Footballitaliano’s co-founder and Editor Tim Doel recently relocated to Milan. 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. Passiamo a Tim…
The summer has seen the annual Italian ritual of discovering two new “Veline” – that is dancing models – to join hosts Ezio Greggio and Enzo Iacchetti on the hugely popular evening satire programme, Striscia la Notizia, every week-night. The process has involved watching six different hopefuls applying each summer night, with one being put through to the next round, and so on until the final two were chosen. Finally, the two new Italian beauties were chosen, Federica and Constanza, and have enjoyed great initial success, accompanying many an Italian during their dinnertime. These two will have a year now to prove themselves as TV personalities, to enter the media world upon the ending of this year’s series.
Of course over the summer there have been a number of high-profile and more discreet transfers into Serie A, but after five league matches you can begin to see who will establish themselves as stars of Sunday afternoon viewing.
Last weekend, Mauro Zarate, the striker on-loan from Al-Sadd of Qatar, scored goals number five and six in a 3-1 away win against Torino, adding to his tally that includes one each against Milan and Sampdoria. His arrival in the summer did not cause much ink to be spread on the sports papers here – on-loan, four in 14 for relegated Birmingham City in the Premier League – he was seen mainly as one of many talented Argentines to make the move to the Peninsula. But his start to the season that currently sees him top in the Capocannoniere chart, has propelled him into being a major player in the league this year, helping the Biancocelesti fans forget about the injury to other star man, Tommaso Rocchi. The rest of this campaign will help us to see if he is a flash in the pan or whether he will be part of a bidding war between Lazio and the other Italian giants come the summer.
The Gazzetta Football Italiano after the Milan derby cannot of course fail to comment on the match, and the fallout. Firstly, well done to Milan who played some good attacking football, were adventurous, even though they did ride their luck at times. Inter contributed by playing attacking football when they were able to, but paid the price for a physical display with the sending off of Nicolas Burdisso. Interisti may well disagree with me there, and millions would, but the tackle on Kaka that caused the second yellow, was a hack, with no intention to get the ball, and I have certainly seen players sent off for that alone. What I would say, was that the referee was a little “whistle happy” when Inter committed fouls, but not on any decisions that affected the outcome.
This is especially the case on the goal. Ronaldinho – as I have said before – hasn’t really done much wrong, and although in the match you could see he needs a few more games under his belt, it was a great performance, and he fully deserved the goal. Likewise the roles of Kaka, Gattuso and Seedorf were pivotal. Yet Ronnie will get back to full fitness, and if he plays with the technical ability and passing range that he showed in the derby, he will be a great force to come.
As for Inter, it was a shame that the big players did not perform on the night. Zlatan Ibrahimovic only made one opportunity, and struck it wide from just outside the area, another quiet night for possibly the most talented striker in Serie A. Amantino Mancini and Ricardo Quaresma were both poor, the latter especially so, whilst Adriano missed a guilt-edged header from four yards in the dying minutes. Inter may not have played to their potential this time, but they have a whole season, and their great advantage is consistency against smaller teams, something that Milan and Juventus don’t have at this stage.
On to this weekend and Inter will need to get back on track after the derby defeat and the draw at home to Werder Bremen in the Champions League. They face a Bologna side on Saturday night that on their last visit to San Siro defeated Milan – lightning doesn’t strike twice though, does it? This will be a vital game for Jose Mourinho, who seems to get more and more defensive with the press whenever Inter fail to win, and his honeymoon period with the Italian press and public is well and truly over, due considerably to his own words.
Earlier in the day, Lazio will look to consolidate their position at the top of the league against another team that is slightly over-achieving, Lecce, themselves currently looking comfortable in mid-table after the opening matches. Likewise another pace-setter this season will be looking to continue their early form is Napoli, quietly picking up the points in games – including a win against Fiorentina – and notably spurred on by the midfield genius that is Marek Hamsik. The longer these clubs continue to perform better than expected and push the Big Four, the better the entertainment of Serie A.
Elsewhere, Juventus haven’t scored more than one goal in a league match this season, despite having the expansive talents of Sebastian Giovinco, Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Amauri to call upon. A win against Palermo in Turin though would see them climb up the league, on to 12 points, so this isn’t quite time for crisis talk. Roma and Milan need to get away wins to help continue their recovery from similar early-season crises, whilst Sampdoria desperately need three points away to Atalanta.
Whether it is individuals like Zarate and Ronaldinho or clubs like Lazio and Napoli, they have a year to prove themselves to be good enough for where they want to be. If they fall short of achieving their dreams in those 12 gruelling months, there is always someone else round the corner eager to take their place.