Introducing the Fearsome Chickens of AS Bari.
Promoted side Associazione Sportivo Bari are not too attractive. But you could have said that about Hull, or Stoke, for that matter. In each case, the Premiership club became more attractive with exposure.
Despite the horror fashion-mistake of the kit, Bari took two points from Inter last week. Not only that, they defended mightily — with order and togetherness. And they looked capable of snatching all the points on the counter.
We’ll do well to expect this team to fight for its Serie A place this season — catenaccio spoken here. They are probably tired of bouncing back & forth from Serie A to B. And the new American ownership (yes, they are a cliche’ from Texas!) might be able to shepherd their growth investment in soccer to a new plateau. [I know nothing about them save the rumor that they want to bring over American players. Since there are none, their intent is obviously sinister.]
Here’s a little bit about AS Bari for those of us to whom the southern Apulia region club is news. AS Bari looks like it serves as Juventus’ farm club by the looks of their players-on-loan list. They’ve added, as promoted sides do; there’s nothing spectacular about that. Yet they have a rare commodity: a Belgian Keeper, a Belgian Keeper who will win for Bari precious points in the table because he is a penalty-stopping specialist with exceptional reflexes and good feet. By the looks of him against Inter, he’s positionally & fundamentally sound as well as passionate.
He is Jean-François Gillet, Bari’s Captain and a heavily-capped international (280) in the land of beer & cheese. Why he stays at Bari is anybody’s guess, but he says he loves his club. We have no choice but to take him at his word.
Whom to watch for at AS Bari …
Barreto (Paulo Vitor Barreto de Souza) is a Brazilian striker on loan from Udinese, originally via Treviso.
Andrea Ranocchia is a promising Italy U-21 defender on loan from Genoa (Arezzo co-owns his contract). It is believed Juventus manager, Ciro Ferarra, admires him and Ranocchia is expected to move over to the Turin club next year.
Iago Falque (loan from Juventus) is a Spanish 19-year old who is compared to Cesc Fabregas who a year ago transferred to Juve having come up through the Barça youth system.
Massimo Donati (just transferred from Celtic) has signed a 4-year deal with Bari. Massimo enjoyed his time at Celtic but sought to return to Italy for family reasons. You just saw Donati’s extraordinary extra-time consolation goal for Celtic against Arsenal in the very same Champions League match we are still discussing which featured Eduardo’s penalty area dive and subsequent 2-match Champions League ban by UEFA.
(Sergio Bernardo) Almiron (on loan from Juventus) is the Argentine product of Newell’s Old Boys who comes to Bari on loan from Juve. He appears to have been loaned all over Serie A since coming to Italy in 2001. Not much to crow about.
If you want to follow an underdog this season, track AS Bari. And if you are serious about following AS Bari, I know of no better than the lively feed of Eros & Vincenzo over at Bari.TheOffside.com.