Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two Weeks to Euro 2008; Let the Soccer Insanity Begin

Two weeks to Euro 2008. Let the insanity begin.

With the nations participating in the tournament having already named their provisional squads, they will complete those teams by the middle of next week at the latest.

Some surprises.

Italy named 24 players so they have one to cut. The biggest surprise to their list is Antonio Cassano, the talented forward whose most descriptive nickname among many, is Peter Pan.

Shock is the word used most often in Italy when the decision was announced.

Coach Roberto Donadoni, who was given a two-year contract extension (only good if the Italians get to the semifinals of the tournament or beyond), is playing with fire with Cassano.

Cassano hasn’t played with the national team since September 2006.

“I’m not taking any chances with Cassano,” Donadoni said. “He is not a youngster any more and knows what it means to be a member of a group. I know perfectly well what he can give in technical terms.”

If Donadoni is going to go out, he’s going to go out on his own terms.

Often showing the maturity of Peter Pan, Cassano is likely to fly off the handle and get himself in trouble on the field.

If Cassano shows any sign of making trouble before the final team is named, he’ll be sent home.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Juventus Head East

Juventus flew out on their end-of-season tour of Asia and Australia on Tuesday.

The Bianconeri will play three matches over a nine-day period, with two games in China - against South China of Hong Kong and Shanghai, followed by a transfer to Australia to face Melbourne Victoria on May 30.

The party will be without Alessandro Del Piero, Gianluigi Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi and Giorgio Chiellini who are expected to join up with the Italy squad to prepare for the upcoming European championships.

Also missing will be full-back Zdenek Grygera who has been selected for the Czech Republic squad for Euro 2008, and midfielder Mohamed Sissoko.

However, coach Claudio Ranieri can still count upon a mixture of youth and experience with David Trezeguet leading the attack while Nicola Legrottaglie will marshall the defence and Pavel Nedved controls the midfield.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kaka Set To Lead The Line

Ricky Kaka will play as a striker next season for AC Milan according to Adriano Galliani.

The Brazilian was moved into a more advanced role at the beginning of this season and although the 26-year-old was initially reluctant to shift position, the Rossoneri vice-president revealed that the club top scorer's move to bolster the attack would be made permanent.

He said: "We will be adopting a new tactic next year, Kakà will be our support striker for next season."

The European and World Footballer of the Year has scored 15 goals this season despite struggling with injury and his accuracy in front of goal has convinced the San Siro club as well as the player that his future lies in this direction.

Although such a move would increase competition for the remaining attacking place, Galliani revealed that main contenders Filippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato would provide the main goal threat.

He added: "I think this is an excellent solution but up front there can only be one striker playing in front of him. Inzaghi is doing very well at the moment so Pato will have to alternate with him."

Such a move would alter the strategy of the Milan giants in the transfer market this summer, with the addition of only one striker now the priority which could pave the way for the return of Marco Borriello after his magnificent season with Genoa.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Derby Delight for AC Milan

AC Milan came out 2-1 winners over Inter in a pulsating derby win.

The Rossoneri dominated the first half and Filippo Inzaghi had two opportunities to break the deadlock.

The first came when the striker evaded the offside trap on Ricky Kaka's adroit pass but goalkeeper Julio Cesar blocked the firm effort.

Then the pair linked again and this time the frontman sent a diving header just past the post.

The 34-year-old finally got on the scoresheet in the 52nd minute and this time the Italy international had the simple task of heading home at the near post following Kaka's curling delivery from the byline.

Four minutes later and the San Siro was on its feet again as Massimo Ambrosini harried Patrick Vieira into a loose pass and Kaka raced on to the ball to finish coolly under Julio Cesar.

A stunned Inter finally found some momentum coming forward and were rewarded for their efforts in the 76th minute when Julio Ricardo Cruz curled home a delightful free-kick.

A hectic final period saw the Nerazzurri press for the equaliser and a free-kick from Cristian Chivu brought out a flying save from goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac.

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