Posts Tagged ‘AC Milan’

On December 23rd, after a little over six months at the helm, Rafa Benitez agreed to part ways with Inter Milan.  I’m not a fan of Inter but they did the right thing by getting rid of Benitez.  Inter is currently in seventh place in the standing, thirteen points behind leaders Milan, unacceptable.  That’s not reason enough to get rid of him.  He deserved to go because upon winning the FIFA Club World Cup he decided to give the owner an ultimatum.  He told Massimo Moratti that either the club back him with new signings or they should consider whether or not they wanted to keep him in charge.  Inter chose the latter and they decided that his services were no longer needed.

That didn't last long

Where does Benitez get off making these demands?  Did he not realize that this team has won the last four scudetti (the fifth one was handed to them)?  Did Benitez also forget that Inter just came off a season where they also won the Champions League and Coppa Italia?  Does this sound like a team that needs new signings?  Jose Mourinho was able to get this team to them top so why couldn’t Benitez make it work?  Hell, if Roberto Mancini can win a Scudetto, anyone can.  This team has five titles in the span of one year (Serie A, Coppa Italia, Supercoppa Italiana, Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup) but the players weren’t good enough for Rafa Benitez.

Proof anyone can win a Scudetto

Inter has 34 player on the roster.  How do you not win with the likes of Julio Cesar, Javier Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Wesley Sneijder, Sulley Muntari, Esteban Cambiasso, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Goran Pandev?  Throw in youngsters Jonathan Biabiany (France), Philippe Coutinho (Brazil), and Davide Santon (Italy) and thats a pretty good team.  That’s only fifteen of the thirty-four players on this team.  Too bad Benitez had no use for Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) and Victor Obinna (West Ham), they could have really helped out this team.

Balotelli would've looked good in an Inter uniform....oh, wait

Who did he think he was going to sign?  I know the names of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard were being thrown around in the summer but why should Inter have to pay that much money to improve a team that has won so much in recent years?  Why couldn’t Rafa Benitez make do with what he had?

Sure, Rafa Benitez won a Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, an FA Cup in 2006, and two La Liga titles but what has he done lately?  That sounds harsh but in today’s game you have to win now.  Unless you’re Sir Alex  Ferguson, Arsene Wenger or Jose Mourinho, what you’ve done in the past doesn’t mean a thing now.  Benitez left Liverpool in ruins and wanted to change Inter in his own image.  Rafa Benitez might have been able to talk Gillett and Hicks into buying every player he wanted but Massimo Moratti doesn’t work that way.  You don’t tell Massimo Moratti what to do.  He does what he wants to do.  Benitez didn’t understand that and it cost him his job.

Massimo Moratti

Do you know who I am?

Where does Rafa Benitez go from here?  His name has enough cache that he’ll be in the running for some major jobs but teams will also be leery of giving him too much authority after seeing what he did with Liverpool and his actions at Inter.  There’s talk of Liverpool being interested in Benitez but that probably just talk.  No way the new owners of Liverpool hand the reins back to the guy who ruined it in the first place.  Roy Hodgson won’t make it through the season as the Liverpool coach but I seriously doubt we’ll ever see Benitez there again.  He’d be better off going back to La Liga and trying to find a team to wrestle the league away from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I thank Inter for giving him a shot because AC Milan was able to take advantage of his poor showing and find its way atop Serie A.  Thanks for the memories Rafa, we hardly knew ya.

This was a long time ago Rafa

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Sometime between 1845 and 1846, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote Sonnet 43 in which she opined: “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.”  The then Elizabeth Barrett wrote this during her courtship with poet and playwright, Robert Browning.  If she were around today, you could easily see her totally writing this for Tom Brady.

Let’s not pretend, as guys, we don’t have man crushes on athletes.  What’s a man crush?  Here’s what Urban Dictionary defines man crush as:

  1. When a straight man has a “crush” on another man, not sexual but kind of idolizing him.
  2. A man who has a crush on another man without sexual attraction.
  3. A man having extreme admiration for another man, as though he wants to be him.

There are more definitions but these are the ones I’m thinking about.  If a dude reads this and still says that he’s never had a man crush on an athlete, bullshit!  We’ve all  been there.  I’ll tell you some of my man crushes later but now let’s talk about my current man crush, Tom Brady a.k.a. “White Jesus”.  Some of you might be shocked that I’m writing about something I actually like and not just Jersey Shore.  I don’t hate everything and everybody just most everything and everybody.

