Archive for January, 2009

Napoli 0-3 Roma: Giallorossi Enjoying Neapolitan Hospitality (Serie A Matchday 20)

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Without a doubt one of the main stadiums that contributed (and continue to contribute) to Italian football’s great history is Stadio San Paolo, and without a doubt the hospitality it continues to show for AS Roma will make Spalletti & Co. glad to return here next year.

It just seems that Napoli‘s home form, as good as it might be (the Azzurri had raked up 18 consecutive home matches without a loss), can’t help but break its teeth when it’s dealing with the Giallorossi. Who have now increased their Napoli-Roma victories streak to three (four if you add 2005′s Coppa Italia) and this without conceding a single goal. Scary. And unproductive (for Napoli that is), because Reja’s team now find themselves level with Roma in the standings, and the prospects of Champions League football (howevery illusory they might have been) slowly slipping away.

The only catch (and excuse for Napoli)? Roma’s first goal by Philippe Mexès was blatantly offside.

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Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina: Marchisio Puts Bianconeri on Top (Serie A Matchday 20)

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

The Bianconeri can pat themselves on the back. After a long climb the Old Lady reached the peak of Serie A, planting her flag at the top; some very much needed black & white colours to break the monotony of a landscape of Neroazzurro. And even if this satisfaction is short-lived (the José-boys may or may not resume their climb 24 hours later), it’s something that in terms of team morale has enormous intrinsic value. It’s a battle cry for the troops, and a clear message to the bitter rivals: “Inter Beware”.

As for the match itself, it should come as no surprises that Juventus vs. Fiorentina was the theater once again of a valiant battle; a game fought on all parts of the field, without many goals but plenty of scoring chances on either side. And the usual little zest of controversy. Indeed, La Viola may feel hard-done by a penalty non-call to Jovetic and a (wrongly) disallowed goal by Gilardino.

Juve won’t care though, the Bianconeri reached their goal: 3 points and the temporary 1st place of Serie A. Together with a big bonus: the return of their nº1 goalkeeper in net. And say all you want about Manninger’s extremely satisfactory sub role so far… the Old Lady just isn’t the same without Gigi Buffon. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Viola strikers…

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UEFA Soccer Team of the Year 2008

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

After 3.3 million votes cast by 256,000 online users (slightly less than last year), the uefa.com Team of the Year 2008 was revealed earlier this week.

As can usually be expected with these things, this starting eleven will please many and disappoint others (especially those whose favorite player was not selected) but this being said, there’s quality oozing all over in this team. I personally prefer the journalist choice of L’Équipe’s Best 11 Soccer Players of 2008, but “the people have spoken” as they say…

Nevertheless, feel free to give your 2 cents (and fire away your insults) in the comments section.

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Serie A Matchday 20: Juventus vs. Fiorentina & Napoli vs. Roma to Whet the Appetite…

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

The first round of the 2008-09 Serie A campaign just ended last week, and with Matchday 20 at our doorstep it is time to try something different. In my last previews I’ve focused solely on one match; this week I think it is to expand our horizons and look at several of the bigger fixtures in Italy’s top flight league. If you’ve been following my football betting advice so far, you might be doing okay. I haven’t got a score correct yet but I thought AC Milan would draw at Roma and then beat Fiorentina, which they did but only by one goal (I went with 3-1).

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Lazio 3-1 Torino: Biancocelesti Showing their Yin and their Yang

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

No surprises on Thursday evening: as per pre-match expectations, favorites Lazio earned their ticket for the Coppa Italia semi-finals, beating Torino at the end of a multi-faceted 90 minutes. Indeed, the Biancocelesti were once again the stars of “a tale of two halves”, a cliché-phrase in the world of sports news, but one which describes very accurately what transpired at the Stadio Olimpico of Rome yesterday.

Simply put, Delio Rossi’s team used the two sets of 45 minutes to make a perfect recital of their current season: weaknesses on one side (difficulties in playmaking and lack of concentration at the back), strengths on the other (lethal short-passing & counterattacking abilities). And unfortunately for relegation-battlers Torino (who until half-time had virtually played the perfect game), one of those sets proved to be fatal.

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