Best Goal of the Season: the Final


🏅⚽ Emirates Awards
🙌🏻 🥅 Best Goal of the season 🥅 🙌🏻
The final act! / La finale! 🔚
Who do you want to win? / Chi vuoi che vinca? 🏆
😲 Patrick Cutrone’s derby winner
😁 Suso’s screamer at Udinese
You decide who wins! / Tocca ancora a voi decidere! 📲👇🏻

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The Fall And Fall Of Serie A

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For him to start this game with players like Michael Silverstre, who had not played for over 6 months, Rio Ferdinand, who got injured against Middlesboro on Sunday, leave out Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo showed the contempt he had for Roma’s chances and they did not let him down.

Frankly Italian football has been an embarrassment for 2 seasons now and it is time they take stock of how far they have fallen from grace. All they do is bicker about refereeing decisions and constantly gripe about the success of Inter Milan saying they are being favoured by referees, that they have stopped getting world class talent into their league.

AC Milan are actually thinking of bringing back Andriy Shevchenko back to their team. It is bad enough that they have the oldest squad in the world but instead of trying to reduce the average age, they keep buying players that are past it.

Managers are sacked and rehired on a constant basis showing that the people that are running the clubs do not have a clue. What is the point in sacking a manager if you are going to bring in someone worse, only to sack him and then rehire the previous manager?

This is not something that happens once in a long while, it happens very often with different clubs.

It says a lot that Juventus that was relegated last season are 3rd in the league with what is at best an average manager and average bunch of players but unlike Roma they have the will to win. They might not have the quality that Roma possesses but in players like Gigi Buffon, Alessandro Del Piero, Pavel Nedved, Mauro Camonaresi and David Trezeguet they have players that would always make a difference to any team in the world.

There is not a chance that with the team Ferguson put out that Juventus would not have scored against United because Fergie took a huge chance and he possibly thought and quite rightly that Luciano Spaletti is nowhere near the level required to win the champions league.

How else would you explain his putting out 1 striker against an injured Ferdinand and Gerard Pique or his playing Cassetti instead of Max Tonnetto? To be fair he did not anything that would have changed my beliefs that his relative success in seriea is due to the lack of good football teams and managers currently as 5-10 years ago he would not have been in charge of a team in mid-table never mind a team challenging for the championship.

AC Milan could quite conceivably come 4th with a side shown up to be also-rans by Arsenal in the San Siro as they are far too old to be challenging for the championship. Teams like Fiorentina and Udinese would be totally embarrassed by foreign teams if they did qualify for champions league next season as they are not good enough to represent Italy.

Inter Milan for all their faults are the only team in Italy that can compete with the other powerhouses in Europe as they have the money and personnel, they just lack the manager. Juventus would have to overhaul what they have and change managers as well to stand a chance as they can only be competitive in a second rate championship that SerieA has sadly become but not in Europe.

Back to the Roma versus Manchester United match, it was cringe worthy to see players like Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Park Ji-Sung just penetrate through Roma so easily when there is nothing penetrative about them. It just makes you wonder why the manager would persist with a player like David Pizarro and when was the last time that Taddei put in a good performance to warrant a starting place?

It was just too easy for United yesterday and I was shocked to read that some people thought Roma were not an embarrassment just because they were not trounced 7-1 again this season. There were even awarded a non-existent penalty but such is their fragile ego that Daniele De Rossi blasted it well over the bar.

It is just very sad to see a league that was once great degenerate into what it is nowadays with fans just talking about Inter Milan allegedly being favoured with sinister connotations as the standard of football so bad that watching Bundesliga seems more palatable.

I would like for them to get their act together and stop concentrating on conspiracies and start building teams worth watching with character and verve. Unfortunately the mentality is not like that, Roma for instance would actually think it is a step in the right direction that they got beat 2-0 and 1-0 and count the extremely marginal chances that they created.

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European Cup Final 1971-72 and 1972-73

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Ajax 2 Internazionale 0

Cruyff (2)

Ajax: Stuy, Suurbier, Hulshoff, Blankenburg, Krol, Neeskens, Haan, Mühren; Swart, Cruyff, Keizer (capt)

Internazionale: Bordon, Bellugi, Burgnich, Giubertoni (Bertini), Facchetti, Bedin, Oriali, Mazzola (capt), Frustalupi, Jair (Pellizzaro), Boninsegna

Ajax were back in the final as defending champions and their opponents were the kings of catenaccio football, Inter Milan.

