Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Old Lady continues to get younger...

A few weeks ago Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian Football, were written off both domestically and in Europe. After all, they had started off poorly in Serie A and only managed a 1-0 home win over Zenit St. Petersburg and a 2-2 draw with Bate in Belarus from their opening two Champions League games. But all that changed when Juventus met Real Madrid in Turin on Oct 21. Del Piero got them off to a perfect start by curling a beautiful goal to lead Juventus to a 2-1 win over a dull Madrid side. Then this past weekend, Juventus added to Roma's misery by registering a 2-0 win, featuring an amazing free kick from Del Piero. And on Wednesday, Nov 5, Del Piero scored two stellar goals to continue Juventus' revival. Despite being 100 years old (ok he will be 34 next week), it is amazing to see Del Piero carry on playing with such intelligence at the highest level. His first goal in Madrid was similar to Messi's goal for Barcelona (in their disappointing 1-1 home draw with Basel) as he perfectly placed the ball into the far corner. Del Piero's second goal was identical to the free kick he scored against Roma but with one big difference -- Madrid's defensive wall was quite poorly placed and Del Piero could have passed the ball into the net but he still perfectly lifted the ball over the wall and dipped it into the corner. Perfection really! And he narrowly missed getting a hat-trick. Seems the Old Lady is not done singing yet.

There were plenty of other interesting games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Despite having a talented squad, Roma are struggling domestically as they sit near the bottom of the league in Serie A with just 2 wins from their opening 9 games. But they managed to redeem themselves by beating Chelsea 3-1 in Rome to keep their European campaign alive.

Barcelona are scoring goals for fun again and returned to the top of La Liga on the weekend and are putting together some eye pleasing passes. But on Tuesday, they were a bit too easy going against Basel and were left to rue their missed chances as the Swiss side scored a late goal to peg Barca to a 1-1 tie. Still, the single point was enough to take Barcelona through to the next round.

Bayern Munich have managed to get both their league season and Champs League back on track and faced a very intriguing fixture away to Florence. This fixture was Fiorentina’s last chance to stay alive in the group stages and it looked like they might have gotten the win they needed after they led through Mutu's 11th minute goal but Bayern tied the game up in the 78th minute to leave Fiorentina with just 3 points from 4 games and almost out of the Champions League.

Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan team continue to struggle in Europe and were fortunate to leave Cyprus with a 3-3 draw against Anorthosis. Inter lead their group with 8 points, 3 ahead of their Cypriot opponents, and should make the next round, but it is interesting to see if Jose will stick around if things continue to not go as per plan.

Arsenal missed a great chance to get closer to qualifying for the round of 16 after they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Fenerbahce. Now the Gunners need to beat Dynamo Kiev at home in two weeks to progress but Kiev will be looking for a win themselves as well because of their last minute home defeat to Porto. The surprize win by Porto moves them to second place in the group with 6 points with Arsenal leading the group with 8 points. Kiev have 5 points and Fenerbahce are hanging by a thread with 2 points.

A note must be made about AC Milan. Considering how many on-field problems the team has, they managed to go top of Serie A on the weekend, one point ahead of Udinese and their neighbours led by the normal one. Milan are in action in the UEFA Cup on Thu against Braga.

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