I would take this opportunity to announce (drum roll)…………
From now on I will regularly be blogging on banana-kick.net and this blog will soon be no longer in use.
So please do have a visit to my new blog and share it to the whole world :)
You know where it is right? No?
Fiorentina’s President, Andrea Della Valle
“Unfortunately it was a serious incident and it’s all the more amazing considering he is such a calm person, but we had to fire the Coach.
“In recent years this club has done great things with certain values and unfortunately we had to take this decision to sack the tactician. Tomorrow morning we will take more decisions and there will be time to find a replacement.
“It’s the last decision we wanted to take, but we feel it is also for his own good. I hadn’t realised what happened at the time, as I was in the stands and you cannot see it from there.
“We talked and he gave his explanation. He is ready to apologise, as he is such a good man, as proved throughout his career, but I had to make this decision. We are sorry for Rossi, as he does not deserve to be seen all over the world acting this way, but it was a serious incident and we had to fire him.
“There has been so much stress that accumulated over the last few months, although there can be no justification. When he sees the footage too, he will realise exactly what happened.
“There will also be punishment for the player, as he provoked the Coach, even if there should not have been such a reaction.
“Again, tomorrow we will discuss what exactly happened and what Ljajic said. Tomorrow we begin again. It’s sad that we were almost safe and are now in this situation, but we need one more point.”
Source: Football Italia
Conte on Juve’s chaotic draw and Buffon’s shock
“This is football,” said Conte.
It was a chaotic draw, but it’s not the first time this has happened. Today it was our turn to concede a strange goal.
It is another reason we need to grow, but obviously there are regrets, as we could’ve put a real marker on the Scudetto.
If in the last two games we do well, then we will win the title, otherwise the other team will be better.
We wasted a bonus and now are forced to win the next two matches. At the start of the season we’d all have been super-excited to be one point clear at the top of the table with two rounds to go.
We are achieving extraordinary things and don’t forget we were coming off two seventh-place finishes in recent years.
Buffon had an accident, as can happen when strikers miss goals. He is strong and experienced enough to react positively, seeing as so many times this season he has been decisive for us.
We had several chances to double our lead, but were not precise. Drawing a game like this was totally unexpected. Probably the importance of the match took away some of our sharpness and put extra pressure on our shoulders.”
“We’re unbeaten in 36 Serie A games and must do well to control our advantage in the next two weeks to make a dream come true.”
“Muriel didn’t want to start the match after he saw the stadium. Buffon? He makes mistakes every ten years.”
Classy Bertolacci (Lecce’s goal scorer)
“I spoke with Buffon and I hope this goal doesn’t affect their title race.”
Quotes: Hashim0307 and Football Italia
Video: www4444 via Daily Motion
Conte on Scudetto
“It wasn’t easy today, as Novara beat Lazio three days ago and today they really wanted to trip us up,
We are in good shape and anyone who saw the game witnessed a Juventus team that plays with intensity.
We can make calculations too and we are closing in on the Scudetto in the right way, though we know Milan are great antagonists. The important thing is that our destiny is in our hands.”
Conte on Borriello
“Marco is in great shape and has entered into the mechanism of our football. Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Del Piero also had some physical problems. He put in a fine performance along with Mirko Vucinic today.”
Conte closed his interview commenting Platini’s presence yesterday
“I hope Platini can come and see us play again.”
Tesser on the way out?
“There wasn’t much we could do against this Juve side. We did everything within our capabilities, even if we weren’t in the best shape. My future? It’s too early to talk about this.”
Quote: Football Italia
Every single man in the world may have been in a relationship with an annoying girl in one of their phase of life (if not, then as 9gag says, you are a forever alone guy!). As you all know, when her mood is at its best, she could be the best company you ever had. But (this always happens monthly) when her PMS or mood swing strike, she’ll be the hardest person to deal with!
For many Juventini, those are the feelings they have towards Vucinic this season: ANNOYING! When he is not in the mood for no particular reason (see? Like PMS), he shall never pass nor find target. But when Vucinic is in his best mood (usually against big teams) he will teach football 101 on the pitch by himself to the other 21 players. Annoying isn’t it?
Now it is entirely up to you whether you want to end things with this annoying girl, or are there any other factors that make her different to any other girls?
