Orr’s Serie A Weekend Preview

What all players in Serie A are after.

Seriously, how are you folks not paying attention to Serie A yet?

It was another good week for Italian teams in the Champions League, with Napoli taking down spiraling Chelsea by a margin that gives them the upper hand in the tie and Inter managing to suck only bad enough to lose 1-0 in Marseille.

I think it’s quite clear I don’t like Inter. But I still do like their chances of going through at the San Siro after a few weeks to mend their wounded.

Domestically, we are in for a very tight race for the Scudetto. It may be down to two teams now (although Udinese aren’t totally out) but with heavyweights Juventus and Milan meeting this week, the blows thrown will become more and more impactful each round.

And then of course there’s the WAGs. Haven’t I shown you all enough WAGs!?

Another great slate of fixtures on deck this weekend. Check ’em out.

Saturday, February 25

Genoa v. Parma – Neither of these teams are offensive powerhouses, but neither plays a whole lot of defense either.

Palacio and Giovinco are the most likely suspects for Genoa and Parma respectively.

Genoa have lost 3 in a row after a run which saw them take down Napoli, Udinese, and Lazio all in 3-2 victories at home oddly enough.

I’ll pick them to get back to their winning ways. 2-1 for the hosts.

AC Milan v. Juventus – This match needs no hype, but allow me to try anyways.

THIS MATCH IS HUGE!

Do I think it effectively settles the championship? No. But do I think the winner of this match will win the scudetto?

Or, maybe this is what they're after. Can you believe Inzaghi pulled this off?

You bet I do.

For all their firepower and skill, Milan have stumbled against the big boys this year and need to prove they can beat their toughest contender if they have realistic designs on defending the trophy.

They’ll need to do so without arguably their most important piece, as Ibrahimovic’s appeal for a reduced ban was overturned.

Luckily they have Nesta back to partner Thiago Silva at the back, and rather than strength they will rely on speed against Juve’s titanic backline.

Allegri has promised to unleash Pato, and for all his inconsistency, that’s an exciting prospect for Rossoneri supporters.

On the Bianconeri side, they’ll really try to create from the midfield for whatever potent combination of strikers they choose.

I expect Milan to put their bruisers (Nocerino, Muntari, Van Bommel) in the middle to counter these intentions, as control of the center of the pitch will be the deciding factor in this match.

You know who I’m picking.

2-1 to Il Diavolo! FORZA ROSSONERI!

Sunday, February 26

Atalanta v. AS Roma – I can’t help but constantly think of how much more seriously people would take Atalanta this season if they hadn’t started with a 6 point deficit.

Fortunately for Roma fans, the Giallorossi have fared much better against top half of the table squads this season, which is what La Dea would be without the early hole.

Luis Enrique deserves a lot of credit for settling a club that has seen it’s share of turmoil the last few years. The players are behind him, especially the influential ones like De Rossi, which is key.

The hard-nosed central midfielder is enjoying a great season, perhaps not statistically, and has provided a great anchor for the youth he’s surrounded by.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough match, but I like the men from the capital in the end. 0-2 Roma.

Cagliari v. Lecce – Cagliari are tough to beat in Sardinia, but Lecce have proven they know what defense is, having conceded just 3 goals in their last 5 matches.

In the bottom three, they handily took down fellow relegation battlers Siena last weekend, and will throw caution to the wind in trying to bypass the Tuscans and leave the drop zone for the first time in a long while.

The hosts are in no danger in ninth, but will need to be on their toes against the scrappy Apulians.

1-1, a fair result for both clubs.

Catania v. Novara – Catania have had no trouble replacing Maxi Lopez. Hell, they replaced him before he even left for Milan.

They’ll blow anyone away mind you (beyond a terrible Genoa defense) but, unless you’re Inter, Novara have posed no serious threat away from home.

2-0 to the Sicilians.

Chievo Verona v. Cesena – Cesena are bad. Chievo are OK.

