Serie A Latest: Matchday 4 and Champions League Review

Hello everyone! Your Italian Calcio expert Marco Pantanella is back, ready to begin his second week here on Soccerlens. :mrgreen:

Up on the menu today we’ve got a full report on the mid-week Champions League matches for Milan, Inter, Roma and Lazio, and full review of the Italian league week-end in which matchday nº4 of the Serie A was played.

Let’s begin with the European Cups.

1. Champions League W1: Milan and Roma go full steam ahead, Inter and Lazio not so much

CLThe opening day of the Champions League was a mixed success for the Serie A teams this week. The European Champions AC Milan were back to defend their title, and did so in stylish manner against Portuguese side Benfica.

Having rested his main players the previous week-end (and paying the price with a 1-1 draw vs. Siena), Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti could count on his best starting 11 Tuesday for the San Siro European opener. In particular, Kaka and Pirlo were back to provide the Rossoneri midfield with the essential quality that makes Milan such a fearsome team, and it showed. Andrea Pirlo was absolutely magical in this game, delighting the San Siro faithful with great touches and spot-on passing.

On the 2nd Milan goal in particular, his tactical choice to stop the ball, wait for the defenders to drop, and cross it to Inzaghi (instead of shooting directly) just highlights the genius vision of the Italian midfielder, an irreplaceable piece in Ancelotti’s chessboard.

Not to mention that Pirlo’s 1st goal was just more evidence the man is only rivaled by Juninho Pernambucano when it comes to free-kick accuracy.

Benfica fought back and reduced Milan’s 2-0 lead in stoppage time, but it was too little too late.

More CL success for Italy came from AS Roma, who received Ukrainian club Dynamo Kiev at the Stadio Olimpico. Much like AC Milan the Giallorossi played an absolutely perfect match, vividly active in offense and attentively disciplined in defense. The goals came through a Simone Perrotta header and a Francesco Totti instep finish after a long run, but it could have been much worse for the Ukrainians.

Finally, things didn’t exactly set off on the best foot for Lazio and Inter.

The Biancocelesti had to travel to Athens to meet Olympiakos, never an easy task because of the excited Greek supporter fanbase, who always give new meaning to the term “home advantage”. This time however the Athens club had to do without it, because the match was played behind closed doors (an UEFA sentence, which punished the Greek club for incidents against Shakhtar Donetsk the past season, was still being carried out). As a result, the match was an absolute bore for most of the 1st half, and only became interesting when the home team opened the score in the 55th. Lazio fought back, eventually managing to grab the equalizer through wing-back Luciano Zauri.

Serie A champions Inter Milan had the worst night of the lot. With their main defenders Córdoba, Materazzi, Chivu, and Burdisso out injured or unavailable (the suspensions for the post-Valencia game brawl in the last CL campaign being still in effect), Inter coach Roberto Mancini scratched his head a long time before deciding who to pick for the Fenerbahce game. In the end, he chose Walter Samuel and Nelson Rivas, who did quite well for the Nerazzurri. For as long as they could that is, because the rest of the Inter team was nowhere to be seen.

Most of the match was an absolutely asphyxiating Fenerbahce dominance, as coach Zico’s troops sent the Inter defenders nuts with their dribbles and accelerations. Eventually, it was one chance too many before the break, and the Turkish team took the lead never to give it back (a beautiful Deivid goal, quite entertaining with Turkish commentary).

For full match reports, see the following links:

  • Milan 2-1 Benfica and Olympiakos 1-1 Lazio
  • Fenerbahce 1-0 Inter and Roma 2-0 Dynamo Kiev

2. UEFA CUP First Round L1: Palermo & Empoli win, Fiorentina & Sampdoria tie

UEFA CupIt’s still the first round for the UEFA Cup, so the games aren’t very interesting yet.

Suffice to say that most Italian clubs did well, except for Sampdoria which tied 2-2 at home vs. Danish club Aalborg, and might have a tough challenge to obtain the qualification to the next round.

You can find full game reports here.

  • Mlada Boleslav 0-1 Palermo
  • FC Groningen 1-1 Fiorentina
  • Sampdoria 2-2 Aalborg
  • Empoli 2-1 FC Zürich

3. Serie A week 4: Roma tie Juve and maintain the lead, Milan and Inter tie

To wrap it up my Serie A weekly summary, how appropriate to finish precisely with… the Serie A. 🙂

JuvelogoThe big match of the week-end was obviously the Roma-Juventus clash, which featured an undefeated Roma side ready to host the Serie B champions Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico. The Giallorossi were not only undefeated, but had also conceded zero goals until Sunday (European competitions included, a quite remarkable feat).

Roma wouldn’t hold their clean sheet record for very long though, as 17 minutes into the match French striker David Trezeguet opened the score for Juve, on a beautifully constructed play involving Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Iaquinta.

Roma waited 15 minutes before tying the score, then 5 more minutes to take the lead: both goals being the merit of Francesco Totti. On the first one, the Roma captain exploited a good pass from Mançini and produced a wicked first touch to get past Juve defender Criscito. Then all he had to do was to apply the finish past Gigi Buffon. On the 2nd goal, it was more the unresponsiveness of the Juve defense after a brilliant save of Buffon on Aquilani’s point-blank effort, that allowed Totti to tap the ball in from close-range.

All of Roma’s efforts were however nullified in the 87th minute as Vincenzo Iaquinta equalized for the Bianconeri, with a beautiful reverse looping header that surprised Roma keeper Doni and entered the net. The cross for Iaquinta’s header actually came from a direct long throw by Giorgio Chiellini, after the referee had turned a Roma throw to the opposition because of time-wasting by Cicinho. Also worth mentioning: Juve captain Alessandro Del Piero missed a penalty in the 49th, by shooting the ball over the bar with the score still 2-1 for Roma.

In the end, it was a very exciting game to watch, more so perhaps (but that’s just my opinion and I’m biased 😛 ) than Barcelona-Sevilla or Man Utd-Chelsea this week-end. For a full match report, click here.

In the other matches, the other Scudetto contenders Milan and Inter couldn’t get more than a draw vs. Parma and Livorno respectively.

Antonio Di Natale, age 29A special mention this week deserves to go to Udinese and their striker Antonio Di Natale, who is on absolute fire at the moment. Di Natale already had a brilliant week last time, scoring a double against Ukraine then the lone goal vs. Juventus. This week however, he topped himself in spectacular fashion. Just have a look at his two goals against Reggina, and dare tell me they’re not eligible for goal of the month.

  • The Antonio Di Natale show vs. Reggina

Also, here’s a table with full Serie A results for matchday 4.

Serie A – day 4
Udinese – Reggina 2 – 0
Milan – Parma 1 – 1
Atalanta – Lazio 2 – 1
Cagliari – Palermo 0 – 1
Catania – Fiorentina 0 – 1
Empoli – Napoli 0 – 0
Livorno – Inter 2 – 2
Roma – Juventus 2 – 2
Torino – Siena 1 – 1
Sampdoria – Genoa 0 – 0

That’s all for this week folks! I’ll be back for more next week, same Bat-channel same Bat-time. 😉

Marco Pantanella writes on the mCalcio blog.

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