Posts Tagged ‘ Inter Milan ’

MatchDay Memory: Luis Suarez Then and Now Part I (Luis Suarez Miramontes)

Imagine a time in the distant future when a player named Luis Enrique joins FC Barcelona or a new Hughes is signed by Manchester United.  That player will inevitably be compared to their predecessor, with the shadow of former glory always hovering around the player.  For Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz, who joined FC Barcelona in the summer of 2014, not only was he not the first Luis Suarez to have played for the Blaugrana, but he will probably not be as successful in terms of trophies as his predecessor.  On top of this, he also comes with his own unique baggage.

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I had heard of FCB legends like Samitier and Kubala and Cruyff and Maradona but knew almost nothing about the original Luis Suarez.  In researching Luis Suarez Miramontes (referred to as Lusito), I was stunned to learn of his accomplishments.  He started at Deportivo La Coruna before moving to FC Barcelona in 1955.  The squad had all the elements to prosper, with talented players like Kubala, Kocsis, Czibor, Evaristo, and Ramallets, and the arrival of manager Helenio Herrera created a cycle of success for the Blaugrana.  While the legendary Real Madrid of the 1950’s was winning five European Cups in a row, FC Barcelona found domestic success winning the 1957 Copa del Rey (then called the Generalissimo Cup) and back to back league titles in 1959 (Domestic Double) and 1960.  At the same time, the club found success on the continent, winning the Fairs Cup in 1958 and 1960.  Victory in the league allowed for entry into the European Cup, and in the 1960 edition, Barca lost to the mighty Real Madrid in the Semis.  But the Blaugrana eliminated their eternal rival in the first round of the 1961 competition before losing to Benfica in the Final.

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After the disappointment of the European Cup Final, Lusito was sold for a record transfer fee at the time to Inter, where he was reunited with Herrera and helped to create La Grande Inter.  At the new club, Il Mago changed Suarez’s role from goal scoring forward to deep-lying midfielder, and the Nerazzurri emerged from the shadow of their city rivals, winning three league titles, two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups in an astonishing period from 1962-1966.  Suarez left Inter in 1970 and finished his career at Sampdoria, retiring in 1973.

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On the International front, Suarez appeared for Spain at the 1962 and 1966 World Cups, but La Roja did not progress out of the group in either competition. However La Selección won the 1964 European Championship on home soil, with Luisito a key component.  After defeating Hungary in the Semis, Spain faced off against the Soviet Union in the Final.  Kishen Patel summarized Lusito’s impact on the match:

Spain faced previous winners USSR in the final and once again Luis Suarez didn’t disappoint with his performance. A wise head among young players, Suarez was the eldest member of the Spanish squad. A sublime pass from Luisito found Jose Maria Pereda whose skillful finish left the “Black Spider” Yashin helpless. Spain were in the lead in the 6th minute in front of 100,000 spectators at the Bernabeu with General Francisco Franco among them. However, the Russian side equalised within two minutes of conceding and it took some heroics from Spanish goalkeeper Jose Angel Iribar to keep the scores level. Luis Suarez’s calming presence made the difference when he spread the play to the right and the ball was crossed in from there to find Marcelino Martinez who beat Yashin for the second time in the game with a headed effort. Spain clinched their first European Nation’s Cup on their home soil. Luis Suarez Miramontes’ ability to dictate play and orchestrate attacks highlighted him as the mastermind behind Spain’s victory.

Luisito-spain

In addition to his medals for club and country, Suarez won the 1960 Ballon d’Or, putting him in the pantheon of the great players in the 50’s and 60’s.  Gemma Simolo wrote for Inside Spanish Football that Suárez had exquisite technique, possessed extraordinary footwork, unrivalled when it came to his inch-perfect passing, thrived with creativity, and scored impressive goals.

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A profile of the current Luis Suarez and a comparison of the two players will follow later this week.

Strip Club–Extras Edition

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I’m a Juventus guy and it took a lot of lubrication (read Honey Brown, Newcastle, and Summer Shandy) to get me through this post, but I felt I had to get this out.

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Inter entered the 2010-11 campaign as the kings of Italy and Europe.  Mourinho had led the club to a historic treble that included the elimination of FC Barcelona in the semis of the Champions League (thank you volcanic ash) before a comprehensive victory over Bayern Munich in Final.

