Archive for September, 2007

Old Trafford: Stiamo Venendo!

September 30, 2007 9:42 pm

7-1.

No Romanista can forget it.

Back in April, after losing at the Stadio Olimpico, Manchester United hosted Roma and gave our Giallorossi a reception that still stings.

Now, five months later, divine intervention (that’s what I’m calling it) has put Roma in the same Champions League group as the “Red Devils,” subsequently guaranteeing the Giallorossi a chance – just a chance – to return what was given to them when they travel to Old Trafford once again.

To be certain, Il Capitano (and yes, there is only one) and company have their work cut out for them, and if you read most of the previews out there, the cards are stacked against Roma.

But are they?

Although Manchester United will be without their starting ‘keeper Van der Sar, the team has won five out of six matches in September, hasn’t lost at all at home, and can of course point to last season’s encounter at Old Trafford as evidence of their apparent superiority over Roma.

Roma, on the other hand, have won only half of their six September matches, most recently drawing with both Juventus and Fiorentina, and losing to Inter – at home (ouch) – 4-1. To make matters worse, with “7-1” still ringing in their ears, it looks as though Perrotta and Aquilani will be watching from the bench.

Despite all of this (and here’s the part where everybody will write me off as crazy), I’m still hopeful.

I’m still hopeful because over the years I’ve learned that Italian teams – both club and national – live and die based on their motivation, or lack thereof. That said, a highly motivated Roma is a world more formidable than one that plays to “not loseWeight Exercise,” and if the last meeting between these two teams – on top of yesterday’s loss to Inter – doesn’t light a fire under Roma’s collective ass, thus providing said motivation, then I don’t know what will. Roma has vital weapons at its disposal, most importantly its menacing, revolving door (a.k.a. “here comes the team picture”) attack. If we bring our whole armory… along with the aforementioned motivation, we could catch the “Red Devils” napping atop their laurels – which I think they very well may be, given the history behind these two teams.

Then, if all goes well, and our Giallorossi show Old Trafford what they can really do, we’ll be able to enjoy it all the more when Manchester United visits Stadio Olimpico once again, and has the opportunity to enjoy hospitality of the Roman variety:

Fantasia Cominci Domani!

September 28, 2007 5:34 pm

OK ragazzi, this is a big week, and no, I’m not talking about Roma vs. Inter (although that is a deal of epic proportions, to be sure). Nope. Instead, I’m talking about the fact that Channel 4 Italia’s Serie A fantasy league starts tomorrow! For those who are unaware, this league is organized by UK-based Channel 4, which has a calcio news website and magazine, as I mentioned in my first post. This league is not as robust as the ESPN Soccernet league from a scoring standpoint (for instance, cards/fouls are not taken into account), but like the ESPN Soccernet league, Channel 4 Italia’s league is free to join. That’s where the similarities end, however, because the Channel 4 league gives prizes, which means that there’s actually (gasp) something on the line. I guess if you had a crew of guys that were interested in pitching in a few bucks each, there could be something on the line in the ESPN league too, but with Channel 4, there’s no need to put up any cash to play for your team’s jersey or a trip to Milan to see the derby at San Siro.

So yeah… this is gonna be cool. They have the season broken down into several “Game Months,” with trading periods between each month. Scoring is done on a per-month basis, meaning (I think) it resets after each month. The “manager” (out of everyone who’s registered) that has the highest three months, wins the aforementioned (totally, ridiculously cool) trip, and each month, the person (again, out of everyone) with the highest score for that month gets the jersey of their choice… which is good, because Roma jerseys are freakin’ hard to find stateside.

Anyway, here’s my squad:

GK F. Coppola (Atalanta)
First I had Buffon, but after he picked up a slight knock, I took Napoli goalie Gianello. Shortly thereafter, I realized that Napoli has a ridiculously tough schedule ahead, so I dropped him in favor of Coppola. Atalanta has a less terrible schedule over the next few weeks, and they’ve conceded only 5 goals thus far.

FB G. Chiellini (Juventus)
Juve’s going to have a decently solid defense I think, (which is good, because you’re penalized I point for each goal that’s scored while a ‘back or ‘keeper is on the field), and this kid Chiellini will some day be a star. Also, I Iike the fact that he comes forward on occasion. It would be huge in this league to have defenders that score.

FB M. Pasqual (Fiorentina)
Fiorentina’s defense was rock-solid last season. Actually, they were the best in Serie A. Pasqual was a major contributor there, so hopefully he’ll continue on-track.

CB L. Stovini (Catania)
I was bargain shopping (as in nearly out of money) when I picked up Stovini. He’s a starter at Catania, and their defense is fairly solid thus far this season, so he’s in!

