This week has seen the first full week of uninterrupted sunshine in Milan, with temperatures averaging at around 26 degrees, and the sight of a cloud in the sky has become as rare as a Juventus victory. The arrival of summer however, signals the end of the season, and as such, we have of course been treated to the beginning of long and ever entertaining transfer talk. This week Fabio Cannavaro made the move away from Real Madrid, back to Turin, much to the anger of some Juve tifosi with short memories. The important thing for Juventus is that next year they will have a centre-back who is still one of the best in the world, and at 35 is by no means over the hill by Italian defender standards – their first signing of the summer may turn out to be the most important. Elsewhere Genoa confirmed that they are selling impressive duo Thiago Motta and Diego Milito to Inter, the latter having long been linked with a move to the Nerazzurri. It is a blow to Genoa President Enrico Preziosi, however as part of the deal he does gain promising Italian/Polish striker Robert Acquafresca from Inter, after a season on loan at Cagliari where he netted 12 times. It is a good move for the players involved, and an astute piece of business by Inter, buying proven Serie A talent.
Inter didn’t even need to play the last 2 rounds of the season, having completed their relative stroll to the Scudetto last weekend. It has been a workmanlike performance overall from the Nerazzurri, although the season has not been without its troubles. The Champions League exit to Manchester United risked being the catalyst for a Juventus and Milan attack on the Scudetto, as a habitual end of season collapse was expected from Inter. However, Jose Mourinho deserves respect and credit for the way he handled the club from that moment. The inevitable attitude problems from “big characters” like Ibrahimovic and Balotelli, not to mention the frankly bizarre disappearance of Adriano, have not been allowed to take the team’s focus off playing football, and that is why Inter was able to keep a safe distance ahead of their Milan rivals.
The success for the Nerazzurri may not have come so easily had Juventus not collapsed so spectacularly in the last quarter of the season. Much has changed in the last few months, but even more has happened this week. Firstly Claudio Ranieri is sacked as Coach – hardly a surprise and widely expected – although the timing seems aimed solely at maximising their chances of victory in the remaining two games under caretaker Coach Ciro Ferrara. Far from the tactical superiority of the former Juve defender, the basis of his appointment may have more to do with changing the atmosphere around the club, and the tried and tested fact that many a team perform like never before in the first couple of games under a new Coach, and that is all that is needed this time around. At three points behind Milan in 2nd, runners-up is still a possibility, however Ferrara will be looking over his shoulder first, knowing that in-form Fiorentina are just a point behind. The Bianconeri need some of the grit and determination that was seen against Milan two weeks ago if they are to keep a sinking ship afloat.
This weekend will also see 18th play 16th, as Bologna travel to Verona to face Chievo. Four points separate the two sides, and the Flying Donkeys will feel the more confident in avoiding the drop, seeing as they go into the game with home advantage. Bologna however are desperate to overtake Torino who lead by just one point, and face a strong Genoa team at home. If the Turin side manage three points, and Chievo are victorious, then Bologna will be relegated by Sunday evening. Any other set of results will see the battle go right down to the wire.
Elsewhere Milan play Roma in the glamour tie of the weekend, in what may turn out to be Carlo Ancelotti and Paolo Maldini’s last game at the San Siro, as the Rossoneri fight to secure second. In that same Champions League contest, Juventus play Siena for Ferrara’s first game in charge, whilst Fiorentina are away to Lecce as la Viola try to get third place, thus avoiding the early Champions League qualification stages. Inter may have taken the top prize, but there is plenty still to play for in Serie A as we enter Week 37.