30 August 2009

Two new nicknames from the commentators this week. Genoa's coach has been dubbed 'Gandalf' Gasperini but best of all Massimo 'Big Mac' Maccarone.

ROMA 1 (De Rossi 35)
JUVENTUS 3 (Diego 25, Diego 68, Melo 93)

Diego caught Cassetti dithering on the ball on the half way line, raced downfield, held off Riise and from an improbably angle beat Julio Sergio, Roma's 3rd choice goalkeeper, with a cheeky toe poke. Melo conceded a free kick in midfield about 40 yards from goal and while he argued with Taddei, Pizarro passed to De Rossi and he beat Buffon with an extraordinary shot. Juve quickly regained control and Julio Sergio produced a superb finger tip save to deny Amauri who minutes later struck the outside of a post. Roma almost snatched an unlikely lead in first half injury time following a series of mistakes from the Juve defence but Buffon was quickly off his line to emerge victorious in a one vs one against Totti.

Juve's giant strike force continued to cause havoc in the Roma defence with Amauri twice going close to scoring and Iaquinta wasted two excellent chances. Iaquinta nonchalantly back heeled a ball out of defence to Diego and he turned Mexes inside out before blasting low past Julio Sergio. Juve lost control of midfield when Marchisio went off with an injury on the hour mark. Totti struck the inside of a post and Rossi shanked a volley yards from goal. In injury time Melo broke from the half way line onto a Camoranesi pass and as the Roma defence backed off slammed a left foot shot low into the bottom corner.

Controcampo went way overboard with their praise of Diego, drawing comparisons with Sivori and Platini. It's way too early for that especially in light of Diego's Ibrahimovic level performances in the Champions League but domestically at least there's every reason to believe he's going to be a huge success. Melo is the best DM in the World.

Attendance : 65,000
Assists : n/a, Pizarro (fk), Iaquinta, Camoranesi

GENOA 1 (Moretti 46)

Attendance : 11,000
Assist : Mesto (ck)

CAGLIARI 1 (Jeda 76 Pen)
SIENA 3 (Calaio' 52, Calaio' 71, Reginaldo 89)

Calaio marked his return from suspension with a brace of headers. An extremely charitable penalty, for handball, gave Cagliari a route back into the match their performance didn't merit however their defending on crosses cost them another goal when Reginaldo headed in a corner a minute from time.

Attendance : 10,000
Assists : Ghezzal, Fini (ck), n/a, Fini

CHIEVO 1 (Pellissier 16)
LAZIO 2 (Cruz 41 Pen, Cruz 53)

Pellissier headed Chievo into the lead from a corner. Cruz went down way too easily under Morero's apparent challenge to win the game tying penalty. Pellissier blew a great chance to restore Chievo's lead early in the second half, a heavy first allowed Muslera to gather after the striker has been sent clear by Pinzi. Sorrentino spilled a Zarate centre and Cruz tapped in the winner.

Attendance : 8,581
Red Card : Cribari 60 (Lazio)
Assists : Frey, Cruz (won pen), n/a

FIORENTINA 1 (Jovetic 30)

Attendance : 24,576
Assist : Comotto

NAPOLI 3 (Quagliarella 11, Hamsik 36, Quagliarella 83)
LIVORNO 1 (Lucarelli 47)

The world's most spectacular goalscorer, Fabio Quagliarella, almost, almost scored an early contender for goal of the season with a 50 yard half volley which cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and bounced on the goal-line. He didn't have to wait long to open his Napoli account. Cigarini's cross deflected off his thigh forcing Livorno goalkeeper De Lucia into a reaction save and he smashed home the rebound. Cigarini, who has been hailed as the natural successor to Pirlo, slide a pass into Hamsik who was surrounded by seven Livorno players standing in a half arc, he flicked the ball up as he turned, took out two players with a superb dummy and waited until De Lucia came off his line before dropping the ball over his head. Brilliant. Candreva hammered a shot against the underside of De Sanctis' crossbar and Lucarelli headed in the rebound. Napoli's defence suddenly crumbled and only two excellent saves prevented Livorno from equalising. Lavezzi ran into traffic as he tried to dribble his way through the Livorno penalty area but Quagliarella snared the loose ball to claim the points. Pieri was sent off for trying to cripple Gargano.

