Monday, September 29, 2008

Derby delights

Every neutral and every Milanista will have been delighted to see the Rossoneri edge the derby on Sunday night. It means this Serie A battle remains one of the most open-looking for some time.

I felt it was just reward for the attacking intentions Milan posted by fielding Kaka, Pato and Ronaldinho together. Two of them combined for the game's only goal. It seemed to me Inter were happy to sit back, channel men behind the ball and play on the break. When the game required them to do anything different they could not.

I must admit, I had not expected such a strong start from Lazio or such a bad one for my tip to be a surprise - Bologna. The Laziali have two pacy front men who combine wonderfully well. I suspect the wheels will come off in the long term but probably not this weekend against Lecce. Bologna were a bit unlucky against Napoli but they don't look like much of a side.

Right, Champions League awaits. Forza Gila ancora!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rossoneri roar back

Milan desperately needed a show of strength against high-flying Lazio on Sunday night and boy did they get one. A 4-1 trouncing with some classy goals along the way was just what Berlusconi ordered. There were still some worries at the back but at least the attacking options appeared to have been sorted.

Marco Borriello gives them a new option up front, Kaka's goal was pure quality and little Pato found the net which will boost his confidence. Zambrotta scored an absolute screamer but still not convinced about Ronaldinho. He seems to have turned up for some kind of samba holiday. He must have tried that daft pass where he looks one way and hits the ball the other about 12 times in five minutes.

Elsewhere, Roma bounced back with a win, Juve and Inter kept up their good form and Fiorentina got three vital points against Bologna. It was that man Gilardino again. How he has been reborn since his move away from Milan.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A curse upon the French!

The Viola stood on the brink of one of their greatest European results last night before the nasty football fates intervened. Well, the referee anyway.

With Luciano Zauri lying pole-axed on the floor in the penalty box after a head knock the ref failed to stop play. Then Lyon showed a distinct lack of sportsmanship by continuing to play themselves. It was child's play to roll the ball into the net with Zauri effectively playing everybody on side while clutching his head.

Yes, the Viola were naive. Yes, they should have played the whistle. Yes, they should not have tried to play the offside trap.

Just the same it left a bitter taste. Eventually Lyon equalised from being 2-0 down (from a dubious free-kick) and a draw in France ended up feeling disappointing when it should have been a good result. When my rage dies down I may realise that. In the meantime, I am furious.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A curse on Napoli

Got back to watching the Viola today after a two week break and it was the same old torture. We huffed and puffed and went ahead with a clinical Adrian Mutu finish. Only then we got caught twice and lost the game. All three points stayed in the San Paolo with Napoli.

It was a hard one to take because, I felt, we did all the attacking. The home side were happy to sit back and punch us on the break which, to be fair, they did brilliantly. Little Lavezzi was a niggling nuisance every time he got the ball.

There is a lesson there, however. Fiorentina need to get a cutting edge and quickly. It is no use bossing a game if you can't kill the opposition off. I thought that lesson should have been learned against Rangers last year. Also, we need to know how to tighten things up once we have taken a lead.

Still, it could be worse, I guess. I could be a Milan fan. They have started off dreadfully. And Roma have not done much better. Although I think the number of absentees against Palermo was a partial excuse for their failure. However, it all confirms this could really be a wide open championship race.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Come on you Martelli?

It would appear that a corner of London is talking Italian. With Slaven Bilic out the way the top contenders for the vacant West Ham job all appear to be very familiar names to followers of Serie A. As Kevin Keegan might have said after Alex Ferguson wound him up, I would "love it" if one of them was to get the post.

Bobby Mancini was a front-runner but appears to have ruled himself out. That makes way for our recently deposed CT, Roberto Donadoni. The final contender - perhaps the most intriguing appointment since he was a Chelsea legend - is Gianfranco Zola. Any one of them would make for interesting times.

The reason I would like to see one of them appointed is simple. I would actually start to care a bit about the Premiership. I kind of keep an eye on Andrea Dossena at Liverpool (sorry Trent), and I have my fantasy football side to watch out for but a manager could take things to a whole new level. They almost always bring in their own favourites which could mean an influx of Italians at Upton Park. The Claret and Azzurri could quickly become my side in England.

So, all together now, "io sto sempre soffiando bollicine, belle bollicine nell'aria..."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

All five flop

It's a rare weekend in Serie A when the five would-be title contenders fail to win. Nonetheless, that is what happened on opening weekend. It could bode well for the competitive level of the year ahead.

Inter were foiled by Sampdoria and held to a draw, Roma did the same against Napoli (with some more nasty fan trouble, tsk, tsk) and Juve and Fiorentina also shared the spoils. Worst of all were Milan who lost at home to my tip to surprise Bologna.

I think the Rossoneri have a lot to sort out after performing open-heart surgery in the summer. Inter are not as far ahead of the pack as they think while Juve and the Viola were probably worth a point each (although I thought Fiorentina did most of the attacking). I didn't see much of Roma but think they have to be disappointed with not getting an opening day win.

It means Torino, Lazio, Udinese and the likes are sitting pretty at present. They get to enjoy it for at least a couple of weeks, too, as the Nazionale takes centre stage.