Monday, July 31, 2006

Who's that guy?

It looks like new coach Roberto Donadoni will need a scorecard to keep track of the new members of the Azzurri that will compete against Croatia in the friendly match on August 16.

Many of the players are still on holiday and are expected to be absent for the game.
Donadoni's Dilemma

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seven Nation Army song by White Stripes

The Italian fanbase of the Azzurri has adopted the song Seven Nation Army, by White Stripes, as the unofficial song of the team and their triumph over seven teams to win the World Cup.

Francesco Totti is credited with leading the chant of this song during the post game celebration in Rome.
Totti started it

Here is a link to the audio of this song.
Seven Nation Army

White Stripes website

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Champions League Draw

The provisional draw for the Third Round of the UEFA Cup Tournament was held on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland. At this point, AC Milan is scheduled to play the winner of Cork v. Crvena Zvezda match and Chievo will play the winner of the Levski v. Sioni match.

Milan's eligibility could be in doubt pending the outcome of the ruling expected to be handed down by UEFA on Wednesday. Some have questioned whether the red-and-black are worthy participants due to their involvement in the soccer scandal.
Milan awaits fate

Games begin on August 8th and 9th with the return matchups on August 22nd and 23rd.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

AC Milan in Champions Tourney (for now)

AC Milan was nominated to be one of the two Italian teams to play in the Champions League Tournament. However next week UEFA will meet to discuss whether the Rossoneri are worthy participants in light of the sanctions from the soccer scandal.Milan in

UEFA to review Milan

The draw for the Champions League tourney is Friday.
CL Draw on Friday

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Juventus confirms Buffon decision

According to Juventus boss Giovanni Cobolli Gigli, Gianluigi Buffon will remain with the club and will not be sold. That is bound to make many folks in Torino happy like Nonnina La Spezia, shown here with Buffon.
Gigi staying at Juve

Buffon Online site

Just when you thought it was over.........

My head hurts after trying to piece together all of the stories, angles and complications from yesterday's appeal verdict in the match-fixing scandal also known as Calciopoli. Not only do these announcements impact the individual teams, they also will have an effect on the Champions League tournament and player movements as well. Hopefully this post highlights the main points and storylines from today and from the principles involved. Mamma mia, troppo parole!

President of the sports appeals court Piero Sandulli reads the verdict at the end of an appeal trial for the Italian match-fixing scandal on a television screen in a media room in Rome on July 25, 2006. The court reduced the punishment for the four teams in the scandal, restoring Fiorentina and Lazio to the Serie A and reducing point penalties for Juventus, whose demotion to Serie B was upheld. AC Milan had its points penalty in Serie A cut from 15 to eight. (from "Week In Soccer, July 27")

Despite the reduction in penalties, Juventus and Fiorentina vowed to use all means necessary to reduce or eliminate all deficits.
Juve and Fiorentina to fight on

Lazio has also expressed displeasure with the outcome.
Lazio unhappy too

AC Milan has continued to proclaim their complete innocence even after their sanctions were reduced. AC Milan, "We're innocent"

Palermo was bumped out of UEFA Champions Cup after it was decided that AC Milan would play instead as part of the appeal of sanctions. Their chief is puzzled about what punishment did Milan really face if they are allowed to play in the tournament.
Palermo out

UEFA will meet tomorrow to decide if indeed AC Milan should be able to compete in the Champions League afterall.
Milan in or out?

Meanwhile the judge hearing the appeal, defended his decision by saying the reduction of the original verdict gives all teams a chance to return to Serie A after this season.
Judge defends decision

Cannavaro's a Madridista

Fabio Cannavaro was front and center in his new surroundings at a press conference with Real Madrid today. Ironically, Cannavaro was given Zinedine Zidane's number 5.
Cannavaro's press conference

Meanwhile, his former club Juventus has threatened that he is still their property and that he has not been transfered yet. Once again only in Italy!
Cannavaro in limbo?

Inter handed Scudetto for last season

The Internazionale Football Club of Milan, better known as Inter, was awarded the scudetto for the 2005-06 season in the Serie A. This is a result of Juventus' relegation to Serie B and AC Milan's point subtraction in the soccer scandal. Inter finished third last season but inherited the title since the other two were no longer eligible.
Inter handed 05-06 championship

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two teams returned to Serie A

In a stunning reversal, Lazio and Fiorentina will return to Serie A after being relegated to Serie B as part of the match-fixing scandal. Both teams will be assessed additional deficit points as part of the verdict but will play in Italy's top league.

