Monday September 3 2012
The fantasy of Totti and Gio

Francesco Totti and Sebastian Giovinco added a touch of fantasy to Serie A. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up a fascinating Week 2 of action.

The body might be in its mid-30s, but the smile in his post-match interviews was that of a teenager making his Serie A debut. They thought the demands of playing in a Zdenek Zeman side might have been too much for him but, for the time being at least, they are proving nothing of the sort. In the first big match of the season, Francesco Totti was an undisputed protagonist.

It was perhaps the defining performance of a weekend when some of the League’s most inspirational players put their best foot forward. A couple of delicious assists and a string of pinpoint passes were enough to put Inter to the sword. After an opening match full of mistakes, the Giallorossi turned on the style in the San Siro.

“We played a great game,” beamed Totti. “I am physically well and I enjoy playing in this role. And when the team is playing well it is a lot easier.”

He was rightly lauded for producing a masterclass which any young player in his position could learn a lot from. It was enough to grab three points off an Inter side which had fought back into the match thanks to a deflected goal from another imaginative star – Antonio Cassano. But it was Totti who took the honours, much to the chagrin of the Nerazzurri.

“We went 2-1 down and then we didn’t play well,” grumbled Andrea Stramaccioni. “That is something we have to look at.”

The result put the Romans on the edge of the early pacesetters in the title fight, one of whom was inspired by their own inventive attacker. Sebastian Giovinco was at the heart of much of the action for a Juventus side with two wins out of two thanks to a crushing triumph in Udine. He was flattened for a controversial penalty and red card early in the game and later produced a couple of goals in a Bianconero stroll.

“This referee is not balanced, he doesn’t use common sense and he ruins matches,” raged Udinese supremo Giampaolo Pozzo. “It makes me angry, he ruins games and a Sunday’s enjoyment. The annoying thing is that it looked like being a nice game.”

His team was picked apart ruthlessly by the reigning champions with Giovinco, in particular, enjoying the extra space against a side down to 10 men. It was a message to the rest of the League that the Bianconeri mean serious business. Even at 4-0 up, stand-in Coach Massimo Carrera was roaring at his players that he wanted more goals.

Napoli responded to Juve’s resounding win in more hesitant style. Still, their young talent Lorenzo Insigne had a part in a battling 2-1 victory over Fiorentina on a dreadful, sand-scattered surface at the San Paolo. He had an assist for their opener and the second strike came from a poor clearance from one of his corners. A curler from Stevan Jovetic was too little, too late for the Viola.

“I would like us to play better,” admitted Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri. “I didn’t like the first half at all. But sometimes in the past we have played well and not got the result – this time we played not so well and won.”

They are joined at the top of the table by a Lazio side which brushed aside a Palermo team still struggling for an identity. Two typically clinical finishes from Miroslav Klose and a thunderbolt from Antonio Candreva were enough to get the job done. As President Claudio Lotito was not slow to point out in post-match interviews, you don’t have to buy dozens of players if you already have a strong squad.

One new signing who did make an impact, of course, was Giampaolo Pazzini at Milan. Those who doubted the wisdom of the deal which saw him swapped with Inter for Cassano and cash were given pause for thought by his hat-trick in Bologna. It also put a better shine on the Rossoneri’s start to the season.

The international break now allows everyone to gather their thoughts for the weeks to come, but a few clues have already been delivered. Juve won’t relinquish their title easily. And Napoli just might have what it takes to make a serious Scudetto challenge. But, above all, if your most exciting players express themselves almost any result is possible. 

Have your say...
Hello!!!! Am I the only one reading this? Why is everyone calling for a change in the rules when it comes to JUVE having a call? Two weeks back, a ref "sees" a ball past the line in favor of JUVE, all the analysts came out calling for goal line technology. This week, Giovinco is brought down and the ref righfully awarded the red card and everyone is calling for the rules to be changed. Keep moving the post just to give yourselves excuses why you loose to the best team in Seria A. Sore loosers!!!
on the 4th September, 2012 at 2:37pm
I'll admit it I am a JUVE fan, but the only thing controversial about the red card this weekend is that Giovinco got pushed into the GK by a defender. Either way it was a penalty. Udinese fans should not be anting about the ref, but the defender that pushed the attacker into his GK. As far as Juve go though I think while Serie A should be interesting this season I don't think they will have the firepower up front to do much damage in the Champions League. They NEED a World Class striker.
on the 4th September, 2012 at 12:35pm
@ Jack - Agreed, Juve will take some beating. However, they have a tough Champions League draw, Nordsjaelland aside, so there Serie A dominance in my eyes, relates to how seriously they take the champions league. they cant, and wont win the CL and should concentrate on winning the league to allow further strengthening.
on the 4th September, 2012 at 9:02am
It will take an incredible season from a team to stop Juventus retaining the Scudetto. A lot has been said of Juventus' failure to land a stellar signing, when we have actually signed two. Asamoah and Giovinco for a combined 16 million, which compared to some of the crazy prices been paid for average players, are incredible bargains and have fitted seamlessly into the Juventus machine. The squad is stronger and capable of combining Serie A and Champions League football without harming results.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 10:29pm
To 'anonymous':

"There was nothing controversial about the red card.......but the red card was very harsh".

