Archive for the 'World Cup 2010' category

Non è tempo di parlare di questo.

January 15, 2008 11:57 pm

(It’s not time to talk about this.)

I’m referring to the World Cup 2010 qualification fixtures, of course! They were announced today, but in my opinion, it’s really too early to discuss a set of matches beginning in September when there’s the little matter of the Euro 2008 tournament between now and then. (By the way, Euro 2008 is just 143 days away, in case you’re wondering. Yes, I agree that it sure as $*!# is soon.) Since it is too friggin’ early to really get into it, I’ll just list the fixtures. If you really want to go nuts analyzing, you can refer back to my post-draw… um… post.

September 6, 2008 – Cyprus (Away)
September 10, 2008 – Georgia
(Home)
October 11, 2008 – Bulgaria
(Away)
October 15, 2008 – Montenegro
(Home)
March 28, 2009 – Montenegro
(Away)
April 1, 2009 – Republic of Ireland
(Home)
September 5, 2009 – Georgia
(Away)
September 9, 2009 – Bulgaria
(Home)
October 10, 2009 – Republic of Ireland
(Away)
October 14, 2009 – Cyprus
(Home)

OK. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the events that are a bit more current.

First of all, Maniche is now at Inter, and Lucarelli is finally at Parma. Done. Finito. I’m not discussing it anymore until they play.

Other than that, it’s all about Coppa Italia, as we’ve started the second leg of the Round of 16. Here are the standings (leaders in green):

  1st Leg Agg. 2nd Leg
Torino 3-1 - - Roma
Cagliari 1-0 - - Sampdoria
Udinese 0-0 - - Palermo
Milan 1-2 - - Catania
Lazio 2-1 - - Napoli
Ascoli 1-1 - - Fiorentina
Empoli 2-1 5-6 3-5 Juventus
Reggina 1-4 - - Inter

Udinese – Palermo and Fiorentina – Ascoli are pretty straightforward. Win the second leg, and you’re through.

Udine probably has a tougher test than Fiorentina though, as Palermo are probably still licking their wounds from this past weekend’s Sampdoria match, and will therefore be extra motivated. Compare that to Fiorentina, who face a side currently sitting in 11th place… in Serie B. Um… yeah.

As for Milan – Catania, I see Milan pulling through. Ancelotti says he’s playing resting some of his 37 Brazilians, which means that Gilardino has a chance to show that he can hang.

Reggina – Inter. [sarcasm]Gosh. I wonder![/sarcasm] To be honest, Inter got lucky this weekend, and it’s possible that they might eek through on good fortune again, but even if Reggina manage to upset Inter in this leg, it’s not like they’ll upset them by a four-goal margin. If they do, I promise a nice, big Reggina tribute post.

Looking at Torino – Roma… man, what a cr@p situation for Roma! Torino will be looking to get their act together after this weekend’s loss to Livorno, and they hold the advantage. Not that Spalletti ever rotates the squad anyway, but I don’t think Roma will rest anybody; I’m expecting Totti-Perrotta-Aquilani-De Rossi to light it up in front of a home crowd.

As for Cagliari – Sampdoria, who the hell knows? On one side, you have a head case who storms off the pitch while cursing out his teammates and balling his eyes out, and on the other side, you have a guy that rolls with chair-throwing henchmen. Damnit, I love calcio.

Lazio – Napoli. This is the official Battle of the Troubled Teams, I think. Lazio just can’t seem to get anything right this season, while Napoli have had to endure piles of trash and Samba-dancing trident attacks. I wouldn’t touch this one with a 10-foot pole. (Hey UK readers – Do you guys use that expression?)

Of course, Empoli – Juventus is over, and Juve came away with the victory (though Raineri is understandably not a happy camper), which means they’ll probably end up facing Inter next round.

Perché è ognuno felice per il sorteggio?

November 26, 2007 4:20 am

(Why is everyone happy about the draw?)

