The mid-week games in Serie A provided heart-breaks for most of the top table sides. Other than Internazionale, each of the top teams, including table toppers Milan, dropped points. AC Milan faced Lazio in what promised to be the most intriguing match of the week – first against third. Sadly, the match failed to live up to its billing. Lazio looked like they came to San Siro to play for a draw, and put up a gritty defensive display. Milan did create a few chances, but were undone by poor finishing and poor luck.
AS Roma failed to capitalize on Lazio’s dropped points, as they themselves were held to a 1-1 draw at home by lowly Brescia. Marco Boriello scored a scrappy goal to given Roma the lead in the hour mark. Brescia however, came back to make it 1-1 after 10 minutes. Relegation contenders Catania and Cesena played out a 1-1 draw in a game which will do no favours to either team. After being blanked 4-0 by Napoli last week, Sampdoria hosted Cagliari. Sampdoria owner Riccardo Garrone was jeered by the home crowd due to his decision of selling Cassano and Pazzini in winter market. Blucerchiati hardly did well in the match, falling to a Nainggolan stunner 10 minutes from the final whistle.
Fiorentina and Genoa faced each other at the Artemio Franchi, with neither teams playing consistently well this season. Fiorentina scraped out a 1-0 win, which boosted their chances of European football. Parma hosted an improving Lecce, allowing their newly acquired striker Amauri to start. The home team dominated, with Sebastian Giovinco and Candreva combining well. Lecce’s custodian was unbeatable and pulled out some top drawer saves. Lecce sneaked in a 0-1 win with a late strike. High flying Udinese drew 1-1 against Bologna in a largely drab encounter. Marco Di Vaio scored a wonderful goal to give Bologna the lead, but Udinese came back through a Domizzi goal.
Palermo had won each of the last three encounters with Juventus, and were the clear favourite when they welcomed the Bianconeri. They were 2-0 up in first 20 minutes. Juve did play pretty well for the rest of the match, but were unable to claw back. The pressure is mounting on Gigi Delneri, as his side have now won just one Serie A game in 2011 and are steadily slipping down the table. Internazionale was one of the few teams which benefited from this round. They dispatched a hapless Bari with a scoreline of 3-0, with new signings Pazzini and Kharja finding the back of the net. With this victory, Inter move to third place in the table and are breathing down the neck of their city rivals.
Match of the Round
Chievo 2-0 Napoli
Its pretty difficult to choose the match of the week, as none of the games were particularly enthralling. So the biggest upset of this week gets match of the week title. Chievo has been doing well this season, always surprising detractors despite their modest resources. When they hosted Napoli, no one expected them to get anything out of the game. Napoli were in red hot form and were looking to take advantage of Milan’s slip-up. The Chievo coach was reportedly struggling to find a weakness in Napoli’s team.
Davide Moscardelli put the flying donkeys ahead in the 20th minute with a fabulous turn and shot. Maggio came close to level the score, but Chievo were also creating chances on the other end. Moscardelli missed an open net, and both teams went into half time with the score 1-0. Five minutes into the second half, Chievo made it 2-0 through Sardo. That more or less wrapped up the match for the team from Verona.
Goal of the Round
Radja Nainggolan (Sampdoria vs Cagliari)
Save(s) of the Round
Antonio Rosati (Lecce vs Parma)
Rosatti’s save came after a fluid Parma move. Sebastian Giovinco started the move from the left wing, waltzing past the Parma right-back and slipping in a pass to Antonio Candreva, who was on the edge of the box. The latter took a touch and fired a shot towards Rosati’s far post. Rosati produced a brilliant stop to deny Candreva. What makes Rosati’s save even more brilliant is the fact that there was 3-4 players blocking his line of sight when the shot was taken.
Emiliano Viviano (Udinese vs Bologna)
A defensive mix-up released Antonio Di Natale, last season’s top scorer, in the second half. None of the defenders were near him, and Toto was one on one with Viviano. He unleashed a fierce close ranger which was incredibly kept out by the Bologna ‘keeper. Viviano’s timing on leaving his line was also perfect, as it gave less time to Di Natale to place his shot.
Assist of the Round
Javier Pastore’s gloriously floated delivery to Miccoli for Palermo’s opener takes the cake.
Star of the Round
The Bologna ‘keeper has recently made it to La Nazionale, replacing the highly rated Salvatore Sirigu. The Udinese match showed why Viviano is so highly rated in Serie A. He pulled out a series of brilliant saves to deny one of the best attacking sides in Italy. His save off Toto Di Natale arguably changed the course of the match. A few minutes after the Di Natale save, he denied Inler’s goal-bound effort. Very few observers expected Bologna to get a point in an away game in Udinese, but Viviano made it possible.
Flop of the Round
Aquilani’s form has dropped alarmingly in 2011. He was one of the main reasons why Juve’s midfield functioned as a solid unit in first half of the season. Now he looks tired and struggles to put together defence splitting passes. As a result of this, the Juve midfield has become very one-dimensional. Against Palermo, the scene didn’t change, as Aquilani had another off day. His trademark long rangers are another thing that has been missing. He rarely moves up into shooting positions, instead preferring to provide defensive cover to the centre-backs.
Controversies of the Round
The biggest controversy of this round came around the hour mark in Bari-Inter match. Christian Chivu punched Marco Rossi on the face, and should have gotten sent off for that off-the-ball incident. Both the referee and the linesman missed it, and Chivu went unpunished. He is sure to get some punishment after FIGC reviews video evidence.
Another refereeing controversy came in the Palermo-Juventus match, just before Claudio Marchisio scored. Cesar Bovo clearly handled the ball in Palermo’s penalty box. The ball was almost half a meter away from his body when Bovo extended his arm and touched it – a clear case of deliberate handball, which surprisingly didnt convince the officials.
ROFL Moment of the Round
Hasan Salihamidzic was all set to come on as a substitute in Palermo-Juve match. Momo Sissoko failed to notice that, and he thought that the former Bayern man was already on the field. So Sissoko passed to Salihamidzic, who made no efforts to trap the ball. Sissoko was shocked, as the ball slowly rolled out for a throw-in.
The Cagliari coach’s reaction after Nainggolan’s stunning goal was also priceless.
Race for the Golden Boot
|Antonio Di Natale||15|
|Marco Di Vaio||14|
Team of the Round : 4-4-1-1
AC Milan 0 – 0 Lazio
AS Roma 1 – 1 Brescia
Cesena 1 – 1 Catania
Chievo 2 – 0 Napoli
Fiorentina 1 – 0 Genoa
Palermo 2 – 1 Juventus
Parma 0 – 1 Lecce
Sampdoria 0 – 1 Cagliari
Udinese 1 – 1 Bologna
Bari 0 – 3 Inter Milan