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Of course the Special One left shortly after lifting the European Cup to attack his next challenge with Real Madrid.  Enter Rafael Benitez.  After relatively successful stints at Valencia and Liverpool, Rafa would take the reins of a team looking to stamp their authority in all competitions.

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The Spaniard only lasted until December as poor form in the league could not make up for winning the Italian Super Cup and FIFA Club World Championship.  Leonardo took over, leading the Nerazzurri all the way up to second in the league and another Coppa triumph against Palmero.  However in the Champions League, Schalke hammered the Italians in the quarter-finals, winning 5-2 at San Siro and 2-1 at home.

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Their away kit for the 2010-11 season is stunning.  But divisive.  Comment threads across the interwebs sway between the extremes of love and hate.  I fall in the love category.  I have a knockoff away jersey from a couple of years ago that is simple and elegant in all white.  This top takes that basic, beautiful foundation and adds the sinister symbol of the city of Milan and the club Internazionale—the serpent.

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From the Inter Milan Wikipedia page:

Animals are often used to represent football clubs in Italy, the grass snake, called Il biscione or Serpente representing Inter. The snake is an important symbol for the city of Milan, appearing often in Milanese heraldry as a coiled viper with a man in its jaws. The symbol is famous for its presence on the coat of arms of the House of Sforza (who ruled over Italy from Milan during the Renaissance period), the city of Milan, the historical Duchy of Milan (a 400 year state of the Holy Roman Empire), and Insubria (a historical regional area which the city of Milan falls within).

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The entire strip is clean and sharp, and this post from Soccer Bible has some nice pictures and descriptions.  I haven’t done any searching for this jersey, but if I could find a really good deal on it, I might consider buying it.  I may not ever wear it, but just having it hanging in my closet might be enough.  Yes.  I know. I have issues.

Strip Club–Personal Kit Collection

Ever since I started following the Beautiful Game, I have loved kits. Different than American jerseys, they seemed so exotic with different designs and shirt sponsors. I started buying ones I could find in the mid-90s and haven’t stopped. However, I have had to create some rules now that I am a family man. Of course, they say rules are meant to be broken, but a couple of years ago, as a means of managing my kit habit, I made the following self-imposed guidelines:

  • I would only buy a club or international kit every three years.
  • I would only buy international kits of the United States Men’s National Team.  Why?  Because I’m American, if only by an accident of birthplace.
  • I would not buy “hero jerseys”.  If they were personalized, then it would be with me—JUNIOR 7.
  • I would not buy kits at full price.  Instead I would buy them on sale (promotional or otherwise) or wait until the release of the following set of kits.

With that mind, inspired by twitter, I took pictures of my kits.  I believe they are in chronological order by category.  Feel free to share your comments.

Manchester United

manchester united

FC Barcelona

fc barcelona

Juventus FC

juventus

National Teams

national teams

Miscellaneous

misc

 

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Please visit my Strip Club page as I review each of the kits plus jerseys I would love to own.  Please feel free to share your comments about the kits I have reviewed or your favorites.  Also, you can follow me on twitter @AustinLong1974.

 

 

Random Wandering–Manchester City’s Growing Pains

So Manchester City, current Champions of England, are out Europe.  Not just the Champions League but the Europa League as well.  Instead of progressing this season, it could be argued that the Citizens have regressed, finishing last in the proverbial Group of Death, and my initial response as a Manchester United fan is to laugh at their misfortune.  Despite several seasons of massive spending, City still cannot contend in the world’s premier club competition.  And then it hit me.  At 3 in the morning.  Maybe I was being a little too harsh.  United didn’t hit the ground running after claiming their first top division title for 26 years.  So I did a little research and here’s what I found.  I will let the facts speak for themselves.

United’s reentry into Europe came in the reformulated European Cup renamed the Champions League.  Knockout ties whittled down the participants to eight teams, with the top four progressing to another knockout round.  United dispatched of Kispest Honvéd before meeting Galatasary in the last preliminary round.  A 3-3 draw at Old Trafford saw the English Champions travel to Istanbul where they were met by the famous Welcome to Hell sign.  The Turks ground out a 0-0 result and knocked out the Red Devils.  Not the greatest start for the storied club.

