Imagine a cross between You’ve Been Framed, Punk’d, and Rio Ferdinand’s World Cup Wind-Ups, and you have a weekly television show on Canale 5 – Scherzi a Parte – where celebrities from all genres are led to believe all sorts of wild and wacky scenarios are occurring, when really it is a prank that much of the country will be watching. Presented by one of Italy’s favourites, Teo Mamuccari, actor Claudio Amendola, with the very necessary assistant of Marco Borriello’s former girlfriend Belen Roderiguez (any excuse for a picture). Often footballers appear on it, with Amauri and Antonio Di Natale recent victims, and only this week Marco Materazzi and Carlo Ancelotti were targeted. It is slightly less dangerous than Rio Ferdinand’s version, which nearly resulted in the England captain David Beckham losing his legs on a dual carriageway, trying to run away from “kidnappers”. This week Dejan Stankovic was led to believe he was trapped in a locked room, filling with smoke, with a camp photographer who fancied him, whilst Carlo Ancelotti went to an aristocratic family’s house and proceeded to “accidentally break” a number of priceless objects, before being told those semi-famous words “You’re on Scherzi a parte!” To give you a taste of what they do, here is a classic from a couple of years ago, with Gennaro Gattuso – it’s worth the wait!
One man who lives out a soap opera every time he goes on the pitch, is Sampdoria star Antonio Cassano. His ability is truly special and it is worth watching Samp at any opportunity when he plays, safe in the knowledge that there will probably be a “wow” moment. As the game started in midweek against Inter, in the Coppa Italia, I thought to myself, it will need something special from him to break Inter’s defence without even a very big named striker up-front. He proceeded to rob Rivas at the back and chip sublimely over Toldo. Inspired once again by their main influence, Sampdoria went on to win 3-0, two goals for the very much in-form Giampaolo Pazzini (four goals in four games). The Genovese club now go into their weekend away tie to Bologna full of confidence.
Catania last week lived a dream. They played their huge rivals, Palermo, away from home, and ended up winning 4-0, helped slightly by Marco Bresciano’s early sending off. If that wasn’t enough, the Sicilian side probably has the best claim for goal of the season, after an extraordinary dipping effort from near the half-way line. “It was like winning the Scudetto” one Catania fan told me this week. At the weekend, they can try and get at least further up the league, and three points at home to Siena, and a Palermo defeat away to Fiorentina would see them go level with their rivals.
The biggest game of the weekend is surely the Saturday night Turin derby. This will be every bit as passionate as the derby at the opposite end of the Peninsula, and is not the kind of game that Juve need to bounce back in after their defeat away to Lazio last week. This is especially the case as the Granata have now gone seven games unbeaten (albeit only the one solitary victory), apparently inspired by the desire to prove my prediction last week that they were going to be “the highest profile club to go down”. A win against their rivals would certainly change the outlook of their season, and there certainly has not been a better time for this tie to take place from a Torino perspective in the whole season. Juve will be desperate to get back on Inter’s tail. Coach Claudio Ranieri will just about of climbed out of the reasonably hot water he is in after labelling the strict referee of last week as Chinese, insisting that it wasn’t offensive, in fact he much prefers the Chinese refereeing to that of the Premier League. The former Tinkerman has seemed a little rattled in recent weeks, and a win in the derby is the best way to calm everyone’s nerves and make a serious bid for the Scudetto and Champions League, no matter how far away they seem now.
Finally, keep an eye out on another massive game at the bottom of the league, as Lecce in 19th host Reggina in 20th. The bottom side have lost only one of their last 6 games, and are dreaming of survival, whereas Lecce are struggling like at all times this season. Defeat for Reggina will surely be the end of their dreams – a win will make them far more realistic.