Monday December 10 2012
Who is laughing now?

The return of Antonio Conte, a recovered Roma, an anti-nobody and metaphorical moustaches. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the Week 16 action.

In Italy they don’t laugh up their sleeves. The equivalent idiom sees them chuckling sotto i baffibeneath their whiskers. There must have been a few vindicated Coaches chortling under their metaphorical moustaches at the weekend.

First in line to smile, of course, was Juve boss Antonio Conte. Back on the bench after his ban as part of match-betting investigations, he got back to his ever-so-familiar winning ways on a trip to Palermo. And he was just as hard to please as we remembered him.

“We need to score goals,” he lamented after a single Stephan Lichtsteiner strike decided the game. “We got through on the goalkeeper plenty of times, but if we had ended up drawing this match I’d have kept us two days in the dressing room. Losing points today would have been criminal.”

He also mused upon how four months away from competitive matches had affected him. Nobody was surprised to hear his fighting talk as he promised his ban had only made him stronger. You got the feeling he might still be simmering with rage about the couple of games which were lost in his absence.

There was also probably as close to a grin as you are ever likely to get from Zdenek Zeman after his Roma side won Saturday night’s shoot-out in the Stadio Olimpico. The Giallorossi went toe-to-toe with Fiorentina in a game which produced a goalscoring chance with almost every attack. Holders of Gianni Brera’s belief that the perfect game would finish 0-0 must have been pulling their hair out.

There was little doubt, however, that the home side deserved its win and is starting to play more in the manner their tactician wants. At the heart of it all have been the precise promptings and scoring skills of an outstanding Francesco Totti. The player many thought the new Coach might have rejected has become a cornerstone.

It was a setback for Vincenzo Montella’s boys in purple as Roma joined them – and Lazio for the time being – on 29 points. In the end, the absences of key players like Stevan Jovetic and David Pizarro seemed to make a difference. They kept true to their attacking principles but with a little less quality than in previous matches.

One Tuscan who was smiling at the weekend, however, was Max Allegri. What was supposed to be the worst Milan in living memory has suddenly found the secret of winning games. Qualified for the later stages of the Champions League, the Rossoneri have clambered up the table to a much more respectable seventh place.

Their victims on Sunday were a Torino side with, as one commentator picturesquely described it, a defence softer than melted chocolate. Once again the Milanese giants had to slip behind before they came to life and ultimately devoured their opponents with ease. Not even a season-ending injury for Nigel De Jong was enough to deprive them of the sweet taste of success.

Perhaps the regular visits of Silvio Berlusconi are having an effect after all. Who knows what magic words he is using to inspire a team which was bound to take time to find an identity after losing Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva? Insert your favourite joke about the promise of a bunga-bunga party here.

There was also pleasure on the other side of the city after Sunday’s night game went the way of Inter against Napoli. Andrea Stramaccioni could permit himself a wry smile as his team moved into second place without needing the much-discussed Wesley Sneijder. An early strike from Fredy Guarin – entirely unmarked on a clever set-piece – set up the game perfectly for his side.

“We are not the anti-Juve, we’re not the anti-anyone,” quipped the Nerazzurri’s boss after the 2-1 victory. “The last time you called us that, we fell to pieces! Joking apart, we are pleased to be in second place – it has been a very positive season up to this point.”

His opposite number, Walter Mazzarri, did his best to put a brave face on the defeat. He was right to say that his team created plenty of chances and was much less clinical in front of goal than Inter. But, in the end, even an inspired Lorenzo Insigne was not enough to grab at least a point out of the trip to the San Siro.

Catania, Atalanta and Chievo also enjoyed important boosts up the table, but the big match nearer the foot of Serie A was at the Stadio Adriatico with Cristiano Bergodi’s Pescara getting a vital victory over an in-the-doldrums Genoa. The result put Gigi Del Neri’s short reign in charge of the Rossoblu under serious threat. He is one of the few managers in Italy’s top Division who actually does possess a moustache – but, unfortunately for him, he’s unlikely to be doing much laughing beneath it at the moment.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