The following season saw them go straight into the Group Stage after another format change.  Some better results were not enough to overcome a 4-0 thrashing at the Nou Camp and United were out again.  The 1995/96 campaign was even worse.  Runners-up to Blackburn in the league they entered the UEFA Cup and promptly lost to Rotor Volgograd, despite Peter Schmeichel scoring.

From there, the Red Devils found their feet, making the Champions League semi-finals in 96/97 and 97/98 losing to Borussia Dortmund and Monaco respectively.  Of course 1999 was the season of seasons as United won the treble, for their first European Cup title since 1968.

Looking at City,  I am using the takeover of the Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited in September 2008 as my starting point.  Due to a Fair Play entry, the Citizens competed in the UEFA Cup, reaching the quarters before falling to Hamburg.  A decent result but I really don’t count their participation because it was the summer of 2009 when the ADUG started flexing their financial muscle.

No European competition for the 09/10 season but a fifth place finish in the league earned them a place in the new Europa League.  Winning their group, they eventually went out to Kyiv in the round of 16.  Better but not great.  After finishing third in 10/11, the blue side of Manchester finally got a taste of Champions League football.  A tough group saw them finish third and but they failed to make the most of their second chance in the Europa League, losing to Sporting in the Round of 16.  But progress.

After a dramatic last day of the 11/12 campaign, Manchester City entered the Champions League as actual Champions but were promptly drawn into the Group of Death, featuring three other league champions—Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.  A stunning fight back from the Los Merengues saw the Citizens start off a bad foot and things never got any better.  After drawing at home with Dortmund, City suffered a paralyzing blow by losing to Ajax.  They could only manage a draw in the return match against the Dutch at the Etihad, a dire draw with Real Madrid and then lost to Dortmund to finish bottom of the group on three points.

I would consider 2012/13 a step backward for City.  Not being in the Europa League is not a big deal; in fact, it enhances their chances of retaining the title or possibly going for a Domestic Double.  Their performances in a very tough group were disappointing.  Between questionable buys over the summer and Mancini’s curious tactics, I’m not sure if this team will rebound.  They have the squad, of that there is no doubt, and they don’t even have the foreigner rule to deal with, which hamstrung Sir Alex for years.

Richard Jolly proposed ten reasons why Manchester City crashed out of Europe’s premier club competition.  He cited a lack of quality signings, a tough draw, a dramatic conclusion to the opening match away to Real Madrid, injuries, and poor defensive marking before moving on to issues with Mancini.  Jolly questioned the Italian’s tactical tinkering, player selections and failure to find the team’s balance in Europe.  This is the manager’s job and Mancini simply isn’t up to it.

And that’s not me—pouty, bitter, self-righteous United fan—saying this.  James Restall broke down Mancini’s European record over the last decade for the Telegraph.  Starting at his time at Fiorentina in 2001/02 to Lazio to Inter to City, his best performance was a 2004 UEFA Cup Semi against eventual winner Porto.  At Inter he eventually found the formula for progressing out of the Group Stage but could not get past the Quarter-Finals despite having a pretty stacked squad and very little in terms of domestic competition.  (Mourinho stepped in and won everything after Mancini resigned/got fired.)

So now what?  Following the United trajectory, the 12/13 European campaign would be the low point (a la 95/96) as the team starts to find success, needing a little luck to finally get over the line.  This indeed may be case but it won’t happen with the Scarfed One.  With Mourinho having one foot out the door at Real Madrid, his installment could be what drives the Citizens towards Manchester United-like success on all fronts.  Trouble is, history tells us that Mou only stays at a job for three years.  The Portuguese manager could get City to the Promised Land, only to leave in some sort of media/management/player shit show.  But if he could deliver . . .

Strip Club–Best (and Worst) of 2012/13

The new campaign is upon us, which means the release of new jerseys.  I have already done posts for FC Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus, and now it’s time for the rest of Europe.

Starting in England . . . for a one stop shop of this year’ EPL kits, visit this link at Mao Football.  He has put quite a page together.

A couple of kits jump out at me.

The short sleeve jersey from Arsenal is horrendous and caused me to start the twitter hashtag: #StoptheSleeve.  Over the last couple of years, NIKE has gone with thick bands, first at the bottom of the sleeve and now narrower, multiple bands across players’ biceps.  However the long sleeve version isn’t too bad, sort of like the new US home kit.  As for the away kit, NIKE launched the Purple Reign campaign that I have co-opted into #PurpleReignPain.  Absolutely horrendous.  Can’t believe the Gunners have to wear those.

