Sunday, August 27, 2006

The shape of things to come?

Phew, if the Italian Supercup is anything to go by we could be in for quite a season despite all the scandal that has preceded it. Roma go three goals up, Inter fight back and win it in extra time. Not bad entertainment value from the two teams most touted to win the Scudetto this year.

I think it could be a really open fight with so many teams trying to make up points and without a real dominant force like Juve. In theory, Inter should probably stroll to the title but somehow that just doesn't seem likely to me. They were strong already and have brought in a lot of good players. But, remember, Inter are still Inter and could probably lose an egg and spoon race to a man with the shakes. That makes for an exciting league.

Just can't wait now for the court rumbles to be over with and get back into action. Also intrigued to see how Cassano gets on for Italy having been brought in from the cold. I'm a bit worried about Lithuania and France in the post-World Cup haze. If Donadoni can get the team properly motivated he will have performed a miracle.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Let it go, let it go...

I know I have never been known for my pro-Juventus leanings but they are starting to slip even further in my estimation with their unwillingness to accept their punishment and get on with Serie B. Not only has this protracted fight dragged Italian football through the mire, it is also threatening to see the Serie A season delayed further AND see action taken against the whole Italian football federation.

In the end, we could all sit and debate who deserved to be punished more or less by the Calciopoli scandal. In some ways Juve were hard done by but in others they got off quite lightly. Seeking a solution at the regional court of Lazio is, to my mind, taking things too far. It's time to move on and if that means the Bianconeri in Serie B, so be it. I hope their request is thrown out and I can actually get on with writing about football.

Watched Chievo go out the other night to Levski Doodah in the Champs League qualifier. I know that the Viola were going out to Genoa in the cup at the same time but I still think we could have been in the group stage draw which took place yesterday. Just bought my copy of Champions magazine which is full of stuff on Luca Toni and Cesare Prandelli. It will be a collectors item one day. In the meantime, it will be at least another two seasons before that dream comes true. If Fiorentina, Lazio, etc have to get on with it, then why can't Juve?

Finally, sad to see Oba Oba Martins leave Inter. He was always one of my preferred players in a team that I didn't have too much time for. I reckon he could score a lot of goals in England...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Have they taken leave of their senses?

I know that nothing should really surprise me now but just the same I have been taken aback by recent TV reports and stories I have seen on Italian football websites of some repute (and now here, too). There are transfer stories that shock you (Mo Johnston to Rangers), stun you (Luther Blissett to Milan) or just downright make you laugh (Steve Staunton being linked to a Serie A move springs to mind). But my mixture of revulsion, hilarity and disbelief has rarely been so great as when I read...

Milan want to buy Ronaldo

Is this the same tubby-guts, lackadaisical, unimpressive hitman we watched slump out of the World Cup this summer? Apparently so. But why? Why? Why? Why? (Is that enough) do Milan want to sign him? I know they have lost Sheva but this is such a backward step they might as well snap up Gazza, Gunnar Nordahl and Silvio Piola at the same time. Apparently, Inter are even thinking of intervening to spoil their plans. Madness, sheer madness.

Surely a young up and coming striker, maybe even an Italian, would be better than the man who can no longer get off the ground. Or am I being too harsh?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Return of the champs

OK, we all enjoyed the summer but it's time to get back down to business with the first friendly of the Donadoni era. I admit it, the thought of seeing a squad including, I think, one World Cup winner (Amelia) doesn't exactly fill me with joy. But, still, the Azzurri are the Azzurri and the last time I missed a game was when I was wearing nappies (yes, it was six months ago but that was just a phase, honest).

Apparently there was a joke in the Gazzetta the other day about Dona's first squad, it said, more or less: "Donadoni has announced his first squad it contains: 7 debutants, 5 Sampdoriani, 3 dentists, two folk singers, one pensioner and three of his neighbours..." Nice one.

Still, interesting to see just how we get on and plenty of interest for a Viola man with a lot of our current and past players in the squad. I just hope it's not too embarrassing but then, Lippi started with a bad loss to Iceland.

Will also try to watch the Under 21s tonight and see what Gigi Casiraghi can come up with. That's a strange managerial selection indeed. However, if he gets the wins, you won't find me complaining. And, you know what, whatever happens we are STILL WORLD CHAMPIONS!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Milan miss Sheva...

They might protest to the contrary but Milan could desperately do with a striker to replace Shevchenko if last night's Champs League efforts are anything to go by. The Rossoneri looked good until the final third but only that old stager Inzaghi could find the net. It is early days of course but they looked more in need of Ibrahimovic than neighbours Inter who have clinched his signature. Still, there is plenty of time for a deal to be put together, I guess. Otherwise, they will struggle more than I thought to make up ground in Serie A.

Spare a thought for little Chievo too beaten 2-0 by Levski Sofia in their Champions League debut. Expectations were low for the Veronese but they will have their work cut out to turn things around. I couldn't help looking at the fixture and thinking that should have been Fiorentina, that should have been Fiorentina...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Is it that time again?

It hardly seems like the grappa, spumante, chianti and montepulciano have had time to settle in my bloodstream after the World Cup and we are back into Euro action. Milan and little Chievo in the Champs League. I have pretty much written off the continental competitions this year given the loss of three of our better sides. Still, maybe I can be proved wrong.

On other notes, it looks like Luca Toni is going to stay put in Florence. I am never sure how much players want to leave and how much is stirred up by agents, newspapers and other clubs. However, it can't be denied that 30 goals a season would have left a big hole in the Viola attack. They need all the points they can get starting 19 down on the competition.

Finally, I wouldn't rule out Milan from the Scudetto reckoning just because they are starting with a points penalty. Bigger gaps have been made up in the past and even though Inter have got a title under their belt AND bought up all the best players in Italy they still never convince me. The only other contenders are Roma who might finally have some strikers to pick and are able to sign new people to the cause. It will be an odd year but definitely and exciting one - looking forward to seeing Juve, Genoa, Napoli, Bologna and other big guns fight it out in Serie B too...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The strangest Scudetto

So Inter have their 14th league title, in the most bizarre manner imagineable. Having finished third in Serie A they saw all their nearest rivals penalised and won it more than a month after the season ended. Never before has it happened in Italian football - the last time a team had its title revoked (Torino back in the 1920s) it was simply not assigned. So, is there really any glory for Inter?

On the one hand, why shouldn't they have it? If they were the only clean ones in the top four then the title should be theirs. On the other hand, it can never be known how the league would have finished without all the alleged piloting of referees. And after such a long wait, would you really want to win the Scudetto that way?

I can see that as a fan you would want a title any way you could get it. Nonetheless, I still think there must be a bit of an odd flavour to the celebrations. I reckon most true Nerazzurri would give up ten titles won in this manner for one won on the pitch without sporting justice's intervention. They can protest all they like but it is a bit of a tarnished trophy. That will fade with time, of course, but still the Scudetto 2006 will remain one of the strangest in Italian football history.