How do you not like this guy?

I don’t know what the phenomena is when someone is good that we have to instinctively not like him but it shouldn’t apply here.  Tom Brady was a good college player but not the greatest.  There wasn’t some huge hype leading up to the 2000 NFL Draft.  Brady was drafted 199th.  Here are some of the quarterbacks chosen before White Jesus:

  • #183 – Spergon Wynn – Cleveland Browns
  • #168 – Marc Bulger – New Orleans Saints
  • #163 – Tee Martin – Pittsburgh
  • #76 – Chris Redman – Baltimore Ravens
  • #65 – Giovanni Comazzi – San Francisco 49ers
  • #18 – Chad Pennington – New York Jets

I’m not saying any of these teams should have drafted Brady because he wasn’t a highly sought after commodity.  New England thought they could do something with him and it worked out.  I just wish my team, the Cleveland Browns, had the same forethought.  Too bad Chris Palmer was our coach back then and we all know he’s no Bill Belichick.

Tom Brady will go down as one of the best quarterbacks ever.  The best ever, no, but he will be among the best.  He has three Super Bowl Rings and two Super Bowl MVP’s.  Brady’s only 33 years old so who’s to say he doesn’t win another Super Bowl or two?  He just looks so comfortable on the field and makes it look so easily.  Let’s not forget how he OWNED Peyton Manning up until Manning won Super Bowl XLI.  Without Brady, Bill Simmons never coins the term, Manning Face.

No Brady, No Manning Face

This is why guys should all want to be like Tom Brady.  From 2004 to 2006 Brady dated Bridget Moynahan.  In 2006 while Moynahan was pregnant with his child, he broke off the relationship and immediately started dating Gisele Bundchen.  Not a bad one-two punch.  Brady and Bundchen are now married and have a child.  I’m not saying he was right to dump his pregnant girlfriend but rebounding from Bridget Moynahan with Gisele Bundchen is something we mere mortals could only dream of.  What guy wouldn’t want to be Tom Brady?

There's no wrong choice.

Yes, the haircut is a little silly but a guy like Tom Brady can pull that off.  The guy is cool as hell and, yes, he’s a handsome dude too.  There I said it.  There’s nothing wrong with saying another man is handsome.

Some of my other man crushes throughout the years:

  • Joe Montana (always)
  • Brady Quinn (at Notre Dame)
  • Brent Barry (with the Clippers)
  • Ed Cota (at North Carolina) , this still lingers
  • Michael Schumacher (pre-comeback)
  • Kirk Gibson (Detroit Tigers)
  • Lou Whitaker (Detroit Tigers)
  • Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors)
  • Marco Van Basten (AC Milan)
  • Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), current

Again, any guy who says he doesn’t have or has never had a man crush on an athlete is only lying to himself.

OK, maybe having Helen Mirren reciting the poem turned it a little bit gay.

 

The World Cup is over and Spain are your new Champions.  First Euro 2008 and now this?  I guess we have to respect Spain in international competitions now and not wait for them to eventually choke.  The Final was probably one of the best deciding games since I can remember (1982).  Both teams wanted to win and not just play conservatively, hoping they could put the ball in the net while not really going forward.  Both teams gave it a go but one goal was all it took.  Thank God we didn’t go to penalties because this game was just too good to be decided like that.

Spain: Your 2010 World Cup Champions

On to the game:

Netherlands – Spain (0-1 aet)

Goal – Iniesta (ESP) 116’

Red Card – Heitinga (NED) 109’

Before the match, referee Howard Webb’s wife said she was surprised her husband got the call to be the Final’s ref because he can’t even control his kids at home.  Funny, but she was right.  He was not in control of this game.  The players cared very little if they were getting a yellow card or not.  It’s the Final and there’s no tomorrow so if you have to foul, foul hard and don’t worry about jawing at the ref, all he can do is give you a yellow.  Webb was giving out card like they were going out of style, fourteen in all, including a red to John Heitinga (Everton) for his second yellow of the game.  Webb had no control of a game that most referees would’ve had trouble with.  Did he do a good job?  Kind of.  A red earlier in the game would have put an end to the chippy play.  Otherwise, he did about as good as anyone could have in same situation.

