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…
If there is one thing that I would like to introduce to the great British public from the peninsula, it would probably be the evening aperitif, or “Aperitivo”. The idea is perfect; you meet up with friends at 7 in the evening after work, order a cocktail, and help yourself to what seems like infinite amounts of varying foods (ok yes it depends a lot on where you go!). The cocktail that you may order is not an easy alternative to a beer – far from it. Indeed visitors beware that some of these aperativi are indeed only alcohol, but the emphasis is on strong tastes, a party in your mouth! To accompany your Negroni, or Mojito, you have the then free access to pizzas, bruscetta, pasta, crisps and much, much more. So you go up one time, then another, then you feel the staff may be looking down at you at the third, and so you go on your way. Where? To dinner of course. Ah, la vita e’ bella!
The major news of the week, that may well have progressed a lot by the time you read this, is Kaka’s proposed move to Manchester City. The thought of one of the Rossoneri’s all-time legends, a darling of management, players and fans alike, leaving the San Siro due to the crazy money on offer, makes old fashioned football fans around the world lose their faith in the values left in the game. Whether or not Kaka does move to City, there are still rumours that Buffon will be the next to follow him. These leaving would be a huge loss to Serie A as a whole, just as the league is establishing itself on an international stage again, and I for one hope that the former World Player of the Year shows his true values in life and remains at Milan.
Fiorentina got the second half of the season off to a disappointing start last week, crashing at home to lowly Lecce. La Viola will have been initially disappointed with how the season had been going, but with a few wins over mid-table teams in the last Serie A games, they find themselves 6th in the table, eight points clear of Roma, and two ahead of one of the season’s revelations Napoli. Cesare Prandelli will be pointing out to his team that although Alberto Gilardino may have been in form, if the whole team could get a good run together then the season could take a very different direction than initially anticipated. However, fate is maybe against Prandelli for the time being, with away ties coming up firstly on Saturday night at Milan, then next weekend in Turin against Juventus.
That game against il Diavolo on Saturday will be the first time the San Siro sees David Beckham in a Milan shirt. The former England captain made a surprise start at the Olimpico last week, and impressed the Italian media with his fitness and professionalism, if not really with his performance, which was average. It certainly puts his position at the club in a different light, as he is clearly seen as an important player already by Ancelotti. Such is the turnaround that Becks can even expect to start at the weekend as his fitness continues to improve.
Also at the top of the table, Alex Del Piero’s free-kick last weekend to beat Siena helped the Bianconeri close the gap on league leaders Inter, who scraped a late draw at home to Cagliari. With all respect to the Nerazzurri who have played some good football this year, and shown a different level of form and consistency to all others, it would however be great from an entertainment aspect if Mourinho’s men could drop some more points in the coming weeks. An away to trip to Atalanta would not appear to be the place where that would happen, but I said that last week! Meanwhile try their hand at the Olimpico, this time facing Lazio in what should be one of the weekend’s best matches.
Elsewhere this weekend, Udinese will try and halt their amazing fall from the top of the table, having picked up just 2 points from a possible 18 in the last 6 games. Their challenge will be a trip to Sardinia to face Cagliari who performed so well last weekend. Roma should pick up maximum points from their away tie to freefalling Torino, and Napoli will look to stay in the top four with a win over bottom placed Chievo.