Lessons Learned from Giornata 18
Like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, Italian soccer has returned to our airwaves, and this week’s matches saw the return of David Beckham, the goal of the year, and some good calcio as well. As reports roll in of players leaving Italy in transfers, the question is what moves will the contenders make in the next few weeks to boost their run at the scudetto or a European competition.
Marco Borriello Scored the Goal of the Season
Please debate in the comments section below, but you cannot argue that the Italian national’s goal was not a thing of beauty. Luca Antonini’s pass across the goal to an open Borriello who bicycle kicks it into the net was fabulous. Even more fabulous for Milan fans was the 5-2 thrashing given to Genoa and the successful return of David Beckham.
Napoli is the New Surprise Team in the Fourth Slot
A 2-0 win over a pathetic Atalanta squad moved Napoli into sole possession of fourth in the standings, and extended their unbeaten streak to 11 matches. Their next three matches are against top 10 clubs, however, and they will be a good test of if they are legit. The loss sent Atalanta manager Antonio Conte into retirement again and the only drama related to their season right now is if they will finish last, or in the 19th spot.
Cassano Now the Key to Sampdoria Success
Sampdoria’s slide from top of the table to out of a European spot was aided Wednesday with a 1-1 draw at Palermo. With the news that Marius Stankevicius is being loaned to Seville, it is up to super-scorer Antonio Cassano to help right the club and spark them to victory. Four of their next five matches are against bottom half clubs, so a good time to rally their season would be the next few weeks.
Bari Faces Critical Ten Days
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Bari supporter. However, everyone should be impressed with their recent form. After ending the 2009 calendar year with a 3-1 victory over Juventus and not playing for almost a month (their final game of the year was “snowed out”) the club quickly took care of a slumping Udinese squad that was missing its leading scorer. From Serie B last year to 3 points off a Champions League spot this year, the Galletti are flying high. But the next two weeks should be telling – they play at Fiorentina and host Inter, plus could lose Leonardo Bonucci and/or Andrea Ranocchia to transfer.
Racism Stories Continue to Haunt Serie A
Super Mario Balotelli is immensely talented and a benefit to any club. Normally, Inter would be crazy to loan or sell him elsewhere. But controversy continues to follow the young man; this week after the Chievo victory he was fined for provoking the opposition fans because of what he perceived to be racial insults. The same day Inter was fined for the racial taunts of its own fans. I suspect this will not be the last time we hear of fines for racism, but this soccer fan is sick of continually reading about it.