Monday January 28 2013
Goals over grumbles

While controversy reigned in Turin, Mauro Icardi caught the eye at Sampdoria. Giancarlo Rinaldi wraps up a memorable Week 22.

This could have been another blog about the moaning and groaning of Antonio Conte. His post-match whines when his team failed to beat Genoa on Saturday hogged the headlines for much of the weekend. But let’s give top-billing to the magnificent Mauro Icardi instead.

This is an emotional time for Sampdoria. They lost President Riccardo Garrone this week to a long illness and wanted to put together a fitting football tribute when Pescara came to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. They did so in style and Icardi was the torturer-in-chief.

It was a performance full of teenage verve and vigour. He led his opponents a merry dance and by the time the final whistle blew, he had amassed four goals out of a phenomenal 6-0 triumph. It helped put a smile back on the faces of Doria fans at the end of a poignant few days.

There was also reason for Italy boss Cesare Prandelli to be happy with the outcome. Rosario-born Icardi had always indicated that he would favour the land of his birth over that of his ancestors when it came to international duty. However, his post-match comments hinted he might yet have a future with the Azzurri rather than the Albiceleste.

“I’ve always said that I feel Argentinian but if Italy called me up that would be a positive thing,” he said. “If that should happen, we shall see, I will choose whatever is best for me.”

And now, with a heavy heart, to matters in Turin. First we had Conte claiming his team deserved not one, not two, but three penalties after failing to beat Genoa and crying Vergogna - disgrace. Then director Beppe Marotta weighed in to suggest that the referee was in difficulty because he hailed from near Naples - home to the Bianconeri’s most serious title rivals. The once famous Juventus style had clearly left the building.

It’s not the individual incidents but the subtext of the claims which is starting to become more tedious than those pounding club anthems they insist on playing at your local gym. Week in, week out, we are asked to believe in some kind of post-Calciopoli agenda to keep punishing La Vecchia Signora. It plays well with their own support but, to anyone with a memory longer than their last tweet, it is all a bit tiresome.

Conte could look closer to home than the referee for his team’s failings of late. They were slow to get into gear on Saturday after would-be challengers Lazio had already slipped up against Chievo. Their attack, too, looks desperately low on goal threat despite seeing enormous amounts of the ball. And, for all their complaints, nobody in Serie A has had more penalty kicks awarded to them this season than the Bianconeri.

But it is easier to come out all-guns-blazing and blame your failure to take three points on the match officials. The hope, of course, is that it gets you a key decision or two in your favour in the weeks to come. How distant seem the philosophical days of Samp guru Vujadin Boskov with his broken-Italian wisdom: “A penalty it is, if the referee whistles”.

The sad thing is that, behind these recurring storms of protest, there is actually a great season being played out. Napoli roared back to within three points of La Vecchia Signora by achieving what nobody else has managed so far in Serie A this season – winning against Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini. But, who knows, perhaps the ball boys were all from Frattamaggiore?

Besides the Partenopei, it was also a good weekend for Milan who clawed their way back into the European places. Those who watched them in the opening weeks of the season will think this is a recovery worthy of Lazarus. They underlined on their away trip to Atalanta that they have learned to grind out victories and that, while others around them have slipped up, has allowed them to progress. What if Max Allegri is not the incompetent some seemed to believe a few months ago?

The Rossoneri overtook a Fiorentina side once again cursing its luck after losing from a winning position at Catania. Enjoying good possession and spurning a string of chances has become a recurring theme for the Viola of late. With three League defeats and Coppa Italia elimination, 2013 is proving to be their unlucky number. Their Sicilian conquerors, meanwhile, have the scent of Europe in their nostrils.

If continental football arrives for Roma, it looks like it might be more likely to come through the Coppa Italia after another madcap match with Bologna. A goal glut seems to accompany the admission charge whenever the Giallorossi are in action. Their attack is thrilling but, at the Stadio Dall’Ara, their defence had a gap the size of the A1 autostrada right up its middle.

There was plenty of excitement, too, in Sunday’s night fixture between Inter and Torino at the Stadio Meazza. The Granata are a much-improved side while the Nerazzurri remain an intriguing work in progress. They dished up a 2-2 draw which was full of surprises - none more so than Riccardo Meggiorini bagging a double against the club where he started his career.