Vucinic is of course a unique player in modern football. His imagination towards scoring fantastic goals is beyond limit. He often called Big Game Mirko due to his ability to explode against big teams. He is also known as Lazy Mirko when it comes to smaller sides. So is it worth to keep him in Juventus’ payroll?
Looking back to his statistics in the last three seasons, two with AS Roma, Vucinic shows a quite significant improvement. This is probably nothing for those Mirko’s haters but again there is a reason it’s worth keeping him in the club.
Vucinic is quite well known for his dribbling skill and overall he is a decent dribbler. However, he often looks very self-involved when the ball is on his feet and, as Gandalf would say, HE SHALL NOT PASS! Yes, Vucinic does not seem to understand when to dribble when to pass. However, despite all those hiccups, interestingly his passing skills are gradually improving in the last three seasons.
One shall never pass
In 09/10 he made 34 appearances in Serie A and made 817 passes throughout the season. Out of 817, 592 passes completed or 72.5%. That season was pretty much his best season in Giallorossi as he scored 14 goals, made 6 assists and had average of 1.9 key passes per game, helping Roma finished 2nd and only 2 points adrift from Inter Milan at the end of the Championship.
Roma had a terrible season in 10/11 as they only finished 6th. But Vucinic showed a glimpse of improvement in Roma’s dark year. He did not score, assist or appear as much as the previous season BUT his pass completion was higher with 73.6%. For a guy known as a soloist (this is not a good term for a footballer) on the pitch, this increase was quite significant.
When he signed for Juventus, opinions were pretty much divided. Criticisms are always next to him whenever he dribbles. Many Juventini feel that he needs to pass more to his teammates instead of creating scoring opportunities for himself! It’s a fair point of course, especially during the period this season when Juventus often failed to open up oppositions’ defense or create a clear cut chances.
Mirko once again showed improvement despite all the criticisms surrounding him this season. His total pass and pass completion are higher than the previous two seasons. Vucinic has made 912 passes with 76.1% completion rate. Knowing there are still four games to come, this percentage could get higher as long as he is consistent. Although his key passes this season (1.6 per game) are not as good as 09/10 where he made an average of 1.9 key passes per game, but his assist tally this season has never been better as he made 8 assists so far (top ten in Serie A’s assist chart).
There are another two interesting areas on Vucinic’s improvement in the last three years, his long balls and through balls. In 09/10, Vucinic made 36 attempts of long balls with only 25 were accurate out of his 34 appearances, this made his rate 0.7 accurate long balls per game. While his through balls were no better either as he made 27 through balls with only 10 were accurate (0.3 per game).
Again in 10/11 he also improved in this area. In his 29 appearances, he made 31 accurate long balls out of 47, thus made him at 1.1 accurate long balls per game. He was slightly better in delivering through balls in 10/11 as he made 11 successful through balls out of 26 attempts (0.4 per game). His personal best is of course this season as he’s already made 46 long balls with 40 of them were successful (1.4 accurate LB per game), and it is still counting! His through balls are also improving compared to his achievements in the last two seasons. With 50 through balls he delivered so far this season, 20 of them are accurate hence it makes his rate at 0.7 accurate through balls per game!
Looking at the table above, Vucinic shows a significant improvement each season. His long and through balls are dramatically improving this season and as compared to 2009/2010 season, Vucinic has improved his long and through balls accuracy twice as much! His numbers are probably still far from being the best or effective, but looking at the improvement he’s made, there is an invisible spirit inside Mirko that is willing to work harder every season.
Now do you see your annoying girlfriend having a tendency to improve for a better future? Well, as for Vucinic, I will definitely keep him for some time. His records show he is improving, meaning he is working to say the least. With more depth and challenging environment, it is just a matter of time to unlock Vucinic’s imaginations and bring them to reality. In the mean time let’s leave him at work in peace, at least we all know that he is going one way, up!
PS: to all the girls in the universe, I am not stereotyping your gender here. You are still the most beautiful thing on earth :)
Source: 9gag (photo), Dayife (photos) and WhoScored (statistic)
Conte on missing penalty
“The spot-kick had zero influence on the game. It was after just nine minutes and we had the whole match ahead of us. Of course, scoring immediately would’ve forced Cesena to open up and made it a different encounter,
Will Arturo Vidal take the next penalty? Probably! The great thing is that in this campaign we’ve had very few penalties, but at the end of the training sessions the players still stay back to practice and I told them it was pointless, as we wouldn’t receive any… Now we have missed two in as many games, but won anyway, so that’s fine with us!”
