Friday, September 28, 2007

What do you think of the show so far?

I know we are only five games in but it is shaping up like the kind of Serie A season we all hoped for. The top of the table is wide-open, nobody is without at least a couple of points and there have been some great matches dished up already.

Roma have been involved in a couple of cracking 2-2 draws of late. I thought they were unlucky to surrender the points against Juve but the share of the spoils with Fiorentina was about fair. Although, I would think that wouldn't I?

That old smackable-faced Swede Ibrahimovic has been in great form but so, too, have Totti, Trezeguet, Mutu and many more. Delighted to see Napoli so far up the table, although I think that they might be a bit flattered by their position. Harsh on Milan to lose at Palermo but they must take chances when they come their way.

This weekend sees Roma and Inter go head to head in what is sure to give us talking points for weeks to come. Totti should be back, Ibra will be ready and it is all systems go. The Stadio Olimpico should be buzzing - I know I am already...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Inglesi? No grazie!

It is that time again when we go back into battle for the Champions League. Has so much time really passed since the legendary Paolio Maldinio (I give him his English name) put Premiership football in its place?

Our four contenders go in with very different expectations. Inter MUST show they have Euro quality as well as Serie A Scudetto-winning potential. Milan have nothing to prove - just more records to set. Roma could be the dark horse but must shake off the shadows of Old Trafford. While anything, I would say, is a bonus for Lazio.

Still, I will be backing them all this week and all our UEFA sides later in the week. Especially Fiorentina, whose game is being screened by a pay-per-view porn channel! Now try explaining that to the wife...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Entertaining and winning? (And a quote about a compass)

It is a rare team that manages to both entertain and win. Most fans will settle for the latter and, if it is accompanied by the former, so much the better. Only the most contrary supporter will applaud his team for playing exciting football after a heavy defeat (see Fiorentina 3-7 Milan circa 1992).

However, could it be that Italy's most exciting team might actually take the Scudetto this year? It is early days yet but Roma are setting a good pace at the top of the table. They have some tough games in store but their thrilling play has brought them three wins out of three.

I haven't seen any of their main rivals - Inter and Milan - play football anywhere near as pleasing to the eye. I know that it ultimately does not matter how you win but it would be nice to see a team playing good football take the title. Of course, there is plenty of time for the others to raise their game. But, at the moment, Roma are by far the most fun to watch AND they are winning.

A propos of nothing I wanted to add this quote which I just read for the first time recently. It is attributed to Italian sea captain Baciccino Parodi and sums up so much about the nation's sense of perspective.

"I can manage without a compass, but I do not feel like setting out without lasagne."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tales of the San Siro

The term "theatre of football" has become a little tired but, in the case of the Milan stadium, I think you have to make an exception. The San Siro cuts a dramatic figure from the exterior and, once inside, your view of the game is truly impressive.
I set out on Thursday on a red-eye flight from Liverpool to Pisa to be met by my parents and taken to the heart of Tuscany. Our first port of call was a little restaurant on the Garfagnana boundary where I enjoyed penne arrabbiata and grilled sole for nine euros. In other words, the same price I had paid for a chewy bacon roll and a rotten coffee at Liverpool airport earlier in the day. Such is life.
Thursday night was a fish treat as we sampled spaghetti alle vongole followed by lobster and langoustine. A few bottles of Vermentino made the night complete.
I realise, now, I am straying somewhat from football but stick with it, we will get there in due course.
Friday brought more of the same on the quality eating front. A beautiful plate of linguine al tartufo followed by veal with rosemary was truly outstanding. I would certainly not go hungry during my trip.
The following day we set off sharp to meet up with the rest of our supporters group in Bergamo. Took lunch in the northern city, then set off in our nine-seater van for the game. We arrived hours early of course but in good time to soak up a bit of pre-match atmosphere. And what an atmosphere.
Even though I was in my seat more than two hours before kick-off the time passed quickly. It is amazing how a few chants of "Chi non salta e' un francese!" and "Oy! Oy! Oy! Pippo Inzaghi segna per noi!" can help you get through a long wait. We had decent seats, second tier, pretty central and a brilliant view of Andrea Pirlo in action. The game was not great - no goals - but the Milan man was breathtaking. One gentle touch with the outside of the boot to set up a teammate was worth the trip alone.
Getting out of the ground was hard work but we were back to Bergamo late and then returned to Toscana on Sunday. Down the road it was time for more good food and attempts to digest the implications of the results. By Wednesday, however, all previous considerations were thrown up in the air. Scotland produced a breathtaking result to beat France, Italy showed some spirit to beat Ukraine. A three-way fight for two qualification places beckons.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The rematch

This blog is on a break to the San Siro to watch the return leg of the World Cup final rematch.

I thought I would post a fond memory of Italy v France for during my absence.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Return of the 'Culo'!

Ah, it took just a week but there it was on Sunday. Large as life and just how we remembered it - Il Culo di Juve! Drawing 2-2 in the closing stages of a pulsating tie in Sardinia, up popped Giorgio Chiellini to grab a last gasp winner that gave the Bianconeri six points out of six so far. There is no Calciopoli sentence, points deduction or court in the land that can eliminate the Culo!

In fairness, La Vecchia Signora maybe deserved the win for her efforts and the referee was atrocious. I watched the match on C5 for the first time and had the following observations. 1) They really need to get Ms Esposto to say something because otherwise it descends into the Chappers and Sharpo show; 2) They could do with a commentator who can pronounce the names properly, when Legrottaglie came on I thought Juve had signed a new player until I saw who it was; and 3) Get rid of John Barnes, although his attempts at saying Camoranesi (Caromanesi, Caramellesi, Canamanesi!) were hilarious.

Elsewhere, congratulations to Napoli and condolences to Udinese after the Azzurri slapped five in up in Friuli. I think Inter were worth their win over Empoli - old flipper-foot Ibrahimovic at his arrogant, annoying best. Roma looked stylish in dispensing with Siena. And Fiorentina snatched a point off a tired-looking Milan, lovely footwork from Santana to set up Mutu for the equaliser.