Monday October 1 2012
Juve and Napoli blow for blow

Week 6 confirmed the title credentials of Juventus and Napoli, but underlined problems at Roma. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the latest round of action.

Sometimes it is a relief when a long-awaited match gets under way. After the skirmishes via the media and the old wounds being reopened, a game of football feels like a breath of fresh air. In the case of Juventus versus Roma, it provided a verdict which left no room for debate.

In about 20 minutes of unrelenting fury, the Bianconeri unleashed hell on Zdenek Zeman – and his Giallorossi had no answer. If the capital club harboured any hopes of being title contenders, they were knocked to the canvas in the Juventus Stadium. As for Antonio Conte’s side, they showed that their stuttering display in Florence was no cause for their rivals to get too excited any time soon.

Of course, it was impossible to watch the match without thinking of all the peripheral issues. Under Coach Conte, Juve have become expert at developing the sort of siege mentality that Jose Mourinho specialises in. They used the bad blood with the Roma boss to deliver a performance which felt full of venom and vengeance.

Zeman, for his part, was gracious in defeat, even when asked if he might feel regret about leaving Pescara who are now within touching distance of his current employers. No doubt the loss to La Vecchia Signora was a bitter one for him to take. “We need to learn a lot from this game,” he admitted. “If you let Juve play they will kill you and we were weak in the tackle and our effort was almost non-existent.”

The resounding success heaped pressure on Napoli on a tough trip to Marassi to face Ciro Ferrara’s in-form Sampdoria. When it looked like they might do no better than a 0-0 draw, Walter Mazzarri played one of his old trump cards and got himself sent to the stands. It did the trick, but only just.

One moment of inattention from an otherwise impeccably organised Samp side cost them dearly. A slick counter-attack saw Marek Hamsik tripped, Daniele Gastaldello sent off and Edinson Cavani convert the resultant penalty. It was sufficient to keep Neapolitan Scudetto dreams alive.

“Last year we would have lost a game like that,” insisted Mazzarri afterwards. “The Champions League has helped us to develop. We were inconsistent, but now we are more focused, less distracted and more aware of what we are capable of. Now we are giving the League closer attention, we want to lose less points than a year ago.”

That approach, so far, has made them the most credible rivals to Juve. The squad has a more complete look to it than it did last season and the focus is, undoubtedly, on Serie A this year. There is every reason to think that they can keep their title dreams alive for some time to come.

Another side which will think it has potential to win the League is Inter after ending the San Siro taboo and getting a home victory over Fiorentina. A penalty for handball eased their way against a feisty Viola side which then went down to 10 men. It sets up a spectacular derby with Milan, although the Rossoneri remain in grim form after losing a Stephen El Shaarawy lead against Parma.

One side which looked to have hit the rocks in the early rounds of the title fight were Lazio, but they bounced back for a morale-boosting victory over Siena. It wasn’t that pretty to look at, but it got them back on track into joint third place in the table.

“We were not 100 per cent but we were good enough to win this game without having to work too hard,” said Vladimir Petkovic afterwards. “We created a lot of chances and could have lived without them getting a goal. But it was important to get a win after two defeats, now we need to get some rest and get on with our work.”

Other big winners of the weekend were Alberto Gilardino with a couple of strikes in Bologna’s convincing triumph over Catania, Fabrizio Miccoli with a wonder goal as part of a hat-trick in Palermo’s first win for Gian Piero Gasperini and Rolando Bianchi with a double in Torino’s demolition of Atalanta. For three forwards who have been around the block a bit, it was a pleasing day’s work.

Things were not so happy, however, at the Is Arenas where Cagliari finally got to play in front of their own fans. Little Pescara were good enough to come away with three points without needing to be awarded them by the League authorities. With the jeering he received at the final whistle, Massimo Ficcadenti could have been forgiven for wishing the game had been played behind closed doors.

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Have your say...
Napoli should be a contender but they were lucky to win against Sampdoria. "I doriani" had no recognised centre-forward and they still dominated possession, even with 10 men. Even with Pozzi, Sampdoria would have won the match.

