BLOG ITALIA
Monday September 24 2012
The calamitous Milanese cousins

It was the collapse of Milan and Inter, as well as a postponed game, that made the headlines in Week 4. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the action.

The roar of the San Siro was unmistakable. At a moment when nothing much was happening on the pitch, it could only mean that Inter’s city rivals Milan had slipped behind. By full time, however, followers of the Nerazzurri had little cause for celebration themselves.

Se Atene piange, Sparta non ride – If Athens is weeping, Sparta is not laughing – is an old Italian proverb and rarely was it more appropriate. These two historic opponents might take great pleasure in each other’s misfortune but, for the time being, neither of them has much to smile about. It has been a while since the pair started out a season so poorly.

It would be hard to say who suffered a more miserable weekend. Inter contrived to lose at home to rock-bottom Siena who still sit on minus points having yet to wipe out their pre-season penalty. At the same time, Milan were down to nine men as they slumped to defeat against an Udinese side which was without a League win all season.

Results contrived to leave the Nerazzurri in a comparatively healthy League position, but the Rossoneri hover precariously above the relegation zone. It is Max Allegri who is feeling the most heat – especially after the words every Coach hates to hear. The vote of confidence.

“I have faith in Allegri and so does President Silvio Berlusconi,” insisted Adriano Galliani, probably while consulting his contacts list for potential replacements. And his follow up words had a more ominous ring. “I expect our first home win on Wednesday, even if San Siro seems cursed for ourselves and Inter this year,” he added.

In the blue and black half of the city, it was up to Andrea Stramaccioni to back himself. “It was a bad defeat and it hurt,” he admitted. “But I’m the captain of this ship and we can’t lose faith. We can’t give up an inch, we have got to work together to turn this slip-up into something positive.”

Amused bystanders to all the depression and disaster for the Milanese giants have been Juventus. They continued their serene progress towards Scudetto number 29 – 31 if you are Bianconero, 23 if you are Zdenek Zeman – with a comfortable win over Chievo. It was a game which confirmed their happy knack of riding the hot-streak of an in-form forward.

Fabio Quagliarella is the man of the moment right now. He grabbed a vital equaliser at Stamford Bridge midweek and followed it up with a couple of strikes at the weekend. Suddenly, from almost indifferent silence, the Juve faithful have been singing about how their hearts beat faster every time they see him.

He is just the latest in a long line of match-winners who have flitted in and out of the forward line under Antonio Conte and alter ego Massimo Carrera. Like an expert lock-picker, they always seem to know the right man to break down any particular defence. It has meant, at least so far, that joining Fiorentina on the long list of clubs to be snubbed by Dimitar Berbatov has not mattered a jot.

Last season it was Alex Del Piero who languished on the sidelines before bursting into life to play a vital part in the key, closing Scudetto clashes. Alessandro Matri, too, was the kingpin on countless occasions in the title run but has become a bit part player. And now Quagliarella is enjoying his moment in the sun.

None of Juve’s forward players this year look like the kind of men you could count on for 20 goals a season but maybe it doesn’t matter. Mirko Vucinic is probably the most complete player, but he must have Conte pulling his recently replenished hair out at times. Sebastian Giovinco has looked unplayable on occasions in Serie A but was smothered in a giant blue blanket against Chelsea in the Champions League. Nicklas Bendtner has, so far, been little more than an interested spectator – at least until he gets into the kind of shape the club is happy with.

And Juve’s power to put a jinx on their rivals has not stopped at their historic Milanese adversaries. Napoli were unable to find a way past 10 man Catania to forfeit their 100 per cent League record. Then, in the evening, their old striker Marco Borriello gunned down Lazio just as the exiled Amauri helped to kill off Milan’s title hopes last year.

Those were the footballing headlines from a round of matches in which much of the media attention was sadly dominated by the farcical goings-on in Sardinia. Having urged his fans to turn out to a game which was supposed to go on behind closed doors, Cagliari chief Massimo Cellino brought an embarrassing situation for Italian football to a head. As a result, their match was called off by the authorities and Roma were quick to claim a 3-0 win should be awarded with three points coming their way.

