Each week Tim mixes tales of his experiences of living in Italy with comments on the past week’s major talking points whilst also looking ahead to the coming weekend’s biggest games. Enjoy…
I think all of us from the UK remember seeing Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate gracing our screens after their Euro 96 exploits, in an advert for a well known Pizza restaurant. But in Italy, it’s a case of “anything you can do, we can do better”! The presence of Italian based footballers currently appearing on our television screens in Italy is at an all time height. Zlatan Ibrahimovic stars alongside Hugh Lawrie of all people, Mirko Vucinic has been seen playing football on the beach to advertise phone company Wind, whilst Giorgio Chiellini and Kaka play football in the streets for Sky. Descriptions are all very well and good, but the ads themselves are better, so I can share with you two of my favourites, and the funniest, although for different reasons. Gigi Buffon for a karaoke machine of all things, and Rino Gattuso showing that family is what matters in his spot with Vodafone.
One man who has not endeared himself to the Italian media since his move to the Peninsula, has been Jose Mourinho. His latest comments that caused offence, were saying that “Italian football is not liked by the rest of the world”. his unorthodox media persona has made much of Italy dislike him, even if it is only because he has departed from the status quo that exists among all other Serie A managers, which include respect for other managers, and respect for the press. This time around his comments may have been seen offensively when they were not intended to be so. He added how “My family in Portugal has to wait until midnight to see a game in Serie A where as at seven they can watch a poor game like Getafe against Valladolid”. Italian football fans in the UK will be all too aware that for one thing at least, the television stations do not see Calcio as a successful product, and Mourinho, in my opinion at least, can feel a little aggrieved at the reaction to the sound-bite repeated to the country.
This leads us to the game of the weekend. Inter vs Juventus. Mourinho vs Ranieri. The Bianconeri Coach was one of the first victims of Mourinho’s public show of a lack of respect towards other managers, earlier in the season, and one would feel that every game between the two managers into the future, will always have an extra bit of spice to it. But even forgetting the managers, this is two huge teams, two fantastic sets of players, and two of the three main contenders for the Scudetto this year. Inter may have been stuttering slightly this season, but the quality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, after a fantastic performance versus Bologna, and the possibility of a game where everything “clicks” like versus Roma earlier in the season, mean that they will go into the game confident of continuing what they have done all season – get results. Juve have also had a good season, also with a stutter, but the football they have been playing lately has been some of the best of the league, and a comment on their form cannot avoid again praising Ale Del Piero, who has another huge game to show that he is in the best form of his career. These are the probable line-ups, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport (right).
In other matches this weekend, there is the meeting between two teams who failed to keep up with the pace last week, as Fiorentina face Udinese, also on Saturday. Roma will look to, again, kick-start their season having beaten rivals Lazio last week – their challenge is a trip to Puglia to face Lecce. Rock bottom Chievo have as good a chance as any to claw their way back into a relegation fight at least, as they are home to Siena, and the evening game sees Rino Gattuso in action for Milan, away to Torino. Let’s hope he takes on this challenge without the help of all the family!
Chievo vs Siena – Chievo and Siena prepare for battle in the basement
Fiorentina vs Udinese – Fiorentina and Udinese look to charismatic frontmen
Inter vs Juventus – Derby d’Italia: Key Clashes
Inter vs Juventus – Derby d’Italia: Mourinho vs Ranieri
Inter vs Juventus – Derby d’Italia: Historical look-back
Fixtures and Table