However, Juventus will remain in Serie B but their deficit was reduced from 30 to 17 points. It is unclear what affect this reversal will have on player movements for these teams. All I can say is only in Italy!
Verdict reversed

Lazio and Fiorentina join Milan

Gentile out and Casiraghi in as U-21 coach

One of my all-time favorites, Mr. Catenaccio himself, Claudio Gentile was told that he would not be retained as the coach of Italy's U-21 squad. He will be replaced by another former Azzurri of a younger generation, Pierluigi Casiraghi.

Gentile was upset because the timing of the move came after Roberto Donadoni was installed as head coach of the National squad following Marcello Lippi's resignation.
Gentile out as U-21 boss

Casiraghi replaces legend

Casiraghi, a veteran of the National squad himself, will be assisted by Gianfranco Zola who played for the Azzurri in the early 1990's.
Zola to assist

UEFA extends deadline for Italian teams

The UEFA organization has granted the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) a one day extension to submit the team names for competition in this year's Champions League. The delay in reaching a verdict in the match-fixing appeals caused this unusual change.
UEFA grants Italy extension

Verdict due Tuesday

Luca Toni to Inter?

Speculation is that Luca Toni will soon join the Inter squad in Milan. Toni was to leading goal scorer in Serie A last season with 31 goals while with Fiorentina.
Toni to Inter?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Milan aims for Scudetto while appealing sanctions

Despite a 15 point deficit to start the season, AC Milan has their sights set on winning the championship of Italy's Serie A, also known as the scudetto. It could be worse, thus the positive attitude. The alternative would be relegation to Serie B like their rivals Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina as part of the match-fixing scandal. With these teams out of the way, especially Juventus, Milan has a realistic chance to win the title.
Milan aiming for the top.

Also today, they ended their presentation of the appeal of the punishment which their lawyer called "exorbitant". The outcome is expected tomorrow (Tuesday) because the verdict has impact on the teams that Italy will enroll in the Champions League and UEFA Cup tournaments.
Milan appeals punishment

SI writer "apologizes"

While surfing for blog stories, I came across this one from Sports Illustrated/CNN writer Greg Lalas, published a couple of days after the finals. He details his unfortunate miscalculation of the Azzurri and how they proved him wrong. I found it very entertaining.
How do you like me now?

Cannavaro on Real Madrid

Fabio Cannavaro says he is anxious to begin play with Real Madrid in Spain this season. His new team is lead by his former Juventus coach Fabio Capello. He is expected to appear at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday.

I wonder if anyone told him about his new French teammate, midfielder Zinedine Zidane? I hear he's got a temper!
Cannavaro ready for Real

Real Madrid homepage

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Juventus begins appeal

Italian soccer powerhouse Juventus is ready to appeal their recent demotion to Serie B after the inquiry into match-fixing in Italy's top soccer league.

Juventus is scheduled to play in the second division for the first time since it was founded in 1897. During that time, the Torino-based icon has won 29 league titles. They are to Italian soccer what the New York Yankees are to American baseball.
Juve ready to fight relegation

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Zidane to do community service

Because of his retirement from international soccer and the French squad, Zinedine Zidane has reached an agreement with FIFA to assist in some soccer camps as community service time. I can hear it now. "That baldheaded guy just head butted me, daddy"!
Service time for Zizou

Perhaps as part of his "counseling" he should try out for the MTV show "Yo Momma"! I think he needs to toughen up a bit. He's been pampered and smothered his whole life I guess! Ron Borges of thinks that Zidane whould never make it in the US if he is that touchy. It must be a European thing.
Zidane too sensitive for US

Also, thanks to Isis for plugging this blog. I did a quick scan for any new Zidane items and came across this mega-video compilation of clips and another game. I think they are speaking German on the video but I am not sure. Pretty funny stuff. I wonder if Marco Materazzi has played them yet?

By the way, does anyone remember that Materazzi scored Italy's goal in regulation? Too bad it has become a footnote in the game.
Zidane compilation

Head Blast game

Zidane-mania still going

Friday, July 21, 2006

Materazzi's punishment unfair? FIFA defends actions

According to Italian Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri FIFA has an anti-Italian bias and that is why Marco Materazzi was punished so severely. She also points to the fact that FIFA head Sepp Blatter was not part of the medal ceremony after Italy defeated France in the finals.
FIFA Anti-Italian?

