Cristiano Lucarelli and Massimo Maccarone both helped their respective sides to impressive draws against top-quality opposition this weekend, giving evidence once again of the talent that resides throughout Serie A.
Before the weekend began, everyone was looking forward to the cutting of Inter’s lead at the top after the Nerazzurri unexpectedly dropped points at Catania. However, as Alberto Zaccheroni said in his pre-game conference at the weekend: “In Italy, you can take nothing for granted”. Anyone who has been involved in a relegation dogfight will agree that a battle for survival in Italy is one of the dirtiest and the murkiest in Europe. Siena and Livorno showed such grit and determination over the weekend that it belied the clubs’ respective positions in the table. Their performances were particularly noteworthy considering the fact that both Juventus and Roma were also highly motivated sides with a lot at stake. One of the key aspects about the Italian league has always been the spirit of the underdogs as, year after year, we see a relegation-threatened team’s striker rescue his side from impending doom.
Lucarelli and Maccarone are two players who will probably never end up playing for a truly big club, but one cannot deny the immense talent that both of these strikers possess. Week after week, despite the struggles their teams are facing, these individuals manage to give faint rays of hope to the thousands of fans. On Sunday they were the architects of two well-deserved draws and single-handedly led their teams to a vital point. Lucarelli’s hat-trick may have grabbed the headlines in the major newspapers, but Maccarone’s contribution to Siena’s cause was equally as important. Maccarone scored a sublime first goal to give Siena a glimmer of hope and then saw his parried effort lead to Siena’s second. His afternoon concluded with winning the penalty which led to the Robur’s decisive equalizer.
Lucarelli’s contributions for Livorno were summed up by his Coach Serse Cosmi’s comments, declaring: “Lucarelli is not the key to Livorno’s football… Lucarelli IS Livorno”. The well travelled Italian has always lit up the Serie A scoring charts and this term has scored eight of his side’s 20 goals. In the 2004-05 season, Lucarelli was the Capocannonieri for this Livorno side and, despite having aged considerably in the intervening years, he exhibits the same amount of commitment in each and every game. His three goals against Roma were very well taken and displayed his great range of talents. The first one was a case of brilliant finishing after controlling a through ball very well, whilst the second one required all his experience and composure to round Julio Sergio before slotting the ball home. The third goal of the afternoon came through a well converted penalty which earned Livorno a much deserved and very welcome point.
It is strange that players such as Lucarelli and Maccarone have not had the opportunity to ply their trade at the best clubs, despite the continuing struggles of many of the league’s foreign players. There remains little doubt in this writer’s mind that, for all the money Milan invested in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, a fraction of that amount would have netted one of these players and yielded better results. At a time like this, it may be a good idea for clubs to start looking at the talent on their own shores rather than desperately scouting for talent outside.