Conte on Borriello
“I will be honest, he deserved this so much. He arrived in not great shape, worked hard to get on the same level as his teammates and it’s a shame that he has been treated badly. Today we talked and I know the quality he possesses. He deserves this joy for all the work he does.
It was really difficult for us today with 11 men behind the ball, but this is a great sign of maturity and we passed the test. We sweat buckets against a team that did everything possible to stop us.”
Conte on Milan’s late winner
“I told the lads we have to focus only on our own results, give everything and that way have no regrets,
A year ago there was practically nothing here. We are sitting around a packed dinner table, were not used to it and now we want to eat. We saw others banquet in previous years, so now my lads are starved.
We have an extraordinary opportunity, you could even say unique. The pen is on the table and we can write history.”
Cesena could not avoid relegation after the loss against Juventus. Beretta’s take on Cesena’s goodbye
“We put in a great performance and it’s a shame, as we were holding on to Juventus despite the strong pressure,
We had to use up two substitutions due to injury and that weighed on us. I must compliment my side on their approach.
The fans asked us to show great character and that is what we did, so we were pleased at their applause at the end of the game. We are happy that we’ve fixed that rapport with the supporters.
It was already a complicated situation before I got here. We went unbeaten for five in a row, but in my view that was the pride of the players who realised they wanted to end the campaign on a high. We will aim to keep that going.”
Quote: Football Italia
Conte on the win tonight
“The approach was fundamental and worthy of a top club. These lads continue to amaze me. We know it was a little step forward, but there are also five Finals in front of us and none of them are easy
Tonight was not easy, either. We expected it to be tough and Roma can hurt anyone, but tonight they had to face off against a concentrated, enthusiastic and gritty Juve. I think it’s worth giving credit to the winning side rather than looking to blame the losing team.
“We have to look only at ourselves. We are in front right now and therefore our fate is in our hands. We don’t need to pay attention to how the other teams are doing.
We’ve already secured direct access to the Champions League with five rounds to go, which is an excellent objective. This project is going quicker than expected and enables us to experience this dream, which includes the Coppa Italia Final.”
Conte on Scudetto bonus and Juventus’ current run
“These are personal matters.”
“The club had asked me to start this new project and qualify for the Champions League, so it’s mission accomplished. Naturally we are now up here and will not set any limits on our ambition, as we can dream with the club, the players and fans.
We need to improve through tactical, physical, technical and psychological work every day, which is what I tell my players constantly. You can already see the growth of the team in those terms over the course of the season.
I will never stop thanking these lads, as they have been absolutely at my disposal from the first moment I was appointed Coach of Juventus.
This has been an extraordinary campaign for us, who are still unbeaten after 33 games. Do I like that? Oh definitely, I love it! Bologna took points off both us and Milan, so they balanced it out.”
Conte on match-fixing rumour
“I have been in football for many years and I understand certain behaviour. When you are at the top, the winds get stronger and they try to knock you off that pedestal. It’s all about being stronger than that pressure.
At times people can be cruel and try to damage others, but seeing as every time they attack me we end up winning 3-0 or 4-0, it doesn’t matter.”
Luis Enrique on tonight’s loss
“After eight minutes we were 2-0 down with the only two chances. Juve are at a remarkable level this season, so the game was already over at that stage. When they went 3-0 up and we had a man down, it really was over,
There was a big difference between the teams tonight and we compliment the Serie A leaders for their victory.”
Totti & Lamela dropped
“I did not see it as a risk. Don’t forget Totti was playing in the Coppa Italia game here and we lost 3-0. It’s too easy to talk about decisions afterwards. Juventus have great quality and physicality, so I thought it was best to adopt a more physical approach and reserve Totti for the next game.
We must already look ahead to Wednesday with Fiorentina and then Napoli. Every time a defeat like this happens, of course we are worried.
It was a game that I thought required more stamina and strength, so I believed this was the right line-up for the occasion. After those first eight minutes, it made no difference who was on the pitch. We had two trequartisti, Fabio Borini and Miralem Pjanic.
I have played a few games in my career and know intensity is crucial. It’s true we are struggling to find that intensity and tonight Juve were more intense. I don’t think we are four goals different to Juve, but tonight that was the case.
