What to Watch This Weekend, Part 2: Newcastle-Manchester City, Derby della Madonnina

May 6, 2012 — by Suman


Sunday, May 6

EPL, Newcastle United vs Manchester City (8:30amET, FSC & Fox Deportes): A massive game in the Premier League, both for the title race and Champions League qualification.

Following Man City’s tense 1-0 victory in last Monday’s much-hyped Manchester derby, this match becomes the new title-decider. If City win this one, they’ll need only a final day win over Sunderland at home to claim the title (assuming Manchester United win their final two–versus Swansea at Old Trafford later today, and at Sunderland on the final day).

But Newcastle will be fighting for a win here as much as City. They’re even with Spurs on 65 points, who play Villa today–only 2 points behind Arsenal, who slipped up badly this weekend with a 3-3 draw at home against Norwich.

And Newcastle is equally in form, especially January signing Papiss Demba Cissé.  He’s the talk of the league after scoring 13 goals in 12 appearances since coming over from the Bundesliga’s SC Freiburg (where he was also prolific–his 22 goals last season, in his first full Bundesliga campaign, were 2nd only to Bayern Munich’s Mario Gomez).  But he’s especially the talk of the league after his spectacular exta-time goal Wednesday at Stamford Bridge–frontrunner for goal of the season. If you haven’t seen it, watch it now; if you have, watch it agian:

Key matchups: Cissé and his Senegalese strike-parter Demba Ba against the City’s center back pair of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott; and in midfield, Newcastle’s creative Frenchman Yohan Cabaye and Ivorian hardman Cheikh Tioté against the likes of Yaya Touré, David Silva, and Samir Nasri. Watch also for another creative Frenchman on Newcastle’s wing, Hatem Ben Arfa.

Interesting historical resonance: City are looking to win their first title since 1968–when they clinched the title with a 4-3 victory over Newcastle at St. James’ Park, allowing them to squeak past crosstown rivals Manchester United.  In addition to the photo above of the opening goal, see the rest of the Telegraph’s gallery of photos from that day.

Serie A, Inter Milan vs AC Milan (2:45pmET, FSC, Fox Deportes & La Derby della Madonnina , i.e., the Milan derby.  Not only one of the most storied and heated rivalries in the game, but also, as if often the case, a match with big implications for the Serie A table. Like the Newcastle-ManCity match, this match simultaneously impacts the race for the domestic title as well as Champions League qualification.

AC Milan sit one just point behind still-undefeated Juventus.  So they’ll need Juve to slip up, either today against Cagliari or next week at home against Atalanta. But they’ll certainly need to keep winning to give themselves any hope of winning another Scudetto.

On the other hand, Inter have had a roller coaster of a season.  They’ve been on the rise again over the past month, after Claudio Ranieri was sacked and Andrea Stramaccioni was promoted from manager of Internazionale Primavera to manage the senior squad.  But they now sit in 6th place, one point behind 5th place Lazio and 3 points behind 3rd place Napoli and 4th place Udinese. With the top 3 finishers in Serie A going to the Champions League, while 4th and 5th go to Europa, Inter will need at least one of those teams to falter in order for a return to European competition next season.



Resurgent Inter claim il derby della Madonnina

January 16, 2012 — by Sean3


Atop the tallest spire of Milan’s cathedral sits a statue of the virgin Mary, her gaze fixed upon a Po valley split between the supporters of two giants in Italian football: A.C. Milan and Inter Milan. When these teams meet twice a year at the San Siro, the winning players symbolically join la Madonnina at the city’s highest point. They, adored by their followers as if sprung from the womb of Christianity’s mother themselves, are kings of the city.

In a game that showed nearly even odds, the red and black side should have been the favorites. First in the league, officially the “home” side and with exciting young talents like Pato, Boateng, and Emanuelson mixed in with sturdy vetarans, all three points were surely theirs for the taking. Instead, the transfer drama surrounding Pato’s possible move to PSG created extra tension before the match (not to mention his dip in form and seeming lack of passion on the field – possibly refocused on his girlfriend, Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of Silvio and VP of the club). But it wasn’t just distractions picking at Milan, all credit must go to the blue and blacks from Inter, who’ve been on the rise after a torrid start to the season.

