The world of calcio does its best to move on from tragedy this weekend as normal play resumes after the death of Piermario Morosini.
I have not devoted more space on the site to this young footballer simply because I was just not that familiar with his life or career, and to google him and pretend to be would, in my mind, be dishonorable.
By all accounts Morosini was a fine man, brother, teammate, and player who had lived a tragically sad life that unfortunately ended in a similar, and very public way.
I don’t want to get preachy. We tend to keep religion and sport very separate in this country, but in Italy the two are heavily intertwined, with many heading straight from the church to the stadium on Sunday. These two types of cathedrals will be filled with prayers for Piermario this weekend, and hopefully he is at peace.
Such things may seem trivial for a while, but there is still the small matter of a scudetto up for grabs. This week’s fixtures are sure to have an enormous impact on who wears the badge next season.
Saturday, April 21
Chievo Verona v. Udinese – Udinese are everyone’s team in Serie A this week after the magnanimity with which they responded to the death of Morosini, who is on their payroll, having only been loaned out to Livorno midseason.
The club, and especially talisman Antonio Di Natale, have been vocal about the support they will give to the player’s disabled sister who relied on him for her care and support.
Udinese will be playing with some real fire and passion, which they have honestly been lacking in the last few weeks. Chievo are no slouches themselves, but with more at stake emotionally and in the table, I can’t see any other result than a victory for the grieving Zebrette.
1-2 in a close, emotional match.
Parma v. Cagliari – Both of these clubs sit on 38 points, needing just one more win to get them above that magic number 40. Parma have been actually quite good at home and have much more dangerous attacking options in Giovinco and Floccari.
If they can sort their backline out, Cagliari’s lack of firepower should allow them to win that race to Serie A security.
Catania v. Atalanta – This match might as well be played in Argentina! And I wouldn’t have thought so at the start of the campaign but this could be an excellent match.
The number of players from South America on the pitch should outnumber any other nationalities in this one. The home side can play with a real flair and are also dangerous from set pieces.
Atalanta haven’t been as strong away from home but they have a tight defense that could frustrate the more open Sicilians.
Both teams are looking to cement top 10 finishes.
I see them sharing the spoils, 1-1.
Napoli v. Novara – Yes, Novara have scalped some big sides this year. But if Napoli can’t dispatch the all-but-relegated visitors on Saturday I will be ready to officially declare them out of the hunt for European football.
Napoli have been relatively healthy all season, and put in a decent run in the Champions League. Their domestic listlessness is somewhat of a mystery to me but I would point to a defense that gets shaky in pressure situations as the real problem.
They really need to get into some kind of European play, but if it’s not the CL I fear the talent exodus may be on in full force, depriving the league and Europe of what had the potential to be a consistently exciting side.
3-1 for the hosts.
Sunday, April 22
Fiorentina v. Internazionale – After the season they’ve had, qualifying for the Europa League would be a decent accomplishment for the Nerazzurri.
They have enjoyed a nice “new manager bump” which has not so coincidentally coincided with a hot run of form by Diego Milito.
They are missing major pieces in Maicon, Samuel, and Sneijder, but they should have enough cover at the back.
Jovetic is always a danger for La Viola but should he be neutralized, Inter will claim victory.
1-2 for the visitors.
AC Milan v. Bologna – The extended break due to last weekend’s tragedy allowed Milan to mend some of their wounded a but more before the final stretch. Van Bommel looks set to return to anchor what’s been a bit of a scrappy midfield and aging legs like those of Nesta and Seedorf got some more rest.
Bologna are a solid side though, who really up their game when playing Serie A heavyweights. They tied Milan 2-2 earlier, have held Juventus, Napoli, and Roma to draws as well and defeated Lazio and Inter at certain points this season.
Di Vaio gets a lot of attention but Diamanti is a threat is left unattended as well.
Milan can’t afford to drop any points with Juve still hunting down an undefeated season. I think they get it done on Sunday.
Cesena v. Palermo – Neither of these teams play defense. Only Palermo can score.
Genoa v. Siena – Genoa are under real threat of relegation, while Siena still need to pack on a few more points to totally guarantee survival.
The visitors haven’t been world-beaters, but play a steady, organized game. With Genoa, you never really know what you’re going to get. It’s this inconsistency that has them in 17th.
Tough one to call, but I just think Siena are a better side.
2-3 in a fun game.
Lazio v. Lecce – Lecce are so close to rising out of the relegation zone . They’ve been enjoying a Wigan-esque run of form which has seen them fall just once since February first (away to Milan) but they face a tough run in with Napoli and Juventus to follow 3rd place Lazio down the line.
The Roman club meanwhile will be desperate to hang onto third place and a place in the CL.
All to play for in this one. I see it ending 3-1 for the more powerful home side.
Juventus v. AS Roma – Roma are the last heavyweight standing between Juventus and an unbeaten Serie A campaign. That’s not to say they can’t lose to another team, but the likelihood of them dropping points to another squad is much slimmer.
The Old Lady is healthy, rested, and missing no players through disqualification. Their success this year bodes well for the Italian National Team, but not for Milan fans like me.
Roma still crave CL football though and beyond wanting them to slow Juve I think they’d be the best 3rd representative for Italian football in that competition next season.
The Bianconeri look more and more a herculean task, but is a draw too much to hope for?