When Adriano Galliani goes into battle, he is used to coming out victorious. Years in the upper echelons of one of Italian football’s biggest sides and a role near the top of Serie A’s governing body have made him a powerful figure. Easter weekend allowed him to chalk up another triumph with a masterful piece of mind games and misdirection.
The Milanista maestro started his assault from a solid base in incontrovertible fact – the situation with Cagliari’s Is Arenas stadium is a total shambles. How he then chose to spin that evidence was more skilful than a spider. Somehow, he argued, the whole League season had been compromised and, what was more, the Rossoneri had been among those to suffer most.
His logic for making such claims appeared to be that Max Allegri’s men had been one of a handful of teams to have to play in Sardinia in front of a home support. Those who played behind closed doors, at a neutral venue or were awarded points had gained an unfair advantage. On the surface, you might agree that there was a prima facie case to answer.
However, it is worth considering the timing of his outburst when you are weighing up its merits. Milan travelled to Cagliari nearly a couple of months ago and yet Galliani waited patiently to make his complaint. It duly arrived on the eve of his team’s closest rivals for a Champions League berth making the trip to the island. Coincidence? You really don’t know the man or the machinations of Italian football if you believe that is the case.
And all the pot-stirring worked out wonderfully well. Fiorentina – one of the teams presumably being assisted by playing a game shielded from home fans – went down to defeat in the eerily quiet ground. Later in the day, the Rossoneri ground out another win on a potentially tricky away trip to Chievo. Breathing space in the fight for a top three finish had been secured. Rest assured that the claims of a “falsified” championship will be filed away unless Galliani fears that spot slipping away once again.
That was not the only spice of a tasty Easter Saturday of action. There was the little matter of the Derby d’Italia too although it had lost a bit of its heat thanks to the huge gap between its protagonists. Nonetheless, it still packed a little of the piquancy of a pan full of peperoncino.
There was a Fabio Quagliarella wondergoal, the kind he has made his trademark. There then followed a string of Inter penalty claims, an equalising goal, a renewed advantage for Juventus and, in injury time, a horror tackle from Esteban Cambiasso on Sebastian Giovinco. Few could have left the San Siro feeling short-changed.
When the dust settled, of course, it was the Bianconeri who were understandably the happier side. They had made another precious step closer to retaining the Scudetto with a performance in which, it seems fair to say, they looked the better side for most of the match. Bring on Bayern Munich.
Inter, for their part, deserved to take some heart from the encounter too. They never looked quite good enough to take anything from the game but, at the same time, they appeared less in disarray than they have at times recently. There was, at least, something to build on – even if they could not dent La Vecchia Signora’s leisurely passeggiata to the title.
Saturday’s late game saw Napoli’s Blerim Dzemaili earn the crown of most ungrateful former employee of the week. He fired in a hat-trick against the team which first brought him to Italy, Torino, in an eight-goal spectacular. Walter Mazzarri’s men eventually saw off the Granata to keep their second place intact, but they needed a late Edinson Cavani double in order to do so.
Elsewhere, Lazio managed a come from behind win to down Catania and boost their European prospects. It was a timely pick-me-up for Vlad Petkovic’s side after their struggles of late. They need a late season rush to earn the place in at least the Europa League which looked to be theirs for the taking for much of this campaign.
In mid-table both Sampdoria’s trip to Atalanta and Bologna’s travels to Udinese failed to produce a goal. They were the classic kind of results which helped make relegation a more distant prospect for most of the protagonists but did little to stir the blood. The same could not be said of the 2-2 draw between Genoa and Siena, although for all its excitement it did little to help either side’s predicament near the bottom of the table.
With Pescara tumbling to defeat at Parma – including another Amauri cracker – there was only one side made real progress in the lower reaches. At last Josip Ilicic and Fabrizio Miccoli stood up to be counted in Sicily and helped curb the Aurelio Andreazzoli revival at Roma. It might not have been enough to keep Palermo afloat but at least it threw them a lifebelt to cling on to for a little while longer.