Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Del Piero still shines in Champions League clash

Del Piero still shines in Champions League clash

Some people would've been reminded of the goals he scored in his best year, 2005. Others may consider it a new invention from a free kick. In any case, it was a masterpiece. Del Piero shone once again and Juventus set off in the Champions League on the right foot. An excellent Zenit side were beaten by 1-0. Juve get their first three points, as do Real Madrid, who beat the Bianconeri's upcoming opponents Bate by 2-0.

For the first “real” European match, Ranieri picked those who earned Juve a place in the Champions League itself. Buffon in goal; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini and Molinaro in defence; in midfield he confirmed the four who played against Udinese: Camoranesi, Sissoko, Poulsen and Nedved; Del Piero with Trezeguet up front.

Zenit were expected to be a valid team and they proved to be so, playing at the Olimpico with no fear and not like the underdogs. So the Bianconeri defenders had to be extra-careful at all times, particularly on runs on the wings. With time, Ranieri's team found their feet and started to create chances, mainly from Del Piero crosses: first with a Trezeguet header that went wide and then another header, by Camoranesi, that hit the post.

The Italian-Argentinean had no chance to do anything else as he had to go out after half an hour when he was hit hard on his right ankle. Salihamidzic replaced him, but nothing much happened until half-time, with Juve regretting the big chance they had when they hit the post.

In the second half, Zenit came forward more, and Buffon had to save on Arshavin. Ranieri made another substitution, replacing Molinaro with De Ceglie, who made his Champions League debut on his 22nd birthday. Once again, Juve played better in the latter part of the game. Malafeev made a miracle save on a Poulsen header, but he could do nothing minutes later when, after 76 minutes, Del Piero scored with a stunningly precise free kick in the top corner.

Zenit didn't want to lose it and tried attacking in force, but Buffon had no extraordinary saves to make, also helped out by Chiellini, who was absolutely fantastic in a couple of defensive plays. The win is as much his as the Captain's. So the adventure has begun in the best possible way, and now Juve will get ready to face first Bate Borisov and then Real Madrid.

2008/09 Champions League - Group Stage
Group H – Day 1
Turin, Olimpico Stadium
Wednesday September 17th

GOALS: Del Piero 76 mins.
JUVENTUS: Buffon; Grygera, Legrottaglie, Chiellini, Molinaro (De Ceglie 58); Camoranesi (Salihamidzic 31), Sissoko, Poulsen, Nedved; Del Piero, Trezeguet (Amauri 87). Subs not used: Manninger, Mellberg, Marchisio, Iaquinta. Manager: Ranieri.
ZENIT SAINT PETERSBURG: Malafeev; Anyukov, Puygrenier, Krizanac, Sirl; Zyryanov (Dominguez 80), Tymoshcuck, Denisov; Danny, Arshavin; Pogrebnyak. Subs not used: Contofalsky, Radimov, Dong Jin, Hubocan, Fayzulin, Ricksen. Manager: Advocaat.
REFEREE: De Blecekere (Belgium).
YELLOW CARDS: Pogrebnyak 8, Sirl 68, Salihamidzic 84.

No comments: