venerdì 31 maggio 2013

USA player ratings

The USMNT was simply outclassed by Belgian team that were the best side on the field. Three of four goals USA allowed was coming from defensive mistakes.Center-backs Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson appeared insecure throughout the game and the whole back line were unable to stop the huge opposition and contain Christian Benteke, which scored two goals. USMNT will face Germany in four days time hoping to improve defensive side of the game. Another key question is the lack of offensive power. USMNT goals came from a set piece and a penalty, with Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson, and Clint Dempsey that hadn't many good balls to play.

Player ratings:

G -- Tim Howard, 6: Received no help by his defenders but was solid making a fantastic save on Romulu Lukaku and worked with accuracy.

D -- DaMarcus Beasley, 6.5: He reached the 100 caps moving up and downs the flank a showing good skills on both offensive and defensive 1-on-1 situations.

D -- Clarence Goodson, 5: Overmatched and insecure playing alongside Gonzalez.

D -- Omar Gonzalez, 4.5: Simply unable to handle Lukaku.

D -- Geoff Cameron, 4: He scored his first international goal, but played a forgettable game. His defending was poor and didn't look comfortable all the evening.

M -- Brad Davis, 5: He started off strong but finished quiet. Not a good performance. He was taken off after 63rd minute.

M -- Jermaine Jones, 6.5: Jones' performance was good in a holding role. Erratic on distribution, he was solid defensively, covering a lot of space.

M -- Sacha Kljestan, 5: He played badly as he didn't produce good passes.

M -- Graham Zusi, 5: Started the match well producing a defensive effort but disapparead in the second half.

F -- Clint Dempsey, 6: Involved in both USA goals, provided some nice work against a strong Belgium's defense.

F -- Jozy Altidore, 5: Wasted his chance to play effectively as he did during his club's 2012/13 campaign. 

G -- Brad Guzan, 5: Exposed by a poor USA defense, he conceded three goals.

F -- Eddie Johnson, 6: Added energy replacing Altidore and won a penalty following an aggressive performance.

F -- Terrence Boyd, 5: Had little impact.

M -- Brad Evans, 5.5: Brought on good energy but added little to the attack.

D -- Matt Besler, 5: Not much better thanthe other  centerbacks.

M -- Stuart Holden, NR: Welcome back after his injury.

mercoledì 29 maggio 2013

USMNT vs Belgium: Preview

The U.S. men's national team will face Belgium -- one of the rising teams in Europe, as U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said -- in a friendly match in Cleveland on Wednesday on its first of five matches they will play over the next three weeks. With some European based players missing, Klinsmann will have the opportunity to evaluate new blood or some players that need to prove things. With Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu out, Klinsmann will test Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan alongside Jermaine Jones in the middle of the pitch. DaMarcus Beasley is expected to fill up the left-back position, although there's a chance Klinsmann could line up Beasley as left wing, starting Michael Parkhurst on defense. After their superb performance against Mexico at Estadio Azteca, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez could be lined up together again. If Besler isn't fit enough, Clarence Goodson could get the start. Still, questions can be raised up about Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo's absences. Also, Klinsmann needs of a strong offensive performance after the lack of play in attack USMNT showed during last games. Team created few scoring chances. After he scored 31 goals for AZ Alkmaar this campaign, Jozy Altidore is the team's main scoring threat, but he needs support. Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez need to step up in the way to help Altidore up front. Belgium’s defense will be a good test for Klinsmann's offense.

lunedì 27 maggio 2013

Roma - Lazio: how it happened

“It’s all or nothing,” said Roma Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli before the game and it was. It was also a classic Derby della Capitale: a tactical and not technical match with a lot of tough play,  passion and determination.

Vladimir Petkovic named his expected XI lining up Lazio in a 4-1-4-1 mode with Cristian Ledesma as deep-lying midfielder paired alongside Brazilian Hernanes and Ogenyi Onazi in a three-man central midfield, with Antonio Candreva and Senad Lulic on the flanks supporting the lone striker Miroslav Klose.

Aurelio Andreazzoli opted for the 4-2-3-1, selecting Mattia Destro rather than Pablo Osvaldo as centre-forward, and lining up Marquinhos and Federico Balzaretti as right and left-back respectively.

Lazio stated pressing high up the pitch, closing Roma’s passing lines and forcing Andreazzoli’s side to play long and high balls toward Destro in a effort that didn’t pay as Roma created not scoring chances through the fisrt half. While Ledesma and Totti was looking at each other, Onazi and Hernanes were watching De Rossi and Bradley.

