Now it would be difficult to write a Gazzetta article this week without talking about the pressing problems that are affecting the relationship between the UK and Italy in which as Italophiles, puts us in a difficult and regrettable situation. I am of course talking about, as the Italian daily newspaper Il Messaggero put it, the “Waves of strikes against Italian workers”, and in general the anti-Italian feeling being portrayed in Grimsby this week. What’s that? Not how you remember the story? For those unfamiliar with the events, 700 workers in an oil refinery in Grangemouth staged a three-day strike, angry that after Gordon Brown declared British jobs for British people, Total have awarded a contract to an Italian firm, who of course have their own workers. But anti-Italianism? Seeing the sensationalist Italian news coverage paints this kind of picture, and in the aforementioned article, talks about the re-emergence of the British working-class vices of anti-Europeanism, racism, and patriotism (http://tinyurl.com/ilmessaggero). Now whilst these workers understandably feel an injustice when a contract is awarded elsewhere, I think that in realty we have seen a reasonably controlled protest. In an 1800 word write-up by The Times , the word Italian is used just twice, and even in The Daily Mail (I know), an article that does not even mention Italian workers displays a placard reading “Use skilled UK labour first” – this is a positively friendly message, saying that they are even happy for foreigners to work with them, just let me have my job too! Hardly racist. Alas, this is something the Italian media are prone to do from time to time, and I hope the public understand that if there is any anti-Italian feeling, it is by a very small minority, and apparently only newsworthy in Italy.
One man who certainly is doing his part to endear the English to the Italians is David Beckham, who this week made public what we all knew – that he doesn’t want to go back to LA Galaxy, preferring to play at the highest level for years to come. This is good news of course, for English Calcio fans of course, and for Milan, although here’s hoping that the MLS don’t veto any move in the sole interests of keeping a “valuable product” in their league.
After Juventus’ two defeats on the trot, followed by an unconvincing penalty shoot-out win in the Coppa Italia over Napoli, it seems like the form and consistency that saw the Bianconeri become the only contenders to challenge Inter has worn off. We can’t underplay how well they have performed with the team they have. To be comfortably 2nd before the last two rounds of Serie A, with a team missing Gianluigi Buffon and Mauro Camoranesi, and inspired at times only by Alessandro Del Piero, who let’s face it, has had a phenomenal 12 months. But he is apparently only human, and so in the middle of winter as an already comparatively small squad tires, it is only natural that a big squad with arguably more talent will overtake them. The challenge now for Juve is to avoid a freefall, secure a spot in the top three, and challenge for the Champions League.
A quick word on the Bologna of Sinisa Mihajlovic. Now he has received positive press regarding his management, which has seen above all else, many draws. But things could so very easily change for both the Serbian Coach, and the Emiliano club. No player other than star striker Marco Di Vaio, has scored more than three goals, and that accolade only goes to the 35-year-old midfielder Sergio Volpi. Former Juve striker Di Vaio is of course the top scorer in Serie A with a magnificent 15 goals in 22 games, but as the rest of the squad put together have managed only 9 goals in 22, the Rossoblu are as good as relegated if their front-man cannot play almost every game until the end of the season.
With their Capocannoniere contender up front, Bologna faces a tough tie away to an Udinese side who are regaining their confidence slowly but surely. At the top of the table the two Milanese clubs that occupy the gold and silver positions have games that should result in a comfortable three points, but we know better than to assume things will work out like that. Milan at home to Reggina at least should be won ten out of ten times, and Inter will expect to take maximum points from their trip to face Lecce, both games on Saturday.
On Sunday Fiorentina, who suddenly find themselves in 5th place, host a Lazio side that seem to have lost confidence, and that are placing pressure on Coach Delio Rossi. Roma and Genoa will play out what is touted as a battle for the final Champions League place at the Stadio Olimpico, with both sides in great form. This could be the game of the weekend. Meanwhile, a defeat for Claudio Ranieri’s Juve is unthinkable as they travel south to face Catania, with the pressure really mounting. It should be another great round of Serie A action.
Fiorentina vs Lazio
Roma vs Genoa
Catania vs Juventus