The statistics say Spain had 57% of the possession but watching it I thought it was much closer than that.  Spain would go on runs where the Netherlands couldn’t put anything together and then the Netherlands would control the ball and have Spain on it’s heels.  Spain had more shots, 19 to 13, but the actual shots on goal were only 6 to 5 in favor of Spain.  Maybe it was that sixth shot that made the difference.

Both teams looked as if they could’ve played another ninety minutes but as soon as Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) scored at 116’, Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and the rest of the Dutch players had a look of disbelief and all the energy was sucked out of them.  Robben lay on the ground, shaking his head and looking like a man defeated.  It didn’t matter that four minutes plus injury time were left on the clock.  They just didn’t have the will to fight anymore.  One second more was one second too much.

Iniesta will probably never have to buy another drink in Spain, ever.

I don’t understand what Netherlands coach Bert Van Marwijk was thinking with his substitutions?  Now’s the part of the post where I second guess the coach and tell you how I would’ve done things better.

The first substitution was Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV) in for Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool) at 71’.  So a forward playing as a midfielder was taken out for a forward who likes playing midfield.  Why?  Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) was the only true forward on the pitch for Holland and he managed to get all of one shot on goal and it wasn’t even on target.  Wesley Sneijder (Inter) and Robin were doing all of the work of front and Van Persie was along for the ride.  Why not bring in Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan).  I know I extolled the virtues of Elia in an earlier post but that was then and this is the Finals.  Huntelaar is a proven goal scorer who actually scored in one of his sub appearances.  Maybe Kuyt was spent but Van Persie needed to go at that point.  Kuyt probably worked as hard as anyone this whole World Cup.

Substitution number two was Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid) for Nigel De Jong (Manchester City) at 99’.  So a holding midfielder was taken out for an attacking midfielder.  Why?  Again, why was Van Persie allowed to stay on when he obviously wasn’t doing anything except accusing the Spanish players of diving.  In the twenty-eight minutes since Elia came in, Robben and Sneijder were still carrying Van Persie.  I’m not saying De Jong should’ve stayed in but Huntelaar would’ve worked in that situation also.

The third and final substitution was defender Edson Braafheid (Celtic) for defender Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) at 105’.  Van Bronckhorst was probably out of gas by then but why bring in unused Braafheid when you have proven defenders in Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart) on the bench?  Both played well when they were called on to start in earlier games.  Puzzling call.  Not to say that Braafheid caused the Netherlands to lose but I would’ve went with a more experienced player at that time of the game.  Braafheid doesn’t see any action all World Cup and then you expect him to play in the last fifteen minutes of the whole tournament.  Again, why?

Congrats to Spain.  The shook off an opening game defeat to Switzerland to win the whole thing.  No way this team was the best team in the tournament but they played like it.  You’d think a team with this many great names would’ve scored more goals but whatever they did was effective.

One question for Vincente Del Bosque, how many times were you going to let Pedro (Barcelona) do nothing on the pitch before you decided that maybe Fernando Torres (Liverpool, for now) should’ve started instead.  Pedro is a good player but not in this tournament.  Plus, the first sub for Spain was forward Jesus Navas (Sevilla) for Pedro.  Jesus Navas?  You have Torres, Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao) and Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) and you choose Navas?  Really?  Torres finally came in at 106’ for a nearly dead David Villa (Barcelona).  A bit late don’t you think?  Luckily Iniesta bailed him out or he would’ve had to explain why he made or didn’t make those moves.

In the Third Place game, Germany beat Uruguay 3-2.  I won’t talk about it much because the Third Place Game really doesn’t mean much unless your from Uruguay or Germany or whoever is involved in this game.  Germany fought back from 2-1 down to win the game.  Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid) scored one for Uruguay and Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich) got one back for Germany.  With that, Forlan wins the Goldon Ball for tournament’s MVP and Mueller wins the Golden Boot for the World Cup’s leading scorer (five goals, three assists).  Mueller also picks up the Best Young Player award.  Teams are lining up to sign Mueller, who’s only twenty years old.

We're gonna be hearing alot from Mueller for years to come

All in all it was a great World Cup.  South Africa should be proud.  There were no glaring problems and the tournament went off without a hitch.  Hopefully the vuvzela can be banned before the next World Cup.  Interesting note:  New Zealand is the only team not to lose a game in this tournament.  Good for you All Whites.  I picked you to be one of the worst teams coming in.