Meanwhile some have argued that penalizing Materazzi so severly will set a bad precident by holding both parties accountable. FIFA insists that it was fair and just and the actions of both parties merit the punishment. My guess is that if it where a first round game and it was someone other than Zidane, Materazzi would not have been punished. But as papa says, "What's done, is done." I think it is time to move on.
FIFA justifies its actions

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Zambrotta leaves Juve for Barcelona

Former Juventus defender Gianluca Zambrotta is on his way to Barcelona along with his teammate Frenchman Lilian Thuram. Both played in the World Cup final two weeks ago.
Zambrotta to Barca

Italy to play Croatia in friendly match

Italy will play Croatia in the first match since winning the World Cup. The match will take place in Livorno on August 16.

Friendly match v. Croatia

Zidane and Materazzi receive punishments

Zinedine Zidane of France has been banned for three-matches and fined 7,500 Swiss francs ($6,015) for head-butting Italian Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final.

Materazzi was suspended for two matches and fined 5,000 Swiss francs ($4,010) for his provocation prior to the incident.

The Verdict

Both players fined and banned

Since Zidane has announced his retirement from international play, the punishment was largely a ceremonial gesture and will not affect him on the field. However, the two game penalty will force Materazzi to miss a Euro 2008 qualifier versus Lithuania on September 4 and the rematch with the French side on September 6 in Paris.

Materazzi to miss France rematch

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Two more teams to be punished?

Two unnamed teams are rumored to be under investigation for match fixing. The source hinted that they were both from the Serie A.

Two more?

Meanwhile, Reggina president Lillo Foti was part of a list of people involved with match fixing in 2004-05. It is unclear whether Reggina is one of the teams mentioned above.

Reggina under investigation

Long term effect of the Scandal

With the expected migration of players to more secure surroundings, the Juventus soccer club could face many difficult years, after dominating the Italian soccer scene recently.
Juve may hurt for years

Long term impact for Juve and Milan

Of celebration and scandal

New coach Roberto Donadoni has expressed concern of the impact that this will have on the national team. Donadoni worried

Buffon to stay with Juventus

According to his agent, goalie Gianluigi Buffon, intends to stay at Juventus dispite their relegation to Serie B due to the soccer scandal. Rumors insist that English power, Manchester United, is interestd in acquiring Buffon.

Buffon staying at Juve?

Buffon data

Cannavaro leaves Juve for Real Madrid

Caannavaro to join Real Madrid

Italian team captain Fabio Cannavaro, 32, his been signed to a contract by Spanish powerhouse, Real Madrid. He joins former Juve boss Fabio Capello who has recently taken over coaching duties at RM.

This is one of the first defections after the completion of the soccer match-fixing inquiry.

Cannavaro data

Zidane to Zurich for verdict

French star Zinedine Zidane headed to Zurich , Switzerland today to receive the verdict from FIFA for his famous head-butt incident with Italian player Marco Materazzi during the World Cup final.

Zidane awaits verdict

Speculation on the outcome ranges from a ceremonial suspension, since he has retired from international play, to absolution and punishment for Materazzi.

Materazzi was in Zurich last week to discuss the issue with FIFA as part of their investigation.

Materazzi questioned by FIFA

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Donadoni to continue Lippi's work

In his first interview with the media, Roberto Donadoni promised that he would continue the work done by his predecessor, Marcelo Lippi.
Donadoni press conference

Donadoni is a veteran of the 1990 and 1994 national squads which finished third and second in the World Cup, respectively. His first test will be in September when Italy hosts Lithuana on September 2nd in a qualifying match for the 2008 European Chamionships.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Puma salutes the Azzurri

Puma has posted a congratulations note on their website for the victory by the Italian team in the 2006 World Cup. It is a mock-up of the blue jersey with the number 4 and "campioni del mondo" surrounding it. There are also autographs written in gold from the players on the team. A replica blue t-shirt of the jersey is now available on Puma's site for $26(US).
Winner's Tee

While reviewing the site, I came across several pages with other Puma Apparel of the Italian team. One page had a heading that said "Italians Look Better" and was part of a line of clothing called the Italia Away Kit.
Italians Look Better

