Posts Tagged ‘Roma’

Weekly Photoshop – Alberto Aquilani


A new year, and a fresh new photoshop to begin it with. Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani was the theme this week, so plenty of options given that he was  injured for ages, Rafa Benitez never starts him and that he looks a bit lightweight whenever he has played.


Much like the Saviour himself, Aquilani first appeared around Christmas time, and like the Saviour himself, he'll no doubt be out of action by around Easter...


The rest of this week’s gallery can be found here.






Blast From The Past – Gabriel Batistuta


Growing up watching Football Italia on Channel 4, many a fantastic player would etch themselves in mind with some ridiculous goal or brilliant piece of skill. A time when Serie A had unquestionably the best players in the world, every week you were spoilt for choice.

A particular favourite was ex Fiorentina and Roma superstar Gabriel Batistuta. One of the great forwards of any decade let alone the 90’s, Batigol was a complete striker. Powerful in the air, quick, could shoot from range on either foot, and a nice line in curling free kicks. Give him any space from 35 yards or less and you were in trouble. I always thought Arsenal would be safe from his fearsome right boot, but he made them look silly at Wembley in 1999. As with so many of his goals there was just no stopping it, such was the speed and accuracy. He seemed to have it in for all English clubs, scoring a beauty against Man Utd too.


Bang bang goal.

Bang bang goal.


I always admired him for staying at Fiorentina for nine years despite their continued failure to win a Scudetto. When he eventually did move (to Roma for some £20million) he helped them win the title for the first time in 18 years. Unlike many players he had a personality too, from his crazed machine gun celebrations, his arguments over hair length with Argentine coach Daniel Passarella and a vague recollection of an interview he once gave in which he said he didn’t actually like football, he just played as he was good at it.


184 Serie A goals in 318 games (8th all time). The highest ever goalscorer for Argetina too (56 in 78!). Can’t really argue with that. Enjoy…




Champions League Quarter Final Draw Preview


So, following last week’s games we are down to eight teams left in Europe’s premier club competition:

Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Porto and Villarreal.

The draw on Friday essentially plots the route to the final for each team as the semi final draw will be made at the same time. There’s no country protection anymore so we get to potential rematches from last season between the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea. Let’s have a look at each team’s options.

Money, money, money.

Money, money, money.



How they qualified: Beat Roma 7-6 on penalties after drawing 1-1 on aggregate. Both sides won their home leg 1-0 but Arsenal held on despite going behind in the shootout. Convincing in the first leg, they rode their luck in the second but were missing key men like Fabregas and Adebayor.

Who they would like: Porto were beaten 4-0 at home in this season’s group stage and while the reserves played in the meaningless 2-0 away fixture. Villarreal were defeated in the 2006 semi finals while both Chelsea and Man Utd have been beaten in the league this year. Bayern Munich are much weaker than when the Gunners last faced them in 2005.

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Liverpool would provide the revenge angle following last season’s somewhat controversial defeat at the quarter final stage. Alex Hleb was denied a penalty in both legs and Arsenal were just six minutes away from going through before a softish penalty was given against Toure. Ex-captain and record goal scorer Thierry Henry has yet to face Arsenal since leaving for Barcelona (neither has Hleb but who cares) and he would certainly get an incredible reception at the Emirates. It could be argued Chelsea are still owed for the Wayne Bridge winner at Highbury in 2005. Bobby Pires is still plying his trade at Villarreal.

Ok deal, I'll join you next year.

Ok deal, I'll join you next year.



How they qualified: Edged out Juventus in a tight two legged affair. A 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge was taken to Turin and despite an early Juve goal, Essien’s away goal meant Chelsea were never in too much doubt. The Ghanaian’s return to fitness is incredibly important.  

Who they would like: Any English team would probably be welcomed just from the point of view that they don’t have an away Champions League win since 4-0 Rosenborg in the group stage last season. Their record against the Big Four is not great this season but that was before Hiddink came in. I’m sure he would relish a tactical battle with Rafa. Beyond that, the usual suspects of Bayern and Porto would hold no fears. I would include Villarreal in that list but strangley I think they’re the kind of side that would cause Chelsea real problems.   

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Barcelona have played them several times in past few years and there have always been lots of goals and lots of talking points. A lot had to do with The Special One but since Hiddink is a former Real Madrid manager I’m sure it would be quite tasty. They knocked out Liverpool in the semi’s last season so Benitez’s side will be out to avenge that one. 

I never tire of using this.

I never tire of using this.



How they qualified: Smashed Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate inluding a 4-0 win at fortress Anfield. Real were shocking but once again Rafa got it tactically spot on.

Who they would like: Anyone except Barcelona I would say but even then he could probably find a way to negate their three goal a game attack.  At this stage no one holds any fear and Benitez can out-think most of the other managers remaining in the competition. After ties against Chelsea and Arsenal, only Man Utd have yet to be faced in Europe. Having crushed them 4-1 at Old Trafford last week, Liverpool would love to knock them out of Europe is they can’t prevent the record equalling 18th title. 

