This weekend sees carnival time in the streets and piazzas of Milan, as the Milanese version of the Catholic festival to approach Easter begins. Il Carnevale Ambrosiano, named after the Saint of Milan, is not however quite as exotic or indeed as extravagant as Carnival time in Brazil for example, but like the similar carnivals throughout the Peninsula, their own celebrations are not without merit. These mainly consist of a parade of fantastically decorated floats through the city, the widespread use of masks as more famously seen in Venice, and of course the dressing of defenceless and impressionable kids in animal costumes. Indeed at times like these even reluctant English ex-pats are expected to choose a wild or wacky mask and pretend they are Zorro, at least for one night.
This was not of course the only show that was on this week in Milan. The highly anticipated Champions League, Anglo-Italian ties left us none the wiser as regards who will go through, in any of the games. Inter and Juventus both had good second halves and will at least believe they have a chance in the second legs, where Inter especially know that an away goal is not beyond them. Roma also shouldn’t be too disheartened with their result, and indeed should at least in my opinion be confident of winning at home to Arsenal. The English sides may have the advantage at present, but there is all to play for in all three ties, and the stature and importance of these games will be increased even more than before.
Attention can for the time being turn back to Serie A, and another important and exciting Sunday night that sees two of these Champions League contenders come head-to-head. Inter will play host to a Roma side that are capable of anything on Sunday night. Having recently lost 3-0 to Atalanta in their last league match away from the Stadio Olimpico, but also having won 11 of the last 15 in Serie A, it is certainly difficult to call this game. But as we have said for every game involving the Nerazzurri, a defeat could spark a downturn in form that opens the seemingly closed title “race” – maybe Roma can be the team that finally make this a reality.
At the other end of the table, it is more a case of any points this week are an unexpected bonus as the main contenders for relegation, Bologna, Torino, Lecce and Chievo, all play away from home in difficult matches, with the Rossoblu having the “easiest” tie according to the league, facing 11th place Lazio at the Olimpico. All tough games, but all the kind that if you manage a win, can inspire confidence throughout the squad, management and fans. If one of these four sides turns over their opposition, it will mean a lot more than just three points.
Elsewhere, more games to keep a close eye on are Sampdoria versus Milan, two sides fresh from UEFA Cup defeats, Genoa away to Siena in the hope of continuing their good form for as long as possible, and their main challengers Fiorentina, who should not encounter too many problems in Calabria as they face bottom place Reggina.