At half-time in Rotterdam it seemed as though the Italian tactics might prevail. Inter had sat back with only Boninsegna up front and allowed Ajax to attack them.

Just two minutes into the second half, the deadlock was finally broken. The Ajax full-backs had been getting forward and putting crosses into the penalty area throughout the match and this time it was Suurbier who sent a deep cross towards goal.

This time the Inter goalkeeper Bordon collided with his own defender Burgnich as he went for the ball. Unfortunately for the young goalkeeper the ball fell to Johan Cruyff who turned instantly and stroked the ball into an empty net to give Ajax the lead they deserved.

The game was wrapped up on 77 minutes when Cruyff headed a Keizer free-kick home to make the score 2-0and Ajax went on to retain heir title to universal approval.

1972/73

Ajax 1 Juventus 0

Rep

Ajax: Stuy, Suurbier, Hulshoff, Blankenburg, Krol, Neeskens, Haan, Muhren, Rep, Cruyff (capt), Keizer

Juventus: Zoff, Marchetti, Morini, Salvadore(capt), Longobucco, Causio (Cuccureddu), Furino, Capello, Altafini, Anastasi, Bettega (Haller)

After Inter and Ac Milan, Juventus became the 3rd Italian side to qualify for the final.

Ajax were hoping to 3-peat, thus becoming the 1st side after Real Madrid to win the trophy 3 times running.

Juve were entitled to feel confident about their chances. With the millions of the Agnelli family at their disposal, the Turin side had been able to spend a world record fee on striker Pietro Anastasi who was paired alongside former European Cup winner Jose Altafini.

With Dino Zoff in goal and Fabio Capello and Franco Causio in midfield, they had a team that would normally be more than capable of becoming European Champions.

The final in Belgrade saw Ajax confirm their claims to greatness as they strolled to victory. The 1,000th European Cup tie saw the Dutch masters begin at breakneck speed with Cruyff hitting a post after only three minutes, and Johnny Rep – the only Ajax man playing in his first final – heading Ajax into the lead just two minutes later as he rose above Marchetti at the far post to meet a cross from Blankenburg and power the ball past Dino Zoff for the opening goal.

From then on, the reigning champions remained in complete control of the game. Cruyff pulled the strings but every Ajax player was comfortable on the ball, mobile and intelligent.

Juventus, a side that relied on strong defense and counter attacks were completely unable to threaten Ajax’s lead and were swept aside with contemptuous ease.

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Goal of the Day: El Shaarawy v Catania


🎱 Pool trick-shot of the Day 🎱

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Calcio – A History of Corruption and Scandal

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Italy, a country associated with fine wine, exquisite cuisine, beautiful women, and above all Calcio. The Italians are very passionate when it comes to the latter, but unfortunately their beloved game has a stark history of corruption, and scandal.

The recent Calciopli scandal that shock the football world in the summer of 2006, is just one incident in a long list of problems which has rocked Italian football (and in particular Serie A) since the English introduced the game to the Peninsula. Too many followers of Calcio, this recent scandal did not come as a shock, and in particular to Italians who have become accustomed to corruption, and scandal within their beloved game.

If you look as far back as 1926-27 (the Torino missing Scudetto incident), you will find that each proceeding decade contained at least one event that was surrounded in corruption or scandal. The majority of Italian fans have grown accustomed to this, and are generally not shocked when a new story hits the headlines. It is as though it has become part of Calcio in the peninsula.

There is a theory in Italy that players, officials (and similar) do not fix matches, but rather twist the concept of match fixing – and this is seen as the norm by everyone involved in Calcio. It is hard to explain what I mean when I state they twist the concept of match fixing, but I will try and explain it with a few examples.

It is not easy to fix a soccer match, as all of the games are public events, played in front of crowds (and sometimes TV cameras); with at least three match officials, twenty-two players, two managers, coaching staff etc. There are various ways of getting around fixing a particular result, and it is kind of a tacit agreement over a result. The lower echelon of Italian soccer is renowned for this kind of agreement, and it is also common place at the end of season in Serie A. So what is this agreement? In essence it is ‘settling for a draw’.