Of course I will continue the same way. We know there are some bad defeats, but we have done some good things too and are still close to third place. Naturally every setback is a problem, but each game is very difficult to predict in Serie A.
We still have three home games, plus trips to Cesena and Verona. We certainly have to improve away, but are doing a good job at the Olimpico and we’re up there.”
On Lamela’s spit on Lichtsteiner
“It is ugly for me to see a player who is winning 4-0 to do that at this level, while it is also ugly for Lamela to spit.”
Quote: Football Italia
Nostalysis (Nostalgic Analysis) may sound so tacky in your ears, but this section will offer some analysis of Juventus’ old games, tactic, strategy et al. Thanks to eBay who provides me access to old Juventus games, as well as my father who provided me with a VCR to record many Juventus games. Without those two, I probably won’t have the idea to do this and hopefully it works though ;)
My first take is the Super Cup 96/97 match (1st leg) between PSG vs Juventus.
Before 1998/1999 season, UEFA Super Cup played in two legged ties and was always played during the winter time of the season.
The first leg of 1996 Super Cup was played on 15 January 1997 at Parc de Princes, Paris. Juventus represented the winner of Champions League 1995-1996 and PSG were the winner of 1995-1996 Cup Winners Cup (before eliminated, Cup Winners Cup was higher than UEFA Cup). Played during winter season, Parc de Princes was coated with snow and pitch looked terribly slippery.
Lippi used his 4-4-2 formation and the new acquisition, Zinedine Zidane, was the only new face in the starting eleven of the Champions League winner that night. Rampulla, Lombardo and the other new faces, Paolo Montero, Mark Iuliano and Nicola Amoruso started from the bench.
Very interesting that despite PSG looked more like 4-2-2-2 on paper, but on the pitch they were more like 4-2-3-1 with Rai always sitting in the centre on the pitch and Patrice Loko placed deeper and stretched to the left. This made Jerome Leroy as their pure right winger to press Tacchinardi and Pessotto on the opposition’s left flank.
On the other hand, Juventus switched to 4-3-1-2 when they had possession and automatically switched back to 4-4-2 as on paper. Zidane was plotted as the trequartista always pressing further up when Juventus holding possession. Interestingly, his positioning was more to the right flank next to Di Livio when building attack. PSG’s move to place Loko on the left made much sense knowing Zidane helping Di Livio on the right most of the time as the only Juventus’ attacking outlet.
Juventus switched to 4-3-1-2 when attacking
Domination vs Discipline
With more players in the middle, PSG actually started the game quite brightly. With three central midfielders, PSG often made Juventus uncomfortable in the centre of the pitch with 3vs2. Hence this situation often asked Tacchinardi to move and defend closer to Zidane and Deschamps. With this situation, Juventus’ left flank was left only with Pessotto alone which was quite heavily exposed by Leroy. Lippi anticipated this very well by asking Del Piero to sit deeper to defense when Tacchinardi narrowed to the centre of the pitch (pictures below).
Juventus’ discipline did pay off that night. As PSG were not able to outnumber Juventus in the middle, both flanks were well covered by Di Livio on the right to monitor Domi’s penetration and Del Piero on the left when necessary. Despite enjoying most of the possession, PSG did not have a lot of clear cut chances.
Juventus ‘only’ attacked from set pieces
Juventus’ players did very well in covering their defensive duties, but things did not really pan out offensively. By sitting back most of the time, Juventus counted on the imagination of their prodigies, Del Piero and Zidane, and Di Livio’s explosive play most of the time. While the condition of the pitch was not getting any better, Juventus’ build up and counter attack often came to waste.
Lucky for Juventus, although their effort in attacking PSG often came to waste, they had a world class vision in Zidane and Del Piero. Juventus’ first four goals all came or started from set pieces. Porrini’s (Juve’s 1st goal) came after a poor clearance from Guerin. The second and third goal occurred due to PSG defenders’ poor anticipation on Padovano’s (2nd goal) and Ferrara’s (3rd goal) movement inside the box.
Conceded by three goals after only half an hour broke PSG significantly as five minutes before half time, began from a free kick, Padovano took another advantage from another poor clearance from Guerin, again!
From bad to worse
Bad news never had a good timing. Jimmy Algerino (PSG right full back) had to be taken out due to injury near the end of the first half. This situation asked PSG’s coach, Ricardo Gomes, to tweak his formation significantly. With only a left footed defender, Kenedy, available; Gomes played Laurent Fournier out of position as a right back replacing Algerino and placed Kenedy in the midfield instead.