Attendance : 40,000
Red Card : Pieri 91 (Livorno)
Assists : n/a, Cigarini, n/a, n/a

PARMA 2 (Galloppa 13, Paloschi 47)
CATANIA 1 (Biagianti 15)

Paloschi touched back a cross to Galloppa who whipped a superb first time shot inside the right post. Biagianti drew the visitors level two minutes later when he headed in Mascara's inswinging cross. Catania should have went into the second half with a goal lead. Andujar spilled a tame shot from Lanzafame and Paloschi tapped in the rebound.

Attendance : 11,870
Assists : Paloschi, Mascara, n/a

SAMPDORIA 3 (Pazzini 12, Mannini 46, Cassano 83)
UDINESE 1 (Di Natale 56)

Lukovic underhit a backpass to his goalkeeper and Pazzini pounced to flash a volley into the back of the net. Both teams had penalties appeals turned down, shots fall wide of either goal and Castelazzi produced a stunning double save from Pepe in an absolutely breathless first half which was fittingly brought to an end by the irrepressible Cassano. Semioli crossed the right and with a defender about to snap at his feet he back heeled the ball to Mannini who lashed it into the roof of the net.

Di Natale scored a carbon copy of Samp's first goal. When trying to cut out a through pass Gastaldello sliced the ball up in the air and Di Natale patiently watched it come down before volleying under Castelazzi. Cassano restored Samp's lead with a magnificent goal. He pulled down Stankevicius' crossfield pass with trademark ease, dribbled past two players and from the left hand edge of the penalty area fired low into the bottom right corner. Handanovic tripped Cassano as he challenged for a loose ball after Stankevicius' header came back off a post but made amends by saving the penalty.

I may have said this before but just in case, Cassano is every bit as gifted as Messi and it's a damn shame his lack of professionalism, and Marcelo Lippi's rank stupidity, is preventing him from realising his true potential.

Attendance : 25,000
Assists : n/a, Cassano, n/a, n/a

29 August 2009


Attendance : 18,000
Red Card : Sforzini 94 (Bari)
Assists : n/a

INTER 4 (Motta 29, Milito 36 Pen, Maicon 46, Stankovic 67)

Sneijder announced his arrival to Italian football with a brilliant strike from 25 yards that drew an equally impressive save from Storari. The 32 year old goalkeeper launched a goalkick down Inter's left flank, Pato beat Lucio to the ball before racing upfield and centring for Ronaldinho who embarrassingly fell over as he miscued horribly with the goal at his mercy. Inter's new signings combined for a sparkling opening goal. Motta flicked a pass into Eto'o before turning away from Gattuso who was supposed to be tracking him, Eto'o laid his former Barca team-mates pass to Milito, Milito angled the ball between three defenders and Motta curled a first time shot past a helpless Storari. Gattuso, who was about to be substituted 20 minutes after picking up an injury, fouled Eto'o to concede a penalty, emphatically despatched by Milito. Gattuso then chopped down Sneijder and an inevitable red card followed. Storari made a brilliant save from Lucio before Maicon added a late third in first half injury time. He skipped away from Jankulovski, who last lost his once explosive pace following a series of injuries, onto a Milito pass and played a one-two with the Argentinean on the edge of the box before firing past Storari.

Ronaldinho was substituted to a chorus of boos from his own supporters. Stankovic's explosive 30 yard drive rubber stamped what I assume is a record derby win for the Nerazzurri and thoroughly deserved it was too.

This will be the last season Gattuso plays in a Milan shirt. He is a step slower since coming back from injury and being a step slower when making tackles or attempting to make tackles makes him a liability. Berlusconi has been adamant the Milan of the post Kaka' era would be built around and flourish under Ronaldinho. While Ronaldinho still possesses the skills that made him the best player in the World he's lost pace and mentally he's finished, he cannot carry a team on his shoulders. Milan have no leadership and no depth. Leonardo hasn't been given the reinforcements he requested and isn't experienced enough to guide the club through what will almost certainly be a painful transitional period. An early exit from the Champions League, which I think is a certainty, should force Berlusconi's hand in the transfer market. More on Inter when I write this season's Serie A preview.

Attendance : 78,467
Red Card : Gattuso 39 (Milan)
Assists : Milito, Eto'o (won pen), Milito, Muntari