CB A. Barzagli (Palermo)
Palermo had a pretty good defense last season also, and if Barzagli is good enough for the Azzurri, he’s good enough for me.

MF A. Rosina (Torino)
I wanted a midfielder who scores. Enter Rosina. He’s another younger guy who’s destined for star-status, I think.

MF P. Foggia (Cagliari)
This was another bargain basement pickup, but more importantly, he’s another scoring midfielder, according to the scoring sheets. I’m taking a wait-and-see stance on this one.

MF A. Aquilani (Roma)
I love De Rossi, but because this league gives no credit to defensive or controlling midfielders, Aquilani, who has been in top-form, gets the nod.

MF Kaka (Milan)
Now THIS is a midfielder that scores, but damn, was he ever expensive. Hopefully he was worth it. He would’ve been last season for sure, but I’m not Marty McFly, and so I have no time-traveling DeLorean.

ST F. Quagliarella (Udinese)
Quagliarella is scaring me a bit right now, to be honest. He was a phenom at Sampdoria last season, capable of regularly turning, shooting and scoring from almost halfway downfield. He hasn’t hit his form yet, but I’m holding on to him.

ST F. Totti (Roma)
You know who Totti is, or at least you had better know who Totti is. He’s on fire, damnit!

That’s it, ragazzi. Let the cursing, cheering, and panic-induced, illogical transfers begin!

Sorpresi

September 27, 2007 2:06 am

Although it may seem like we just started yesterday (thanks, Lega Calcio), week six is upon us already!

So, where do we stand?

Well, even though it’s pretty much up in the air at this point, there have been some surprises, two of which are perhaps the most noteworthy. Specifically, a glance at the table reveals Milan hanging around mid-pack, while Napoli… yes, Napoli, are only one point back from leaders Roma and Inter.

Let’s look at Napoli first.

It’s hard to believe that this team was slugging it out in Serie B just a few months ago! Nonetheless, despite their newly promoted status, Napoli’s defense has allowed just two goals in five matches.

No, seriously.

Yes, that’s less than Inter or Roma. As if that statistic alone wasn’t impressive enough, said matches included a 5 – 0 (What the…?!?!?!?) demolition of Udinese in week two, followed by a 2 – 0 week three victory over Sampdoria. Thus far, Uruguayan striker Zalayeta is the guy to watch up front, as he has netted three times. A few other players each have one goal each. Out back, Napoli’s keepers Iezzo and Gianello have shared duties, with Iezzo starting the first three games, and Gianello starting the last two, because Iezzo has apparently picked up an injury at some point. I don’t know when Iezzo is coming back, but with the way Gianello has been playing, it looks like they’re in good hands either way.

Perhaps the best part about this team’s progress so far is that they’ve retained their sense of humility. Paolo Cannavaro summed up their mindset: “Our priorities haven’t changed, we are still aiming for survival. We have every reason to feel proud of all the hard work we have put in, but there is a long road ahead.”

Niiiiiice, Paolo. Stay Humble.

Now… Milan, Milan, Milan.

Champions of Europe drawing with Siena and Parma? Ancelotti blames the referee for the draw with Siena and their recent loss against Palermo, while Maldini and co. were angry at the tifosi following their first Champions League match.

Regardless of the reason for their lack of success, at this point I’m having flashbacks of last season, where Milan took a while to build momentum. The next tie is against Catania. I’m not hitting the panic button yet, but if the Rossoneri don’t win this one, I might consider reacquainting myself with it.

Juve vincerà tutto?

September 24, 2007 1:00 am

This is what I’m seeing in the headlines, and call me a pessimist, but I think it may be a bit premature.

Corriere dello Sport
‘Juve for the Scudetto’: Ranieri, Trezeguet and Buffon believe after the 2-2 with Roma

Gazzetta dello Sport
Juve’s triumph – The Bianconeri stop a Roma side on a roll

Tuttosport
Juve can win it all – The Bianconeri stop Roma with a dramatic 2-2

Did I miss something here? Granted, Juventus tied Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, which is no small feat, especially considering Roma’s form at the moment. Nonetheless, the headlines above crack me up. Are we seriously calling a team that just barely slid by Cagliari Scudetto contenders only four weeks into the season?

Don’t get me wrong; Juventus are a strong squad. Who wouldn’t be with Buffon in goal and Trezuguet on fire? Such is their talent that the injury of a key player (Camoranesi) didn’t even slow them down. But still, Scudetto contenders?

