Monday October 23 2017
Imperfect Calcio

This sport cannot be an exact science because there are so many moving variables, as Susy Campanale saw in Serie A Week 9.

Football is not a level playing field and never can be. Over the course of a season, big games will come at bad times for some, they’ll all have different fixture lists, referees won’t always interpret similar incidents the same way and you won’t react to obstacles in identical fashion either. That’s what sets a league tournament apart from a shorter knock-out competition, as in theory, these should all even themselves out. In theory.

Napoli saw their perfect start ended after eight wins, although it’s 13 in a row if we include last season too. Lorenzo Insigne grit his teeth and played on just days after limping off against Manchester City, while Jorginho and Allan were back in the starting XI, having been rested in the Champions League. This is not an even playing field, because Inter had a whole week to prepare for this test, free from any other concerns. The lack of European commitments is a huge advantage for Luciano Spalletti, so in these circumstances, getting a draw at the Stadio San Paolo might be the least they could’ve aimed for.

Would this have been a different match had Napoli not been so thinly-stretched? Probably. At the end of the day, a point in this tie could prove crucial come the end of the season, as let’s not forget that in Serie A position is decided not by goal difference, but head-to-head records. Will it be considered an opportunity missed by Inter or a show of Napoli’s genuine strength? We won’t know for a few months yet.

Roma and Atalanta proved they know how to ‘win ugly’ with slender 1-0 results over Torino and Bologna respectively. In theory, Toro-Roma should’ve been a goal-fest, but in reality it was down to an Aleksandar Kolarov free kick. You never can predict what will happen in sport, no matter how much we kid ourselves that we can.

The way Juventus react to going down to 10 men after 25 minutes is not the same way that Milan do. The Old Lady reared its head and bit back, scoring another four goals to win 6-2 away to Udinese after Mario Mandzukic proved in the most inappropriate way that he has learned Italian perfectly well.

Leonardo Bonucci’s elbow on Aleandro Rosi is the kind of incident VAR was invented for, yet while last week Rossoneri fans crowed that Max Allegri only complained about the technology because it was preventing them from getting away with dubious decisions, suddenly these same people – and Vincenzo Montella – are repeating his words. “This isn’t football.”

VAR isn’t perfect and it won’t ever be, because there still has to be a human viewing the footage and making a decision. It’s just a different type of imperfect. We had believed it would at least be inarguable for offsides, but discovered this weekend that even that isn’t guaranteed. Cagliari had a goal disallowed because a part of Diego Farias’ shoulder was over the computer-generated line. That seems like the degree of offside we could probably let go. So much for the rule change about giving forwards the benefit of the doubt.

In Udinese-Juventus, social media went wild with conspiracy theories over the apparent offside position of Danilo, even though it had been checked and re-checked by the officials with access to better camera angles than the average TV viewer. We are in a post-inarguable era.

Everything is up for interpretation, as on the same day a team can draw 0-0 against 10 men away and feel regret, while another can lose 6-2 at home in an identical situation and insist “there’s no dishonour in that.” Beg to differ, Gigi Del Neri. That’s thoroughly dishonourable and downright embarrassing.

Hellas Verona saw Bruno Zuculini sent off in the first half of the Derby della Scala after a genuine nightmare performance. He gave away the free kick for the Chievo equaliser, then lost his marker, gifted the penalty and received two yellow cards for easily avoidable challenges. Hellas didn’t give in and kept pushing to the end, beaten only by the original Flying Donkey, Sergio Pellissier.

SPAL and Benevento continue to not actually play that badly and still get beaten, so I hope they can pull a Crotone and spring to life in the second half of the season. If they don’t, then the relegation battle will be over before it has even begun. 

Have your say...
Serie A 16/17 Penalties awarded

1: AS Roma 13
2: SS Lazio 13
3: AC Milan 12

17: Juventus 3
on the 27th October, 2017 at 5:19am
@Ciccio Pasticcio Can you show the stats that back that up?
on the 27th October, 2017 at 5:10am
Ciccio- yet every year Juve are far behind in penalties awarded. Go check the facts, or do you like to ignore them?. Mandzukic did nothing wrong but get taken down in the box and sent off with no review.
on the 24th October, 2017 at 12:24am
Move on Juve fans, sometimes you benefit and sometimes you miss out. Over the years you have had far more of the former than the latter so just move on and enjoy life.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 9:48pm
Juve fans are upset with VAR because it is not used consistently. There have been numerous incidents where they could have benefitted from it but the ref has chosen not to use VAR. Not to mention some of the decisions using VAR have been incorrect e.g. Genoa's offside penalty against them. Other teams have been affected too e.g. Kean's offside goal a few weeks ago for Verona or Roma penalty claim v Inter which weren't checked.

The problem is that we are still reliant on a ref making a decision.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 5:37pm
Ajay is correct.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 5:28pm
Just hop in the Bianconeri already Susy, the fans will welcome you with open arms. Why try so hard to convince the Milanese, it is not new that the majority are ignorant. For that matter, both Milan clubs are full with ignorant personnel and fans.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 4:26pm
sports fandom is prone to conspiracy theories as most fans only watch their own team and not the others. But please don't change the facts. Danilo was offside.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 3:29pm
Milan clubs always wet the bed when it goes against them but when it goes for them they still complain.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 2:15pm
True it was the wrong decision on Mandzukic.Was not Higuain offside before Dybala's goal?Of course he was. And do not forget the ridiculous penalty you got against Atalanta. Noone wants to screw Juve. Only for the firsttime in years, we have a level playing field.
I know it hurts all Juve fans, that it will not be as easy to cheat your way to the title as it was for a long time. You conceded more penalties already this season than in the previous 5 years.Sure it feels bad.stop crying like a baby
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 1:30pm
Danilo clearly offside. Higuain's leg offiside. MM should have got a penalty and not sent off.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 1:13pm
Udine-Juve clearly showed us how VAR and refereeing is a Joke in Italy.

Mandzukic should have had a penalty or at least beeen reviewed. Same with Danilo and Dybala’s goal. This is a joke and Serie A looks pathetic to all neautrals who are watching the league.

I guess they are so desperate for some other team to win the league they will do anything to screw juve. That is not entertaining
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 11:51am
No mention of the bogus sending off of Mario Mandzukic at Udine? Not even a review using VAR.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 3:00am
please ajay, spare us thinking person knows what you mean.
there is no such thing as impartial editorial, but i'd wager susy tries, while your lazy 10-words doesn't warrant a place in the 'have your say' section
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 2:07am
Classic Suzy at it again.

It really is amazing how you can point out the hypocrisy and contradictions of certain fan bases by resorting to hypocrisy and contradiction yourself. Some talent you have there Suzy.
on the 23rd October, 2017 at 12:59am

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