See you in four years time.  Look for my preview somewhere around June 1, 2014.  Thanks and I hope you enjoyed following this tournament with me.  I saw all sixty-four games and they weren’t all great but it was fun writing about them.  Thanks to Aidan and Joe S. for all the feedback.

I can't believe I have to wait four years!

Day fourteen is over and the reigning champions are going home and rightfully so.  More on that in a bit.  New Zealand proved they weren’t one of the worst teams in the World Cup and actually had a shot at advancing.  Japan proved me wrong and they’re moving on to round two while the Dutch continued to shine in a win over Cameroon.

I thought Italy would get lucky, like the always do, and go far in this tournament but I was so wrong.  It’s easy to get lucky when you have a talented team but this team was awful.  This has to be one of the worst Italian teams, on paper and on the pitch, in a long long time.  The first mistake Marcello Lippi made was bringing Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus, soon to be Al-Ahli Dubai) to South Africa.  Yes, he was the darling of 2006 but memories don’t win you games.  His career has been in decline since the final whistle blew in Germany four years ago.  It’s not a good sign when your oldest player is also your starting center back.  The rest of the defense wasn’t much better.  Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan) is a name everyone probably knows but his play wasn’t the greatest in Serie A this season.  No matter, Lippi coached him at Juventus so that has to count for something.  Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa) and Leonardo Bonucci (Bari), do those names scare you?  Weak!  Maybe I’m being biased but one of the AC Milan youngsters of Ignazio Abate or Luca Antonini would’ve looked good on this Italian team.  Hell, bring them both.  They’re defense was outstanding this season and they can make runs up the sides of the field.  That’s just me.

It's not 2006 anymore. What have you done for me lately?

The absence of Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan) in the first two games was huge but they should have had someone to make up the difference.  Who?  You can’t tell me that Marco Boririello (AC Milan) wouldn’t have looked good up front for this team.  Instead, let’s bring Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina) and watch him come up small in big games.

How much of a dent does this put in the legacy of Marcello Lippi?  He was riding high after taking the World Cup to Italy in 2006 but he has to be the goat for bringing this team to South Africa.  An Italian team can’t win one game in a group with Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia?  Merda!

On to the games:

Slovakia – Italy (3-2)

Goals – Vittek (SVK) 25’ & 73’, Di Natale (ITA) 81’, Kopunek (SVK) 89’, Quagliarella (ITA) 90’+2

Italy knew a win would get them through and even a tie might be enough.  They did neither.  Both teams were even in time of possession but Slovakia looked a step faster.  Robert Vittek’s (Ankaragucu) first goal came on a defensive mistake and his second goal came when all the Italian defenders were standing around watching while Vittek was going to goal.  Italy brought it back to 2-1 at 81’ but Kamil Kopunek (Spartak Trnava) scored before the end of regulation to condemn the Italians to taking the walk of shame back home where the media and fans will have lots of venom for them.

It was nice seeing Gannaro Gattuso (AC Milan) starting for this team.  It was odd because he wasn’t good enough to even play in the first two games and now he’s a starter.  My joy didn’t last long because he was substituted at 46’.  He was a monster and had so much heart/anger.  The rest of the team should have so much heart.  I’m surprised Zdenko Strba (Xanthi) continued after the clash he had with Gattuso.  It was an accident but Gattuso slid in and his cleats hit Strba’s knee and sliced it open.  It was pretty gruesome.  Strba was about five seconds from being replaced because of the cut but he jumped up as his replacement was walking to be introduced into the game.  Gattuso said he would retire from the national team after this World Cup and that’s too bad, for me.

You will be missed. Maybe not but Zdenko Strba but definitely by me.

Paraguay – New Zealand (0-0)

Paraguay only needed a tie to advance and that’s just what they did.  Not to say they didn’t try but they just couldn’t put the ball in the net.  New Zealands goalkeeper Mark Paston (Wellington Phoenix) had a fantastic game.  Paraguay had the edge in time of possession, shots and shots on goal.  Actually, New Zealand didn’t really have an actual shot that Justo Villar (Valladolid) had to worry about saving.

I have to give props to New Zealand because they left this tournament with three points and not losing a game.  I truly believed they would get killed by Paraguay and Italy.  I thought Slovakia would beat them too.  Again, I was wrong.  New Zealand showed that they deserved to be here.

