Monday January 7 2013
New Year Revolution

There was more than one shock when Serie A resumed this weekend following the Christmas break. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up the surprising action.

Somebody must have spiked the Panettone over the festive season. What looked like a pretty humdrum return to action for Serie A produced more surprises than Santa Claus. And, just like that jumper you got when you were expecting a new bicycle, not all of them were welcome.

Taking the title for most stunning scoreline in the final round of matches of the first half of the season was undoubtedly Sampdoria’s win at the Juventus Stadium. A Sebastian Giovinco penalty and a red card for the visitors had set the Blucerchiati a task more tricky than a blindfold Sudoku. But, between the marvellous Mauro Icardi and some slippery substance apparently applied to Gigi Buffon’s gloves, they found a solution.

The goalkeeper, as is his style, was the first to hold his hand up and take the blame. “I am disappointed because my mistake affected the result,” he admitted. “When I made my error, I thought we had time to sort things out, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m annoyed that every time I slip up we can’t get the win.”

As for the Doriani, they were grateful that their decision not to allow Icardi to play for Argentina’s Under-20 side in their World Cup qualifiers paid off. “He’s a talented boy, it would have been foolish to send him to play in the South American competition,” said Coach Delio Rossi. And, by the final whistle, the tactician was finally able punch the air – instead of one of his own players.

Second billing on the upset chart would have to go to Pescara. They had floppy-fringed goalkeeper Mattia Perin to thank for their victory over Fiorentina after a string of breath-taking first-half saves. Imagine how he might perform if he didn’t have all that hair in his eyes.

It was a bitter blow to the Viola who had new signing Giuseppe Rossi sitting alongside Andrea Della Valle at the game. They passed up a huge number of chances that must have had the Italo-American striker itching to get back onto the pitch. A fatal one-two from Jonathas and Mervan Celik silenced an expectant Stadio Artemio Franchi.

Less shocking in outcome, but definitely quite stunning in scoreline, was Inter’s disaster in Udine. There are signs that the Friuli boys are performing to pattern and starting to adapt to the loss of some key players in the summer. It is a matter of debate how good it would be for Italian football in general if they do qualify for Europe once again – only to dismantle their side once more.

On the Nerazzurri front, Andrea Stramaccioni was left to mourn the “surprising” refereeing decisions he feels have been affecting his team. He reckoned Udinese should have lost a man and his side deserved a penalty kick. The cumulative effect, whatever your viewpoint on those decisions, was that Inter encouraged everyone chasing them to believe that an overtaking manoeuvre is more than possible.

The main sides who did hit the accelerator were Lazio, Milan and Napoli. Cagliari were full of recrimination – understandably so – after seeing two red cards and a penalty help to wipe out their lead gained through Marco Sau at the Stadio Olimpico. It was also disappointing to note, after Milan’s midweek racism walk-off, that there seemed to be similar treatment reserved for the Sardinian’s Victor Ibarbo. It is an issue which still needs to be addressed, no matter how much Lazio President Claudio Lotito protested innocence.

Milan’s speed-burst was a 2-1 win over Siena achieved without the usual goal from Stephan El Shaarawy.  In years gone by, this would have been a routine victory, but in the current campaign it was considered a vital triumph for Max Allegri. “This was a nice win,” he said. “But now we have to put together a string of good results.”

In Sunday’s night game, the expected goal feast materialised at the San Paolo, but it was Roma who were on the receiving end as hat-trick hero Edinson Cavani sent Napoli back up the table. A few question marks were raised about the wisdom of the Giallorossi travelling to America to play a true Mickey Mouse friendly during a winter break at Disney World. They certainly looked a little more Goofy than in recent slick wins over Milan and Fiorentina.

Cavani himself seemed to hint that if Napoli can win their appeal against a two-point deduction, they still believe they can be title contenders. “It is important for us,” he said. “Everybody thought after a couple of bad results we had collapsed. But this was a show of professionalism and proves that we can still fight for something that matters.”

There was one final surprise from the weekend at Parma in a game with Palermo which seemed destined to end in a draw. The Law of the Ex was once more in evidence as never-find-the-net hitman Amauri popped up to grab a late, late winner for the Emiliani against his old team. And, if that can happen, who knows what other shocks might be in store for the rest of the year?

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Have your say...
@ Dan Giambrone

Spot on !!
on the 9th January, 2013 at 7:04pm
Forza Milan
on the 8th January, 2013 at 10:00am
I still shock with Fiorentina lost from unbelievable Pescara. Perin made different!!! #ForzaViola
on the 7th January, 2013 at 4:30pm
@LondonJuveLadGazza So this is the same talent-less Milan that beat your beloved Juve? We're not going to win anything this year, but I'd rather we didn't resort to buying a 35 year old when there is a new policy in place at the club to focus on youth and Italian players. Also Drogba spends far too long on the deck....just ask Napoli after their CL match last year.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 3:45pm
Part 2

Roma: They just can not defend!; Zeman should consider a switch to a 352. Their full-backs are really wing-backs, & the defence would benefit from De Rossi playing in there-just like he did for Italy in the Euro's;Destro should be loaned out-he is playing with too many nerves and is overthinking too much.
Fiorentina: The opposite of Inter! Too many artists and not enough steel in the midfield.
Lazio: Very solid, great coach!
Milan: Too many issues to list!
on the 7th January, 2013 at 2:48pm
Part 1
This weekends fixture's simply reinforced my opinions on the following:
Juventus:lack a clinical, consistent forward; Marchisio disappears too much;Pirlo is their greatest strength, but also their greatest weakness-in that he is bypassed too easily in midfield.
Napoli: good against the big teams, but will drop too many points against the smaller clubs.
Inter:Too many destroyers in midfield; no creativity/composure in the midfield;Strama is not worthy of all the hype!
on the 7th January, 2013 at 2:42pm
Inter it's Sneijder.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 1:51pm
boys boys boys, one nil up and they were down to ten men.......what happened??
we need a clinical finisher in the shape of Drogba and not Llorente....vucinic missing from a yard (as much as i like him) and Matri moaning all the time (although another player i like) shows we are still in need of a top striker.......stop messing about and sign Drogba before the talentless Milan do.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 12:34pm
Lazio for the Scudetto!!!!! Forza Lazio!!!!
on the 7th January, 2013 at 11:51am
As a juventino, I admit that sampdoria deserved to win. They smartly used their chances.

@Giancarlo Rinaldi: why didn't you write about matri's incident last night? If that decision was on juve's side, you and the other self claimed "journalist" would surely wrote "the penalty was CONTROVERSIALLY DENIED". We, juventini just want all of you to be fair. You bashed juve when such incident happened on our favor, yet said nothing when the opposite happened.

Still, respect to sampdoria.
on the 7th January, 2013 at 11:29am
This weekend's action encapsulated some the many reasons why I love Serie A. The drama, the recrimination, surprise results and some good quality matches to boot (this doesn't include my Milan's match!!).

I have missed it over xmas and even resorted to watching FA Cup to try and ease the pain, but I say a warm 'bentornato' to calcio italiano!
on the 7th January, 2013 at 10:49am
Forza Lazio!
on the 7th January, 2013 at 10:36am

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