Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New logo to be unveiled this weekend

This weekend, Italy will have the new logo sporting four stars. This redesign was done after they won their fourth World Cup in July.
Four stars

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Azzurri Euro roster announced

Coach Roberto Donadoni has announced his roster for the two Euro 2008 qualifying matches in September. There are a large number of players from the World Cup team including Gianluca Zambrotta, Gianluigi Buffon and Fabio Cannavaro. Absent is Roma star Francesco Totti. Marco Materazzi is serving a two-game suspension for his part in the Zidane head-butt incident and will miss both games.Roster announcement

Friday, August 25, 2006

Champions League results

AC Milan has made it to the next round of the Champions League tournament with a 2-1 win over Red Star (Crvena Zvezda), Belgrade last Wednesday. This gave them a 3-1 aggregate score for both games.

Meanwhile, Chievo Verona has been elimated in the third round by Levski in a 2-2 draw. Levski had a two game total of 4-2 to push them into the group stage of the tournament. Third round results

First matches in the group stage round are September 12 and 13 and feature Italian teams Inter, AC Milan and AC Roma in the final 32.
Group stage games

Roberto Mancini of Inter discusses his sides chances in the tourney. Mancini interview

Italy Super Cup

Lineups for Saturday's Italia Super Cup game between Inter and AC Roma have been announced. Super Cup teams

Super Cup History

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This week's installment of Calciopoli

The never-ending saga of Calciopoli continues this week with the following revelations and activities related to the soccer fixing scandal.

Juventus will be appealing its case in a civil court on September 1. Juventus set to appeal They are also claiming financial damages from their demotion to Serie B. Juve damaged?

Earlier last week, Juventus demanded a return to Serie A or they would continue to pursue appeals despite warnings for Italy's soccer body that further action would result in more penalties. Juventus wants Serie A

Calabrian team Reggina will remain in Serie A but will assessed a 15-point penalty following an investigation to match-fixing. Arezzo will stay in Serie B and begin the season down 9 points.Reggina, Arezzo punishments Reggina has since appealed the decision. Reggina appeals

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cassano back to the Azzurri

It appears that Antonio Cassano may be part of the upcoming Euro 2008 qualifying games in September. Cassano has been absent from the national side for over a year. He is currently a member of the Real Madrid club which he joined in January of 2006. Throughout his career, he has been known for his poor temperament with teammates and management alike.
Cassano to return?
Cassano bio

Totti to play for Azzurri again

Francesco Totti has decided that he is willing to participate on the National team on a limited basis, meaning that he would rather not play in the friendly matches if possible. He said he was not happy with his play in the World Cup even though he was only a few months removed from breaking his ankle this past spring.
Totti returning?

I also ran across these video clips of Totti for a commercial he did for Vodafone called "Life is Now".
Vodafone commercial, "Life is Now"
"Life is Now" outtakes

Monday, August 21, 2006

Donadoni to get first hand look

National team coach, Roberto Donadoni will be travelling to Spain to scout several players now working in Spain's La Liga. Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluca Zambrotta are a few of the big names that moved after the World Cup. Donadoni is forming his team in preparation for the upcoming Euro 2008 matches in September.
Don scouting in Spain
Italy falling behind

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Young Azzurri team loses 2-0 to Croatia

In their first game since winning the World Cup in July, the Italian National team lost a friendly match to Croatia, 2-0. The game featured many players in their international debut for Italy.
Game Recap

Meanwhile, many of the stars of Germany 2006 have been on holiday prior to the start of the new season and were unavailable.
The party continues

Before the game, Roberto Donadoni, in his first match as coach, defended his selection of many youngsters in place of the established players from the World.
Donadoni defends team

However, later he admitted that he was worried about his club, as they approach their Euro 2008 qualifying matches in September.
Donadoni concerned after game

Incidentally, it was the last game that the Italian jersey will have three stars. A fourth star, signifying their recent world championship, will be added to their jersey and debut in their first Euro qualifier against Lithuania in September.
Four stars next

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

U-21 Team draws against Croatia

New U-21 coach Pierluigi Casiraghi was upbeat despite a 0-0 draw with Croatia in his first match as coach.
First game

