IUE Calcio – Campo di Marte 0-0
Report by Jonas
With the unfortunate result of last week put behind us, we were eager to show the home fans our hunger for another spectacular victory. In his pre-match pep talk with the referee, Roberto discovered first-hand that the man with the whistle was feeling a little grumpy, fearing there would be no hot water for him after the match. We therefore agreed on cutting down on constructive criticism towards the referee during the match, and rather focus on scoring more goals than the opponent. This is normally a very good strategy, but one should be forgiven for thinking that the opposite would have helped us just as much on Tuesday.
The first half was even, with few big chances for either team. While our defence was as solid as ever, the attacking duo Metin and Albert experimented with a new good cop/bad cop tactics. While Albert drew looks of admiration to his fresh and stylish new haircut, Metin gave his sternest look to defenders, hoping that his temporary facial rearrangement would create the desired frightening effect. For his part, Gabo tried to build a bridge over troubled waters between the midfield and the attackers. Unfortunately, none of these tactics proved successful in the first half.
Second half started much like the first, with much battling in midfield and few breakthroughs for either team. Gazza was the usual solid anchor of the defensive midfield, while Luis continued his great streak in recent games, delivering one perfect pass after another. EUI was clearly about to step up its game as Bico came on with a fighting spirit visible a mile away. Confronting rapidly tiring opponents, we used sheer willpower to push things into the next gear. The Curva could smell that a goal was in the air, and took deep breaths in preparation for the anticipated screams of joy. Unfortunately, the referee wanted it otherwise.
As a dangerous through-ball sneaked through our defence, Cosimo took charge, rushed out of the box, showed his dribbling skills for the fans by letting the ball bounce on his feet a couple of times, then cleared it out of danger. Everyone but the referee was impressed. He seems to have been convinced that what he had witnessed was not the great spettacolo everyone else saw, but rather a reprise of the disgusting incident in 1994, when Gianluca Pagliuca used his dirty hands to stop a beautiful Norwegian counterattack (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpznFfyQZpY – it happens one minute into the video, don’t bother watching the rest of it, nothing noteworthy happened). Cosimo had committed no Pagliucian sin, but the referee remained unconvinced of our protests, and gave him a red card.
At this point, Vasyl, who had played another solid match in defence, thought it an appropriate time to reveal some of his hitherto mysterious past. He quietly muttered that he had once been the rising star goalkeeper for Ukraine’s under-19 national team, but had parked his gloves for good after an embarrassing incident involving a last-minute failed scorpion kick in a decisive match against Belarus. Finally, Vasyl thought, the time had come for a comeback, and he was prepared at making it one for the history books too. In the following freekick –giving a wink to his massively impressed girlfriend on the side line – our newfound goalkeeping hero tried to convince defenders to clear out of the way and let him save the shot singlehandedly, perhaps even with one hand on the back.
To Vasyl’s great despair, the defenders did not obey, but kept defending heroically. Even those we normally consider the beating heart of EUI’s lethal attack – Gabo, Albert, Metin and Diego – now turned into defensive warriors. As the match was drawing to an end, the opposing side finally looked like they were coming to test Vasyl’s supernatural skills. As so many times before, Ludvig managed to snatch the ball from the attacker, and was ready to clear the ball from danger. But unexplainably, the referee blew his whistle, convinced that Ludvig somehow had used a third arm to touch the ball (pun intended), and gave him the direct red card.
The EUI ultras, Pazzo, Mr. President, and the panchina were fuming with anger, but the remaining nine players kept their cool. All opponents’ attempts were easily cleared away, and despite his hopes of making a killer comeback, Vasyl hardly touched the ball in the last minutes. Soon the referee blew for full time.
In sum, it was a tight match that EUI might have won, had the game been fair. Considering how things played out against us in the second half however, we should be proud of having managed to fend off the opponents, and finish with one point and moral superiority. The Curva showed their appreciation for the team’s heroic efforts by firing an emergency flare, and the players returned their appreciation to the team’s 12th (or in this case, 11th and 10th) player. They might have been outnumbered by the opponents’ ultras for once, but they had made their presence heard like never before.