Surely if it's harsh, as you admit, then there is an air of controversy about it??
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 9:53pm
@anonymous: no you are wrong.

it is EVERY dubious decision going juves way that makes people questioning serie A. It can happen, but 3 weeks running?

Neutral fans were amazed by all the decisions going juves way the last 3 games. they found it highly unlikely to be a coincidence.

i can not for the love of calcio understand that everybody finds it questionable and juve fans still pretend nothing strange is happening.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 7:54pm
Really hoping for 2 great performances with lots of goals against Bulgaria and Malta. Lets hope Giovinco and Pazzini etc take their club form to the qualfiers. As a huge Roma fan I thought Totti was immense the pass for Osvaldos goal was magic. I agree Osvaldo needs to improve on his finishing, but when he scores it tends to be very special. Can somebody please tell Prandelli to give Consigli a chance to shine, the qualfiers isnt the time with Superman in goal but the next friendly please.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 7:24pm
Good article. The only problem is the photo - there are so many worthy and talented players mentioned here that deserve photographic recognition alongside Totti. Regardless, I was unfortunate enough to watch Man City-QPR and parts of Liverpool-Arsenal this weekend. In comparison to Serie A the play is slow, dull, predictable and uninventive. Despite the financial disparities, it is clear to me where the talent resides...
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 6:55pm
Roma played very well. There was movement off the ball, good and quick distribution and an obvious willingness to sprint up and down the pitch during every play. Osvaldo's goal was simply world class while Florenzi showed real enthusiasm before and after his well-placed header. My biggest concern in just the huge spaces that opened up on the flanks for Inter from the high back line Roma played throughout the match. Too many desperate plays made by Castan and Burdisso for my comfort though.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 6:53pm
Let me start by saying that I'm a Juventus fan & i'm very happy with my team performance over the weekend. Nonetheless 1 of the rules of the game damaged what otherwise would have been a great game Vs. Udine (not the referee, but the rules!) and that is a great shame!!! Even the best known referee of our time agrees with this point...(
I think it is time to make the necessary changes, and improve what already is almost a perfect sport!
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 5:50pm
Who needs Bebatov? & did Bentner play?
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 4:24pm
I agree with anonymous that the rule needs to be changed. IMHO, a red card should not be automatic for a Keeper in the area. He has to try to make a play and if he misses a penalty should be enough.

If he is out of the area, though, then yes a red card is appropriate.

Looks like we will have a very exciting season in store for us Serie A fans.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 4:04pm

On the subject of last nights game. Roma were immense,however,am i the only one slightly worried by the amount of chances Osvaldo needs before scoring, his goal was nothing short of genius, as it was last week, but for Roma to go on and challenge for the Scudetto we really need him finishing off the chances created for him. I feel he can't score wonder goals every week.
Also, who does everyone feel may produce a shock this season. I feel Torino really have a squad that could finish top half
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 1:57pm
This was a great weekend for the Serie A because all of the players expected to perform well DID perform well. Giovinco and Insigne were excellent, while Pazzini looked like his old self. I can't wait to see them all on the national team.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 1:47pm
Perhaps the "Atomic Ant"is going to be that special player that Beppe Marotta told us he would bring.He may well have added a goal-scoring threat to his other undoubted talents,I certainly can see him being a major feature for Juve during this campaign.He looks to have benifitted from playing for Parma on a regular basis and looks more physically robust.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 11:12am
I thought that was a great article from Giancarlo Rinaldi and im really excited to see how Roma, Lazio, Fiorentina and Napoli will do in the league. Totti's performances yesterday shows that Juventus should of given Del Piero a one year extension even if it means benching him.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 11:01am
"He was flattened for a controversial penalty and red card early in the game and later produced a couple of goals in a Bianconero stroll."

sigh... there was nothing controversial about the penalty nor the red card. the ref simply followed the rulebook. penalty was crystal clear, even pozzo admitted that, but the red card was very harsh. this rule needs to be looked at.

its articles like this that always keeps the public questioning serie a.
on the 3rd September, 2012 at 9:25am

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