If only games like that and performances like Icardi’s could be the talking points from now until the end of the season. Instead of whinging about the decisions not given by a referee, we could actually focus on what Serie A teams had gone out and achieved. But, then, that probably would not be Italian football, would it?

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Have your say...
@anonymous....why bring up Napoli. Them and their players were cleared of any wrong doing because they were innocent. Conte was not and proved in court. Juve are/were corrupt and proved in court. Conte did abuse the ref at the end of the game when he should have known better. Guess what.... Guilty again! You are just another Juve fan complaining because their team cannot get their own way and buy/influence results anymore! Grow up!
on the 29th January, 2013 at 7:59pm
If Icardi wants to play for Argentina, he should play for the albiceleste. He shouldn't be forced into playing for the Azzurri and Prandelli should be placing more faith in forwards born in Italy. Osvaldo is more than plenty. Italy doesn't need more oriundi.

As a Sampdoria supporter, I just want to thank Barca for getting rid of him. He doesn't fit into the tiki-taka but he has Doria-style!

on the 29th January, 2013 at 11:50am
Conte's complaining???? He doesn't do it that much, he makes a comment on how he saw decisions, which people want managers to do and it is called complaining. He sat for months behind a screen becuase 1 person said he knew of a fixing attempt, 22 others said he didn't, napoli, and their players of course were cleared, and what a surprise, Conte gets a two match ban for speaking (in anger yes) to the ref. This season it is the authorities that have tried to stop Juve not refs.
on the 29th January, 2013 at 7:05am
Zeman has to come. Im a big depressed roma fan. His inept tactics have cost us dear. The way things stand coppa italia is our only chance of europe. Another crap season. I love roma, but as fans we deserve better. Give it to de rossi dad till the summer, then try everything for mouriniho. We need to spend a lot on building a new defense in the summer.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 9:46pm
That game and this article just proved one more time that Juve is the best and everybody scare of them.
Napoli will never catch Juve because they don't have that stigma,they are all jealous with juve's success and beating their heads against a brick wall just wishing and seeing dreams how they will become first in a table.Forget about,Juve is back and whether you like it or not - Juve will win this season as well and all of you haters - you can go play FIFA with your favorite teams.Forza Juve!!!
on the 28th January, 2013 at 7:40pm
Italy seems to have this attitude that nobody can make a mistake, its always a conspiracy, referees can and do make mistakes and that will always be the case BUT the FIGC needs to start enforcing some quality control as the decisions this season seem to be particularly bad and all the conspiracy theories that go with that will just enforce the foreign view that its a corrupt league. Better referees are needed for everyone, not just Juve, Milan, Inter, Roma, Lazio, Napoli.
Forza Juve.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 6:29pm

Tell me how many times have Juve won the CL? and how many times have Milan won it...
on the 28th January, 2013 at 5:59pm
to Viktor

In the mid of last season Milan was 7 points ahead of second place team. Was it again Muntari's cancelled goal that made them lose those 7 points gap?? Forget already about that goal. There was a Matri's goal (whatever you say) & an ref's invented penalty on Isla during this season. All is balanced.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 5:16pm
to terry
/juve should just concentrate to win on the pitch/

That's right, BUT.. remember Italy on World Cup in Japan & Korea. You see what ref can do. Juve quite probably would have won IF Vucinic was not touched & pulled back or/and if Granqvist wouldn't have played a HANDball in a FOOTball match. So these are ephisodes when ref comes forward, BUT ref just urged to go on playing. Funny.

Imagine a similar handball of Juve player instead of Granqvist - what a noise there would be in media..
on the 28th January, 2013 at 5:12pm
to Viktor

