It is unusual that a team avoids an away defeat against Spanish opposition in UEFA club competition for the first time yet travels home pondering what might have been, but such was the paradox facing Panathinaikos FC after the first leg of their first knockout round tie at Villarreal CF.
Henk ten Cate’s side travelled to El Madrigal having lost on all eight previous visits to Spain, yet a terrific display from goalkeeper Mario GalinoviÄ‡ held the home side at bay and when Giorgos Karagounis found the top corner of the Villarreal net with a superb shot just before the hour, Panathinaikos were dreaming of the quarter-finals. Reality was swift to bite, however, Giuseppe Rossi levelling from the penalty spot eight minutes after Karagounis had struck, and to make matters worse, the Greek club will be without captain Giannis Goumas for the return fixture in Athens after his first-half booking.
‘Not our best’
“The result was clearly better than the performance and I have to say that this wasn’t our best display at all,” said Gilberto, part of the Arsenal FC team which edged out Villarreal in the 2005/06 semi-finals and all too aware that considerable improvement will be required if the Greens are to win through on 10 March. “I’d go so far as to say that we were lucky on a few occasions and we will have to play much, much better than that to go through.
“Villarreal created a lot of chances and they are capable of doing that all over again in Greece,” added the Brazilian midfielder. “We worked hard, there was pressure for 90 minutes and I’m really tired now. But if we relax and think the job is done, even in front of the great atmosphere our fans can create in Athens, then we could get a surprise. We have to do better than this and we have to concentrate.”
Archive for February, 2009
VILLARREAL, Spain: Giuseppe Rossi scored an equalizing goal from the penalty spot Wednesday to give Villarreal a 1-1 draw with Panathinaikos in the first knockout round of the Champions League.
Robert Pires was taken down by midfielder Jakub Wawrzyniak in the 66th minute and Rossi, an American-born Italian, converted the penalty.
Giorgos Karagounis had given the Greek team the lead in the 59th, sending a shot from 25 meters (yards) that tipped off the hand of Villarreal goalkeeper Diego Lopez before bouncing into the net off the crossbar.
Panathinaikos still leaves Spain with the advantage of an away goal heading into the second leg in Athens on March 10.
Karagounis, however, nearly stole a goal at the other end with a long free kick than went right into the hands of Lopez. Although it appeared to be an easy save, Lopez stepped back into the goal after catching the ball, and Panathinaikos midfielder Gilberto Silva appealed for a goal. Replays appeared to show Silva was correct.
Moral of the story: Gilberto Silva is always right.
Villarreal will soon face Panathinaikos twice in the Champions League; and Villarreal’s Brazilian defensive midfielder is Senna. Here’s what he tells uefa.com:
I don’t know much about Panathinaikos. What I do know is that Gilberto is one of their main players. I have faced him once when he was playing for Arsenal and we chatted â€“ he’s a nice bloke. I don’t think it’s going to be a duel, though. Our positioning is similar and he’ll probably have to deal with Robert PirÃ¨s and Santi Cazorla more than with me!
Despite this, Goal.com says:
The key tussle may take place in the centre of the pitch, where a battle of the Brazilians will commence between Marcos Senna and Gilberto Silva. The exchanges between the adopted Spaniard and the former Arsenal stalwart could define how this tie is determined, and it is sure to be a frenetic night.
The Brazilian international is sorry to see his former club under performing in the Premier League…
Brazilian international midfielder Gilberto Silva has spoken about how upsetting it is to see his former club Arsenal struggling to affirm a Champions League spot in the Premier League.
Sitting fifth in the table, the Gunners currently occupy a UEFA Cup position and, although they are only five points behind Chelsea in fourth, their current form is a far cry from that displayed by the famous â€˜Invinciblesâ€™ of the 2003-04 Premier League season.
“Things have changed,â€ Gilberto told the Independent. â€œItâ€™s so hard to see Arsenal in the position they are at the moment. I hope they can change their situation.
“Iâ€™ve spoken to some of the players and, of course, they are really disappointed but Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™ll change their situation very soon.
“It’s hard for a big club like Arsenal to be so long without a title and the team is also very young. They need time and this is the problem at Arsenal. When you are in a big club you don’t have much time to grow up and they don’t know how to cope under pressure.
“I don’t know if they’re missing a player like me but they had several experienced players like myself, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, other important players who did a great job for Arsenal.
“Suddenly things changed, young players came in and some [more experienced] players left the club. What matters at this time is that the experienced players stand up for the club and make sure everyone works together.”
Former Arsenal captain Gilberto feels the club ‘made a mistake’ by allowing experienced players to leave the Emirates.
Gilberto’s six-year stay in North London came to an end last summer after he was sold to Greek side Panathinaikos.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger also saw midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb depart, as he planned to allow his youthful players to flourish.
However, the side have struggled his term, and they risk losing out on UEFA Champions League qualification following the emergence of Aston Villa.
Gilberto, 32, is of the belief that Arsenal are currently paying the price for a lack of experience amongst their ranks, although he is hopeful they will improve as the term progresses.
He said in the Evening Standard: “I never fell out with Arsene, whatever people say. I had to respect his decision even if I disagreed with it.
“We had good conversations but, when it came to talking about whether he still saw me as part of the team, it wasn’t the conversation I expected.
“Maybe, I thought, it was time to leave Arsenal. I understood what the manager’s idea was; he had so many good young players and, if I was in the team, they wouldn’t have the chance to develop.”
He continued: “It’s only my opinion, and I could be proved wrong, but I think Arsenal made a mistake letting some of the more experienced players go.