Keeping with purple, Liverpool’s new shirt manufacturers Warrior have launched a third kit that is laughable.  A purple chest with white sleeves, this is a kit that is doomed to the dustbin of history.  A solid home kit and an away kit that I am withholding judgment on are completely undermined by this piece of shit.

Across the boarder, Rangers are struggling everywhere but their kit.  This offering from Umbro is quite amazing and I love the old school look, with the sponsor getting out of the way.

rangers-home-shirt-2012-13

Moving to the continent. . .

Inter and NIKE went way off the reservation with the away kit and may be facing some major blowback from the fans.  Don’t know what could have caused them to move away from the typical white kit or maybe something blue.  Red top is a very dicey decision.

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Again NIKE is going to get some flak from me, this time on the Porto Home and Away Kits.  Porto’s home jersey is very simple: blue and white stripes.  Can be narrow or a little thicker.  Think Juventus except black instead of blue and Italian instead of Portuguese.  So what does the American sports manufacturer do?  This:

porto-home-shirt-2012-13

Combining navy #StoptheSleeve’s with a ridiculously wide white stripe, this jersey is all kinds of wrong.  Until you consider the away kit. . .

Further #PurpleReignPain.

Moving on to Spain.  I have collected almost every kit here.  So far my favorite is the Sevilla third kit.  The all navy blue strip is marked by a white collar and looks pretty sharp.  The worst kit in Spain is the away strip from Segunda side Recreativo Huelva.  Might be the worst kit ever.

Finally, I will wrap up with Germany.  I have not found the Bayern home kit, but their second and third strips leave a little to be desired.  Then there is this offering from FC St. Pauli, playing in the second tier of German football.  Guess Cleveland Browns fans have a natural partner in German soccer.  The real winners in the Bundesliga are Borussia Dortmund.  Not only are they the reigning domestic Double winners, but they have a full range of dynamic kits, with the home kit modeled by Roman Weidenfeller’s girlfriend, Lisa Rossbach.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

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Here are a list of sites to find your favorite team and see what are designs are out there:

Football Fashion

Beautiful Gear

Football Kit News

Mao Football

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I know I have missed tons of stuff out there on the interwebs, so I would love to hear your best and worst.  Feel free to comment below or hit me up on twitter or facebook.

OFB–My Costume? The Old Lady

Friday night I hosted a poker party which I do every couple of months.  Nothing major.  Low price cash game that is more for getting people together than bolstering someone’s nest egg.  After three hours I was up a whole 15 cents.  Go me.  The result of the late night and several frosty adults beverages was missing the early EPL games: Everton v Manchester United and Chelsea v Arsenal.  I wasn’t too upset about missing the United game.  I figured it would either be a 0-0 draw or a crushing defeat for the Toffees.  Turns out United won 1-0 which is a decent response to the thrashing they took last Sunday.  As for the London Derby, I guess I missed the game of the century, with RvP scoring three more goals in a 5-3 win for the Gunners.  After all of the doom and gloom of the early season, they have risen to 7th and Wenger’s men seem to be the up.

I also missed Roma v AC Milan, which turned out to be a cracking 3-2 win for the visitors.  Again another team, AC Milan, which are trending upwards.  I did however manage to catch Inter Milan v Juventus.

Inter Milan 1 Juventus 2

Inter were quickly out of the blocks, with Cambiasso just missing as the ball bounced around the penalty area, Sneijder firing straight at Buffon and Obi finding joy in the left hand channel.  But then Big Game Mirko struck. The move started with Pirlo playing Lichtsteiner into the right hand channel, and the Swiss RB squared it for Matri who shot straight at Castellazzi, but Mirko was there to blast home for the visitors.  This was immediately followed by Vucinic setting up Matri who shot agonizingly wide, before being played in again and dealt with by the Inter rearguard.  The Nerazzurri regained control of the match creating several half chances, especially Zarate who went just wide.  Then Sneijder reversed the ball to Maicon who blasted past Buffon from the corner of the penalty area to equalize.  After Pazzini’s header went off the crossbar, Juventus responded with a quick one two at the top of the area between Marchisio and Matri which resulted in a composed finish from Marchisio.  The remainder of the half was end to end, and Marchisio missed in his attempt for a second as his off balance flick went wide.  There were shouts for a PK but the ref got it right.