The position of the island outfit has been a painful one for too long. With their own Sant’Elia Stadium unfit for purpose, they registered the Stadio Nereo Rocco, hundreds of miles away in Trieste, as their home ground. The trouble was, it produced the kind of atmosphere that might have only had Zen Buddhists happy – the sound of one fan clapping.

They thought they had come up with a solution closer to home, playing at the Is Arenas, but could not get the necessary safety approval to allow supporters into the matches. That prompted Cellino to take his provocative stance and cause yet more red faces about the state of Serie A. In the eyes of the football world, the Italian game looks more ridiculous than one of Borriello’s haircuts.

It could be a while before the situation is sorted and the longer it drags on, the less favours it does the world of calcio. A League that has started to feel like a European backwater, risks becoming a laughing stock. The only sides who might be happy about the situation in their current form are Milan and Inter.  If Cagliari continue in their current stance, Sardinia might deliver them both a very welcome three points without even having to play a match.

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Have your say...
@Pado

Partly agree with you. However, against udinese they should have won. I believe the contrast of losing all those players they did has a big after match.. currently they dont have any real leader. I mean Ambro is in my heart but we need more quality then that.
on the 26th September, 2012 at 7:02pm
@ Viktor - I would love to see Milan qualify for the Champions League, but I don't think it will happen this season. Italian football is better when Milan is good. Most years, Berlusca will spend some money and build a side that can usually progress further than Udinese, but Milan's troubles now have nothing to do with Muntari's goal or anything Juventus. Don't blame other clubs for Berlusca's mess.
on the 26th September, 2012 at 4:38pm
The Goal of Muntari Srikes again!! I love it. I thought Milan's problem was that they got rid of 12 of their best players and only replaced them with Montolivo and Pazzini. But now I see that Muntari's goal is still having psychological effects.
on the 25th September, 2012 at 3:40pm
But I also say that this is the time for the younger new blood of players to step up and play as this is their chance. Every other time I hear that the younger players don't get a chance, now they have, now its time to prove themselves. Remember my fellow Milanisti, the great Barcelona side wasn't built in one match, it took time. Give the team Time!
on the 25th September, 2012 at 1:58pm
For the past 10 years I've been hearing everyone say that my Milan is tooooo old old old even when we won the champions league in 2007. Now that the so called old people have gone, everyone is worried and and panicking and others are saying Milan are no good anymore, Milan are dead. You can't say get rid of the old players and then say Milan is no good. Galliani and Silvo haven't done anything good for the club in the last few years.
on the 25th September, 2012 at 1:54pm
@ Pado

Doubt Serie B, but probably not good at all. The only thing that "pull my strings" is Juve undeniable help from ref's. MUNTARIS goal. We will never forget.
Congrats on Juve's recent success they sure could need it after years in mud.

Forza Milan
on the 25th September, 2012 at 1:52pm
Viktor - with Milan in Serie B next year, you will have to find a new villain to blame. Of will Juve still be pulling your strings down in the lower leagues?
on the 25th September, 2012 at 12:32pm
Zeman to Abete: "You are the enemy of football!"
Baldini to Abete: "We want three free points!"
Abete to Zeman and Baldini: "Granted, I am the enemy of football and thereby I give you three free points."
on the 25th September, 2012 at 12:09pm
Can we all forget about Pato. He might at best get to double figures this season in terms of appearances not goals but he is a lost case. Him and the Milan medical team have considered to effectively end his career. I hope Milan sell him make a fortunate and then we can watch as he goes to another club and solves all of his injury problems while the Milan medical staff watch on with confused faces. The answer to Milan's problems is team spirit and unity and keeping the manager!
on the 25th September, 2012 at 11:24am
Milan need Pato and others back asap. The final nail in the coffin for me was letting Cassano go, who in my view has done well so far at Inter despite their struggles. Lets all get behind our teams in europe despite who we support. I watched Juve and Lazio and was impressed with both their away draws with Chelsea and Tottenham. As a big Roma fan its pretty obvious what I think about Lazio, but europe is different. Any thoughts on Roncaglia playing for Italy at some point?
on the 25th September, 2012 at 10:12am
As a big roma fan I'm delighted we ve been awarded 3-0 win. The rules are clear Cellino only has himself to blame. Hoping for a great performance and win tomorrow against Sampdoria. Totti, De rossi and Bradley back is a huge boast. Hopefully have Osvaldo back for the weekend against Juve. Inter need to sort their home form out, away they look a different team. I think Inter will come good given time, although time is soemthing they dont have. As for Ac Milan,its going to be a long hard season.
on the 25th September, 2012 at 10:02am
I wish it were only 3 points that were given to Juve! I would have been ecstatic to see 3 points given!