Although Kenedy did bring a set of fresh air as PSG pulled back one goal ten minutes after second half through Rai (penalty), but it could have made much more sense if Gomes switched Domi to the right to help the wasteful Leroy and placed Kenedy as the left full back.
However, Gomes realized this and brought in Leonardo (yes, the Milan’s legend) to replace Domi, who played a great game actually, hence Kenedy is now on the left full back and Fournier still out of position on the right full back.
Leonardo did not make a lot of impact as expected but Fournier did. Playing him out of his favourite position only made things worse as the French midfielder was sent off on the 64th minute. With the third (last) substitution made on the 61st minute by subbing off Valdes for another attacker, Pouget, Gomes could not do anything but placing the tired Leroy on the right alone.
Lippi could not help but to take an advantage on this situation. He replaced Tacchinardi with a winger, Lombardo, and asked Del Piero to stretch out wide even more. With only Leroy himself on the right, PSG could not contain Juventus’ pressure from the left flank. Lombardo’s and Amoruso’s goals were just a matter of time.
PSG did not play badly overall, but due to poor concentration during set pieces they had to pay the price, and in this case it was UEFA Super Cup title. Juventus’ discipline through out the game were superb, especially Tacchinardi who was placed as a mezzala and was always there to cover any free space. Juve deserved the win as they converted almost every chance they got during the game.
The return leg only made matter worse for PSG as they lost, again, 3-1 at Stadio La favorita in Palermo. This time a brace from Del Piero and a goal from another new face who later became a Serie A legend, Christian Vieri.
Pictures taken from the video provided by zizou-fan
Conte sounded his worry and ‘anger’ after a total domination in the first half but the team required another magical moment from Del Piero
“There is certainly some regret and even anger, as we dominate games and don’t close them off, which often ended up in draws. This was heading in a similar direction, as we were in control and not determined enough to get the final blow,
Unfortunately it was happening again today after an excellent first half and we allowed Lazio so little. We have to improve and grow, but the lads are achieving something extraordinary.
It’s inevitable that if we converted all our scoring opportunities, we’d all be calmer and our coronary arteries under less stress! It’d also be fair, as Juventus dominated so much and had to suffer until the final whistle tonight.
It’s ok, as we go back on top of the table and always have Milan’s pressure behind us, but it is a good step forward.
Del Piero, it’s a great fortune for us to have him here. When you need to score, he’s your man. He has always been and will always be an added bonus for the team. If I ask him for a minute, five minutes, eight or a whole game, he always gives 100 per cent.”
Conte also spoke about Del Piero’s possible renewal. Nothing worth mentioning but there is always a possibility.
“Compliments to Ale and the whole team. At this moment we must focus on Cesena and the present, then there will be time to discuss the future. What is important right now is to recoup energy and be ready for the next test.”
Source: Football Italia (quotes) and Online-Soccer.ru (video)
Do you believe myth in football? Well it doesn’t matter; you have to anyway before reading this article any further. Stuff like Ibrahim Ba would bring AC Milan good luck hence he was contracted for one year by the then coach, Ancelotti. Or Milan always opt to wear their away shirt (white) even at San Siro when playing at Champions League as it is believed to bring good luck to the team. You got the gist yet?
Juventus and Italian National Team have their own myth too. The relationship is almost mathematical in every way. Many believe when Italy consist of many Juventus’ players, the national team will almost definitely do well in a major tournament. Also when Juventus are having a good season that year, that lucky charm will be transformed into the national team heading to a major tournament. Needless to say, Italian National Team are ‘dependent’ on how Juventus progress to do well.
Italy’s failure could be Juve’s success
Interestingly, Juventus’ success somehow is quite related on how Italy FAIL to do well in Euro Championship. It sounds harsh but I guess the fact below is worth to take a look.
In Euro 2000 in Belgium-Netherlands, Italy almost clinched the cup if only David Trezeguet did not bury our dream at the very last minute in the final stage of the tournament. Fast forward four years later in Portugal, Italy were believed to pass the group stage easily, well that was not the case. After the scoreless draw against Denmark in the first match, Italy were expected to clinch a victory on their second game against Sweden. Things went quite expected as Cassano headed Italy in front in the 36th minute. Six minutes before full time whistle, it was Zlatan Ibrahimovich who slotted the ball into Buffon’s net and made the score even 1-1. that result made Italy’s last match was really tricky, they knew they had to win against Bulgaria but it didn’t matter anymore if, on the other hand, Sweden vs Denmark deliberately ended the game two all. The worst scenario happened, Italy won 2-1 against Bulgaria and Sweden-Denmark ended in 2-2. Had Ibrahimovich not cancelled Italy’s lead against Sweden on the second game, such conspiracy would’ve never happened.
