Monday March 24 2014
Conflict in Catania

Top beat bottom, the Milan crisis roadshow rolled on and Inter’s revival suffered a setback. Giancarlo Rinaldi sums up another intriguing week of Serie A action.

It was football, Jim, but not as we know it. After a precision strike by Andrea Pirlo had won a tense but classy Europa League clash with Fiorentina, Juventus needed a different set of skills in Sicily on Sunday night. It was appropriate, perhaps, that a street-fighter like Carlitos Tevez won them the match.

You could hardly blame Catania for throwing everything they could think of at the Bianconeri in their top versus bottom encounter at the Stadio Massimino. However, it produced a game which often seemed more akin to a boxing match than a Serie A fixture. Those of a certain vintage might have thought the most appropriate player on the pitch was Fabian Monzon with his echoes of a middleweight champ of yesteryear, Carlos, who carried the same surname.

Three sendings off - one for each Coach and one for Gonzalo Bergessio after a game-long tussle with Giorgio Chiellini - were the final tale of the tape. But it said plenty about La Vecchia Signora’s character that she was able to walk away with another victory. Sometimes she uses the light-fingered skills of the pickpocket to pinch the points but on this occasion she was more than happy to go blow-for-blow with a feisty opponent before delivering the killer blow. It takes all sorts of victories to compile a Scudetto triumph.

Such clinical and varied skills were missing, however, in the Stadio Olimpico where Lazio and Milan shared the spoils. A deflected Kaka shot looked like it might have given the Rossoneri a precious win but a header from Tata Gonzalez denied them victory. In a season in which both clubs have had more than one moment of crisis, it was a result which really did neither any favours. Their supporters can compare notes at the end of the campaign over who has the most reason to be outraged.

The result did, however, seem likely to allow Clarence Seedorf to limp on a little further in charge of the Milanese giants. His side did not perform brilliantly but they did come away with something from a tricky ground to visit. If he can somehow hang in there to the summer, perhaps, he will have half a chance to build this team into the kind of side he wants. Whether he will be given the time, however, has to have a huge question mark attached.

Earlier on Sunday evening, the derby of Italy’s disappointed Europa League sides went the way of Fiorentina. It was a win which was harsh on a Napoli side which played most of the match with 10 men after losing Faouzi Ghoulam, but remained committed to attack. A victory for Rafa Benitez’s men would have all but guaranteed them Champions League football next season but a late Joaquin strike allowed the Viola to narrow the gap to seven points. It’s still a handsome advantage, but it gives Vincenzo Montella’s men an outside shot at the top three at the end of a week which had seen their morale-crushing defeat to Juventus in Europe.

It was a weekend of Serie A surprises, too, as Inter’s impressive revival of recent weeks was unplugged by Stefano Colantuono’s in-form Atalanta side. Giacomo Bonaventura was the man to ensure the Bergamaschi took all three points with a double either side of a Mauro Icardi strike. Walter Mazzarri’s men could easily have won an aggressive, open match but - for the time being at least - their rise up the table has been put on hold.

“You can’t create as many chances as this - as we have on other occasions - and not score,” lamented the Nerazzurri boss. “You can’t start the second half letting three or four goalscoring chances go begging in the first eight minutes - especially against an Atalanta side which is playing so well.”

The other shock - if not in outcome, then certainly in the scale of the scoreline - was Sampdoria’s 5-0 thrashing of Verona. Perhaps Hellas have started to rest on their laurels having hit the 40 point mark with the assumed Serie A safety it brings. Certainly, they were devoured by a hungrier Genoese outfit who are clearly starting to take on the fighting characteristics their Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic craves.

That result clinched a bad weekend for the city of Verona with Chievo having been in ultra-generous mood against Roma on Saturday evening. The Giallorossi need no gifts but the Flying Donkeys crashed and burned early with a string of calamitous errors. Gervinho took advantage of one early on while Mattia Destro raced along a motorway up the middle of their defence to clinch the win. In the process, he continued to flag up his progress to Cesare Prandelli.