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Have your say...
I dont know why true Italian football fans even reply to idiots when catenaccio is brougth up. They dont even realy know what the true meaning of the work is. Why do we have to have all nations & clubs playing the same? I dislike the EPL as they all play the same but have to RESPECT Chelsea in the maner to which they won the CL. Ask a Chelsea fan if they were unhappy when they won the CL because their team played catenaccio? All us neautrals tha watched are irrelavent.
on the 14th December, 2012 at 9:40pm
well we still have the best players in the world
totti -delpero- buffon- de rossi-chelini- and all the the fantastic kids coming through
on the 14th December, 2012 at 7:13pm
Antonio Conte is an Italian legend! Loved watching the team from Italy in the 80's - a team full of legends (now managers!)
on the 12th December, 2012 at 2:08pm
Welcome back Mister, Conte .. !
on the 11th December, 2012 at 10:04pm
But I beg of you Rosario to save us all, show us the light, is it by anychance like this...

Rosario & Brain playing tiki taka against Moh...

Rosario: See, you come close I pass ball
Brain: Pass ball to me Rosario, he come close pass ball to me.
Rosario: I pass ball to Brain, yes you see I pass ball

"Brain & Rosario passing the ball around Moh intercepts"

Rosario: Oh no, he got ball, retreat retreat !!!

At this point, Rosario trips over his shoelace while Moh scores an easy goal...
on the 11th December, 2012 at 8:30pm
@Moh. Lol educate the uneducated. You generalized and don't know the history behind anything, the irony. But I see people like you on the net all the time, they have a way with words, they think they know what they are talking about, but they are so ignorant is ridiculous.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:58pm
Can this website do us all a favor and teach the foreigners what catenaccio is and how the system is played please? Your word count doesn't allow me to explain the system properly, so please be my guest. This clueless Moh is labelling Lippi and Bearzot as catenaccio masterminds and I refuse to waste more time replying back to his utter rubbish.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:46pm
Oh Rosario, if there's anything that stinks, its your socks or maybe your nose is too close to your underpants.

My point is Italy were victorious using Catenaccio, case in point 2006 WC & yes they scored 12 goals but did you know they only conceded 2 goals, best defence of the competition.

Oh & Rosario did you know Chelsea beat Barcelona using Catenaccio.

Moral of the story...

Catenaccio > Tiki Taka
on the 11th December, 2012 at 6:32pm
I am happy that Brian can't talk about his over hyped EPL so he instead wasting his time on what Spain has achieved and not what the so called Three Lions have done in 100 years....Forza Italia..
on the 11th December, 2012 at 3:16pm
@Moh!Your generalisation stinks. tikitaka is now spanish culture? tikitaka came into the public space a few years ago when Guardiola took over Barcelona. Spain have won for 4years. also, the ideology itself was brought to Barcelona by the Dutch. Catenaccio is a football principle. Samba is a Brazilian dance and type of music. Samba might be one of the things foreigners think of when speaking of brazil but it doesn't dominate brazilian life! nor does catenaccio dominate italian football and life.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 2:24pm
Its funny to see people not interested in Italian football come on to this website with sour grapes. Brian doesn't sound like a "spanish" name to me anyway....more like a fanboy.

Forza Totti. Greatest Italian player. The best player in Spain isn't even Spanish...he's got Italian blood running through his veins.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 9:49am
Another one bites the dust - let me explain my earlier comment so the misinformed can understand.

Catenaccio is like football culture to Italians in the same way Samba is to Brazilians & tika taka to Spaniards. Why must Italians change its way to please others ?

England tried to beat Italy at their own game & see what happened. Italy tried to do the same with Spain and see what happened ? I bet had Prandelli used Catenaccio in the final, Italy would have been champions of Euro 2012...
on the 11th December, 2012 at 9:44am
@Brian! Please educate yourself a little more on football. Catenaccio was not thought of or implemented in the italian game until the 1950s and only became refined under Herrera in the 1960s. 34 and 38 were not won thru catenaccio and nor were 82 and 06. Also, we have won 4 world cups. Until the last decade, Italy didn't even take the european championships seriously. The national team used the euro as a way to prepare for the world cup. Spain play great football but have 1 world cup.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 8:08am
LoL LoL LoL, these comments are full of jokers, I might as well add more humor to it...

@British & Rosario - its not my fault you interpreted my words the wrong, because that wasn't my intention but I won't waste time educating the uneducated. As for me loving EPL & ITV, LoL April's fool is only next year ladies.