The first half saw Milan consistently pressing , with Ibrahimavich dropping behind Pato and collecting the ball, while letting the very quick and skilled Emanuelson overlap into forward positions (the young dutchman generally plays on the left, but was here being used as a center attacking midfielder). Emanuelson was everywhere in the attacking half of the field, working hard to find space and only misplacing one pass in the first 45 minutes. But Milan could not find a way to goal, with Pato missing a decent chance and only Inter having a real shot – and that against the run of play.

Inter did create some danger down the right wing, where the combination of Zanetti, Maicon and Alvarez worked nicely formed one-two passes to pull Thiago Silva out of position (but what an amazing centerback the Milan man is, and partnered with Nesta…a sturdy pairing). But there was to be no score in the first half, and Inter would surely need to make adjustments if they were to properly challenge for the win.

Oddly,  Milan were the side to change, slipping into a 4-4-2 and moving Emanuelson out to the right. The dutch/surinam player then disappeared for the remainder of the game as Inter turned up the pressure.

It was Milito who had the breakthrough right after the start of the second half. Il principe always looked a threat to score if given the chance, and when it was there he took it, collecting the ball just outside the penalty box, settling sweetly and slotting home against the opposite inside post. His balance was perfection and the finish a thing of beauty. From then on Milan looked as dysfunctional as the pregame headlines suggested, while Inter were the team rising from the ashes, pushing toward the top of the league. Inter pressed and pressed looking for a second goal, and Milan couldn’t put together a proper attacking movement for the remainder of the game – save for a brief flash created by 19 yr-old El Shaarawy (of Italian/Egyptian parentage) who replaced the ineffectual Pato with ten minutes to go.

Inter ran out Sneijder for a bit at the end along with Forlan, both of whom are just back from injury. Milan countered with Seedorf and Robinho, but ultimately 35 yr-old Seedorf was completely owned by 38 yr-old Zanetti, and Robinho has stopped being a threat in front of goal. 1-0 to the visitors, Juventus leap ahead of Milan into first, and Inter continue to push toward a Champions League spot.


What to Watch this Weekend (Nov 13-14)

November 13, 2010 — by Sean

As per our custom, some prime picks from the full listings provided by Steven Goff at the Washington Post.

If you see one match this weekend...


Juventus-Roma 2:30 p.m. FSC: Matchup between two giants who aren’t up to form this season. Both are looking to hit the turning point before the impending holiday break.

Barça-Villarreal 4pm ESPN Deportes: In-form Villarreal are hanging onto the coat-tails of the big two and they make the trip to the Nou Camp on Saturday in third place and just two points behind Barça. Teaneck NJ-born Rossi & Brazilian Nilmar are the starting strikers and leading scorers, while  Altidore has played in the Copa del Rey & Europa league, but has only one La Liga appearance.

Newcastle-Fulham 5pm FSC: Andy Carroll at one end, Clint Dempsey at the other. No Joey Barton in the middle though, he’s out in the streets tripping the blind.

MLS playoffs, Colorado-San Jose 9:30 p.m. FSC


Lazio-Napoli 6:30 a.m. FSP: These teams stand 2nd and 3rd in Serie A, should be a great second in Italy today, only to…

Inter Milan-AC Milan 2:30 p.m. FSC: Derby della Madonnina This will be the 175th meeting of the two milano giants. To our favorite public domain resource for deeper backstory: Milan Derby

America-Pumas 5:30 p.m. Telefutura: Clásico Capitalino, one of the strongest rivalries between two of the most popular teams in Mexico, played between two of the three teams which represent Mexico City

MLS playoffs, Los Angeles-Dallas 9 p.m. ESPN2