Aside from the weekend's match, Napoli has been playing well and Cavani and Pandev are forming a good partnership. Hopefully Insigne makes more appearances off the bench and if one of the regular strikers gets injured, he can fill the void.
on the 3rd October, 2012 at 2:47am
We have waited to testing victories this way,forza juventus
on the 2nd October, 2012 at 4:05am
Good performance against roma and i think juve is reaping the fruit of their labour,but lets watch out against shaktar
on the 2nd October, 2012 at 3:59am
i think juventus squad is to strong in depth for napoli and and any team in the league juventus look really strong this year their buys have bolstered their team a lot i cant see inter, milan or napoli lasting the season with them overall and as for roma well we saw what happened to them.where is arjen romas mouth piece on here when you need him forza juve arjen x
on the 1st October, 2012 at 8:56pm
I think Napoli could be a Scudetto contender right to the end. Last year they lost concentration too many times ad failed to get results. against the minnows. Serie A is never a one horse race. I expect Juve & Napoli to go to the wire. Roma has good players, but will have to bring back Luis Enrique to come Third, otherwise it will be Inter.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 7:49pm
Napoli really looks nice and plays certainly more interesting football then Juve i think their starting eleven are better also which we have seen in the super cup, only thing is that when the starters het injuries it will be difficult to fill the gap. Juve have more on the bench but then again they PAY MORE salary and that is the main reason why they have that depth and in the long run more chance...
on the 1st October, 2012 at 7:32pm
Love how Mazzarri does the get-sent-off trick to spark his team.. although will soon start to get old.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 4:49pm
Liked the look of inter the other night. They need to stick with the coutinho Cassano militio combination it looked very exciting. Giving them an outside bet
on the 1st October, 2012 at 4:31pm
LOL, are you Juventus fans that gassed up? Napoli is A SERIOUS THREAT. Quite frankly, the only thing you have that Napoli does not is Andrea Pirlo and Gigi Buffon. What if Cavani gets injured? Apparently you havent heard of Lorenzo Insigne, the most promising Italian prospect in the game...Oh wait, there is also Edu Vargas just waiting to get his shot after his Europa hat trick. Hamsik is also one of the top players in the world in what he does. Never fear JUVE, the serpent lies coiled NAPLES.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 4:28pm
Napoli have great intensity, Cavani never seems to get injured.
The main Napoli weakness is the defence, that's why they attack so much.
As a Juve fan I hope they can keep up with us and threaten for the league as it will be boring otherwise. Still believe Inter are crap. And that its a shame to see Milan in a bad state. I hope Samp have a good season, as would be nice to see a young manager like Ferrara do well with a team that alot of neutrals like
on the 1st October, 2012 at 4:01pm
Adam - Napoli will prove you wrong - The problem is Napoli does not get favorable calls in every game. Also, the depth Napoli has this year is stronger then last year esp in attack with Vargas and Insigne - No doubt Juve is the team to beat, just I believe Inter/Napoli will make it difficult on them
Forza Napoli!
on the 1st October, 2012 at 3:34pm
The problem is that Juve are the best team hands down in a not so strong league right now. They really have no serious challenge. Maybe Napoli but let's face it there's no real threat. I think Juve's true measure this year will be the champions league. As good side as this Juve team is I don't think it's as good as the mid 90s side with Vialli, Ravenelli and of course Baggio. PS did Ibra really say PSG is better than Milan lol? Almost everyone is better than Milan this year,andImanACMfan.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 1:47pm
As the season unfolds Juve will exploit their full resources to ensure victories come their way.Juve could cope with losing one or two star performers,however if Napoli find injuries to their top players they do not have the resources in the same abundance and they will stall.If Cavani gets injured who can fill the breach?
on the 1st October, 2012 at 1:33pm
Adam i couldent agree more wih you......Forza Juve
on the 1st October, 2012 at 12:53pm
I cant see Napoli keeping up with Juve in the long run but they're perfectly capable of holding 2nd. Now we(Inter) have found our feet, and if Fiorentina n Lazio can keep it together then it should be a stunning race for 3rd. Cant see Roma or Milan fighting for 3rd realisticly.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 12:29pm
Juve battered Roma and we are waiting to hear what ZZ will blabber next time.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 11:12am
Napoli will never win the title..Juve will win it again ths year Napoli will fall off like every year and blame tiredness from europa league or something like that.
on the 1st October, 2012 at 9:27am

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