It’s been a busy week for me personally and in Serie A, which after this weekend will have completed a full three rounds in just nine days.
So like my beloved Rossoneri it’s time for me to play catch-up.
There’s been a lot of hub-bub in Italy these past few days with the first manager sacking (right on schedule), reported conflicts between current employees and club legends, and an owner gone wild resulting in a match forfeited due to safety concerns.
I can’t prove this (and neither can Italian prosecutors) but I’m sure there were several bunga bunga parties as well.
Just another week in the world’s most entertaining (for so many reasons) league!
Notable results from Round 4 (September 22-23)
Some serious upsets in round 4, with Genoa winnings at Lazio 1-0 and Siena dropping Inter 2-0 at the San Siro, where at this point neither Milan side had managed a win.
The Rossoneri slumped to another defeat away at Udinese 2-1, which buoyed the struggling northern side but left Milan coach Max Allegri dangerously close to the brink of joining Sannino at home.
Catania continued to have a solid season, although a little more conservatively than usual, holding a powerful Napoli side 0-0 in Sicily.
Notable Results from Round 5 (September 25-27)
Juve remain unbeaten, but La Viola made them work for it in Florence. Ljajic and Jovetic both put a scare into the Old Lady, but with Buffon between the pipes it’s still going to take much more to unseat the champions.
The biggest surprise of this young season though by far is Sampdoria who followed up a draw with Torino by holding a Roma side still lacking the killer instinct needed to make Zeman’s system succeed. The newly promoted Genovese side remains unbeaten with only Napoli and Juve for company.
Napoli rode Edinson Cavani’s sixth career hat-trick for the club (though he should have had 4) to defeat visiting Lazio.
Both Milan sides got back on track with the Rossoneri handling Cagliari (El Shaarawy with the brace) and Cassano striking for Inter to take down floundering Chievo.
And in feel-good news, Pescara picked up their first Serie A win since the early 90’s, defeating woeful Palermo 1-0 at home.
What to Watch this Weekend
The most salivating fixture of the weekend comes on Saturday when Roma rolls into Turin to take on league leaders and champions Juve. As with almost everything the presence of Zeman complicates the matter, as the outspoken Czech was a vocal accuser of the dominant Juve sides of the mid-90’s, most notably lobbing allegations of doping towards the Bianconeri.
Simply put, Juventus don’t like the Roma manager, but his unpredictable system could hold the key to taking down the methodical champions. USMNT fans will note that Michael Bradley is set to return from injury.
Don’t miss this match!
Sunday, Udinese v. Genoa and Bologna v. Catania have the potential for fireworks.
More tantalizing though are the matchups between undefeated duo Sampdoria and Napoli, with the Blucerchiati looking for another big scalp.
And then it all wraps up with Inter taking on Fiorentina. Still looking to break their duck at the San Siro like their hated neighbors on Wednesday, they’ll have to do it without the injured Sneijder and the men in purple are no easy out.
Keep an Eye on…
Coaching Situation at Milan – The win over Cagliari on Wednesday bought Allegri some time but make not mistake, his seat is still hot. The players have stood behind him so far, but the alleged row with Inzaghi and Silvio Berlusconi’s relative silence on the matter cast a bit of a shadow on the Rossoneri gaffer.
While points are nice, Milan fans are also clamoring for the “champagne football” the owner demands and that perhaps no manager could get this workmanlike side to produce. I am a firm believer that changing managers mid-season is only responsible if the situation is untenable, which does not yet apply here. I just hope the administration has as much patience in the matter.
Totti Climbs the Chart – Francesco Totti’s goal against Sampdoria on Wednesday was his 216th in Serie A, good enough. for joint 3rd all time. His next tally will take him past league legends Jose Altafini (who had long spells with Milan, Napoli, and Juventus) and Giuseppe Meazza (longtime Inter striker for whom the San Siro is named). At this point in his career, Silvio Piola’s record of 24 appears out of reach but in Zeman’s attacking system it is not out of the realm of possibility that he moves past Milan hero Gunnar Nordahl (225, although Totti has played over 200 more matches than the Swede) into second all time. There is no indication that Totti retires this season either, so he should eventually be looking up only at Piola. Wherever he ends up, he is truly one of the best Italian and best Serie A players of all time. The recent departure of Del Piero should give pause to and remind calcio fans to enjoy these greats while they still can.