OK, maybe “happy” isn’t the right word. “Relieved” may be more accurate. Either way, a quick jog around the Internet could leave the casual observer thinking that qualifying for World Cup 2010 will be a walk in the park for Italy.

So… Should we feel so fortunate? Should we be so optimistic?

 

I say absofrigginlutely not!

Allow me to explain. First let’s look at Italy’s groupmates:

  • Bulgaria (FIFA Rank – #18) – Donadoni remembers that they went on a wild tear back in ’94. Does anybody else? It took Baggio’s heroics to stop their run. That was then this is now, you say? Well, that may be the case, but in the now, Bulgaria missed qualifying for Euro 2008 by just two points… and Romania and the Netherlands were in Bulgaria’s group. Bulgaria might be the toughest competition here.
  • Ireland (FIFA Rank – #35) – Ugh. Living in an area heavily populated by both Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans, I have to bring up 1994 again, because I still haven’t heard the end of it. (My Irish friends will probably make sure I never do.) For those who don’t remember, Ireland upset Italy in World Cup group play… and for those not in the vicinity of NYC at the time, the Irish loaded into their cars and drove through Little Italy in Manhattan, rubbing their victory in the faces of the Italy supporters. NOT FUN.  Fast forward to today: Like all sides from those islands up yonder, hard-tackling, physical play is their M.O. Hell – it’s going to be like playing Scotland in green shirts, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not looking forward to that. By the way, they finished third in their Euro 2008 qualifying group.
  • Cyprus (FIFA Rank – #65) – Cyprus finished near the bottom of their Euro 2008 qualifying group, but that statistic really doesn’t do them credit, as they managed to scavenge 14 points with a 4-2-6 record in the midst of particularly brutal company. I’m not shaking in my boots at the prospect of this one, but I’m not putting one in the ‘w’ column just yet.
  • Montenegro (FIFA Rank – #172) – These are (half of) the artists formerly known as Serbia and Montenegro, and they bring with them none other than Mirko Vucinic. For those unfamiliar with Mirko’s Giallorossi antics, he is one hell of a striker. The guy fills in for Totti and does a decent job of it at that.  So… yeah. While it’s true that one player does not a team make, it’s not like Vucinic is their only guy. Montenegro also fields several Bundesliga players in addition to one from Red Star Belgrade, and another from Sporting. I think that the only reason their ranking is so low is that they’re basically an unknown quantity at this point; a few months ago, the team didn’t exist. (They were a part of Serbia-Montenegro.)
  • Georgia (FIFA Rank – #77) – OK. These guys, we know pretty well, having shared some biscotti and a couple Euro qualifiers with them recently.  Italy won both matches, (3-1 in Georgia and 2-0 in Genoa).  That said, this one doesn’t make my knees shake either, but nothing is guaranteed in calcio.  Georgia DID beat Scotland, after all.

Hopefully, at this point, everyone will agree that there are no pushovers in Italy’s group (which is Group # 8, incidentally). Since that’s out of the way, I’d like to point out the fact that as of late, the Azzurri have intermittently played like crap any time they sense that their backs are not against the wall. Now, with a group that many are already writing off, I am hoping that our ragazzi don’t sit on their laurels. Overconfidence kills.

I would also like to point out the fact that there is only ONE automatic qualifying spot per group. One. After that, eight second-place teams will face each other for the remaining four spots, but I don’t even want to think of that as an option. Win the group, and go to South Africa. Don’t win, and stay home. Italy must win. Period.

By the way, here are the rest of the groups, just in case anyone’s interested:

  • Group 1: Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Albania, Malta
  • Group 2: Greece, Israel, Switzerland, Moldova, Latvia, Luxembourg
  • Group 3: Czech Republic, Poland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia, San Marino
  • Group 4: Germany, Russia, Finland, Wales, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein
  • Group 5: Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia, Estonia
  • Group 6: Croatia, England, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Andorra
  • Group 7: France, Romania, Serbia, Lithuania, Austria, Faroe Islands
  • Group 9: Holland, Scotland, Norway, FYR Macedonia, Iceland