On paper, Lazio’s problem was Francesco Totti operating between the lines, but Lazio remained compact when pressing, denying rivals’ through-balls and closing the spaces around Roma’s captain. Roma struggled against this pressing with both Michael Bradley and Daniele De Rossi  unable to produce positive forward passes when they had the ball.

Lazio attacked primarily through the right flank -- where Balzaretti was unable to cover Candreva -- also trying to provide high and direct balls from the back to Klose. With Totti that didn’t get enough spaces between the lines, Roma also didn’t exploit Erik Lamela as usual. A key part of his team offense this season, the Argentinian was out of the game, with Roma struggling to get the ball to him. Lamela found some spaces just when he went inside into central positions to pair Totti attacking down the middle but this solution wasn’t utilized enough.

The second half started in a different way. When Ledesma went off with a suspected groin strain, Petkovic inserted Stefano Mauri as attacking midfielder, moving Hernanes to a deeper role and switching to a kind of 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 with Onazi chasing Totti. Lazio’s  pressing dropped but both the teams lowered their level of energy. With the teams large, both Roma and Lazio were more dangerous creating chances on the fast-break. A the 77th minute, a fast-break play lead by Candreva ended with the Lulic’s winning tap-in, following a Bogdan Lobont’s mistake. With the goal to create more goalscoring opportunities in the way to equalize, Andreazzoli went to a more offensive approach, switching to a 3-4-3 with both left wing-back Dodo and forward Osvaldo caming off the bench. Now we had Brazilian duo of Dodo and Marquinho on the flanks with Totti, Osvaldo and Destro up front. Players and system changed but the team still underperformed relying on uneffective long balls that didn't create troubles to a compact Lazio's defence.

At the end, there was few key factors that influenced the result. Petkovic transformed his season from so-so to good with this win. On the other side, Roma came off from a poor season, once again. Andreazzoli's line up choices have to be questioned. Why he left Osvaldo, his best striker, out?  Why he wasted so much time before to insert him to replace an uneffective Destro? Why he started with Balzaretti, who was coming out from a bad season? Why he didn’t make the third change, inserting a true regista as Miralem Pjanic or a box-to-box midfielder as Alessandro Florenzi or Simone Perrotta? Those questions remain unsolved. On this night, Lazio snatched the cup extending their Capital domain while Roma's team bus and players was waiting at the club's Trigoria training complex by a group of 200 fans that pelted them with eggs and rocks.

domenica 19 maggio 2013

Guangzhou Evergrande claimed eighth beating Liaoning Whowin

Caming from a 1-2 away win over Central Coast Mariners in the first leg AFC Champions League round of 16, Guangzhou Evergrande faced Liaoning Whowin for the Chinese Super League. Marcello Lippi used his expected 4-3-3 lining up Qin Sheng as deep-lying playmaker in a three-man midfielder featuring also Zheng Zhi and Huang Bowen and utilizing Gao Lin as centre-forward with Muriqui and Elkeson in wide-forward positions while Barrios were on the bench. The first half was all about the different approach as CSL champions were active with the ball while Liaoning were defending with eight men behind the line of the ball. Up front, Liaoning’s attacking duo of  Brazilian Edu and James Chamanga weren’t proactive without the ball, giving Guangzhou centre-backs Kim Young-Gwon and Zhao Peng enough freedom in the build-up and not closing down Qin Sheng. On the left Brazilian Muriqui made nice cutting movements inside leaving free spaces for the advancing left-back Rong Hao which made some nice runs moving forward. With Liaoning sitting back, Guangzhou dominated the course of the game although they left some gaps behind, specially on the right side where Jin Taiyan operated. Guangzhou put emphasis upon attacking down the flanks with  Muriqui and Rong Hao on the left and Elkeson and Zhang Linpeng on the opposite side. Both full-backs influenced the game in the final third of the pitch. Guangzhou scored on the first real chance with Elkeson, following a corner kick play. That pointed the way for the game as the home team significantly increased its scoring opportunities. As the game went on, chances were going to come from Guangzhou and they was looking the more dangerous team again. In the second half, the attacking trio was rarely involved in the defensive phase as they were ready for the fast-breaks. Guangzhou make another score with Zhang Linpeng securing a comfortable lead before Barrios netted  two goals. At the end, Guangzhou Evergrande outplayed  Liaoning for long periods. They showed some nice passing combinations and drag rivals out of shape specially on the left side where Muriqui were dominating. Yesterday win was Guangzhou's eighth in the first nine league games of this season.