Many of the more interesting matches from the weekend were played on the European continent instead of the British Isles. Here are 5 things we learned from Serie A this past weekend:
1. Fiorentina’s defense must improve if Montella hopes to reach the Champions League
This past weekend Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina had the opportunity to gain some ground on third place after Napoli was held to a 1-1 draw against Chievo. However Fiorentina’s copious defensive errors against Geona resulted in a free scoring 3-3 draw at the Artemio Franchi, leaving the club still three points behind the last Champions League qualifying spot in the table. Alberto Aquilani’s hat trick couldn’t make up for the variety of poor defending from the Fiorentina backline. For large parts of the first half it was the visitors who took advantage of Fiorentina’s inability to retain possession, largely due to Borja Valero’s absence (out for about two weeks because of a thigh strain). If Montella truly hopes to bring Fiorentina back to the Champions League, the defensive mistakes against Genoa must be observed and patched up.
2. Anderson makes a muted debut for Fiorentina
Despite having heard a variety of stories regarding Anderson’s fitness and inconsistency, the words “Brazilian from Manchester United” still inspire belief among fans that perhaps the player can reach his potential at Fiorentina. However things did not start well, as Anderson’s substitution debut in the 74th minute was followed up four minutes later by Genoa’s equalizer to make it 3-3. The midfielder touched the ball only a couple of times, neither impressing or disappointing, yet it was evident that it will take time for him to fit comfortably into Montella’s formation. With the injuries of Rossi, Gomez, and Borja Valero, the space and opportunity for Anderson to make a positive impact is available, however he’ll have to show more than he did on his short debut.
3. Gervinho is revitalized at Roma under Garcia
After scoring the only goal to knock out Juventus in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, Gervinho’s rebirth under his old Lille manager is proving fruitful for Roma. This weekend a ten-man Juventus dropped points in their 1-1 draw against Lazio, and it was imperative that Rudy Garcia’s side win away against Hellas Verona in order to keep the scudetto race alive. It was Gervinho again who played a decisive role in Roma’s 3-1 victory at the Stadio Bentegodi assisting the first goal and scoring the second. Now with five goals and five assists thus far this season in the Serie A, Gervinho has been tormenting Italian defences with his high speed and quick dribbling. Having tightened the gap behind Juventus to only six points, Roma will hope that next weekend Inter Milan can force Juventus to drop some more points, as the giallorossi host a high-flying Parma team which has managed to earn fourteen points from their last eighteen available.
4. Mazzarri’s Inter continues to disappoint in scoreless draw
Under the eyes of current president Erick Thohir and honorary president Massimo Moratti at the San Siro, Inter Milan were held to a disappointing goalless draw against Catania. Despite having created opportunities, Mazzarri’s side simply lacked the proper invention and creativity needed to score. Even with Diego Milito back in the team for Inter, Catania were able to hold on and even create a few dangerous opportunities of their own. Since the 1-0 derby victory over AC Milan at the end of December, the nerazzurri have only gotten two points from their last four games. With Torino, Parma, and Hellas Verona all just one point behind Inter Milan, next week’s visit against Juventus is a pivotal match if Inter hope to hold on to a Europa League place in the table this season.
5. A weekend filled with penalties
In a weekend rife with defensive errors and goalkeeping mistakes, there was a grand total of seven penalties. Two of them featured goalkeepers bringing down forwards, with Buffon getting a straight red card in the 24th minute after impeding Klose in Juve’s 1-1 draw against Lazio. The other was in Torino’s 1-0 victory over Atlanta, with Consigli crashing into Alessio Cerci, who then promptly tucked away the penalty. Strangely enough, that match ended with both keepers (Padelli for Torino and Consigli for Atlanta) given yellow cards. The first two goals of Fiorentina and Genoa’s 3-3 draw were penalties (one for either side), and neither keeper received a booking that match despite the variety of interventions they were forced to make. The high number of penalties this game week shows a rise in dangerous play, but also some over-sensitivity regarding light contact in the penalty box by certain referees.
You can read more of Niccolo’s work at Soccer Wrap Up.