He pointed out the play of 19-year-old Giuseppe Rossi, who plays for Manchester United, as one of the bright spots in the game. Roberto Donadoni has mentioned that he would like to have Rossi on the national team in the future.
Donadoni interested in Rossi

Incidently, young Mr. Rossi was born in New Jersey and could have played for the US squad in this year's World Cup but declined. Rossi bio

Gigi loyal to Juventus

Goalie Gianluigi Buffon discusses what might have happened if Juventus had not be relegated this year.
Buffon interview

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pavarotti Interview

I know this is a soccer blog but I am posting this interview with Luciano Pavarotti as he discusses his fight with pancreatic cancer. He has been a favorite of mine for many years and I was fortunate enought to see him here in Cincinnati in the early 1990's. I always admired him for his charity work with folks like Bono and Princess Diana also. I hope he is able to recover from this malady. (PS: I got the pic from brilliantdandy's flickr page. It reminds me of him.)
Pavarotti's fight

Buona fortuna, Luciano, buona fortuna.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Reggina to Serie B? Arezzo to Serie C?

The football federation prosecutor has recommended that Reggina be demoted to Serie B as the result of wiretapped conversations by their team president.

It will be interesting to see if a smaller club like Reggina will get any relief during the appeal process compared to the bigger, more powerful clubs like AC Milan or Juventus. Reggina is based in Reggio Calabria.
Reggina relegated?

Serie B team Arezzo has been named in the scandal as well. The procecutor has suggested that they are moved to Serie C. Arezzo is located in the Tuscany region near Florence and Siena.
Arezzo next?

Donadoni's first squad

Roberto Donadoni has assembled his first squad as coach of the National Team as they prepare for the friendly match against Croatia on Wednesday. Due to other commitments and the closeness of the World Cup, the team only has one member from the World Cup team. There are also seven players who will make their debut for the national side.
1st team named

Many new faces

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Juventus wins 6th Birra Trophy

Juventus defeated Napoli and Inter in the 10 annual Birra Moretti Trophy game. It was their 6th victory in the series.

Juve wins it again

During the festivities, Juve World Cup players Gianluigi Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi and Alessandro Del Piero were honored for their victory over France.

Buffon offered these words when interviewed about winning the trophy and their relegation to Serie B, "Same old Juventus."

Moretti Trophy page

Friday, August 11, 2006

Totti is "indispensable"

New Azzurri coach Roberto Donadoni is trying to convince striker Francesco Totti to continue his career with the national side. He has discussed retiring after the World Cup but has not made a formal announcement yet.
Totti is needed

Azzurri readies for "friendly" with Croatia

The Azzurri will be assembling shortly to prepare for their game against Croatia on Wednesday, August 16. This will be the first game for the National team since their victory against France in the World Cup Finals.
Azzurri to gather soon

Birra Moretti games tonight

San Paolo Stadium will host the Birra Moretti Trophy Games this evening in Napoli. Juve stars, Gianluigi Buffon, Alex DelPiero and Mauro Camoranesi will be honored for their World Cup Victory in July.
Juventus v. Inter v. Napoli
Juve Roster

Tournament Rules

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reggina in trouble...Milan and Lazio appeal....Milan named again.....

The Italian soap opera called Calciopoli continues with several new episodes this week.

Reggina indicted

Lazio appeals penalties

Milan and others to appeal (again)

Milan indicted 2nd time

Some players on the move while others stay

Due to the number of player moves recently, the story links are shown but I have not commented or gone into any detail about them. Click on each link to access the story.

Marco Materazzi stays with Inter

Vieri freed from Sampdoria

Camoranesi in Serie B with Juve

Buffon to Inter?

Toni to stay

Champions League results

AC Milan dispatched Crvena Zvezda (Red Star, Belgrade) by a score of 1-0 in their Champions League match on Wednesday.
Milan wins 1-0

Meanwhile Chievo Verona was defeated 2-0 by Sofia (Bulgaria) on Wednesday.
Chievo loses 2-0

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Dalton Maag and Neil Barrett developed Azzurri uniforms with Puma

For those with an interest in fashion design and sports apparel, the design firm Dalton-Maag created the fonts used on all of the Puma uniforms used in this year's World Cup.

