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…
For the past month, the already eccentric character of Sampdoria star Antonio Cassano has been the subject of even more jokes and parodies than usual, thanks to the release of his autobiography. The revelation that you may have heard even in the UK was that the 26-year-old had between 600 and 700 “notches on his bedpost,” as we say, revealing to the world his staggering success with the opposite sex. That, in case you were wondering, is one girl every four and a half days (yes I made the calculations). Maybe if the Bari-born forward had spent that time chasing a football rather than a bit of skirt, he would have a similar goals-to-games ratio.
The pint-sized striker has been impressive this season, a constant source of creativity even if the rest of the Sampdoria team have failed to reach their potential this term. A perfect metaphor could be seen with Thursday nights 1-1 draw with Stuttgart. This was a reasonable result, but not a convincing performance from the Ligurians, who looked tired and distracted, with Cassano their only bright light. On Sunday, they face a trip to Sardinia to play Cagliari, another tough tie for Walter Mazzarri’s men.
In recent weeks we have seen what was unfortunately, the inevitable levelling out process at the top of Serie A. Fantastically entertaining and productive starts to the campaign from Napoli, Lazio and Udinese have been replaced by less than convincing displays and a loss of momentum. Inversely, Roma have continued to pick up points after an awful start.
The first three in particular will now know that the important thing is to stay in and around the top three until they return to form, thus performing some kind of damage limitation. The Partenopei of course will try and announce their intentions to truly threaten the Champions League contenders by getting a result this weekend against Inter, who themselves come off the back of yet another disappointing display in the Champions League, losing 1-0 to Panathinaikos.
Roma on the other hand have begun to show something resembling last year’s form, thanks to the success of forward three Mirko Vucinic, Julio Baptista and Francesco Totti. The return from injury of Er Pupone has, predictably, resulted in an upturn in form for the Giallorossi, caused by the simple facts that he is an important and gifted player for the club, but also that his return triggered a much needed morale boost for his teammates. They face an inconsistent Fiorentina side, who will again rely on one of their only goal sources, Alberto Gilardino. Still, that isn’t a bad thing if he continues like he has so far.
Elsewhere this weekend. Saturday night’s prime-time show will see Juventus host Reggina. The Calabrians have had a sudden upturn in form of late, but away to the Bianconeri may well prove a little too much of an ask for Nevio Orlandi’s men. Lazio encounter another side that have fallen away from the top of the league after a good start in Atalanta, whilst Udinese can make a swift return to form at home to bottom place Chievo. And for the third time in a row, it is Milan that play the Sunday night game, travelling to Sicily to face Palermo, hoping to get back to winning ways after their midweek draw against Portsmouth.
All in all, plenty of action across the weekend – let’s see if Cassano can maintain his dazzling form tomorrow. On the pitch.