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Last season’s Arsenal factor has already been discussed above while another match against Chelsea would provide the fourth time they’ve faced each other in the knockout stages in the last five seasons, the other three all being semi finals. I’m sure Sky could make some kind of Rocky style montage previewing it. I wouldn’t like it if I were Abramovich though, I believe the Russian lost in Rocky IV.


Man Utd:

How they qualified: The red nosed one beat the Special One. Man Utd dominated Inter at the San Siro but came back with a 0-0 draw. Despite being talked up by Jose, his Inter team were relatively comfortably beaten 2-0 in the return leg despite having some good chances. 

Who they would like: Despite losing to Arsenal this year, Fergie would probably fancy beating them over two legs. He might want to put Rafa back in his place after the drubbing last week but I think United would be quite happy to avoid Liverpool for now. Bayern Munich would get soundly beaten I think and it would provide a chance for Ferguson to have a quiet word with Ribery about how great life at Old Trafford is. Porto would not provide too much of a test either. 

Who ITV/Sky would like them to get: Barcelona would be the glamour tie but TV bosses would rather have that as the final I suspect. Barca will want to score against them this time round after being held twice in the semi’s last year. Bayern Munich would be out to avenge the defeat in 1999 while Villarreal drew 0-0 with them twice in the group stage. Hmm, that would probably indicate the TV guys would like them to avoid each other. Man Utd vs Liverpool would provide the short term stories in terms of the 4-1 defeat but also the long term with the quarter finals scheduled around the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. It would make for an interesting scenario if UEFA didn’t keep their promise and forced Liverpool to play on the day at Old Trafford say. Fingers crossed it won’t come to that, I’m sure United would do the right thing anyway.

Defending champs no less.

Defending champs no less.



Champions League Second Round First Leg Roundup: Arsenal 1 Roma 0

RVP, when the girl say no...

RVP, when the girl says no...


Despite a long list of injuries and a lack of goals at home, Arsenal came out in this tie full of confidence. Roma were pinned back in their half for most of this game and struggled to contain the Gunners’ midfield, with Emmanuel Eboue, Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri particularly impressive. Nevertheless, this was Arsenal at their profligate best, with only Robin Van Persie’s deserved penalty managing to ripple Roma goalkeeper Doni’s net. Nicklas Bendtner managed to get himself into good positions but wasted two good chances, thereby incurring the wrath of the Emirati. Eboue was also gifted a chance by a sloppy Roma back-line but his lack of goal-scoring pedigree translated into his shot going wide. After that chance the match slowed down and it was clear it would finish 1-0.

Tactical Analysis



Arsene Wenger had to change things up in view of his side’s lack of goals and inability to break down tight defensive formations. By moving Samir Nasri into more of a free role behind the forward line, Robin Van Persie was allowed to play closer to goal and thereby providing Arsenal with more players in Roma’s box. It was perhaps unfortunate that Nicklas Bendtner was on the receiving end of what they created. Eduardo may not have been so wasteful.

Replacing Alexandre Song with Abou Diaby was a productive change, with the young Frenchman providing a driving force in midfield while Denilson played a tidy deeper role. The Gialorossi could not handle the powerful, driving runs by Eboue, Diaby and occasionally Gallas and Toure.


Luciano Spaletti sits up there with Arsene Wenger as one of the football purists. On Tuesday night however, the baldy Italian was guilty of tactical naivety that had seen his side undone two years ago in Manchester and this season at Chelsea. Surely rule number one of playing against Arsenal at the Emirates is that you cut their supply line down the wings, either by playing attacking wingers high up the pitch, thereby pinning back Clichy and Sagna; alternatively, make sure your full backs have adequate assistance from their midfielders to close down Arsenal attacks. Spaletti chose to do neither and Roma’s flanks were exposed, resulting in Motta and Riise experiencing a torrid time. The ginger Norwegian in particular was unable to handle Sagna and Eboue.

We know Totti is a great player and Baptista is having a good Serie A season but on this occasion both of them were pedestrian, luxury, down-right non-existent. Expectations on them will be high in the Second Leg. Roma’s midfield usually looks packed out but against Arsenal they appeared weak, outnumbered and generally second best in all departments.

Looking Ahead


Arsenal will go away with confidence that they are a better team than Roma and secure in the knowledge that a goal in the Italian capital will demand three in return from the Italians. However, one goal from the penalty spot seems paltry in relation to the chances and dangerous openings the Gunners created. Arsene Wenger himself hopes his side will not be left to rue the missed opportunities of the first leg come March 11.

De Rossi will be missing for Roma after receiving his third booking in the competition. That is a big blow for the Romans, putting extra pressure on the likes of Perotta. Roma are still in with a good shout, safe in the knowledge that they can conjure up some scintillating performances at the Olimpico. An early goal would completely change the dynamic of the tie.

I think Arsenal will progress, especially if either or both of Adebayor and Eduardo return in two weeks time. They may not create so much in Rome but one goal would be enough.



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