Denmark – Japan (1-3)

Goals – Honda (JPN) 17’, Endo (JPN) 30’, Tomasson (DEN) 81’, Okazaki (JPN) 87’

The winner goes through in this one and a tie favored Japan.  Who wanted it more?  Japan played better even though Denmark controlled the ball longer.  The goals from Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow) and Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka) both came from set pieces outside of the Denmark area.  Honda and Endo put the ball directly in the net.  I think it’s the first time all tournament that there’s been a goal directly from a free kick.  Most times, players have been smashing the ball into the wall or launching it over the goal.  I’m surprised it took this long for a free kick to make a direct goal.  I think the ball still might have something to do with it.

So much for this being a down tournament for Japan.  They have played very well and their defense is pretty good.  Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus Eight) is everywhere in defense and probably deserves a look from a mid-tier club in Europe.  Denmark was my dark horse in the tournament but they couldn’t get it done against the Netherlands and Japan.  The absence of Simon Kjaer (Palermo) to suspension was huge because he was a big part of the defense.

Cameroon – Netherlands (1-2)

Goals – Van Persie (NED) 36’, Eto’o (CMR) 65’ penalty, Huntelaar (NED) 83’

Netherlands were playing for fun and Cameroon were playing for pride.  Fun wins.  Cameroon have to be disappointed to be leaving the World Cup without even garnering a single point.  Much to no one’s surprise, Cameroon coach Paul Le Guen stepped down after the match.  Most likely he’ll take the Australia job and run them into the ground.

Robin Van Persie (Arsenal) finally scored after threatening in the first two games.  Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan) made an appearance and also scored but that won’t be enough to earn him a spot in the starting lineup.  Oh yeah, Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) entered the game at 73’ and looked good.  The injury looks to have cleared up and that doesn’t bode well for Slovakia in the next round.  The only question is, who gets dropped to make room for Robben?  Rafael Van Der Vaart (Real Madrid)?

Standings

Team (points)

Group A:

Uruguay (7), Mexico (4),  South Africa (4), France (1) – Uruguay and Mexico advance

Group B:

Argentina (9), South Korea (4), Greece (3), Nigeria (1) – Argentina and South Korea advance

Group C:

USA (5), England (5),  Slovenia (4), Algeria (1) – USA and England advance

Group D:

Germany (6), Ghana (4), Australia (4), Serbia (3) – Germany and Ghana advance

Group E:

Netherlands (9), Japan (6), Denmark (3), Cameroon (0) – Netherlands and Japan advance

Group F:

Paraguay (5), Slovakia (4), New Zealand (3), Italy (2) – Paraguay and Slovakia advance

Group G

Brazil (6), Portugal (4), Ivory Coast (1), North Korea (0) – Brazil advance, North Korea eliminated

Group H

Chile (6), Spain (3), Switzerland (3),  Honduras (0)

Yesterday, one of The Blasian’s (remember him?) favorite teams, Inter Milan took on Chelsea at Giuseppe Meazza in the Champions League Round of 16 clash.  Inter won 2-1 and look good, not great, going into the return match in three weeks time.  Before I go into the actual game let me tell you about these two teams.

Last week my favorite team, AC Milan took on a team I really, really like, Manchester United.  Inter and Chelsea are the opposite of that.  They both make my Top 5 most hated soccer/football/futbol/calcio teams.  Both teams are probably tied for third on that list.  Let’s take a quick look at what that list look likes:

Top 5 Most Hated Soccer Teams
1.  Juventus (Italy)
2.  Manchester City (England)
T3. Inter Milan (Italy)
T3. Chelsea (England)
5.  Roma (Italy)

Even though Inter and Chelsea are on this list I have to admit that I do like some of the players on these teams whereas I hate everything about Juventus and Man City.  Juventus and Man City have no redeeming qualities and there is not one player, coach or member of management I like on either of those teams.

