Friday, July 31, 2009

$200 Million Can't Buy You Victories (Especially Against Juve)

Certainly I had to mention this: today saw Real Madrid and their new galacticos face off against Juventus in the Peace Cup semifinals in Seville. And as the title to this post suggests, all that money can buy you superstars, media attention, and all the hype in the world, but it doesn't buy you victories. End result: Juventus 2-Real Madrid 1.

I know, I know. This is a meaningless pre-season friendly. But it's fun nonetheless, so deal with it.

To make things even better, the first goal of the game was scored by, you guessed it, former-turned-current Juventus defender and ex-Real Madrid man Fabio Cannavaro. I must express a certain affinity for Cannavaro. He was great for the Bianconeri in his previous stint, and as a fellow defender I appreciated him at the full height of his powers reading and dominating the game in leading Italy to the 2006 World Cup title. And for a man of his stature he sure knows how to be an aerial threat.

Ronaldo equalized for Madrid from the spot before Hasan Salihamidzic scored the game winner. It would be nice to see him step up this year because many felt he was a bit of a disappointment last season.

Here's the video.

I would be remiss to not give a shout out to Juve legend Alessandro Del Piero. He once again shone brightly with some beautiful service and he remains influential even as he nears 35 years of age. Oh the memories. Now that I'm reminiscing, a few of his great moments have come at Madrid's expense. Let's take a look!

In fact, we only need to go back to last November when Del Piero stole the show at the Bernabeu with a beautiful brace in a 2-0 win. The Madridistas showed their class in recognizing his performance with a standing ovation as he left the field.

That performance came on the heels of the previous encounter between the two teams in the Champions League group stage, this one in Turin with Del Piero again hitting a wonderful strike to lead Juve to a 2-1 victory.

And for good measure I cannot forget one of my all-time favorite matches, a 3-1 victory in Turin in May of 2003 that overturned a semifinal first leg deficit, resulting in a 4-3 aggregate victory and sending Juve to the Champions League final. Juve ran rampant with great goals by David Trezeguet, Del Piero (there he is again!) and Pavel Nedved before Zinadine Zidane grabbed a late goal to make things interesting. Despite the fact that the Stadio Delle Alpi wasn't always the best stadium for atmosphere, the crowd came through great that night (as it often did on big European nights) and I thoroughly enjoyed the attacking football on display. Check out the highlights:

By the way, Aston Villa also won, beating FC Porto 2-1. Two Americans played a part in that one, with Brad Guzan in goal (stepping in for 2002 World Cup hero Brad Friedel) and Eric Lichaj started at right back. You probably don't know who he is. He signed from UNC after a year and he came up through the Chicago Magic youth club system (they are a very good youth club). The Villains take on Juve in the Peace Cup final on Sunday and I'll be sure to fill you in.

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