Both men mentioned above moved to Juventus right after the Euro 2000 and 2004 Championship ended respectively. Trezeguet moved from Monaco in 2000 and Zlatan followed the Frenchman’s footstep in 2004 from Ajax Amsterdam. Trezeguet’s days at Juventus were the best of his career and also one of the best period for the club. He gave Juventus four Serie A titles, Champions League runner up in 2003 and he is Juventus’ highest ever foreign goal scorer with 168 goals surpassing Omar Sivori.
Zlatan was not as prolific as Trezeguet but it was no doubt that he made his name in the world of football during his days at Juventus. With more than 90 appearances in two seasons with Juventus, he was one of the important players for the then Juventus’ coach, Capello. His success at Juventus further proved with the two titles he won during his two years tenure in Turin (although later revoked due to match fixing scandal).
Looking at the story above, it is pretty simple to see the glue that sticks all stories above: whoever destroys Italy in Euro Championship will bring success to Juventus’ seasons in the future. Although it only occurred twice so far, but it is quite valid looking how the tournament just changed in 1996.
Euro Championship expanded in England 1996 into four groups in the first round (Before Euro 96 there were only 2 groups). Italy crashed out of the tournament after ‘surprisingly’ lost to Czech Republic in 1996 and Spain in 2008. Thanks to Pavel Nedved whose name was on the score sheet that night at Old Trafford 1996. Had Nedved moved to Juventus after Euro 96, could he bring an instant success for him and Juventus? Well he actually did so six years after that competition though. In 2008, Italy went home after losing the penalty shoot out against Spain in the quarter final. As we all would agree, probably, in penalty shoot out it is almost pure luck and there is hardly one soul that light the night unless it was Toldo in 2000.
Hence looking at the facts from the reformed Euro Championship since 1996, it is quite valid on how Italy’s destroyers could potentially bring success to Juventus. Trezeguet and Zlatan’s story were quite straight forward. Nedved moved to Turin six years after Euro 96, but his contribution to Italy’s failure in 96 could possibly relate how he had a massive success at Juventus.
Worth a wait
Juventus been heavily linked to a world class striker next summer. Many believed Juventus’ attackers are not high-quality enough to take them to further success. Names like Suarez and Higuain are linked for a summer move to Turin. Well having known the fact and story above, don’t you want to know Italy’s progress in Euro first? I am not praying for Italy to lose BUT since Suarez, Higuain or even Jovetic will not participate in Euro 2012; I guess it is worth to take a look at the competition first before making any rushed decision. No? Still want Suarez/Jovetic/Higuain? Ah well…….
Approaching one of the most anticipated games this season, Barcelona vs Milan, I present to you all a bit memorabilia from us, Juventus!
Barcelona have won their last 5 CL quarter-final ties. Last defeat at this stage was against Juventus, in 2002/2003.
Juventus came to Camp Nou as an underdog knowing they only drew the first leg, 1-1, hence giving Barcelona an away goal advantage. Juventus had to win this return match at Camp Nou or draw with more than one goal (2-2, 3-3, etc).
Lippi’s genius substitutions determined the whole game. Camoranesi and Di Vaio replaced by Birindelli and Zalayeta in the beginning of the second half. The first two arguably the best players available for that game, and while the team needed goals Lippi subbed them off. Lippi’s move paid off, Juventus led in 53rd minute through Pavel Nedved. unfortunately, thirteen minutes later it’s the then 23 year old Xavi Hernandez wrote his name on the score sheet.
Tudor came in for Del Piero moments before full time whistle, just to balance things up as Davids saw red. It was still 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes, meaning the game had to continue into extra time!
In 114th minute Birindelli made his typical never ending run from the right flank to receive the ball from Zalayeta in the centre half. He crossed the ball into the box! Gerrard failed to block the lovely curved ball and left Zalayeta, who cleverly ran between Puyol and Gerrard before the cross delivered, alone to tap the ball into the net! GOAL! REEETTTTTEEEEEEE!