Deliberately settling for a draw where the result ensures some mutual benefit to both parties is common in Italy, and since nothing has officially been agreed, nothing can ever be proved. Various bookmakers are aware of this, and you will generally see very short odds on a 0-0 result, or a straight draw.

An alleged recent example can be seen on the last matchday of the 2006/07 Serie B season, when third placed Genoa entertained second placed Napoli. Napoli just needed a point for automatic promotion, and Genoa would join them if they finished 10 points above fourth placed Piacenza. A goalless draw between the pair followed, and was enough to guarantee them both promotion to Serie A.

Towards the end of the 2004/05 Serie A season, both clubs from Rome were facing a relegation battle. At the start of the derby match, both clubs appeared to try, before several conversations took place on the pitch. The result? Only six shots were managed in the entire match, and the game ended 0-0 (a result which helped both clubs).

Even though the Italians accept this as part and parcel of Calcio, they were on the brunt end of a similar alleged result in Euro 2004. Due to UEFA taking head-to-head into consideration (before overall goal difference when ranking teams level on points), a situation arose in Group C where Sweden and Denmark only needed a high scoring draw in order for them both to progress. The match surprisingly finished 2-2, which was a sufficiently high score line to eliminate the Italians (who had lower-scoring draws with both the Swedes and Danes). It was quite ironic that the Italian fans contended the result, stating that the FIFA tie-breaker should have been used, as it would have stopped the Scandinavians half-heartedly playing out the match after the score became 2-2.

Another example of alleged match fixing can generally be seen (again) on the last matchday of the season. Generally a ‘big club’ (with nothing to play for), is playing a ‘small club’ (fighting a relegation battle), and the ‘small club’ usually get a favourable result (one which they normally would not achieve during the course of the season). Inevitably this leads to accusations of match fixing, but this is usually not the case, and it is another form of twisting the original concept.

So why is this not classed as match fixing? The answer is simple – no one expects the ‘big club’ to try to hard (especially in a match that is meaningless). This is worrying, but followers of Calcio have come to accept this.

On the last matchday in Serie A for the 2006/07 season, Reggina needed a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced an AC Milan side guaranteed Champions League football. The result? A 2-0 home win for Reggina which guaranteed their safety.

Same season, but this time the example comes from Serie B. Spezia need a victory to be certain of avoiding relegation, and they faced a daunting away trip to Juventus, who had not lost at home all season (but were already guaranteed promotion). The result? A 3-2 win for Spezia which guaranteed their safety. The theory behind the above examples is simple – why try so hard, especially when you have nothing to play for?

The above examples have all been accepted as part and parcel of Calcio, but in some cases the authorities have clamped down, and punished the various parties involved in the scandal. Some of the most famous scandals have made world headlines in the soccer world, and the first of these dates back to the late 1920s.

The 1927 scudetto was taken away from Torino, after an alleged scandal involving their bitter rivals, Juventus. An enquiry found that Juventus defender, Luigi Allemandi, had been bribed by a Torino official, before the derby (for a sum of 50,000 lire). Torino were stripped of their first title, and surprisingly no one was awarded the 1927 scudetto.

In the summer of 2006, an alleged match fixing scandal hit the headlines, named Moggiopoli, after the Juventus general manager. The scandal was uncovered by the Italian police, implicating league champions Juventus, and other major teams including AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina;when a number of telephone interceptions showed a thick network of relations between team managers and referee organisations. The teams involved in the scandal had been accused of rigging games, by selecting favourable referees. Juvetus were stripped of their scudetto, relegated, and docked points, whilst the other clubs involved had various points deducted.

To the majority of followers of Calcio, this did not come as a major shock, as many fans regard the referee as corrupt (unless proven otherwise). There are various (well known) examples of refereeing decisions which fans class as corrupt, as they decided key matches, or decided a scudetto: Maurizio Turone’s disallowed goal for Roma against Juventus in 1981; Fiorentina’s loss in the 1982 scudetto; Inter and Ronaldo’s lost penalty, against Juventus, in 1998.

There are hundreds of examples of alleged match fixing, throughout the history of Calcio, and there are various scandals which have come to light, which have been uncovered by the authorities. It seems that followers of Calcio have come to accept this over the years, and it is part of the mentality of the nation to accept corruption.

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