Under the heading of "Our Teams", there is a picture of the Italian team along with various replica items for the Azzurri.
Puma Football
Italian Team Apparel

There is also a silly soccer game called "Where's Buffon?" You get to try your luck in penalty kicks against the best goalie in the world. There is some trash talking and some of his reactions after each kick are funny. In one sequence, he acutally flips off the opposing player after a made kick and in another he pulls out a cell phone and mocks the kicker after a save.
"Where's Buffon?" game
"Where's Buffon?" photos

Zidane a hero? The Internet is full of humor and discussion

photo courtesy of Kaptain Kobold

Everywhere you go, people are still talking and commenting on the head-butt incident between Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi. The internet is an amazing place when things like this happen. Look at 911 or the Tsunami disaster in December of 2004. An instant response from thousands and even millions of people is possible.

Blogs, forums and chatrooms have been churning this incident since the moment it happened. Opinions, as one might expect, vary far and wide. Some say it was a criminal action. Others say that Materazzi is wrong for provoking him. Many say that it is an example of our human frailty. Some have even compared Zidane to a phoenix, rising from the ashes, in a religious or heroic way. Regardless, it has made Zindane and Materazzi household names in this country and around the world.

Of course the humorists, the irreverent and very creative computer folks have used their talents and the internet to lighten the mood. In that vein, I submit several funny things that I found online regarding the situation.

Zidane Head-butt Game

Zid-vicious Game

YouTube Zidane video

Zidane song

Four teams penalized in Italian soccer scandal

The verdict is in and the penalties are harsh. Soccer clubs Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina have all been demoted to Serie B for the 2006-07 season and were given "minus" points in the standings for this season. Juve will also forfeit the two league titles or "scudetti" they won in 2005 and 2006.

AC Milan will remain in Serie A but will face a 15 point deficit this season. All four teams have filed for an appeal of the rulings.
Juve loses last two titles
Juve demoted
All four appeal

Meanwhile, AC Milan insists that little player movement is expected because of the penalties, while others think that many will leave their clubs.
AC Milan confident
Exodus coming in Serie A?

The changes will have implications of the upcoming season of the Champions League and UEFA Cup games.
AC Milan may play in UEFA Cup

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Puma "wins" World Cup

Sports apparel manufacturer Puma won their first world title when Italy defeated France for the World Cup trophy last Sunday. The contract with the Italian Football Federation was signed in 2003 and extended past the World Cup in 2014 last November.

Along with new uniforms featuring four World Cup stars, PUMA will start an international ad campaign, saluting the Italian team on their World Cup victory, beginning tomorrow.

The ads will be printed in high profile newspapers such as the "Financial Times", "Gazzetta dello Sport", "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung", "De Telegraf", "L´Equpe", "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" or "The Times".

Puma wins first title

Puma in 36 of 64 WC games

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Donadoni to replace Lippi

Roberto Donadoni, 42, was named head coach of the Italian team replacing Marcello Lippi who resigned after leading the squad to the championship of the World Cup tournament.

Donadoni was a mainstay with powerhouse AC Milan in the late 1980's and early 1990's. He was also a member of the national team that finished third in 1990 and second in 1994. He later played briefly with the NY/NJ Metrostars of the MLS before returning to AC Milan.

Donadoni to replace Lippi

Donadoni new Azzurri boss

Roberto Donadoni biography

The Scandal

The players said it forged a relationship that took them to the championship. Juventus defender Gianluca Pessotto fell from the third story of their building in an apparent suicide attempt during the tournament. Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of AC Milan is asking for more time. Meanwhile the head of the soccer federation says it's time to clean up the mess.

What is it all about? What will the impact be on the sport in Italy and what effect will it have outside of the country?

Scandal inspired players

Berlusconi wants more time

Soccer head says no to amnesty

Buffon says to enjoy the victory

Photo slide show of scandal

New FIFA rankings are out and Italy is No. 2?

The world soccer rankings were released and Italy moved from 12th to 2nd behind Brazil which remained in the first spot. The new system uses a teams' results from the last 4 years rather than the previous 8 years. There are other minor adjustments as well.

FIFA World Ranking

Zidane vs. Materazzi. Who is telling the truth?