He’ll have some work to do, however, to overtake Ciro Immobile in the Azzurri pecking order. He struck three times - the last one a real beauty - to down Livorno and get Torino back to winning ways. European football may have flown, but it remains a very positive season overall for the Granata.

Elsewhere, Parma took their undefeated run to 17 games with a come from behind draw at home to Genoa. Toto Di Natale scored one and missed a penalty as Udinese saw off Sassuolo and Bologna won a tense clash with Cagliari thanks to a Lazaros Christodoulopoulos penalty. Rarely can a goalscorer have had a more appropriate first name if his goal kick-starts a miraculous recovery for the Rossoblu.

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

Have your say...
@the romanista anon, I would worry about my own team for the next season if I were you. Next season (a)you will not have the benefit of playing once a week (b) mass departure of key players (Pjanic->PSG, Benatia->MU) and (c) you will likely end up in the group of death. You will need much luck than just Gervinho! Let's see how you perform then.

Barcelona (pot 1), B. Dortmund (pot 2), Liverpool (pot 3), AS Roma (pot 4).
on the 25th March, 2014 at 5:31pm
Only a nitwit would compare any foul committed by ANY juve player, I mean ANY, throughout the season with what De Rossi did.

What De Rossi did is despicable and would be condemned even in Sunday pub leagues... I am not sure what exactly are these people high on to sit there with straight faces and actually compare THAT with with actions of any Juve player.

You're losing Scudetto, because you're JUST not good enough.
on the 25th March, 2014 at 8:27am
Shame to see Napoli turning into internazionale! If The Spanish waiter wants to coach spaniards, he should go to Spain! Insigne was the only Italian in the team and even got subbed. Too many second rate stranieri, like Inter and Milan
There are Plenty of quality young Italians playing for lesser clubs in serie A and Serie B!
on the 24th March, 2014 at 8:17pm
Ahh, the Romanista's are out again. Always whining about Juve because their team keeps slipping points wise. De Rossi got 3 games for throwing a sucker punch, and he deserved it.

Stop whining Romanista. The Scudetto is lost because your team simply isn't good enough.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 6:40pm

the hate is strong with you. The haters must be feeling demoralised seeing Juve winning matches after matches despite playing ugly.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 5:24pm
@Anonymous 1 & 2 - Cry me a river. Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of your teams you are consumed by envy. Juve wins on the pitch. Relegated unfairly & then back on top. That must hurt.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 4:57pm
You won't see so much as a hint of yellow against RuBe until they get a defender back from injury. They could take out a gun and shoot a forward, without repercussion.

De Rossi got 3 games for throwing a punch. Juan got 3 games for... doing something that wasn't even visible on the replay, just the Roma player falling. Bonucci won't get anything for trading punches. Guaranteed.

Feel free to write about that in any opinion piece here.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 3:21pm
Not a surprise at all that in such a back and forth fight only Catania got a player sent off. Fitting that a judge ruled in a civil case that RuBe are culpable for all the Calciopoli mess that we see more of that bias. Indeed, RuBe only got a single caution in that whole fight - to a forward. Opposing defenders with yellows in the first 3 minutes, opposing forwards sent off once they have a lead. How much help does RuBe need? No wonder they got bounced from the Champions League - in Denmark.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 2:49pm
Catania - Juve was very hard to watch. But what matters is Juve got the win and escaped uninjuried.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 2:14pm
Milan's draw and Napoli's lose makes for a tough day. Sad to see my two favorite teams suffering.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 1:10pm
Milan's draw and Napoli's lose makes for a tough day. Sad to see my two favorite teams suffering.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 1:09pm
Sad to see Milan draw and Napoli lose. My two favorite teams are having a rough patch.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 1:08pm
Catania threw everything but the game of football. The Juve - Catania game was the worst piece of trash I've ever watched, and I've watched Ligue 1. Catania deserves to drop into Serie B after their display yesterday, which was nothing but an embarrassment to Italian football.
on the 24th March, 2014 at 11:53am

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