sissoko/Poulsen in central midfield provided plenty of defensive quality but not much penetrating power. So, creative tasks were essentially left to Alessandro Del Piero, who actively tried to make his presence felt: a short-range free-kick (saved by Mirante) and a diagonal shot from inside the box (post) were the main highlights of the first 45 minutes, with the Bianconeri hitting woodwork for the 3rd time in four days. The 0-0 half-time scoreline surprised no one, although Juventus had been a bit more daring perhaps.

In the second half, very little changed in terms of clear scoring chances, although the game’s momentum shifted slightly in favor of Sampdoria. Cassano sent a good 25m free-kick narrowly wide, while Sammarco had a good chance on a headed corner-kick (also wide). Sissoko was becoming Mr. “Iron curtain” in the center, essentially stopping any Blucerchiati offensive dead in its tracks. Of course midway through the half, the fact the home team lost captain Angelo Palombo to injury certainly did not help Walter Mazzarri’s plans, but even so it was obvious a goal today would only come through a brilliant piece of individual effort. Which never arrived. Iaquinta and Bonazzoli got a little bit of playing time in the final minutes, but the scoreline did not budge. 0-0 FT.

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 U.C. Sampdoria
SAMPDORIA-JUVENTUS
0-0
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: /
SAMPDORIA (3-5-1-1): Mirante – Lucchini (80’ Bottinelli), Gastaldello, Accardi – Stankevicius, Sammarco, Palombo (74’ Dessena), Franceschini, Pieri – G.Delvecchio (88’ Bonazzoli), Cassano. (bench: Castellazzi, Ziegler, Fornaroli, M.Padalino). Coach: Mazzarri.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Manninger – Grygera, Mellberg, Chiellini, Molinaro – Camoranesi, Poulsen, Sissoko, Nedved – Amauri, Del Piero (73’ Iaquinta). (bench: Chimenti, Salihamidzic, Knezevic, Giovinco, De Ceglie, Tiago). All. Ranieri.

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Serie A Matchday 4 – Mid-Week Review + GOALS of the (Mid)Week (2008-09)

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Mid-Week Reviews

Coming back strong from the Summer break, Italy was involved in some mid-week Serie A action Wednesday. Here are the results and summaries for matchday 4. Full Video Highlights here.

Note: Sorry for the tardy update and the lack of match reports this time. My University Intramurals job took a big load of my time this week.
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Italy.TheOffside.com week 4 review

Italy.TheOffside.com

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Italian Calcio Blog week 4 review

Italian Calcio Blog 2008-09

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Gazzetta in English week 4 review

Gazzetta dello Sport

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Substitute Julio Ricardo Cruz scored to give Inter Milan a hard-fought 1-0 win over newly promoted Lecce on Wednesday to take over sole possession of the Serie A lead. With four forwards playing, Cruz took a headed pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to hit the target with a low shot in the 79th minute at the San Siro. Ibrahimovic hit the crossbar in the 26th for the three-time defending champion. Juventus was held to a 1-1 draw by Catania and AC Milan beat Reggina 2-1 for its second straight win.

Inter leads with 10 points, followed by Lazio and Atalanta with nine each. Napoli, which beat Palermo 2-1, and Juventus are next with eight points apiece. Amauri scored his third goal in three games for Juventus in the 16th minute but Gianvito Plasmati, who also scored against Inter earlier this season, equalized in the 68th for Catania. Alexandre Pato scored the winner for Milan after Bernardo Corradi had equalized for Reggina. Marco Borriello had scored first for the Rossoneri, who face Inter in the Milan derby Sunday.

Diego Milito joined Lazio’s Mauro Zarate atop the league scoring chart with his third and fourth goals in Genoa‘s 3-1 win over 10-man AS Roma, which has only one win through four rounds. Stefano Mauri, Goran Pandev and Sebastiano Siviglia scored to give Lazio a 3-0 win over Fiorentina, and Sergio Floccari’s goal led Atalanta to a 1-0 victory over last-place Cagliari. In the remaining three matches, Bologna overcame Udinese with an away score of 3-0, while Chievo-Torino (1-1) and Siena-Sampdoria (0-0) ended in draws.

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GOALS of the WEEKGOALS of the WEEK

Now see… we had an awesome batch of goals last week-end (and I mean some really really good stuff), so because of that, seems that the football Gods had to compensate on Wednesday.

