Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Latest Football News and Opinions From 90 Minutes Online

You cannot be Serie A-s!

Some people said the draw for the second round of the Champions League was an exciting one. The thing is, some people are idiots. The fact that many of the best teams were paired against each other only means that the latter stages will be bereft of the highest quality. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Manchester United-Inter Milan tie. 


Both Man U and Inter look set to be deservedly crowned champions of their respective domestic competitions. Either way we will be denied one of the most exciting teams in the tournament in the quater-finals, with the loss of an array of attacking talent.  



It may be surprising to think of an attacking Jose Mourinho side, but Inter have often turned out with a 4-3-3 this season. When I say 4-3-3, I actually mean 4-3-3 - not 4-5-1. With Ibrahimovic, Adriano and Crespo leading the line there’s no doubting the formation’s cavalier credentials.        


On Saturday Inter crushed Lecce 3-0 with aforementioned formation thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Figo and Dejan Stankovic. Even so Jose wasn’t happy and vented his frustrations after the match: "A few weeks ago I was sent off for asking a referee if he was 'afraid'," said the Portuguese coach, "this time I will just use the word 'strange'”.   


Although Inter were impressive it was last year’s runners-up, Roma, who put in the weekend’s most convincing performance. Their demolition of Genoa lifted them to 6th place and to within a point of that elusive 4th Champions League spot. 


Cicinho put the Giallorossi ahead after 27 minutes before Mirko Vucinic doubled the lead soon after half-time. The match however was an ill tempered affair and Roma’s Rodrigo Taddei was sent-off just before the hour-mark. Genoa’s Giuseppe Sculli made it 10 against 10 when he saw red 15 minutes later. Julio Baptista added the finishing touch with a superb long-range strike to make it 3-0 in injury time. 

It took a late winner by Alberto Gilardino to stop Roma leapfrogging Fiorentina into 5th place. The Florentine side were up against a Lazio team in crisis having lost their three previous fixtures coming into the game.  

However, Lazio got off to a flying start and almost scored six minutes in, but Pascuale Foggia’s searing free kick from in front of the corner flag smacked the inside of the far post and rebounded out to safety. 


The wind was taken out of the Biancocelesti’s sails in the 18th minute when Lorenzo De Silvestri received a second yellow card for pulling at Riccardo Montolivo's shirt. The game was then Fiorentina’s for the taking, but Lazio showed resolve that belied their predicament with a spirited display.  


Alas, football can be a cruel game and Roman  hearts were broken in the final minute as goalkeeper Fernando Muslera could only parry Adrian Mutu's shot into the path of former-Milan striker Gilardino to tap home for all 3 points.   


Milan could have done with a late winner themselves but instead dropped points against bottom of the table Reggina. With Andrea Pirlo suspended, David Beckham started more centrally and Ronaldinho returned to the side for the first time in nearly a month. 


The warning signs were there from early on when Kaka skewed his shot from a Beckham cross. Moments later Ronaldinho’s ball across the face of the goal found Beckham unmarked, but his first touch was poor and the chance went begging. 


It was Reginna who took the lead in the 33rd minute, thanks to a low drive by Di Gennaro – a former Milan youth product – and that’s the way it remained until the 67th minute when Kaka stoked home a penalty after Pato was brought down in the box.  


The Rossoneri turned to Beckham to repeatedly in the later stages to get the ball into the box but it was to no avail and the score remained 1-1.  


Cue Juventus snatching back second spot. The Bianconeri were coming off the back of two straight league defeats and there were mixed fortunes from the off in their game against Catania.  


Within 12 minutes they were 1-0 up and one man down as Vincenzo Iaquinta put his side ahead before being sent-off shortly after. The lively frontman was full of beans and after scoring ripped off his shirt and only a few minutes later he received his marching orders for a clumsy tackle from behind.  


The sending off didn’t actually have too much bearing on the game with chances coming at both ends, but the Sicilian outfit eventually drew level in the 52nd minute thanks to a strike from the promising 20-year-old Japanese striker Takayuki Morimoto. 


Towards the end of the match there were chances at both ends, with Catania having a decent shout for a penalty turned down – the referee ajudging Marconni’s handball not to be deliberate. It looked all ends up if honours would end even until substitute Christian Poulsen stole in and poked home a corner in the 91st minute to win it for Juve.  


Elsewhere, Atalanta put an end to Cagliari's run of four wins on the trot with a 1–0 win at the Stadio Sant'Elia; and Vincenzo Italiano strike meant Chievo and Torino finished with a point a piece in a genuine relegation 6-pointer. 


Results: Cagliari 0–1 Atalanta, Catania 1–2 Juventus, Fiorentina 1–0 Lazio, Lecce 0–3 Inter, Milan 1–1 Reggina, Palermo 2–1 Napoli, Roma 3–0 Genoa, Sampdoria 2–2 Siena, Torino 1–1 Chievo, Udinese 1–0 Bologna

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