Unfortunately, the madness surrounding the head-butt by French star Zinedine Zidane to Italian player Marco Materazzi in the final minutes of overtime Sunday, has reached epic proportions. Zizou, as Zidane is called, was still awarded the Golden Ball trophy as the best player of the tourney, even though he was given the red card and dismissed from the pitch at a critical point in the game. Many have questioned the validity of this award. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has discussed an inquiry of the matter and the possiblity of taking the award from Zidane exists.

Both sides have publicly discussed the incident since Sunday's game and both sides are sure of their positions. They have also refused to discuss the specific details of what was said. On Monday, there was speculation that Matterazzi had made a reference to Zidane's mother or calling him a "terrorist" with an obvious reference to his ethnic heritage as a native Algerian.

When he spoke, Materazzi called Zidane his idol and insisted that the insult was nothing extraordinary or different than the type of dialogue that is said during any game. Zidane, on the other hand said, "I would rather have taken a punch in the jaw than have heard that."

So who is telling the truth? Is it a case of Zidane being thin-skinned? One who can give out the punishment but is not able to take it? Was he looking for a way out of the game since he had injured his arm just before the incident?

Did Matterazzi actually make these harsh remarks therefore justifying Zidane's retaliation? Or is the truth somewhere in the middle? For now it appears that neither side is telling all that they know.

07/09/2006-Zizou's "Red" farewell

07/12/2006-Blatter says FIFA to review incident

07/12/2006-Zidane apologizes to the children

07/12/2006-Materazzi admits insult

07/13/2006-Materazzi says Zidane deserves award

Gioia, Gioia mia! Photos from the streets.

Thank you to my new friend Cristiano (on the right) for allowing me to share his photos from the celebration in his town.

Campioni del Mondo

Marcello Lippi resigns

Marcello Lippi, the victorious coach of the Italian National Team, has announced his resignation from the squad. This move was widely speculated and is not a major surprise.

The coach cited the scrutiny of his son and himself by the Italian media during the investigation in the Serie A soccer scandal as one of the major factors in the decision. Lippi's son, Davide, has been implicated for his work at the player agency GEA.

No immediate successor was named, however, Roberto Donadoni, former member of the National Team was mentioned as a candidate.

Lippi steps down

Cannavaro comments about Lippi

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Italian team welcomed at home by thousands of fans

The Italian team left Germany on Monday and was given a friendly water salute by the workers at the airport.

Notice the image of the players that is on the side of the airplane.

The team then arrived in Rome and was greeted by the Italian Air Force with the trecolore in smoke.

They visited with Prime Minister Prodi and others before heading to the Circus Massimo.

And then they went to the party. And what at party it must have been!

Photos from

Game details from USA Today

USAToday has provided a minute-by-minute account of Sunday's game.

Game details from USA Today

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italians take the title

After over a quarter century of frustration and futility, Italy wins the 2006 World Cup soccer championship. The Azzurri outscored France 5-3 on penalty kicks after a scoreless overtime period that left the game tied at 1-1.

All five of the Italians converted while David Trezeguet missed the second French attempt when his ball hit the crossbar, putting his team in a difficult position. Neither Frenchman Fabien Barthez nor Gianluigi Buffon for Italy stopped a shot during the shootout. After Fabio Grosso scored the fifth Italian goal, the team and the stadium erupted in jubilation.

The Italians lost on penalty kicks to Argentina in 1990, Brazil in the finals in 1994 and to France in 1998. They also lost to the French side, 2-1 in overtime, in the European Championships in 2000 after leading for most of the game.

It is their fourth World Cup Championship. The others were 1934, 1938 and 1982.

Italians take the title

USAToday's Final Coverage

Italy reigns supreme
Photos from the game

Saturday, July 8, 2006

What's your prediction?

My heart says 2-0 Italy. My head says this one might go to overtime. Again I will take the Italians, 2-1.

The Azzurri: USA Today's Guide to the Final

The Azzurri: USA Today's Guide to the Final

This is a nice review of the key matchups for Sunday's final. According to the article, the prime battle will between Gennaro Gattuso and Zinadine Zidane.

Welcome to The Azzurri blog!

This is the initial post for the new Blog called The Azzurri. My hope is to make it a place to discuss all things about the Italian National Soccer team, also known to its fans as the Azzurri.

Forza Azzurri!

Big T