Instead, I've witnessed heavens knows how many, dozens? 100s?

If only 3 points!
on the 24th September, 2012 at 11:56pm
All Inter and AC need is to keep their managers and time. AC need a couple of good signings.
Juve are looking great FORZA JUVE!!!!!!
on the 24th September, 2012 at 8:10pm
I am pleased to see Juventus win. What was more impressive about the victory was they won without Pirlo as many claim Juve & Azzurri are over reliant on the midfield maestro & this a Juve team that features no less then 5 Italians in the starting 11...
on the 24th September, 2012 at 7:45pm
@Pado

Juve gets so much help as it is. No idea what your talking about.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 5:47pm
@ Pado,

yes it's all a plot against Juve!

That's why they've been gifted 4 penalties, a ghost goal and 4 generous red cards against their opponents thus far!
on the 24th September, 2012 at 5:03pm
So Roma have been awarded a 3-0 victory. This is probably the right decision. However, could you imagine if the Lega ever tried to award a victory to Juventus? It would NEVER happen. Juve would have been made to play in Sardinia on Thursday night. The Lega has to make sure the Haters don't die from heart attack :)
on the 24th September, 2012 at 4:17pm
Allegri's task was made very difficult by Galliani's summer dealings which lacked thought or direction, especially as his coach is unable to play anything but 4312. That is really Milan's problem as Allegri has talent at his disposal but is too rigid in his selection of players and formations to utilize it. Stramaccioni has had some positives but needs to figure out his best weapons. Coutinho has to be one. However he seems adaptable enough to get the best out of his team eventually...
on the 24th September, 2012 at 4:12pm
@luca

Carmona?? Yeah, sell our two best players w have left, that would make sense? Hey, how bout we just sell em all and uses are youth team instead..You dont make any sense.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 2:52pm
The Milan management destroyed the team but Allegri isnt even trying to win.If he wants to play with a terquarista then try Shaarawy or Carmona behind Pazzini and Niang/Bojan.Emanuelson or Didac should play at LB with De Sciglio as RB and Abate as his back-up.The midfield is weak but Montolivo with two of Ambro,Traore,De Jong,Constant should be fine.Prince,Nocerino,Mexes,Robinho need to be sold while their value is still high with Bonera,Antonini,Yepes too and the gaps filled with primavera.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 12:49pm
At least Inter won twice and convincingly.They need a few tweaks here and there but the squad looks good enough.As for Milan,they have an overrated central midfielder and a left-back as playmakers.Allegri refuses to change tactics and cannot motivate his players.At least Leonardo took risks and made changes when things weren't working out and even challenged for the league before losing Pato and Nesta for key games.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 12:38pm
PS can someone explain what was the point of signing Traore if he is never going to play. We may as well have kept Merkel but hey Traore was free so we had to sign him....He'll probably join the various odd signings over the years. Did Onyewu ever play a game? What a mess Galliani has made. All of the money spent on pointless players and salaries and all of the youth players let go to build better careers elsewhere. If Borriello has a good season this season it would seem another wasted talent.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 12:32pm
AC Milan need to stay calm. I am not sure why Allegri should be getting a harder time than Stramaccioni. One thing I would like to see is consistency in the starting line ups, particularly defence. Milan need to pick 2 centre backs and stick with them. They can get a break if we qualify early out of our group but we need to find a new centre back pairing and fast. For all of their faults Bonera and Mexes kept a clean sheet against Anderlecht. Acerbi and Zapata look a little shacky.
on the 24th September, 2012 at 12:25pm
Given their history, the analogy between Juve and a lock-picker is particularly apt ;-)
on the 24th September, 2012 at 11:32am

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