“It would be good for the development of the younger players. They’re having to learn for themselves and that’s hard.
“These players need to find that killer instinct. They can get there but it takes time. I hope it comes quickly.”
See this link from The Independent for a full review of this game.
Basically though, Gilberto Silva returned to Arsenal’s home ground yesterday, The Emirates Stadium, as he helped Brazil take on Italy. Two Robinho goals gave Brazil a 2-0 win. Gilberto was very solid indeed.
It was Gilberto Silvaâ€™s first return to London since he left Arsenal in the summer for Panathinaikos. Used sparingly by Arsenal last season, it was tempting to wonder if his robustness might have been useful to the Londonersâ€™ porous midfield this season.
â€œI donâ€™t know if theyâ€™re missing a player like me, but the young players need a lot of support,â€ he said. â€œThey need time and this is the problem, when you are in a big club you donâ€™t have much time.â€
Meanwhile, at the centre of it all, was a familiar face to Arsenal fans. Tall, graceful, strong as the proverbial ox, Gilberto Silva was superb, as he always was in a red-and-white shirt. A totally reliable, ball-hoovering, strong-tackling workhorse around whom the rest of the team ticked.
If anything, he seemed even better than I remembered him, thus making his disappearance from north London to Greece for a paltry Â£1million all the more criminal.
Glenn Moore of the Independent wrote this article about Gilberto’s recent chitter-chatterings:
Gilberto Silva, Brazil’s former Arsenal midfielder, has called upon the club’s senior players to help the young team emerge from their current torpor. Gilberto, who returned to the Emirates for the first time since his summer departure for Brazil’s match against Italy last night, said he thought some of the young players were struggling to cope with the pressure of expectations and needed support.
“It’s hard for a big club like Arsenal to be so long without a title and the team is also very young,” he said. “They need time and this is the problem at Arsenal â€“ when you are in a big club you don’t have much time to grow up and they don’t know how to cope under pressure. The pressure is there and the young players need a lot of support from the experienced players to get them through, but it’s hard for the experienced players to help them in the situation they have.”
Gilberto’s qualities were not always appreciated by Arsenal fans during his six seasons at the club but the defensive midfielder has been missed this season. Not that he would admit it.
“I don’t know if they’re missing a player like me but they had several experienced players like myself, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, other important players who did a great job for Arsenal. Suddenly things changed, young players came in, some players left the club. What matters at this time is that the experienced players stand up for the club and make sure everyone works together. I’m sure everyone is working really hard.”
Gilberto, who now plays in Greece with Panathinaikos but has retained his place in the selecao with whom he won the 2002 World Cup, added: “It’s so hard to see Arsenal in the position they are at the moment. I hope they can change their situation. I’ve spoke to some of the players and of course they are really disappointed but I’m sure they’ll change very soon.
“It’s a big period for Arsenal. Since I was there they haven’t experienced a situation like this. Now they are out of the Champions League places which is very uncomfortable but I’m sure they will pick up points and get back and qualify for the Champions League like we expect. They’ve got quality and a good manager, ArsÃ¨ne Wenger, will do a good job with them.”
Gilberto praised Robinho for his speed of integration into the Premier League but was not surprised that another Brazilian, Kaka, had not joined Robinho at Manchester City.
“Robinho’s done a very good job. Sometimes it’s hard because he is so skilful and the style of the Premier League is totally different from Spain where he was before. But he’s adapted quite well, improving game by game.
“Kaka is very focused on what he wants. His priority is to be the best player in the world again, this was in his thinking. I didn’t speak to him at all about this but staying in Milan gives him the chance to be first in the world.”
The Arsenal winger Theo Walcott hopes to be back in action by the end of the month. The 19-year-old has been sidelined since suffering a shoulder injury while on international duty in November, which required surgery.
“I am nearly there, and hopefully [will be back] by the end of this month,” Walcott said. “I am doing a lot of rehab work now with the shoulder, landing on it, and also in the gym with a lot of weights to build the muscle strength back. I just feel it will be when I am ready. Obviously I do not want to do it again, so I have got to be 100 per cent fit.”
Walcott revealed the shoulder problem is an inherited condition, but believes the latest operation will see him return stronger. “My dad had an operation on his right side [shoulder] as well, and when I had my left side done, they did a scan on my right and said that something might have to be done at a different stage,” Walcott added.
LONDON â€” Embattled coach Dunga again takes Brazil into a friendly looking for a victory to bolster his job security. But don’t expect world champion Italy to roll over Tuesday in London as Portugal did in November’s 6-2 rout.
And Dunga’s plans for the Emirates Stadium clash have been disrupted by injuries, as both teams try to improve their form ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s a massive game, I hope we’ll start the new year well,” said Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva, who left Arsenal to join Panathinaikos last year. “It’s the first time I’ve come back to England since I left Arsenal. I’m so pleased to be back, I hope to see some friends. I’ve missed being here.”
LONDON (AP) – Brazil coach Dunga came to the defense of one of his predecessors Monday, saying Chelsea was too hasty in firing Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Scolari is revered in Brazil for guiding the country to its fifth World Cup title in 2002. He also won the Copa Libertadores with both Gremio and Palmeiras.
Brazil midfielder Gilberto Silva, who left Arsenal to join Panathinaikos last year, echoed Dunga’s frustrations.
“It’s hard to transform a club when you’re a new coach,” Gilberto said. “Some other managers have the same problem adapting but they need time. Maybe the next year will be stronger and the team will do well but the squad has a lot of quality.”