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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Champions League: Inter 'in ta' a crisis?

All four British clubs engaging in wins over the past 48 hours. Liverpool started excellently last night with Peter Crouch returning to score first, Jermaine Pennant chipping for Luis Garcia to add a second and Crouch finishing off with a sweet ovehead effort, though we almost allowed Galatasaray back into it. Manchester United took 'revenge', as it has been labelled, on Benfica with a superb Louis Saha left foot shot, Christiano Ronaldo was his usual fast pace self yet the media tuned into Wayne Rooney's performance as a sign of concern since returning back in the Celtic game two weeks back.

Arsenal signed off well against 2004 winners FC Porto with Thierry Henry then Aleksander Hleb providing the goals and a concern over Willam Gallas' fitness. Chelsea went to Bulgaria and provided a one-man Drogba show as the Ivorian secured victory with a hat-trick. Celtic won nervously through a Kenny Miller penalty as Shunsuke Nakamura was tripped in the box and I'm routing for the Hoops to go far as Rangers did last season.

The crux of my focus within the Champions League is Inter Milan. Currently top of Serie A with three wins and a draw from four games, one win at the San Siro and much made of drawing at home to Sampdoria. They held Fiorentina on their travels, who are currently bottom, at 0-3 up to the hour and then conceded twice. Then the draw with Sampdoria courtesy of a Massimo Bonanni own goal, this coming after the loss to Sporting Lisbon. A win away at Roma through Hernan Crespo's goal and Patrick Vieira sent off then the home win against Chievo, where they were four-nil up on 78mins then conceded three in 10mins. Vieira was off against Arsenal last season for Juventus in Europe and he saw red again in the defeat to Sporting over a fortnight ago.

Last night at the San Siro, the discipline seemed somewhat in anarchy. Zlatan Ibrahimovic clamoured all over Bayern Munich's Belgian former Manchester City player Daniel van Buyten and aimed an unsavoury arm around Van Buyten's chin that earned the Swede a booking. In the second half Ibrahimovic went in for the ball and was late, catching a Bayern player full on the shin. He received his second booking and another dismissal against Bayern to follow the previous one in November last year as a Juve player. Ibrahimovic and Vieira, both sent off in Europe for Juve, both come to Inter and sent off again in Europe.

Then the home side went behind twenty or so minutes later to a Claudio Pizarro run and dink that preceded another dismissal, through World Cup hero Fabio Grosso for an intended forearm blocking off a Bayern player on the run. On ninety minutes Inter's Ivan Cordoba, usually a pillor of a defender with the same stature of Fabio Cannavaro, seemed oblivious of the threat of Lukas Podolski behind him until the last second where he looked in two minds and weakly aimed to pass back to Julio Cesar in goal. Podolski pounced, rounded Cesar and finished.

Four games in Serie A, two in the Champions League. In one they are winning, not losing, scoring yet conceding, it's early. In the other, no goals, two defeats, three dismissals for a side renowned for its European pedigree. Early to talk perhaps for a side consisting of Luis Figo, Adriano, Javier Zanetti, Cordoba, Vieira, Walter Samuel, Crespo, Esteban Cambiasso and love him or like him Marco Materazzi, amongst others. But their performance has been strong then weakened in Italy, in Europe it is increasingly shaky.



Blogger Panenka's Chip said...

Good article, but as a Celtic man, I'd disagree with your assessment that Celtic 'won nervously' against Copenhagen on Tuesday evening.

Celtic had a whole host of chances and dominated the play. Copenhagen had 1 shot on target in the entire match and rarely threatened other than that. Like a lot of sides, Copenhagen came to Celtic Park in a very defensive frame of mind and offered little, and there keeper denied Miller another couple of goals.

This was achieved despite the absence of our top striker - Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink - and our injured, first choice right back, Mark Wilson and we could afford to leave Scotland's Young Player and Player of the Year Shaun Maloney on the bench.

A win over Benfica in 3 weeks coupled with a Man Utd win against an unadventurous Copenhagen side would see Celtic open up a 5 point gap between themselves and the other two teams in the group. Something to look forward to despite the dreary nature of the SPL...

9/28/2006 5:19 pm

Blogger T said...

Good to have your Celtic perspective Panenka's Chip. I didn't see the match so can't comment on yours or Redsman's opinion on the match.

With a calibre of player like Gravesen, Vennegoor of Hesselink (superb name!) and Nakamura in the Celtic first team I like their chances against the Koeman-less Benfica for grabbing second place in the group.

9/28/2006 8:23 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

[Apologies, due to a problem with Blogspot, my article was published twice, horribly the second time! So I've deleted the second one and from it here is a comment from 'Soccerguy':]

Inter are, as mentioned, having a great time in the domestic scene, having just topped the table concurrently. I think it is precisely this reason that a defeat in Europe shouldn't be a cause for concern. In fact, I believe that the impressive run would be evident in Europe as well in times to come.

As for the untimely dismissals of two influential players in the squad, I guess that could be contained under control as well. ManU's done it, and so are examples like Juventus and so forth. Furthermore, both Ibrahimovic and Grosso should have exercised enough self-control to assure themselves not to commit such actions again.

9/28/2006 9:43 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

[Here is another from 'Tacticalgenius':]

Can't you count to five? Or do you not know what British means? Celtic really should have counted as a British club getting a good result as well.

Anglocentric spanner.

And I say to 'tacticalgenius' that I do have trouble counting up to five and am working on it, but nonetheless Celtic was included in my British clubs Champions League round-up, read it again and see.

9/28/2006 9:50 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Thanks, panenka's chip. I echo that said by T in that I hope Celtic can really kick start their campaign fully. Rangers almost did and now the Hoops have that chance.


9/28/2006 10:09 pm


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