Sure Inter has won a few scudettos lately they but they haven’t won the Champion’s League/European Cup in my lifetime and this makes me very happy.  The Blaisian (who dat?) can say whatever he wants about Inter but you can have all the league championships you want but you’re nothing until you win in Europe.  Plus, don’t think winning one puts you in the same sentence as AC Milan.  Same goes for you Chelsea.  Try to win in Europe before you think you’re on par with Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

I’m sad that AC Milan or Manchester United will be out after the Round of 16 but at the same time seeing Inter or Chelsea out makes it a little better.  The one thing that scares me is that Inter or Chelsea will go through to the final and beat AC Milan or Manchester United. That would be my ultimate nightmare.  Although, if it were reversed and AC Milan or Manchester United beat one of those two teams it would make winning the title even sweeter.  AC Milan has one quite a few Champions League/European Cup titles but the one I savor and remember the most is when we beat Juventus in the 2003 final in Manchester.  It was like winning two titles at once.  The Blasian (where are you?) would be unbearable if Inter won the Champions League.

The game:

To be honest, this game wasn’t that exciting.  I thought Chelsea worked hard and deserved better.  I wonder what the referee was thinking on the play where Kalou got taken down right in front of the goal?  Eto’o was disappointing.  Ivanovic (Chelsea) and Sneijder (Inter) had great games for their respective teams.  Maybe the game played too much like a chess match because both coaches knew the other team as well as anyone.  Chelsea better hope that Cech is able to play in the return because Hilario looks terrible.  The guy looked frightened when he came in to the game and can’t execute a goal kick to save his life.

Inter will go into Stamford Bridge with a slight advantage.  That away goal by Chelsea is big.  Chelsea can go through with a 1-0 win but if Inter scores then Chelsea will need to win by two.  Even though I hate both teams, I would love to see Inter crash out first.  Not just because The Blasian (I think he still writes for this blog) likes them but because they are and always will be second class citizens in Milan.

I don’t know if I should say this but I don’t like Mario Balotelli.  Please Blasian (come back soon), don’t rip me because he’s your guy.  It has nothing to do about his skin color.  I have no idea why the Italian fans have a problem with his ethnicity because on the field he’s all Italian.  What does that mean?  He’s such a whiner and goes down in a heap with minimal contact.  How has he not played for Italy yet?  He’d fit right in.

Italy, don't boo Super Mario because he's black, boo him because he dives and whines

Now that all of the games in the first leg are complete, lets take a quick look at the other games and what might happen in the return.

AC Milan – Manchester United (2-3), Manchester go home looking real good.  Three away goals are huge and I have trouble believing that Milan can score two, let alone win by two.  Then again, if Ferguson decides to play Neville on the right then Milan could probably do whatever they want (see Everton).

Bayern Munich – Fiorentina (2-1), Bayern got the benefit of a non-call from the referee and the linesman.  Klose was offsides not once, but twice on the play.  Sure, Fiorentina got an away goal but I think Bayern will find a way to get this done.  Don’t forget that Bayern went to Torino and beat Juventus 4-1 to knock them out of the tournament.

Lyon – Real Madrid (1-0), Lyon shocked Madrid but an ever healthier Ronaldo should make the difference at the Bernabeu.  I can’t muster up any excitement for Lyon because Jean-Alain Boumsong is one of their defenders.  Rangers, Newcastle and Juventus fans know what I’m talking about.

CSKA Moscow – Sevilla (1-1), a good showing by Sevilla in frigid Moscow puts them in the driver’s seat going back to Sanchez Pizjuan.

Stuttgart – Barcelona (1-1), the defending champs were frustrated by the German side and the return should be interesting.  Don’t put Barcelona in the next round quite yet but playing at the Camp Nou should help.

Porto – Arsenal (2-1), Arsenal looked terrible in this one.  Who knew that Almunia, as bad as he can be, is the best Arsenal can do in goal?  That being said, Arsenal rights the ship and advances at the Emirates.

Olympiakos – Bordeaux (0-1), the French leaders look good going back home.  Bordeaux have lost only once at home this season in Ligue 1

You can’t have two favorite teams.  It just doesn’t work.  When I lived in Chicago, some people would say, “I like the White Sox and the Cubs.”  Not possible.  Eventually these teams will meet and you have to choose.  One day (not anytime soon) the White Sox and the Cubs will be in the World Series and then they will have to pick a side.  If they can’t, then they were never a fan of either team.

Pick a side and live with it

I’m a Cleveland Browns fan and I could care less what the rest of the league is doing.  Sure, I have a man crush on Tom Brady but I’d choose the Browns over the Patriots every time.  I’m a White Sox fan and the rest of the league is none of my business.  I did like seeing the Yankees win the World Series but that was because everyone hates them so much.  Being a Clipper fan isn’t easy but there is never a time when it’s alright for the Clippers to lose.  If you play for the Clippers then I love you but if you left us, screw you.

