An undeserved 1-0 victory in the Tuscan derby against Livorno on Saturday night merely papered over the cracks that have started to appear at Fiorentina. The resignation of President Andrea Della Valle – citing reasons of disloyalty from the local authorities in regard to a new training complex and increasing animosity from the tifosi – is the culmination of some rather strange goings on at the Artemio Franchi over the past few months.
Adrian Mutu’s much publicised legal wrangling with Chelsea seems to have severely affected the Romanian’s performances – in the past two away games Cesare Prandelli has been forced to replace the mis-firing striker with Stevan Jovetic who is quickly becoming the new darling of the Curva Fiesole.
Prandelli announced that his team’s 3-1 drubbing in the capital against Roma in Week 4 was the worst in his four years at the helm of the club. After a midweek home win against high-flying Sampdoria it looked like his outbursts had done the trick, but on Saturday night at the Armando Picchi in Livorno, his charges looked clueless in how to break down a side that look like certain relegation candidates. In the derby, Prandelli opted to play Alberto Gilardino as the lone front man with Adrian Mutu, Martin Jorgensen and Juan Manuel Vargas just behind. Vargas has been one of the bright lights for la Viola this season, his promotion from left-back to left-midfielder seems to have galvanised the Peruvian who has been the main supplier of ammunition to Gilardino.
Marcello Lippi was in the tribuna to cast his eye on, amongst others, Riccardo Montolivo but he was smothered by the continual pressing from the Livorno midfield trident of Mozart, Nico Pulzetti and Davide Moro and made no impression on the game. Marco Donadel was anonymous and was replaced by Cristiano Zanetti, who certainly helped to swing the contest in la Viola’s favour. There is no doubting the quality at Prandelli’s disposal – in Sebastien Frey he has one of the world’s great goalkeepers, and new left-back signing from Lazio, Lorenzo De Silvestri, when he regains full fitness, will add strength to the back-line, so maybe patience will be the key for all tifosi of the Tuscan giants. Next up is Liverpool in the Champions League which will be an altogether different test for Prandelli’s men. A good performance at the Artemio Franchi on Tuesday night could well be the catalyst to kick-start their domestic campaign.
It’s official – Inter have lost a game of football. A pulsating early Saturday evening fixture at the Luigi Ferraris saw Sampdoria put José Mourinho’s side to the sword. One lapse of concentration in the defence saw the Nerazzurri knocked off the summit of Serie A as Luigi Del Neri’s men took over temporary charge.
The champions seemed a little off colour right from the start, Mourinho opted for a three-pronged attack, with Mario Balotelli joining Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito up front. Surprisingly, Patrick Vieira anchored midfield with Dejan Stankovic starting on the bench. Davide Santon returned to his usual left-back berth and it was the youngster who switched off 18 minutes from time, allowing Giampaolo Pazzini to nip in and grab the winner. It would be harsh to lay the blame for this defeat solely at the feet of Santon and Mourinho was philosophic in his analysis: “the significance of this defeat? We have only lost three points.” was the Special One’s summing up of his first reverse of the campaign. With Stankovic on from the start, maybe things would have been different. With respect to Vieira, the Serbian’s introduction midway through the second half offered the Nerazzurri a far greater attacking threat, but with the midweek Champions League trip to Russia looming large, Mourinho had one eye on this fixture.
Perversely, it may be beneficial for la Beneamata to suffer this early blow, as in the opening weeks of the new campaign it seemed Mourinho’s men were playing well within themselves. This defeat will re-focus the minds of the players, so expect a ferocious riposte in the next few weeks. It is a well-versed saying in football that supporters are the 12th man and on Saturday night in Genoa, the Sampdoria tifosi were an absolute credit to their team, rising at the finish as one to salute their all conquering heroes.
Serie A analysis
Milan, a tale of one city, Roma, the same old problems– August 24, 2009
José’s derby day delight, Diego tames the Roman gladiators– August 31, 2009
Chiellini fires Juve to the top, Genoa respond in style– September 14, 2009
Top spot for a resurgent Samp, Totti leads from the front again– September 21, 2009
Two tales of one city– September 25, 2009
Will the real Viola please reveal themselves, Inter fall in Genoa– September 28, 2009