Sunday, February 18, 2007

Restoring Hope

I’ve written before about the many, many problems that are apparent in Italy’s Series A, including the corruption and the violence. I’ve also written that the most common complaint about the league is that the games are “boring,” a criticism almost always made by yammering nabobs who never actually watch any Italian football. Well, if any more proof is needed that the football itself in Italy is fine, I encourage you to tune into a replay of the AC Milan v. Siena match that was played yesterday. (It is being re-run on Monday at 2pm, EST, on GolTV.) It is one of the best games I have ever seen.

I went into the game with mixed emotions; I pull for Siena but my favorite player, Yoann Gourcuff, plays for AC Milan. Ideally, I would have liked to have seen Siena get the win and maybe Gourcuff get a goal or assist. Instead, I got a thriller.

Milan went ahead early on a sweet header by Ronaldo. Sienna tied within two minutes on a nice shot by Simone Vergassola. At the thirty minute mark, Ricardo Oliveira scored off of a great assist by Ronaldo, who was promptly taken out by a Siena defender. But the big guy got back up. Remarkably, Massimo Maccarone leveled for Siena almost instantly, and we went into the break tied at 2-2.

Things took a while to heat up in the second half, but in the 81 minute Ronaldo scored again off a fantastic assist by Kaka. Ronaldo now had two goals and assist in the game; meanwhile, Real played yet another grim 0-0 game where they could have used some scoring.

But the drama wasn’t over. Maccarone was somehow left alone in the Milan box and leveled again, giving him a brace on the day. Perhaps Middlesboro could use a guy like him, no?

As the cameras showed the Milan president dramatically storming off the field, I settled in as it looked like Siena had earned itself another of its patented draws; they lead the league in getting one point from matches. But it wasn’t to be. Deep into injury time my man Gourcuff (who came on as a substitute) curled a nice ball into Massimo Ambrosini, who scored; seconds later the ref blew the whistle. I was exhausted, elated and disappointed all at the same time. I was sorry Siena lost, but elated at the game and the drama that unfolded in front of me; this one is going to stay on my DVR for a long, long time, to refute any of those Italian critics who tell me the game is too boring.

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