Zalayeta, the forever replacement player, always showed his commitment during his Juventus days including the dark year of serie B. Kept his mouth shut and always worked his ass off! True professional, an unsung hero!
He controlled the ball to skip through Amelia! BANG and GOAL!
He ran into the box to receive a beautiful through ball from Vidal! BANG and GOAL!
He twisted his body around Aronica, ran towards the opposition’s box and passed the ball to Quagliarella! BANG and GOAL!
Those are three, yes, three beautiful moments from the great Alex Del Piero in the last three games against Milan, Inter and Napoli respectively. What’s next captain? Are you going to make a goal-line clearance? Are you going to show everyone including Pirlo, how to bend a free kick and convert one? To think that every day means one day less of Del Piero at Juventus is almost absurd….
Let me tell you a story about a young phenomenon 18 years ago named Ronaldo. He played for PSV Eindhoven back then and scored an amazing total of 30 goals in his first ever season in Europe. Rumour has it, in 1995 Inter Milan’s new president, Massimo Moratti, had an agreement with PSV that if PSV had to sell R9, Inter Milan had to be the first in line.
Fast forward to the end of 95/96 season, PSV seriously had to sell their young striker who was just 19 for reportedly in a region of US$ 20 million. It was also true that Moratti was offered first before Barcelona swooped in.
Moratti was not convinced with the young Ronaldo’s performance after watching him in one of Brazil’s matches in 1995. Ronaldo came as a substitute in that game and only made three contributions; dribbling skipped through opposition’s players, conceded a foul and an assist. The game was over, Moratti felt PSV’s $20 million demand was too high for those touches, and hence Ronaldo went to Barcelona for $17 million.
At last, Moratti did make an expensive swoop a year later for Ronaldo for the then record breaking, £19.5 million. But had Moratti not taken those three moves for granted, he might have made one of the cleverest transfer in the world of football. And who knows, things could’ve happened differently for Ronaldo and/or the club had the Brazilian joined the Milan based club a year before.
So what does that story have to do with Del Piero? Those three Del Piero moves I mentioned above might not be as decisive as they used to, however they showed that there is still a role for him in the club. It might not be a big or important role but a team mate like him is never a surplus. We always say Pepe is not a world class player, but he is a world class team mate. When there is a chance to have, literally, a world class team mate like Alex, y u think no faster?!
Many hope this season will not be Alex’s last hurrah at Juventus, but it seems there is no turning back after the announcement made by the president (via board meeting) and the player himself (via his official site) back in 2011. Well, I personally do hope whatever happens at the end of this season, it won’t bring any regrets to the club.
However, no matter what your hope is, it’s always best to keep your hope for this greatest love story between Del Piero and Juventus. There is a quote from a movie I always regard as the grandmaster of all movies, Shawshank Redemption. It says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Pictures: Reuters Pictures
Juventus Post Match Comments:
“In the last two weeks we clearly beat Inter and Napoli, two teams who most assumed would be ahead of us at this stage of the season. The victory over Napoli must be a source of pride, because they are an excellent side who did very well in the Champions League and are growing under Walter Mazzarri.
I am proud of what my lads achieved tonight. We are also maturing in psychological terms and this result is crucial to put second place under lock and key, which is already beyond our expectations for the season.
Of course we are glancing in front of us, because it is only right to do so, and we will try to take advantage of Milan slip-ups. Only they can lose the Scudetto now, because no-one else has the strength in depth at their disposal.
The Rossoneri are a very strong side who won the Scudetto last year and remain top despite their many injuries. On top of that, they’re still in the Champions League after drawing with Barcelona, the best team in the world.”
Conte about his tactic & Borriello
“We have one certainty and that is the three-man midfield. Therefore we can play 4-3-3 or 5-3-2. As for Borriello, he has quality and I feel if he had arrived in June to work with us pre-season, then he’d have a different experience here. He is growing and gave us a big hand today.
I think a Coach needs to be complete, so focus on both the tactical and motivational aspects. Of course, a Coach is nothing without players who share his vision and support him. I have the added good fortune of having a group of players eager to make up for two disappointing seasons and write club history.”
“It was a spectacular goal and one the team needed at that moment. After the second goal we were able to do everything much more easily.