You're dead to me

I thought soccer was different.  There are so many different leagues to follow that it’s easy to have multiple favorite teams.  In Germany’s Bundesliga it’s Bayern Munich, in Spain’s La Liga it’s Real Madrid, in Scotland’s Premier League it’s Rangers, in Argentina’s Primera Division it’s Boca Juniors and in MLS it’s……I don’t care.  My two favorite teams are AC Milan and Manchester United but if I had to choose, and sometimes I do, it’s AC Milan.

How many people know Gattuso once played for Rangers?

On Tuesday night the two teams met at the San Siro.  I didn’t want this game to happen but it did.  Somehow I just knew that when the draw was happening for the Round of 16 in the Champion’s League that these two teams would face each other.  I also knew that UEFA would find a way for Inter and Chelsea to play each other as well.  Random draw, my ass.

They have played each other before, the last time being in 2006/2007, but this game made me realize that AC Milan is my favorite team and always has been and that Manchester United is just a team I like.  I wrote a post saying that Serie A was in decline and that the Premiership was where it’s at.  Sure, that may be the case but I grew up with AC Milan and no other team can get in the way.  I’ve followed United since the days of Hughes, Irwin and Cantona but I’ve been a Milan fan longer.  Sorry United, I tried to fool myself and tell people my favorite teams were Milan and you but I can’t do it anymore.  AC Milan forever.  Forza Milan!!!!

Aways and forever

On to the game:

Manchester United went into the San Siro and beat AC Milan 3-2.  Looking at the score it may seem like it was a good game but it wasn’t.  There were some moments of brilliance but there was also a lot of meaningless and sloppy play.  If you just looked at the stats then the game seemed even and it was for the most part.  The game was ultimately decided on a defensive error between Thiago and Nesta.  Other than that, this game had tie written all over it.

Ronaldinho scored after three minutes with a little help from Evra but the Brazilian wouldn’t have an easy night after that.  Sure, he helped set up Milan’s second goal with a nice pass on Seedorf’s cheeky back-heel but for the most part, United’s Rafael made sure he didn’t have much space to work with.  Rafael did what a lot of defenders fail to do with Ronaldinho and other finesse players, he tried to keep Ronaldinho from putting the ball on the ground.  Ronaldinho did a lot of juggling but Rafael was there when the ball was about to hit the ground.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar looked ok but it looks like he’s trying too hard.  He’s heard the boo’s from the fans and the rumblings that he may be on his way out and I think it’s really affecting him.  Hopefully Milan doesn’t give up on him too quickly because I think he can really help this team when he finally finds his touch.

Don't give up on this guy

Andrea Pirlo was brilliant.  The guy is a magician on the field.  Surrounded by so many big names, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves but Pirlo can put the ball where he wants whenever he wants.

I don’t understand what Pato’s role was in the game.  It looked to me as if he was playing too far back to be effective.  He’s not the playmaker, he should be the finisher.  Pato needed to be up front with Huntelaar instead of trying to get the ball to him.  Pato took a more forward position after Inzaghi replaced Huntelaar but I wonder why Leonardo didn’t just keep him up there the whole time?

David Beckham is puzzling.  I’ve seen him in a few games since his return to Milan and I don’t understand what he’s supposed to be doing.  He takes free kicks but other than that he doesn’t look like he wants to go forward at all.  He’s mostly passing the ball back or sideways.  Beckham doesn’t really make things happen.  Is that what happens to you when you play in MLS?  If I’m the other team, I don’t really have to play him close because he’s not taking the space.

Wayne Rooney continues to have his career season.  I hope this carries on to the World Cup.  He was in the right place at the right time on both his goals.  You make a mistake and you pay.  On the third goal Rooney got between Thiago (gonna be great) and Nesta.  They must of both said “you got him” because neither player went toward him when he got the ball in the area.  That was game over.

It's Rooney's world, we just live in it

Antonio Valencia turned this game around.  He came in 65 minutes into the game and paid instant dividends.  His pass led to the second United goal and he was eating Favalli’s lunch for the last 25 minutes of the game.  The left side of the Milan defense couldn’t control him at all.  A young, energetic defender like Antonini (injured) or Abate might have helped there.  Valencia is having an awesome first season at United and I think he’ll be making a lot of money very soon.

