Monday saw the funeral for the six Italian soldiers killed in last Thursday’s suicide bomb attack on Italian forces serving in Afghanistan, targeted by the Taliban. The attack has shaken Italy once more, taking the number of Italian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 20 and leading to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi conceding that it will become a priority to bring all remaining troops back to the Peninsula, although with the agreement of NATO. Images on Monday showed one particular boy distraught at his father’s funeral. It was seven-year-old Martin Fortunata, a huge Siena fan and budding goalkeeper. As the population of Italy feels the pain of its military losses, Siena did all it could to dull the more acute pain felt by Martin, inviting him to be mascot for Wednesday night’s game with Chievo, giving him signed shirts, and gloves of goalkeepers Gianluca Curci and Stefano Sorrentino and letting him watch from the best seat in the stadium. Siena set a great example to other football teams by offering such an experience to Martin so soon after becoming aware of the situation.
“Rosella is like a sister.” These are the words that are haunting Francesco Totti, and have put him between a rock and a hard place. Last week, following Roma’s 3-1 victory over Fiorentina, Totti, on the back of bagging a brace, went over to the Curva Sud at the Stadio Olimpico, and threw his shirt to the Roma Ultrà. Only this time, it was thrown right back. Without doubt Totti is the main icon of Roma, probably their best ever, and to show this disrespect is indeed a strong message for the Ultrà to send. The Giallorossi captain said: “It disappointed me, I don’t know if I will return to throw my shirt to the Curva again, we’ll see.” Some anonymous Ultrà have said that they did not want to do the protest with Totti’s shirt, that with him they have no problem. Instead they wanted to protest against the team as a whole. The anti-Rosella Sensi brigade however, are angry with Totti for his open support of her ownership, and without this support the current ownership would find it even more difficult to control the volatile Roma tifosi. What does seem clear is that even if a minority of fans turn against Totti either based on lucrative contracts or support of the current regime, it would be a hugely counter-productive example of each man destroying the thing he loves if they are to build up fractions with captain and club legend Francesco Totti.
Having talked of the poor atmosphere within the Roma set-up in the build-up to Luciano Spalletti’s departure, there seems to be another side that lack more vibrancy, have fewer ideas, and are playing with their heads down. Napoli currently sit just one place from relegation after the opening four ties, having been easily beaten by Inter within the first five minutes on Wednesday night. The pressure as you would imagine is growing on Coach Roberto Donadoni, who was criticised for dropping midfielder Luca Cigarini from the side, and apparently not having an alternative to the 3-5-2 he has favoured this season. All the blame cannot be placed at Donadoni’s desk though. Club President Aurelio de Laurentiis has spent the summer attacking their star player Ezequiel Lavezzi for considering moves to the Premier League, while the player himself has been slow to regain the form of last season. Elsewhere, players have gone out of form, and high hopes have been subdued somewhat as signings like German Denis have failed to reach full potential. Unfortunately, even if it is the President that has seemingly created the tense atmosphere around the Stadio San Paolo, it is Donadoni that has to repair this, and this writer for one is not sure he has the right personality to complete the job. Fortunately for the former Azzurri Coach, one man who probably did have the right attributes, Antonio Conte, has just signed for Atalanta, but failure to win at home to Siena on Sunday will surely seal his fate in any case.
This weekend will see Totti and co. try to get back to winning ways after a high-scoring draw with Palermo in midweek, as they travel to Sicily to face Catania. Antonio Conte looks for his, and the club’s first victory of the season for Atalanta away to Chievo, and fellow strugglers Livorno host in-form Fiorentina, who themselves are on the back of an excellent victory over Sampdoria. The top of the table clash will be fought between Samp and Inter, whilst on Sunday night all eyes will be on Milan as they welcome Bari to the San Siro, in a game that has already become a must win for Leonardo following their defeat to Udinese on Wednesday. With three games in seven days the action is coming thick and fast in Serie A.
Saturday September 26 / Sunday September 27, 2009
Catania vs. Roma
Chievo vs. Atalanta
Juventus vs. Bologna
Lazio vs. Palermo
Livorno vs. Fiorentina
Milan vs. Bari
Napoli vs. Siena
Parma vs. Cagliari
Sampdoria vs. Inter
Udinese vs. Genoa
Gazzetta Football Italiano
Week 2 –
Welcome back – August 28, 2009
International Week –
Spalletti stutters out – September 4, 2009
Week 3 –
Serie A heats up, Champions League returns with a bang too – September 11, 2009
Week 4 –
Inter and Milan in testing times – September 18, 2009
Week 6 –
Siena show Calcio’s good side – September 25, 2009