We had to win tonight so we could stay close to the leaders. I think Antonio Conte is doing a fantastic job and, after a dip in form, the team is giving a strong response.
We believe in the Scudetto and want to continue like this until the end. We hope to be the champions.”
Napoli Post Match Comments
“It is entirely possible to lose in Turin against this Juve side, but it depends on how,” said the Coach after a 3-0 defeat.
We played on a par with Juve until the second goal, then we lost our shape and got too irritable. After so many games in a season, we have lost a bit of sharpness, while Juventus are defensively solid and we suffered against their physicality.
Giorgio Chiellini can mark three men all by himself, as he’s just impossible to get past. We were also unlucky on the first goal, but reacted well and looked for the equaliser. After Arturo Vidal’s stunning goal we visibly fell away and were no longer able to get into the game.”
Mazzarri on his three tenors (Hamsik-Lavezzi-Cavani)
“It is possible our strikers have lost that sharpness, but I doubt they’ve become arrogant. EdiCavani ran so much today to help out in defence. A Coach looks at balance and if you can’t get the strikers to help the midfield, then you’re in trouble.
We did not create much today and were unable to play as we usually do because Juve were perfect at the back. I am happy with the way they played until the second goal.
Will GoranPandev get more playing time? He is in good shape and I always keep him in mind. It’s difficult to take Cavani and Lavezzi off the pitch, but Goran does deserve space, especially as I’ll be missing a few wingers against Lazio and must therefore reconsider the system.”
Source: Dailymotion (video) and Football Italia (quotes)
When a passing midfielder regarded as an extinct species in the world of football, the resurrection of Andrea Pirlo by Carlo Mazzone changed the whole subject. Positioned much deeper during his short loan spell in Brescia from Inter Milan, Pirlo revived the role of a passing midfielder in football.
When most teams deployed many industrial players in the centre of the pitch to fulfill the demand of high pace and physical world of football, it took more than guts to place a supposedly technical attacking midfielder in front of defenders. However this step proved to be clinical as, no matter how the games have brutally changed, the need of having a ball distributor to build an attack is always essential. Simply because they are the kind of players who can create and find spaces for themselves and the team regardless how quick and physical the game is.
This proves how influential Mazone’s decision back then to drop Pirlo deeper than ever before as many nowadays teams always have a passing midfielder in their formation. Barcelona wouldn’t be the same without the role Deco and Xavi provided since mid 2000. Even Real Madrid finally admit how essential Guti was in their formation, hence the acquisition of Xabi Alonso once Guti moved on to Besiktas. Moreover, even smaller teams must have their own ‘Pirlo’, Lodi/Almiron in Catania, Montolivo in Fiorentina or Luca Cigarini in Atalanta.
The most amazing thing is, Pirlo is not only influential on the pitch but, at least, also in my live as a dreamer.
Just last night I finally had a chance to test drive my new boots, Lotto Vento Diablo, for a kick about in the park! FYI these are not the boots Pirlo wears usually, simply because buying ones (Nike Tiempo Air Legend) would make me the most stupid person in the world ($299?! DAFUQ?!).
You will never be like Pirlo even with these boots….
This is the first time to have an outdoor kick about after almost four years filled with indoor football activities. Returning your touch, passes and control brought back all the childhood memories of all the football training I had when attending school. One touch, one pass and one ball control ignited my never ending dream to be a great passing midfielder.
Of course a dream is a dream, I only take football as a hobby without any intention to be a professional or even amateur player. But, at least, yesterday I became a kid on the street again who usually wants to be like Messi or CR7, but this time I want to be like Andrea Pirlo, pass maestro!
My Lotto Vento Diablo really did the job. For boots under $90, they are made out of Kangoroo leather. They also have twist and run technology that can balance your feet while kicking and minimize the risk of injury (this is bullshit to be honest). For one night I was imagining two touches with a glance while Lichtsteiner ran from the second line, a lob pass into the box! Headed INTO the net by Lichtsteiner! WHAT A PASS!
Pirlo has brought everything for his country and every club he ever joined, titles, elegance, technique and entertainment. His move to Juventus, I’m sure, will bring nothing but the same to previous clubs he was at. What he probably doesn’t know is that he also allows a lay man like me to become a kid once again and impersonate great player’s style on the pitch. Thank you Pirlo for making football entertaining again and thank you for making me smile as a kid again! Pass it like Pirlo ;)
Photo: Reuters Pictures
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