This week Palermo star Fabrizio Miccoli made public his understandable hope that the weekend’s home tie with Juventus will be occupied mainly by fans of the home side. He told the Giornale di Sicilia newspaper: “I hope that of the 35 000 people in the crowd, at least 30 000 will be cheering us on and not 15 000 to 20 000 for Juventus.” Juventus have a large following in the south of Italy, which is mostly due to the post-war migration of southern Italians to Turin in search of work. Many of those found work with one of the worlds largest automobile companies, FIAT, an Italian institution since 1899, to the present day. Both FIAT and Juventus were owned by the Agnelli family, and as such many of their employees became Bianconeri fans, to the extent that Palermo can be genuinely concerned that much of the Stadio Renzo Barbera could be occupied by Juve tifosi come Sunday. I was wondering if there was any such example in the UK for a large fanbase for a football team, far away from the actual location of the club, but centralised in a certain region. Whilst a new breed of Chelsea and Manchester City fans can be expected in the next decade, there does not seem to be a group of fans in one place that support another team quite like the Palermitani “Bianconeri”. Celtic fans in Ireland, Liverpool fans in Ireland?
Now the Milan “crisis” – it is becoming a crisis now it must be said – and reached a season high on Wednesday after their dreadfully disappointing defeat to FC Zurich at the San Siro. More poor performances were accompanied by another injury for Alessandro Nesta, while the chances they created were not taken. Filippo Inzaghi was again the major threat, and Ronaldinho created problems for the Swiss defence, something that will have to continue at the weekend against Atalanta. But in all these games in which Milan are struggling, one or two players are consistently coming away with some credit. Ignazio Abate, although naturally a midfielder, performed excellently in the right-back position, to the extent of being likened to Cafu by the television commentators. But also in goal, Marco Storari has been impressing, keeping the Rossoneri in the game on a number of occassions. The man who started the season as the weak link in the absence of the injured “fascist” Christian Abbiati, has now been one of the few reliable performers for Leonardo.
The long-awaited takeover of Bari by the American businessman Tim Barton fell through this week, after the current owners of the Puglia club, the Matarrese family, refused to accept his request for more time to make the first payment. Barton’s company, JMJ Holdings, were poised to complete a $35.8m deal on October 31, however Bari CEO Salvatore Matarrese was quoted recently as saying: “If he intends to direct the club then it’s useless to wait until October. He should move up the closure date. We have a saying that goes, ‘A guest is like a fish, after three days he starts to stink’.” It would seem that Salvatore has finally run out of patience, and the deal now seems dead in the water. This outcome will disappoint the club and the local community, who had been assured of the tycoon’s intention to help the local infrastructure as well as the football team.
This weekend will see Inter, Juventus and Milan all looking to get back to winning ways after draws or defeats in midweek. Inter host an Udinese side that impressed last week when they beat Genoa 2-0, and will require Jose Mourinho’s men to be at their best. In the aforementioned tie in Sicily, Palermo play at home, away to Juventus, who themselves will be more content than Inter with their midweek draw, coming away to Bayern, and Milan make the short trip to Bergamo where they face Atalanta in what is already being described as a must-win for Leonardo – expect a return to the line-up for Ronaldinho for this one. One of the biggest ties of the weekend however is the Derby del Sole, as Roma welcome Napoli to the Stadio Olimpico, in a game which should see the return of Francesco Totti, rested in midweek, but also the spaces left by injured Partenopei star Fabio Quagliarella who injured his ankle in training on Thursday.
Saturday October 3, 2009
Bari vs. Catania – 17.00
Inter vs. Udinese – 19.45
Sunday October 4, 2009 (14.00 unless stated)
Atalanta vs. Milan
Bologna vs. Genoa
Cagliari vs. Chievo
Fiorentina vs. Lazio
Palermo vs. Juventus – 19.45
Roma vs. Napoli
Sampdoria vs. Parma
Siena vs. Livorno
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
Week 7 –
Playing at home, away to Juventus – October 2, 2009