Very ordinary stuff… in fact, just a Top 3 selection this time. (yeah… that bad!)
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And the winner is… Antonio Floro Flores. Definitely not mind-blowing stuff here… but a nice dribbling execution and cool finish. I couldn’t have, in good conscience, given the award to a bicycle kick 1 yard from the line right? :)
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Results Summary

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Serie A 2008-09
Matchday 4

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Juventus FC
Juventus
1-1
Catania
Calcio Catania
AC Chievo Verona
Chievo
1-1
Torino
Torino FC
SSC Napoli
Napoli
2-1
Palermo
US Città di Palermo
FC Internazionale Milano
Inter
1-0
Lecce
US Lecce
Bologna FC 1909
Bologna
0-3
Udinese
Udinese Calcio
AC Siena
Siena
0-0
Sampdoria
UC Sampdoria
SS Lazio Roma
Lazio
3-0
Fiorentina
ACF Fiorentina
Genoa CFC
Genoa
3-1
Roma
AS Roma
Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio
Atalanta
1-0
Cagliari
Cagliari Calcio
Reggina Calcio
Reggina
1-2
Milan
AC Milan


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Italian Players Around the World (22/09)

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

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Our weekly Italian Players Around the World segment is back!!

Inspired by Gazzetta dello Sport, here are the performances of all Italian soccer players operating in foreign European leagues (top divisions only). There are currently 31 Italians playing in first divisions abroad, and 18 of them stepped on the field this week-end.

The table below includes the team of the player, their opponents for this week, the time in minutes they played, their match contribution in goal(s) or assist(s), and the final score of the game.

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ENGLAND
Player Team Opp.
Time
Contrib.
Score
Carlo Cudicini Chelsea Man Utd
(bench)
/
1-1
David Di Michele West Ham Newcastle
90
2 GL, 1 AST
3-1
Andrea Dossena Liverpool Stoke
90
/
0-0
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SCOTLAND
Massimo Donati Celtic @ Kilmarnock
(stands)
/
3-1
Manuel Pascali Kilmarnock Celtic
90
/
1-3
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GERMANY
Andrea Barzagli Wolfsburg Hamburg
90
/
3-0
Cristian Zaccardo Wolfsburg Hamburg
8
/
3-0
Massimo Oddo Bayern M. Werder B.
45
1 AST
2-5
Luca Toni Bayern M. Werder B.
90
1 AST
2-5
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SPAIN
Fabio Cannavaro Real Madrid @Racing
90
/
2-0
Enzo Maresca Sevilla @Betis
34
/
0-0
Emiliano Moretti Valencia Osasuna
90
/
1-0
Giuseppe Rossi Villareal @Numancia
(injd.)
/
2-1
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FRANCE
Fabio Grosso Lyon @Le Havre
(injd.)
/
1-0
Elia Legati Monaco @Marseille
/
/
0-0
Flavio Roma Monaco @Marseille
(bench)
/
0-0
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HOLLAND
Graziano Pellè AZ Alkmaar PSV
(bench)
/
1-0
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BELGIUM
Francesco Migliore Mons Kortrijk
(bench)
/
0-1
Roberto Mirri Mons Kortrijk
90
/
0-1
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SWITZERLAND
Andrea Guatelli FC Zürich @Widnau (CUP)
90
/
6-0
Davide Belotti Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
90
1 GOAL
5-1
Lorenzo Bucchi Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
90
/
5-1
Paolo Carbone Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
/
/
5-1
Andrea Conti Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
90
/
5-1
Alessio Ferrazza Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
/
/
5-1
Matteo Gritti Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
(bench)
/
5-1
Iacopo La Rocca Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
(bench)
/
5-1
Giuseppe Miccolis Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
90
/
5-1
Angelo Raso Bellinzona @Oerlikon (CUP)
90
/
5-1
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TURKEY
Morgan De Sanctis Galatasaray @Kocaelispor
90
/
4-1
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RUSSIA
Ivan Pelizzoli Lok. Moscow @Luch Ener.
(bench)
/
3-2

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Heroes of the week

The first “Heroes of the Week” segment last week took us to Germany and Spain. There’s no doubt that Toni & friends will be a regular destination for us this year, however this week we are going to cross the Channel to little old UK.

David Di Michele, age 32Indeed, it didn’t take very long for David Di Michele to make his name heard at Upton Park. West Ham were hosting Newcastle for this one, in Gianfranco Zola’s first appearance on the Hammers’ bench, and not only did “Magic Box” get his first win as new manager of the club, but he really hit jackpot by inserting Di Michele in the starting eleven. The on-loan Torino player was the main man of the night, scoring two beautiful goals (the second one a great example of ice-cold nerves) and providing an assist for Etherington’s third.

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Luca Toni, age 30Massimo Oddo, age 32In other news, this was one week-end to quickly forget for Luca Toni and Massimo Oddo. Bayern Munich were hosting Werder Bremen on Saturday, and coach Jürgen Klinsmann suffered the first big defeat in charge of the German giants. By the time our two Italian ex-pats got in an assist for Tim Borowski, Bayern were already down… 0-5. Ouch! Kinda reminds me of the 0-4 UEFA Cup disaster vs. FC Zenit last season.

Finally, the big Italian colony of Bellinzona got plenty of playing time vs. Oerlikon in the Swiss Cup, with Davide Bellotti even getting on the scoreboard in the large 5-1 victory.