The hosts started strong again in the second half, with Juve struggling to get a hold of the ball, and early yellows to Chiellini and Pepe put the team on edge. Several half chances fell to Pazzini with no results.  Matri was isolated and did get into the dangerous areas of the first half.  As for Inter, Maicon rolled back the years and was a constant threat on the right hand side.  Things got testy midway through the second half when Sniejder started really going at the ref, Vidal was taken down and Pirlo clipped Sniejer.  Conte changed things up with 20 minutes to go, bringing on Estigarribia on for Matri.  My guess is that he did this to peg back Maicon, and this permutation had mixed results.  Juve had several chances to seal the match without taking advantage but the verve with which Inter played was gone by the last 10 minutes and the Old Lady hung on for three vital points.

Juve go top of the table after nine matches and are still unbeaten.  I am hesitant to say this (after the collapse of last season and the nightmarish last two campaigns) but I think they have a real chance to finish in the European places, maybe even the Champions League.  Their struggle will be breaking down the unfancied sides, especially away from home, plus how they will respond to the inevitable first defeat.  But for now, the bianconeri are well organized and have some momentum heading forward.

Here are some thoughts from the team at Juventiknows.com.  Big praise for the grinta showed by The Old Lady.

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Sunday rolled around with me recovering from a little too much Halloween fun.  Let’s just say I should by stock in Leinenkugel’s brewery.  Anyway, after slowly starting the day, UM/MSU was out of the question (MSU won 1-0 on a second half header), so I went home, cleaned up the house and took Larry to his drum lesson.  While waiting, I read that Spurs beat QPR 3-1, which sees them tied for third in the table with Chelsea and Newcastle and fifth due to Goal Differential, although they have a game in hand over Chelsea.  Despite slow starts and unusual, even freakish, results, the Sexy Six is coming together.

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I’m going to mention the MLS which I don’t do very often.

The Onion News Network did a great spoof, creating the disease of Chronic MLS.

Then I came across the hubris of New York Red Bulls courtesy of the Dirty Tackle.  They are down 1-0 (RESEARCH!!) to the Galaxy heading back to California, so it looks like they can start booking vacation trips.

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Finally, my brother sent me this little Arsenal tidbit.  I appreciated the fan’s sense of loyalty and vision, even his historical knowledge, referencing Jack Walker financial infusion into Blackburn during the mid-90’s, and Arsene’s response is straightforward.  I don’t deny what the Professor has done over the last 15 years and even applaud it, but the point is, supporters, players and hopefully everyone at the club want trophies.  You play to win the game.  In the league they really haven’t been a factor since winning in 2004 and finishing runners-up in 2005.  And what about the FA Cup?  Look at recent finalists besides the Big Four: Cardiff, Portsmouth, Villa, Everton, Millwall and West Ham.  How can Arsenal not even challenge for that?  They are not going to win the Premier League or Champions League this year or in the foreseeable future.  Therefore cups may be their only option for the next couple of years.  Not sure I could swallow that as a Gunners fan.

Strip Club–Old Town Oktoberfest edition

There were lots of kits on display at Old Town Oktoberfest.  Germany was well represented (obviously) with the Euro 2008 Home, and the World Cup 2010 Home (personalized with Schweinsteiger) and Away, plus a recent Bayern Munich kit.  Also, I talked to a guy wearing an Inter jersey, personalized with Wesley Sneijder.  Finally I saw the current US away jersey, which I also have.  I wore the long sleeve US jersey from 2004 Friday night (mistakenly thinking the friendly against Honduras was Friday and not Saturday) and the FC Barcelona Centenary kit on Saturday .

 

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NIKE-USA-HOME-JERSEY-2004-06-US-SOCCER-TEAM

(Couldn’t find a better pic of the long sleeve version.)

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On the topic of wearing kits in public, the guys at Unprofessional Foul have written two great pieces on the matter.  Orr makes snap judgments on people based on what jersey they have on, and The Stretford End discusses the hipster soccer jersey phenomenon.