The 19th week of Serie A produced a series of exciting and unexpected results. It was an absolutely insane weekend with teams on the top dropping points against weaker opponents. Table toppers Milan drew at home against Udinese – the match amazingly finished 4-4 and was easily the most exciting match in recent times. Napoli took full advantage of the slip as they dismantled Juventus 3-0. Eddie Reja’s Lazio side lost against Lecce, at home, losing a glorious chance to close the gap on Milan. Another big gainer was Internazionale who won 2-1 away to Catania. Catania took a lead on 71st minute but Esteban Cambiasso struck twice to grab three invaluable points for the Nerazzuri. A 2-1 loss to Sampdoria had dented AS Roma’s title chances last season. They slumped to a defeat against the same team again by the same scoreline. Three men were ejected in that match. Parma couldn’t build on their shock win over Juventus from last matchday, losing 2-1 at home to Cagliari. Fiorentina were down 2-0 at half time against Brescia but roared back to win the game 3-2.
Star of the week: Edinson Cavani against Juventus
Last season Cavani proved to be a thorn in the Old Lady’s side during his tenure in Palermo. This season, Cavani has changed his club but his effect on Juventus is unchanged. On a day when Juve were left ruing missed opportunities, the Uruguayan hitman showed exceptional strike rate. Cavani put Napoli ahead on the 20th minute with his first touch of the ball, heading in a Maggio cross. With his second touch he made it 2-0, this time from a Dessena cross. Cavani completed his headed hattrick on 53rd minute when he dived in to turn in Marek Hamsik’s cross. With three excellently headed goals Cavani was definitely the standout performer of matchday-19.
Match of the week: Milan 4-4 Udinese
This was by far the best match in 2011 and it’s unlikely you will see a better match for rest of the year. AC Milan and Udinese matches tend to have goals in them – 36 goals have been scored in last 5 fixtures. Udinese began Serie A on a shambolic note – losing each of its first 4 matches. Since then, they have improved by leaps and bounds, and have turned into one of the most attractive teams in Serie A. Antonio Di Natale put Udinese ahead on 35th minute with a perfect poacher’s goal. Pato cancelled it out to make it 1-1 on stroke of half-time. The Bianconeri dominated the 2nd half, racing to a 3-1 lead by 66th minute, through goals from Sanchez and Di Natale. It looked like Udinese were on their way to a memorable victory. Antonio Cassano, however, had other ideas. Coming on with 35 minutes left on the clock he ultimately changed the course of the match. Milan made it 2-3 from a deflected goal on 78th minute. Inevitably they made it 3-3 on 82nd minute – Pato scored his second goal from a Cassano assist. Just when the spectators were thinking that both teams had settled for a high-scoring draw German Denis made it 3-4 for Udinese. Everything went haywire after that for remaining four minutes. Incredibly, Milan again came back to make it 4-4. Ibra scored the last goal of this scintillating encounter with a little help from Cassano. This match was a classic encounter and will go on the put the ignorant myth of “Serie A is boring” to rest.
Goal of the week: Mirko Vucinic against Sampdoria
The Montenegrin is one of the most technically gifted players in Serie A and he showed glimpses of his talent against Sampdoria. Receiving the ball in his own half Vucinic brilliantly got the better of Stefano Lucchini before slotting an unstoppable shot past Curci.
Flops of the week: Zdenek Grygera and Armand Traore
The two Juventus full-back were in the worst of forms against Napoli. Juventus slumped to their second consecutive defeat after an 18 match unbeaten streak and these two should share a large chunk of the blame. Traore, loaned from Arsenal seems to be unaware of how to defend as a full-back. He failed to close down the left flank as Napoli wingers gleefully exploited his ineptitude. Each of Napoli’s goals came from crosses from the wings.
Amazing turnaround of the week: Gigi De Cani and Lecce
Lecce were languishing in the relegation zone and there was immense pressure on coach Gigi De Canio. Reports coming out of Italy suggested that De Canio would get the boot after the Lazio match. What followed in the match was nothing short of spectacular. Lecce hung on to a historic away win over Lazio, the first in their history. A 2-1 win over the second placed team in Serie A ensured that De Canio lived to see another day.
Race for the Golden Boot
Antonio Di Natale 13
Edinson Cavani 13
Marco Di Vaio 11
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 10
Samuel Eto’o 9
Save of the week: Morgan De Sanctis against Juventus
Hamsik might be basking in all the glory after Napoli’s win but De Sanctis deserves equal share of credit for keeping a clean sheet. With the score 1-0, Amauri wrestled away from Gianluca Grava and unleashed a powerful header. It looked as if Amauri would finally break his long barren streak with this well placed effort. De Sanctis thought otherwise, as he acrobatically pushed denied the Juventus striker.
Team of the week (3-1-3-3): De Sanctis; Zauri, Cannavaro, Cesar; Cambiasso ; Guberti, Grossmuller, Sanchez; Cassano, Di Natale, Cavani
Sampdoria 2 – 1 AS Roma
AC Milan 4 – 4 Udinese
Bari 0 – 2 Bologna
Catania 1 – 2 Inter Milan
Cesena 0 – 0 Genoa
Chievo 0 – 0 Palermo
Fiorentina 3 – 2 Brescia
Lazio 1 – 2 Lecce
Parma 1 – 2 Cagliari
Napoli 3 – 0 Juventus