Then again, the more I think about it, perhaps it wasn’t Juventus’ form that inspired those headlines; maybe it was Roma’s. After thumping Dynamo Kiev and remaining (until yesterday) as the only team with a 100% record, I suppose, factoring in the Italian media’s sensationalism, that the first team to “hold” Roma would be heralded as the strongest side, wouldn’t they?

Speaking of Roma, they’re at the top of the table right now, but I wouldn’t even make Scudetto claims for them yet; it’s just too early. Can we hold off until week 20, when half of the season is behind us, to make Scudetto claims? Please?

Che cosa stiamo facendo qui?

September 21, 2007 1:00 am

**Note: This first post was made on Sept. 21, 2007, but on December 30 of the same year, I decided to make a few changes to it, so as to stay current with the site’s development. Omissions are shown as crossed out text, and additions are in green.** Thanks for visiting! -Vin

 

OK. Here we are.

So what are we here to do, exactly?

Good question!

Well, if you’re a fan of Italian soccer, you happen to live in North America, and your Italian isn’t the greatest, you’re kind of out of luck when it comes to reading or talking about the sport. Sure, there are a few places you can go on the good ol’ Internets and get a little fix here and there, but the truth of the matter is that there’s not much along the lines of substantial English language news or discussion solely dedicated to Italian soccer.

So, that, my friends, is what we’re here to do; we’re going to attempt to fill just a small corner of that cavernous calcio void, and see where this thing goes from there.

By the way, when I say “Italian soccer” or “the Italian game,” I’m talking about Serie A, the Azzurri, and Serie B (and right on down the line… although let’s be honest – we probably won’t discuss Serie C and below much). I’m also including Italian efforts in the Champion’s League and UEFA Cup… and hell – we might even discuss Italian players who are currently gracing the German Bundesliga, the French Ligue 1, the Spanish Liga, and the English Premier League, as some of Italy’s best have been spending time away from the peninsula lately.

So, at this point, I realize that some of you might be saying, “What’s he talking about? There’s stuff on Italian soccer in English out there!” In response, I’ll just break down what I’ve found in my travels, and you can let me know if you’re aware of any others. 

Channel 4 Italia – OK. If there’s a site in English that covers Italian soccer and is actually very good, this has to be it. These guys do a top-notch job, and I’ll be referencing them a lot, I’m sure. The only thing is… they’re across the pond. While this is not a problem per se, it does strike me as a bit odd that a site like this would be based in the UK instead of the US or Canada, as the UK has the Premier League to keep them occupied, while we have what… the MLS? You’d think that we’d be the ones with enough extra energy to cover Italian soccer, but nooooooooooo. Since I wrote this, I’ve been reading a bit more of Channel 4 Italia’s news, and I still like them, although I find their headlines to be a bit sensationalist, and the transfer rumors to be less than trustworthy. To be honest though, that’s kinda the way it is with all Serie A news outlets, so it’s pretty much par for the course.


ESPNSoccernet – Of course, I have to mention this one. ESPN is a monster, and as such, its reach is broad enough to touch Serie A, but aside from the pretty thorough statistics available in their little Serie A portion of the site, there’s (sorry guys) nothing outstanding here. They do have news, but not as much as Channel 4 Italia, and Gotta, (their blogger, who has pieces on the Soccernet front page from time to time) doesn’t write enough for them. My dissatisfaction here doesn’t come as much from the fact that it’s a bad site (which it’s not), as it does from the fact that – dude – it’s freakin’ ESPN. They should be able to do better than this. Oh – and did I mention that they’re Premier League-centric?

BigSoccer – I see this one as mostly a forum; maybe some of you see it differently. As a forum, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. This is another site that covers the whole gamut, and while they do have a space dedicated to the Italian game, it’s just a piece of a much bigger site, and Serie A takes a back seat to the Premier League at BigSoccer, just as it does everywhere else (except Channel 4 Italia and well… here). Oh well. It creates a niche for serieAmerica, I guess.

Goal.com - These guys pretty much run parallel to Channel 4 Italia, except they cover the whole gamut, including other countries’ leagues. They DO have an Italian news section, which is not bad, but like Channel 4, they have no RSS feeds, which is a bit annoying.

Calciomercato.com - These guys are a little slow, and their articles are really short, but at times, they’ll cover something that the other sites have missed. 

So, here’s what you can expect from serieAmerica: First, it’s going to be just the blog. We have a forum and a blog. In terms of the blog, I plan on posting at least once per week, depending on what’s happening in the world of calcio. Visitors to the site can post to the forum 24/7, once they register. (There is no registration required to comment on blog posts, although I will review your first comment before allowing it to be posted.) After that, I plan on adding a forum, and if that actually takes off (suuuuuuure it will), maybe we can make this like… a real website.