@brain - so you saying Spain achieved more in 5 years then Italy did in 62 ? Please be the judge & do the maths...
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:34am
@Moh and @Brian

It's a shame that you have relied on stereotypes developed by the English press. Do your own research and you might surprise yourselves. I think the other have made their point anyway.


Most nations are turning towards the tiki-taka, even Italy. The Italian style has more direct passing though.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:28am
@ Rosario and @Anonymous

Both of you have made valid points. The main point I was getting across is that Italian sides shouldn't focus on 'doing enough'. A nation like Italy has always had the offensive weapons to win by more than 1-0. It's not like calcio has lacked centre-forwards or support strikers. Catenaccio can serve a purpose in nations like Scotland and Greece but Italian teams should do more than just win by one goal.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 7:25am

Cattenacio was widely being used by Inter during 60 (which won them the European Champions Cup). Therefore, it was definitely used and implemented after that by clubs and the national team.
on the 11th December, 2012 at 6:37am

You mate are confused, if i am understanding your comment correctly you are comparing 62 years of Italian football to only 5 years of Spanish football. Be realistic & if you are going to compare 62 years of football then you should compare them equally!

Italy has won 6 major trophies including the '32 Olympic gold medal. Spain has only 5 major trophies & that includes the Olympic gold won in '92.

Spain currently has the best National side but the style of football constantly changes
on the 11th December, 2012 at 3:53am
Tiki-taka has brought Spain three major trophies in five years.

Cattenacio brought Italy five major trophies in 62 years.

You be the judge.
on the 10th December, 2012 at 11:01pm
@Moh. it is a real shame for poorly informed people like you to have access to a computer. we have won 4 world cups because of catenaccio? we scored the most goals in 2006, scored 12 goals and had the top scorer in 1982 and in 1934 and 1938, Catenaccio was not even thought of let alone implemented. Please go and follow your overhyped and foreign financed premier league.
on the 10th December, 2012 at 6:33pm
Moh - Italy won four World Cups with catenaccio? Four?
Just because the team was Italian doesn't mean they played catenaccio. (That is, unless you're an ITV commentator).
on the 10th December, 2012 at 5:59pm
Catenaccio brought Italy 4 world cups while tika taka brough Spain one world cup, does that mean Italy must change to tika taka because its more exciting ??? LoL you be the judge...
on the 10th December, 2012 at 4:23pm
Vito doria who said attacking was winning in style to me defending is also an art like a game of chess where you wait wait and then boom which is winning in style everyone says inter are a defending side who rely on counter attacks yet the same inter has one of the most explosive attacking options around who plays with a defensive attitude is a very intelligent tactic an example is inter napoli last a winning formula simples....
on the 10th December, 2012 at 3:08pm
@Vito Doria! There are important attributes to both Brera and Zeman's style of football. Just because a team is defensive, it doesn't make them any less skillful. Football is about scoring goals and the team that scores the most wins. But if you have a striker who scores 30 a season and yet a terrible defence, you won't win anything. Defensive qualities compliment attacking football. they go hand in hand. all successful sides have won by playing well and defending well. both to be appreciated
on the 10th December, 2012 at 2:32pm
Welcome back Antonio. I just can't get enough writing these words everywhere.
on the 10th December, 2012 at 11:53am
I'll go as far as saying it was the perfect weekend for Juve as Conte returns with a victory & goes 4 points clear of 2nd place Inter who were also victorious.

Silvio & Adriano are smiling because they made the right decision to stick with Allegri & not give him the boot, Milan are now in the top half of the table compared to being at the bottom.

Both Rome clubs & the Viola are in the top half of the table. Overall it was a good weekend of football & to see all the top team remain on top...
on the 10th December, 2012 at 11:31am
People who believe in Brera's football philosophy are cowards and don't understand football. Winning is one thing but doing it in style is even better. Calcio must make the most of its offensive talent. Generations of attacking stars were wasted because people were brainwashed by Brera.

Roma v Fiorentina was a great advertisement for the Italian game. Totti was great and he showed that class is permanent. Viviano could have had a better game for Fiorentina though.
on the 10th December, 2012 at 10:53am

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