British designer, Neil Barrett, created Italy's "Kit" which was developed to emphasize the speed and quickness of the players.
Neil Barrett

Euro qualifier to be played in Rome

The Azzurri will play their October 7 Euro 2008 qualifier against the Ukraine in Rome. It is the first national game played in Rome since 2001.
Azzurri in Rome

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Who says "only in America"?

A PR man in China has copyrighted the black-and-white graphic image of the infamous Zidane head-butt to be used on clothing, shoes and other items. What's next, Zidane toilet paper?
Heat-butt image copyrighted

Also, thanks to my Swiss friend Peter for sending me the highlights of the Miss Mundo beauty pagent. Miss France has some issues!
Miss Mundo highlights

Monday, August 7, 2006

This one's for me!

Wow, what a month it has been. Four weeks ago we were basking in the euphoria of Italy's fourth World Cup championship. The night before the game I started this blog on a whim. Fifty posts and over 200 hits later we are still here. If I had more time I could have posted 20 more. Zidane, Materazzi, Lippi, Donadoni, Calciopoli and on and on. Things have finally slowed down somewhat but there is always something new every day.

On the personal side, this World Cup was especially sweet. On the selfish side, I say this one is for me. You may ask, what makes me so special? Well, here is my story.

As a young boy in the 1970's, I visited my dad's hometown in Italy twice with my parents. However, it was summertime and other than playing in the alley or on the beach there weren't any games to watch on TV.

My dad used to tell me stories about playing soccer in the service and how he "guarded the door" but I had no idea what he was talking about. Eventually I figured out that the portiere was actually the goalie. So the game was a part of family folklore even though I had minimal personal experience. Remember these were the days before soccer moms and minivans.

So my first real exposure to European soccer was a PBS show called "Soccer Made in Germany" which was on in the late 1970's. The show detailed the games in the Bundesliga and occasionally some international matches as well. It was narrated by Toby Charles and his cadence and exaggerated British pronunciation of the German names and teams was so unique and memorable that I can recite them to this day. Player names like "Ruminegga"(Karl-Heinz Rummenigge), "Schumaka" (Harald Schumacher)and "Klaus Fisha" (Klaus Fisher) were so poetic. Teams names like Borussia Munchengladbach and Bayern Munich just rolled off the tongue. I became hooked on the game.

The show also allowed me to converse with my soccer playing friends Dave, Steve and Frank along with Paul F. and learn the finer points of the game. When we were seniors in high school Dave was co-captain of our high school team. That was a dream season which ended in a heart-breaking defeat in the Ohio state final game. Incidently our team wore the identical adidas uniform that the West German team did so we've always had a soft spot for the Germans even though we are Italian.

So we move to the 1982 World Cup. I don't recall too many games being on TV since ESPN was just getting started that year but I do remember the building anticipation as Italy defeated Argentina then Brazil in the second round. Paolo Rossi was a "goal hound" as Dave liked to say and was phenomenal that year.

So Italy defeats Poland in the semifinals while West Germany beat France on penalty kicks, 5-4, in one of the best games I have ever seen. Then the gods must have been against me because I had to work on Sunday the day of the Italy v. West Germany final. And there was no way out of it. Every other Italian I knew was watching that game somewhere but me. Italy won but somehow it was a little hollow for me.

I have very few memories of the 1986 World Cup. I had just graduated from college, started a new job and was busy chasing the girl I would marry the next year. I think I saw Maradona's Hand of God goal but that was probably just a highlight later. Obviously the Italians didn't do much that year.

In 1990, Italy hosted the World Cup and I once again got bit by the bug. Who was this Schillachi guy? And I liked this Baggio guy with the mullet. Others were Zenga, Maldini, Baresi and Bergomi just to name a few. They were the best team and they were destined to win it all that year. But they ran into a guy named Goycochea and they lost on penalty kicks to Argentina to the semifinals.