both cancelled goals & penalty for Isla's back prove only ONE thing - referees in Italy ARE amateurs.
And following the juridical decisions of Italian sport authorities I can see that the Italian juridical system is just as well amateur as the refs are.
Once again: Juve is the best that Italy ever produced. Stop killing your football. And this is my advise to you from Armenia.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 5:07pm
OH come on! Fine, you would rather we ignore he declining standard of refereeing in Italy so everyone outside thinks everything is fine and peachy? If one doesn't talk about things like that, it will happen again and again and again till Italian referees start making this kind of errors on the international stage and become a laughing stock.
As a referee, you have assistants to help you if you are not sure. Use them, instead of ignoring them!
on the 28th January, 2013 at 4:22pm
arthur,juve should just concentrate to win on the pitch and rely less on penalties..what you want to compare to barca and real madrid by winning through penalties? get real..u win if u are good, and u lose when you are bad, and u draw when things go either way. over the long run everything evens out and conte however dedicated he is making a fool of let's imagine what will happen next week..or probably should juve just shut off from the media again? we can go on and on about who's wronged juve but then if you are no good now then just give credit to the opponent..that's how we earn respect and not talking about the past since there are many other reasons or not why juve won or lost. or inter or milan for that matter.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 3:38pm
I love Calcio but i am not Italian and I do not love this constant bickering about referees. There are poor refs the world over who make poor calls but the reality is Juve were not good enough to win. If they had taken their chances they had they wouldn't have needed the penalties to win. As for Muntari's goal last season Milan were not good enough to beat Juve or win the scudetto because they simply were not good enough. You take your chances you win, you don't you pay the price.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 3:21pm

The reason people remember muntaris goal is simple. The ball was bout a meter (3foot) inside of the goal when Buffon picked it up, and tried to counter attack in a very professional way, gentleman that he is. matri's 'goal' was a very harsh offside call, which happens every second game.

Now Milan would have been up 2-0 in half time if the ref for would gave Given the goal buffon picked up on hes own net. Yeah.. Think bout that.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 2:36pm
It is only "moaning and groaning" when Juventus is the victim. When Juventus benefits from a call or a non-call, then it is theft, bribery, match-fixing, calciopoli, and the crime of the century. Even the Fiorentina supporter who wrote this blog knows that I am correct. It's not his fault that Italy acts this way, but he chooses to foster this attitude.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 2:16pm
TO: terry

hey, everyone very well remembers that Muntari goal, but no one (what a surprise) remebers Matri's cancelled goal in the same match and the penalty granted to Milan for Isla's back. Probably you just shut up?
on the 28th January, 2013 at 1:49pm
Arthur, i totally agree with your comment!
on the 28th January, 2013 at 1:45pm
Spreading insults proves how miserable one could be. There was no "moaning and groaning", it's Inter's prerogative. There was a furious shouting, which is normal when amateurs like Guido "aren't sure" of their professional work. Juve's the best Italy ever produced (I'm saying this being non-Italian). One day you all be thanking Conte who will bring new WC title for Italy's National. The main goal of Italy now should be to get rid of amateur "not-sure" referees and funny sport juridical system.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 12:49pm
good article.. i think there's more football to talk about than conte's rumbling..considering what happened to sampdoria's president this week ..all the more nonsense there is that conte and marotta should be so loud and disillusioned with their failure to win at genoa. being a juve fan, it is high time i think that conte put a stop to his ridiculous attitude that makes poor image of himself and the club..if he thinks all this rambling around and screaming helps he is wrong because i am also getting bored.. ref decisions go either way but did juve remember the milan goal that crossed the line and spectacularly was not seen by the refs? probably all the refs were from turin then. get real win on the pitch and forget about depending on penalties.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 12:23pm
As a juventino, I don't like how we behaved last weekend. But what I really hate is when someone like you, giancarlo rinaldi.. bashed juve when they behaved like that, but wrote nothing when the other teams did the same thing. Why didn't you write nothing when inter behaved the same two months ago?

on the 28th January, 2013 at 10:28am
It is very easy to criticize the behavior of Conte and Marota when certain things happened on the field, every one can see that the result was determined by the referee decisions. The most important thing is that when such things happened in favor of Juventus then the comments are exactly the opposite way.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 10:10am
Giancarlo, you are spot on with the tediousness of it all now. We are missing the bigger picture when it comes to Italian football. The league which used to be this own self ingesting stereotype league, is actually changing a lot of things on the pitch. From tactics to new, young, bright stars of the future. If only the stadiums could get renewed, imagine how many would be salivating over the prospect of Calcio every weekend. This archaic finger pointing since the time of Nero just ruins it all.
on the 28th January, 2013 at 9:59am

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