Thursday September 27 2012
Juve draw gives hope to rivals

As Juventus stalled at a fiery Fiorentina, most of their title rivals got back to winning ways. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the midweek round action.  

Good things do happen in Serie A. In the midst of all the skulduggery, mud-slinging and matches awarded without a ball being kicked it can be easy to lose sight of them. A midweek round of matches turned out to be like watching a video of your daughter’s first school show – it put a smile back on the face.

The first uplifting experience was the often festering fixture between Fiorentina and Juventus. In years gone by the match has regularly been a more terrifying experience than being trapped in a lift with Facundo Roncaglia. This time around it proved as refreshing as an ice-cold spritzer on a searing hot summer’s day.

Before the Juventini out there start sharpening their keyboards, it wasn’t just about the result. Being held to a draw – and occasionally outplayed – did throw open the championship once again which will have been welcomed by every neutral and, of course, the Bianconeri’s main rivals. But much more pleasing were some of the side-orders served up with the match.

A packed Stadio Artemio Franchi provided the kind of backdrop to an Italian League match which has become rarer than a week without injury for Alexandre Pato. The choreography before kick-off was spectacular and the atmosphere throughout the clash intense but never nasty. Even after such a test of their resolve, it seemed the Juve players had relished the battle.

“The Florentine public backed their team with their usual passion and our fans turned out too, as they always do,” said Gianluigi Buffon. “There was no trouble. These rivalries have been around for years, but they give extra spice to these matches as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.”

The beneficiaries of Juve’s brief comfort break on a journey they still hope will take them to the Scudetto were Napoli. Yet their resounding triumph at a mercifully sand-free San Paolo might not have happened but for another pleasing moment. The honesty of Miroslav Klose paved the way for their triumph.

In truth, the German striker seemed to take a leaf out of the Buffon guidebook to dealing with such incidents. He looked happy enough to celebrate his handball goal which appeared to have given Lazio the lead early in the match. However, when questioned by the referee he did the decent thing and admitted the strike should not stand. After that the Roman side switched off and Edinson Cavani took centre stage. He grabbed a hat-trick, although the penalty he missed to make it four may well still be spotted in orbit over the Gulf of Naples.

And in Rome, too, there were beaming smiles for the 36 today Francesco Totti. His strike against Sampdoria took him to 216 goals in Serie A alongside a legend like Jose Altafini on the all time list. His only regret will have been that, for a Giallorosso side which still seems to like to self-harm, it was not enough to win the match. The more malign might say Roma’s best result so far has been the one where they never set foot on the pitch.

There was even reason to be happy on the two slow-starting sides of Milan with victories for both the Rossoneri and Nerazzurri. The boys in red and black may no longer have Zlatan Ibrahimovic to resolve matches, but they now have Stephen El Shaarawy. That might not please all their supporters, but his neat double to down Cagliari was good news for Max Allegri and, undoubtedly, Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli.

“It was difficult for us to play well with such a lot of tension,” admitted Milan assistant Coach Mauro Tassotti. “Stephan is getting more confident and he is playing well. He does a good job for us and works hard. He is helping us out a lot, even though he is very young.”

Inter enjoyed the same scoreline in Verona in another match where the result was more important than the performance. Alvaro Pereira looked marginally offside when he put the visitors in front at the Bentegodi, but it certainly eased the nerves of a side still struggling to find its identity. It also convinced Andrea Stramaccioni that his new 3-5-1-1 formation is the way ahead.

“It was important for us to get back to winning after the dramatic defeat at the weekend,” he said. “This is the best way to use the players I have got just now. It allows us to cover the pitch and gets the best out of my team.”

Some things, of course, will never change. In Genoa, Marco Borriello won and converted the softest of penalties to deny Parma all the points. Maybe one day Serie A won’t see referees point to the spot for the most minimal of contact – we can but dream. However, overall we should enjoy all the bright spots the latest matches provided. After all, Zeman’s Roma face Juventus this weekend – so we know all the good feelings will never last.

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Have your say...
@temo really that is all you got o say man ? Juve a lucky team ? Man fans have gone crazy nowadays, theyre closing their eyes for everything. Juve have no talent ? No of course not, Asamoah, Isla, Giovinco (15 goals last season) - these are only the transfers, plus 15 of those who won the scudetto WITH LUCK, open your eyes fans, this juve is GREAT. I know youre jelaous but its ok, we're used to that !
on the 28th September, 2012 at 8:30am
the truth is Juventus are very lucky not to lose to Fiorentina, actually they are got lucky twice this season so far, so they are just a lucky team and what makes it more in their favor the Milanos & Romas are not consistant type of teams, in this regards Napoli are the real contenders to such lucky rather than talented team, Juve lacks talents, Napoli will win the Scudetto this season, it will be sweet if they can do it, let us see. Juve must rest Pirlo & Marchisio, Giovinco is out he is bad.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 8:21pm
Sam de martino - dont be surprised by sampdoria, roma were lucky not to lose. Samp isnt a promoted team, they just managed to get relegated due to internal politics. Like juve, they are back within. One season and already racking up points.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 2:51pm
Altho Juve has a deeper bench than last year, it's not top quality. The high-paced game Juve plays will wear them out very fast, with a squad for rotation that will be a match for any top-half table squad. We saw how Juve faultered early last year when they played 2 or 3 weeks in a row with a game every 3 days. It was all draws. We also saw italJuve at the Euros where in the final.. when ItalJuve were tired, man-mark Pirlo, and you should be good because there's no dangerous CF up front.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 2:49pm
As a Juve fan, I am not surprised they had a tough game. On a one off game, they can stuggle, and against a good fiorentina team away it is not easy. Certain players are tired- Pirlo and Marchisio. Certain players are a bit out of form- Giovinco, Isla and some are in development- such as Pogba.
Over the season, I still expect Juventus to win the scudetto comfortably. Maybe Napoli will be the best challenge to us. If we buy a good striker in Januray it could tip the balance.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 1:00pm
Title winning teams are those who manage to collect points even when the play badly. Over the course of the season Juve are bound to put in some lousy performances and drop points here and there. Isn't that the norm these days? I have no doubt that after one good performance people will start raving about them again. Serie A is not a sprint, its a marathon, and whoever cross the line first is the ultimate winner..
on the 27th September, 2012 at 12:15pm
Everyone will drop points Juve are no different. Pirlo will be back to his best soon for Juve and Italy. He is clearly tired and needs some rest. "Form is temporary class is permanent". Forza Roma. Hoping for a good result against Juve on saturday, although this will be very hard we need to believe. Napoli looked impressive again last night. I'm hoping they do really well in Europa League, our best bet I reckon.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 9:24am
I'm fed up after another really poor home performance at home. We need to sort our home form out and start beating the likes of Sampdoria, Bologna and Catania. 2 points from 9 at home against these teams is dire. The same defensive mistakes like previous seasons are costing us. We just dont seem able to react when the going gets tough. Zeman needs to sort out the balance of the team, his attacking philosophy is leaving huge gaps at the back which is proving very costly.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 9:19am
As a juventino, respect to la viola for how they outplayed juve. Montella has proven twice (last season with catania and now with fiorentina) that he can be as good as conte. Last season he exposed juve's weakness for over reliant to pirlo, and now he exposed the same weakness again.

Last season, conte reacted by changing his tactics from 4-1-4-1 to 4-3-3, and eventually.. 3-5-2. Now it will be interesting to see what he'll do.
on the 27th September, 2012 at 9:02am

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