You're gonna be a rich man soon

Park Ji-Sung was a bit disappointing.  He usually gives teams fits with his speed and energy but he didn’t look his normal self in the game.  I thought when Valencia came on that Park would do more but maybe they were playing to close to each other.  I think they need to be on opposite sides.

Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes were solid.  The only negative this is Carrick’s late yellow/red card which will keep him out of the return match.  But, I could’ve swore it was another player who made the late challenge and not Carrick but non one is reporting it so I’m sure it will stand.

The referee for the match was awful.  He missed quite a few calls and at least one United handball in the box.  He looked lost out there.  Here’s hoping Olegário Benquerença doesn’t get anymore big games.

If this guy is doing your team's game, get ready to throw shit at the TV

So these two teams play each other again on March 10 at Old Trafford.  Should be fantastic.  With United’s two away goals, AC Milan is in big trouble.  They have to either win by two goals or win 4-3.  Look for some changes in the lineups.  I expect Gattuso and Borriello to be in the game for Milan and Giggs and Valencia (to start) for United.

I like you but I don't "like you" like you

This Sunday the Inter – AC Milan Derby will take place.  It’s week two of return matches and both teams are fighting for the top spot in Serie A.  The first meeting of the season was won by Inter 4-0.  AC Milan was the “home” team that day.  Inter was clearly the better team that day.  They started the season like a machine and that’s why they’re still top of the table.  AC Milan was still trying to find it’s identity and had struggled through the preseason.  Now, Leonardo’s boys are red hot and, with a reborn Ronaldinho, they’ve been one of the hottest teams in the league. 

Gattuso will be on the case. Watch your ankles Inter.

Both lineups will see some pretty big changes from the first meeting.  AC Milan will have six changes while Inter will have six changes.  The changes for AC Milan will see a returning, vintage Dida and Beckham back for his second stint in Milan.  Youngsters like Abate and Antonini have shown great form for AC Milan and I don’t miss Oddo or Jankulovski.  These kids are going to be great one day.  Sure Pato is out but that’s not the biggest loss for Milan, it’s Nesta.  Yes, that Nesta.  I am a huge AC Milan fan but I have not liked Nesta since he’s gotten there.  He’s either been hurt or really bad.  Lately, he’s been classic Nesta.  The Nesta that was at Lazio.  

Inter’s biggest loss will be Eto’o, who is playing in the African Nations Cup.  Cameroon just qualified for the second round.  Mourinho is probably pissed.  Recently aquired Pandev will take the place of Eto’o.  Why did Lazio let this guy go?  They’ll regret it.  You don’t think Lazio, who is just above relegation, could use a guy like Pandev?

August 23, 2009 

AC Milan – Storari, Zambrotta, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Jankulovski, Gattuso, Pirlo, Flamini, Ronaldinho, Borriello, Pato 

Inter – Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Chivu, Zanetti, Stankovic, Motta, Sneijder, Milito, Eto’o 

Probable Lineups – January 24, 2010 

Inter – Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Santon, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Sneijder, Milito, Balotelli, Pandev 

AC Milan – Dida, Abate, Kaladze, Thiago Silva, Antonini, Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Beckham, Ronaldinho, Borriello 

  

This game has a tie written all over it but I hope not.  Both teams are one and two in scoring and tied for first in defense.  AC Milan needs this game.  If they can win this game, they would be three points behind with one game to make up.  Beckham needs to do something in this game.  I saw him last week and he didn’t really add anything.  He was hardly going forward.  He nearly always passed backwards or sideways.  I know AC Milan has Antonini making runs up the right side but why not use Beckham?  

Ronaldinho will be the key to this game.  He’s found his touch.  Looks like someone wants to go to the World Cup in South Africa.  He’s running, passing and driving defenders crazy.  This is the Ronaldinho that was lighting it up for Barcelona.  We could’ve used him last year but at least he’s turned it around.  Remember Rivaldo?  That guy just couldn’t get it done and now he’s in Uzbekistan playing for Bunyodkor.  I saw Rivaldo play against the Pohang Steelers (K-League) in the Asian Champions League and he still looked like he didn’t care. What a waste. 

How's things in Uzbekistan?

Forza Milan!!!