They would go on to win the third place game but I was heartbroken. How could you go "undefeated" yet still not win it all. It was then that I decided that I hated penalty kicks. That World Cup stuck with me more than any other one until this year. The players were mostly my age and somehow I felt a real connection with that group and unfulfilled by their failure.

That World Cup spawned an idea though. Dave and I heard that the US would host the next World Cup in 1994. I was able to procure two tickets to the opening match in New Jersey to watch Italy play Ireland. It was a dream come true. And again there was no way they were going to lose.

Incidentally my uncle came from Italy in June of 1994 to visit for the first time ever. He was afraid of flying but came with a friend and got discounted tickets as part of a travel package for the games in the US. Watching highlights with him was a great memory that I will always have of him.

As the game got closer the buildup was intense. But the whole experience was a complete downer, almost surreal, starting with the drive to Joisey. The game was on Saturday and we decided to leave on Thursday evening so we could split up the 10 hour drive. Just outside of Pittsburgh we encountered a monsoon rainstorm and got a room for the night.

The next day we were stuck in a traffic jam on the Pennsylvania Turnpike because the US Open golf tournament was being held at Oakmont and it was to be Arnold Palmer's last Open. It was at that point that we bitched each other out for not flying!

So we negotiated that mess and now we begin to hear radio reports that OJ Simpson was going to turn himself in to authorities for the murder of his wife Nichole and her friend Ron Goldman the weekend before. As we get closer to New Jersey the reports change saying that he has not showed up for the police and is now a fugitive. This story was just getting started.

Later while scanning the paper I mention to Dave that it would be neat see a baseball game that night if we could. Sure enough the Yankees were in town and we had time to get to our hotel and drive to the Bronx.

Our hotel was near the airport (how ironic) in Newark just a few miles from the Meadowlands. I was happy that we were that close but the barbed wire around the parking lot fence wasn't very reassuring. We dropped our stuff and caught a glimpse of the opening match between Germany and Bolivia.

We were near the Statue of Liberty as we negotiated the drive across to New York City. We "surfaced" from one of the tunnels, and were immediately met by a window cleaner and a guy selling candy bars at the light.

Once again, we were the victim of poor timing. As we tried to get out of the area near Wall Street, we noticed all of the paper and trash on the streets. The city had just given the NY Rangers a ticker-tape parade for winning the Stanley Cup in hockey. More traffic and more delays as it was roughly 5:30 pm on a Friday in NYC.

We made it to the Bronx at 7:00 and were able to get third row tickets near first base for about $20 bucks each. This was probably the high point our trip. It was neat to walk around in the stadium but I don't remember much about the game.

Part of the reason for the trip was to spend time soaking up our Italian roots by finding some fellow Italiani to party with. We were too stupid to go to Little Italy though. Instead we went to the Meadowlands expecting to see hundreds of fans tailgating or celebrating the night before. As we approached we saw lights and just knew it was going to be good. But it was some type of local festival or carnival and not much else.

So as we retreated back to our hotel, we heard that OJ was now on the run and had threatened to kill himself. This was the beginning of the infamous white Bronco chase. We got some pizza and took in the drama until after midnight.

We arrived several hours before the game just to revel in our italian-ness. We met a few fans but it was so hot that day that many stayed away until nearly kick-off. Since it was the first game at that site, many of the booths and vendors were not even set up. A near riot almost ensued while we were in the beverage tent because they were unable to keep the coolers stocked. The Irish fans were downright nasty to some of the workers. For a little while there was the kind of pushing and shoving that only you see in Third World countries when they are passing out food rations. Thankfully things calmed down when more cases of water and Powerade arrived.

We had good seats which were in the shade so that was a benefit. The Italians had a couple of chances early but for some reason Beppe Signori was not in the game and Roberto Baggio was unable to do it all by himself. It was at that point I decided that I did not like Arrigo Sacchi. Somehow the Irish scored in the first half and Italy struggled but could not even things up.

More disappointment as we tried to figure out what just happened. No partying in the streets on that night. Only crying in our beer at the hotel.

