Werder Bremen 1-1 AC Milan: Inzaghi for the Opener, Diego for the Finale (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 1st Leg)

AC Milan's (from L) Mathieu Flamini, Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi and Andrea Pirlo celebrate a goal against Werder Bremen during their UEFA Cup soccer match in Bremen February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

In times of fluctuating economy, shifting weather conditions, and Blatter’s opinion of South Africa (“2010, yes or no? Should we stay or should we go?”) there is one global truth we can always be sure of today (and probably for the next 10-20 years to come): there will be goals at Weserstadion. Indeed, no other team epitomizes the lack of defensive effort coupled with goalscoring power better than Werder Bremen, and as expected Wednesday’s Round of 32 UEFA Cup tie vs. AC Milan ended with goals. No shower mind you, just 1-1, but it’s a scoreline which leaves everything open for the return leg in Milan next week.

And since we’re speaking of goals, here’s one guy that’s been scoring lots in the past decade (especially in Europe). Wednesday’s tally marked Filippo Inzaghi‘s 66th goal in European competitions, a brilliant achievement for the Milan striker who got his party spoiled by Werder’s 84th minute equalizer. An equalizer bearing the signature of another player in search of European stardom (especially in the region of Turin): Diego Ribas da Cunha.

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Werder Bremen vs. AC Milan

UEFA Cup 2008-09 - Round of 32, 1st Leg - Werder Bremen 1-1 AC Milan

Tactically, with Beckham still sidelined as a precautionary measure (the England midfielder started off on the bench) Carlo Ancelotti put full confidence into Mathieu Flamini for this one, inserting the French midfielder in the bottom part of Milan’s midfield alongside Pirlo & Ambrosini. Further up, Ronaldinho (restored from his heel problems) occupied the playmaking position with Seedorf in support of Inzaghi, while Kaká & Pato were sidelined with muscular problems. Werder Bremen on the other end (who enters the competition as UCL-reject and is currently struggling in the Bundesliga) did not appear as fearsome as during the days of Miro Klose, but still counted on good technical players to put the ball in the net, particularly seasoned veterans like Hugo Almeida/Claudio Pizarro and hot promising playmakers (Diego). In other words, a match seemingly within AC Milan’s grasp, but which would reserve the Rossoneri some surprises.

Indeed, Ancelotti’s boys were in trouble almost right from the opening whistle, and this was in large part due to the crazy mistakes of the Rossoneri backline. The Germans had three chances in as many minutes, the most unbelievable of which fell to Tziolis, who alone in front of Dida could only manage a weak shot. The Rossoneri managed to rouse themselves from their torpor after about ten minutes, building on a (wrongly) disallowed goal by Pippo Inzaghi. Ancelotti’s side made good use of their ball possession skills, and moving forward and countering the irritatingly tight marking of their opponents.

Werder Bremen's Frank Baumann (L) challenges AC Milan's Clarence Seedorf during their UEFA Cup soccer match in Bremen February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

Schaff’s game-plan was quite predictable, focusing almost exclusively on the skills of Diego: the Brazilian midfielder stole the show whenever he got the ball and did not hesitate in sacrificing himself with defensive work. The Germans’ physical strength was evident but never gave the impression of imminent danger for Dida, save perhaps on one-on-one dribbling attempts against Senderos: the Swiss center-back was the only one who caused a flutter or two, and when he was targeted the whole Rossoneri defence got nervous.

Milan however were largely winning the contest on the flanks, where Zambrotta and Flamini found a lot of space. Inzaghi was the constant crossing target – often caught offside as per Pippo tradition, but clearly signalling his attacking abilities. The first chance for the Rossoneri came from Flamini however, whose powerful shot was tipped wide for a corner by Wiese. And it was the Frenchman again who, in minute 36, set up Inzaghi with a deflected shot off Mertesacker: the Italian striker was in the right place at the right time and made it 1-0 Milan.

AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi (C) celebrates after scoring against Werder Bremen during their UEFA Cup soccer match at the Weser stadium in Bremen February 18, 2009.  (REUTERS)

Much like the first period however, Milan struggled considerably in the first minutes of the second half. Bremen put their heads down and attacked relentlessly, coming close to scoring through Diego and Hugo Almeida. The Rossoneri’s reply didn’t take long to arrive though, as Inzaghi and Flamini replied point for point to Werder’s shooting attempts, the former even hitting the crossbar at the 65-minute mark. SuperPippo was being outstanding, ready to chase down every ball in the absence of a pure striker and even trying to take his markers one-on-one (like Pato or Kaká would do).

A second goal would have been worth its weight in gold for Milan, but as often the case in soccer “missed chance = goal conceded“. With 6 minutes left in regular time, a long ball by Ozil found the head of Hugo Almeida for the redirect, and Diego’s (who else?) incursion left Dida no chance. 1-1.

Far from being over, the match gave one final “ohh” moment as Milan were saved by the post in stoppage time. Perhaps even more so by Pizarro’s ineptitude, as the Peruvian striker pounced on a Favalli-deflected Diego free-kick but could not convert the easiest of chances from the rebound. Final score 1-1. The second leg in San Siro will be next Thursday, and we can sure expect that to be a battle.

Bremen's Diego reacts after he scored during the UEFA Cup round of 32 first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and AC Milan in Bremen, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009. The match ended 1-1. (AP Photo by Joerg Sarbach)


 SV Werder Bremen
[Match Highlights]
 AC Milan
GOALSCORERS: 36’ F.Inzaghi (M), 84’ Diego (W).
WERDER BREMEN (4-3-1-2): Wiese – Fritz (74’ Harnik), Mertesacker, Naldo, Boenisch – Tziolis, Baumann (62’ Jensen), Ozil – Diego – Hugo Almeida, C.Pizarro. (bench: Vander, Pasanen, Rosenberg, Prodl, Niemeyer). Coach: Schaaf

MILAN (4-3-2-1): Dida – Bonera, Senderos, Favalli, Zambrotta – Flamini, Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf (86’ Jankulovski), Ronaldinho (89’ Beckham) – F.Inzaghi. (bench: Abbiati, Maldini, Kaladze, Darmian, Antonini). Coach: Ancelotti


Tags: , , , , ,


Posted in German Bundesliga, Milan, UEFA Cup |

Related Posts:

  • AC Milan 2-2 Werder Bremen: Claudio Pizarro Vaporizes Rossoneri’s European Dreams (UEFA Cup Round of 32, 2nd Leg)
  • UEFA Cup Quarter-Finals Draw (2008-09): Udinese Get Werder Bremen
  • Serie A Preview: AC Milan vs. Atalanta
  • Champions League day 4 – Milan and Lazio get back on the WW
  • Inter Milan 1-1 Werder Bremen: José Gets First San Siro Boos, Nerazzurri Tied at Home (UEFA Champions League 2008-09)
  • Comments are closed.