As a Milan fan, it’s great to see young Alberto Paloschi getting some good runs in. He makes an interesting pairing up from with old hand Sergio Pellissier.

One that will ultimately pay off on Sunday.

3-1 for the Flying Donkeys!

Siena v. Palermo – If you haven’t even been paying attention to the big clubs, then you certainly won’t have realized that Palermo are a really compelling side to watch.

Fabrizio Miccoli is having his best ever season at age 32 with 11 goals and 11 assists, and has found an able partner in Croatian Igor Budan.

They don’t play much defense, but that’s probably because their backline is much more interested in getting in on the action up top.

Siena are going the wrong way, but if their organized defense can hold at home they could still spring a shock.

This one’s under the radar but I bet it’ll be worth a watch.

2-3 to the visitors.

Diamanti has proven he can score before.

Bologna v. Udinese – What has gotten into Bologna? Undefeated in 7 matches, in which they have conceded just 2 goals, the Rossoblu have gotten themselves 7 points clear of the drop and should not be taken lightly by even Italy’s top sides.

Di Vaio continues to attract most of the attention, which has allowed space for Diamanti and Acquafresca to shine, the latter scoring a great solo goal last weekend against Inter.

Udinese face another challenge without talisman Di Natale, and will find sterner stuff at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara than they did in Greece midweek.

Tough to call, but I’ll choose the Zebrette to right the domestic ship. 1-2 at the whistle.

Lazio v. Fiorentina – Lazio are going through a tumultuous period right now.

Thrashed by Palermo last week, and crashing out of the Europa league without much of a fight, the club also rejected the resignation of Edy Reja midweek.

But the Romans are still in 4th! Level on points with Udinese and still with it all to play for.

Football in Italy is just baffling sometimes.

La Viola fans probably think the same, as their talented squad continues to seriously underachieve.

Another toss-up. I’ll cop out and predict the 2-2 draw.

Napoli v. Internazionale – Most would have predicted this match would be far more vital than a 6th v. 7th showdown, but for supporters of both clubs it still represents the chance to jump into the European places and take a big scalp.

Momentum is what both sides need, and it must be said that Napoli have gotten more of a running start than their visitors, who are black-and-blue in more ways than one.

Hamsik is out, ably replaced by Pandev, while Inter welcome top choice strike duo Pazzini and Milito back into the fold.

Placement in the table be damned, this is a big match in Italy. Hopefully it, like the rest of the weekend, lives up to the billing.

3-1 Napoli, with two killer daggers from Napoli’s South Americans late on.

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10 responses to “Orr’s Serie A Weekend Preview

  1. Seems like there’s a lot of those guys in Italy. Di Natale, Totti, Pirlo, Inzaghi, Del Piero and lots of others 34 and older. I don’t know if its the catenaccio style or what. Thoughts, Orr, why guys have longer careers in Italy?

  2. @Gunner- might also be the more temperate weather, and less of the game being played in the air- hence fewer collisions.

    Also, the continent was quicker to adapt advanced training and nutrition than England.

  3. @Scouse – Nesta will be 36 in March.

    @KCG – I think it’s a combination of a few things.

    It is a different style of play. Yes, I will admit, on the whole less physical, but I find that positive as it allows players more space to use their skills.

    Less competitions. Just the league and Coppa Italia for those not in Europe.

    Keith is right on the money when he highlights the top notch training programs used in Italy. Especially the big clubs have fantastic training centers and staffs. Milan’s “Milan Lab” is possibly the finest in the world.

    And finally, you’ll notice all the players you mentioned are indeed Italians, and those people live forever. 60 is middle-aged for them. Most of my Italian relatives have lived well into their 80s and 90s.

  4. Good points, all, esp on the training programs. Who knew that olive oil, wine, and temperate weather would be better for your health than pies, warm beer, and chilly rain? Or that it would be better not to have a bunch of no-talent, lumbering Shawcrosses snapping legs left and right and getting lionized by the Bredia as NKTOP? You’re slowly converting me into a Serie A fan, Orr.

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