There was one more glitch in our trip which was the perfect ending to our journey. As we approached the Pennsylvania border we were pulled over by a New Jersey state trooper that clocked me going 74 and a 55 zone. But seriously, it is 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning and there is no one else around. A few hours later as we approached the Ohio border knowing we still had 4 hours to go we bitched each other out again for not flying! Between the rental car, the gas and my ticket, I think flying would have made it a break even.

Somehow the Azzurri were able to regroup and make it to the finals against Brazil. Once again they were doomed by their inability to make or stop penalty kicks. I always felt bad for Roberto Baggio because he never seemed comfortable in the lead role that year. He was also blamed for missing the PK that would have kept them in it but that seemed unfair. His play earlier in the tourney was the only reason why they made it that far.

So after two disappointing finishes, I had no idea what to expect in 1998. I think by then most of the games were on TV so that was a good thing. I was surprised that the French team was that good. It had been many years since they put up such a formidable group.

It seemed inevitable that they would lose yet again on penalty kicks this time to the host French team. France would go on to win the tournament which really stuck in my throat knowing we should be playing in the finals.

Watching Christian Vieri carry the team was amazing too. He had the attitude of a bulldog and that was something that seemed rare on an Italian team. Unfortunately Alessandro DelPiero was just another in a long line of guys like Gianluca Vialli and Gianluigi Lentini that disappointed on the big stage or were nonfactors after dominating in the Serie A.

I was thrilled when I heard the Azzurri legend Dino Zoff would be the coach for the 2000 Euro Championship. I liked his style of pressing up front more on offense and not relying on the defense all the time. As they moved through the ranks, I was convinced they would win it all this time even though it was not the World Cup.

But again I would be crushed. They somehow gave up the tying goal at the end of four minutes of extra time. Four #%&@ minutes! How is that possible? I am usually not a conspiracy theorist but for a long time after that I thought the game was fixed.

By 2002, I was leery of investing too much into the team. It just seemed to drain me when it was over. But faithfully I watched the games when I could be began to believe that they might do something worthwhile. The time change was difficult to get used to. The results were usually known early in the morning so it was hard to avoid the results all day.

This team seemed to lack the charisma and desire that some of the others have shown in the past. Throw in some shotty calls by the referees and our boys were ousted by SouthKorea in the Round of 16. Poor Dave. He had shelled out some pretty good money to buy the complete package of games just so we could watch them all. Thankfully he enjoys watching all of the games not just Italy's or it would have been about $20 per game!

And Euro 2004. Were they even there?

Enter the games of 2006. I was surprised that Francesco Totti was able to return after his nasty accident in the spring. But would this be more of the same from Del Piero and company or something special? Their opening victory over Ghana set the tone for the entire tournament. Score early and often if possible.

As the tourney moved along it was obvious that their defense was solid as always but the offense was their secret weapon. Ten different players would score for the Azzurri and what a welcome change that was. Gone were the days of grinding it out on defense and countering for a quick score. I alsways felt that there was too much Italian talent in the Serie A for them to have difficulty scoring goals like in the past.

During the final game against France I sat in the basement by myself certain they would win but expecting the usual sour defeat as in the past. The rest of the family stayed upstairs until it was over.

When Fabio Grosso snapped the back of the net with his penalty kick it took a couple of seconds for it to register that the game was over. I have never felt such a feeling of absolute joy and euphoria. It was finally over after nearly 25 years of striving for the next one. This was one that I could call my own.

All of the missed penalty kicks... working during the game in 1982... The Euro 2000 fiasco...the referees in 2002... Goycochea... Romario... Zidane.... and the suffering and disappointment were all a thing of the past. Somehow I feel like I've earned this one along with millions of other Italians around the world. I was especially happy that my relatives in Italy got to enjoy this and that my dad got to see it as well.

So thanks to you guys. Thank you Marcelo Lippi. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories and feelings from this competition.

Thanks also to anyone that frequents this place.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Grosso on Inter

World Cup winner, Fabio Grosso discusses his future with Inter after leaving Palermo at the end of last season. With Juventus demoted and AC Milan penalized points in the standings, Inter is considered one of the preseason favorites in Serie A.
Grosso wants more trophies