One of the most intriguing aspects of football in Italy is the ease at which you can access Calcio information. You may feel you have all you need to know about the Premier League, but that which you receive does not nearly compare to the vast array of media available in the Peninsula. There are the local television channels that show the low-cost/mildly interesting chat shows that talk every subject into the ground, usually available all day, every day if your willing to switch channel. Sky Sports News? A comparable number of sports news channels exist here too, and have the rights to show goals sooner than in the UK. For those who are lucky enough to find it financially viable, there is the option to watch any Serie A match, including all the main weekend games, live, either on Sky Sports, or Mediaset. This is one option that the F.A. have decided to avoid in the UK, maybe for fear of deteriorating attendances, and also an inevitable result of the mess that is Serie A clubs negotiating their own TV deals. Nonetheless it offers the football fan a fantastic panorama.
But what is perhaps most striking is something Jose Mourinho touched upon when talking about press attention in the UK. Sporting Dailies – many people have heard of la Gazzetta dello Sport, il Corriere della Sport and even Tuttosport – but where are the English counterparts? Football analysis in England is limited to just a few pages at the back of a newspaper, with a “special” pull-out at the weekend, which has less pages than a quiet Tuesday Gazzetta. Reasons for this could and should be subject to it’s own feature, and I don’t claim to have the answers. Is it that the Italians are more passionate about the national sport than us Brits, or even that they are more intellectually minded? Would a sporting daily even work in the UK? It is food for thought and you can let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Late in the week Milan have made known that they hope to finalise a deal that will see Fluminense central defender Thiago Silva sign for the club. However, the transfer is too little too late, as due to permit rules, the player will likely have to start his Milan career next season. From a Rossoneri and perhaps even a neutral point of view, this is frustrating news as much needed central defensive strengthening should only have increased the challenge to runaway leaders Inter. In the summer I was staggered that instead of the likes of Andrea Barzagli, Cristian Zaccardo or more recently Moris Carrozzieri (all Palermo!), Adriano Galliani had chosen Arsenal “weak link” Philippe Senderos. A fully fit Alessandro Nesta can win a title, and without him, the loss of points needs to be minimalised. Unfortunately, the word “makeshift” comes to mind these days for any Milan game, as a mix of good, but not excellent defenders stand in for injuries (Giuseppe Favalli, Daniele Bonera, Kakha Kaladze etc), and points are dropped all too often to smaller teams.
This weekend a central defence most likely consisting of two natural left-backs, Kaladze and Paulo Maldini, will try and nullify the significant threat of Amauri and Alex Del Piero, in what is truly an epic clash in Italian football between the only two real challengers to the Inter era. The number of legends on show alone will be justification for an outstanding match, with many of Serie A’s household names set to compete, but more than that, both teams are capable of launching a great threat to Inter. However, consistency has damaged both of their attempts, with maybe only the winner of this game can go on to launch their own Scudetto claim.
Roma’s season is back on track after four wins on the trot, and they should continue this kind of form when they host Cagliari on Sunday. The Giallorossi upturn has also coincided with the excellent performances of young French attacking midfielder Jeremy Menez, who impressed both with his stunning volley to beat Chievo last week, and his performance in midweek as he continued his partnership with Francesco Totti. Cagliari are not in bad form themselves, having beaten Palermo and Sampdoria in the last two rounds, but a trip to the Olympic Stadium will require another level from Massimiliano Allegri’s men.
Elsewhere this weekend, Inter will most likely do what they do best this weekend, that is win another “should-win game” – this time at home to Chievo, whilst it is the battle to halt respective declines as Lazio travel to Udinese, in what earlier in the season could have been described as a top-of-the-table clash.