Daily Archives: October 22, 2013

Fiorentina 4-2 Juventus: Juve lead 2-0, but Montella changes formation to prompt comeback

“Champions Juventus suffered their first defeat of the season, despite taking a 2-0 lead by half-time. Vincenzo Montella is still without Mario Gomez, so fielded Giuseppe Rossi upfront alone, and brought Massimo Ambrosini into the midfield. Antonio Conte left out Arturo Vidal after he was late back from international duty, but fielded Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente upfront together. This was one of those crazy, inexplicable football matches where the goals had little relation to the tactical battle unfolding – but it was still a fascinating contest.” Zonal Marking

Juventus meeting a historical reminder for Real Madrid

“The last time Antonio Conte faced Real Madrid, it was a truly momentous occasion. The current Juventus manager played a very small role during La Vecchia Signora’s 3-1 win over Real Madrid in 2003, replacing Edgar Davids late on as Marcello Lippi guided his side through to an all-Italian Champions League final against Milan. However, that semifinal victory remains one of Juventus’ most famous victories this century — and it signalled the beginning of the end for Real Madrid’s Galacticos.” ESPN – Michael Cox

Ronaldo-Ibrahimovic, Croatia-Iceland headline UEFA World Cup qualifying playoffs

“Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović will command the spotlight they crave in next month’s European World Cup qualifying playoffs as Portugal and Sweden face off in the most intriguing of the four two-leg matchups. UEFA conducted the draw for the final phase of qualifying early Monday in Zurich. The big winner was Croatia, which will be heavily favored to defeat surprising Iceland. Portugal, the highest-ranked (14th) of the eight participating teams (all runners-up from the group phase), can breathe a sigh of relief that it avoided France. But Sweden is no slouch and gave powerhouse Germany all it could handle during group play. Monday’s draw ensures that at least one quality team, and one big-name player, will miss out on Brazil.” SI

16 Stars Who Took Russia to the World Cup

“1) Igor Akinfeev, Goalkeeper. Overlooked by Dick Advocaat at Euro 2012′ in favor of Vyacheslav Malafeev, the CSKA captain started every single qualifying game under Fabio Capello. He only conceded five goals during the campaign and broke the record for the longest clean sheet kept by a Russian goalkeeper in competitive matches. 2) Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Forward. Zenit’s Kerzhakov is always the main man up front for Don Capello. Whenever he is in form and scoring, Russia will always benefit with victories. His vital goal against Portugal at Luzhniki was the highlight, and the forward took part in all ten games for the team, scoring five goals along the way. …” RUSSIAN FOOTBALL NEWS

Sir Alex Ferguson: a hard act to follow

“Sir Alex Ferguson’s final victory was not the 2012-13 Premier League title, his 13th in nearly 27 years as Manchester United manager. The last triumph was against his own fear of retirement, idleness, isolation: an anxiety that stalked him throughout his later years as British football’s greatest autocrat. The laughter coming down the corridor of a hotel in Cheshire as I wait to meet him has a familiar mischievous edge. The effervescent Govan boy is still detectable in Ferguson’s laugh, and in his eye, which at 71 still bears the glint of youthful energy. As he emerges with a hotel employee he has known for many years, he jokes, ‘We’re talking about hips.’ A painful hip replacement was one of his first engagements after handing the Manchester United team over to David Moyes, who shares Ferguson’s Glasgow working-class roots. …” Telegraph

Roma 2-0 Napoli: Pjanic punishes Napoli after two Cannavaro fouls

“Roma still have a 100% record in Serie A, and extended their gap over second-placed Napoli to five points. Rudi Garcia changed both his full-backs – Federico Balzaretti was suspended so Dodo played at left-back, with Maicon back in for Vasilis Torosidis. Rafael Benitez was unable to use Gonzalo Higuain from the start, so Goran Pandev started upfront. The absence of Juan Zuniga meant Giandomenico Mesto played at left-back. Roma ran out winners, but this game could have gone either way – Napoli had plenty of chances at 0-0.” Zonal Marking

Dennis Bergkamp: The Man Who Transformed Arsenal

“It was August 1995, and Dennis Bergkamp had just played his first game for Arsenal at the club’s cosy, iconic Highbury Stadium, a friendly against his old club Internazionale. Afterwards, two Dutch journalists and I snuck into Highbury’s marble halls to wait for the great man. Bergkamp’s family was already there, hanging around while Dennis got changed. The father, an electrician, was standing with his hands folded behind his back studying framed pictures of Arsenal greats. He would have known most of them; like many Dutchmen of his generation, Bergkamp Sr. was an Anglophile, who named his youngest son after Manchester United hero Denis Law. The father and a Bergkamp brother greeted us shyly. This was not a loud family.” askmen

Racism remains a problem in football, but Roy Hodgson was not guilty of it

“No show without Punch as they say. Or, in this instance, without Piara (‘Pipsqueak?’) Powar. He is, grandiosely, the Executive Director of something called Racism in Europe and on the utter non-event of Roy Hodgson’s harmless monkey in the spaceship analogy at Wembley, he opined ‘Hodgson used a very silly term within a diverse term environment. He should know better.’ Pomposity incarnate. But if this body is truly of European dimensions, what you wonder has it been doing about the shameful award to racist Russia of the 2018 World Cup. The country where that talented if somewhat eccentric forward Peter Odemwingie was forced out by the bigoted racist fans of Lokomotiv Moscow, who celebrated his departure for West Bromwich with a repugnant banner?” World Soccer