Last night over 400 million viewers around the world tuned in to watch El Clasico as powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona squared off against each other. The biggest derby in Italy began when the Clasico had already started and unsurprisingly failed to capture public imagination to the extent the Spanish derby did. This is yet another testament to the steadily declining standards of Italian club football. Even Silvio Berlusconi chose to stay away from the derby.
The match itself didn’t live up to the billing with neither of the Milan clubs showing any glimpse that they can be genuine title challengers this season. Internazionale took the lead in early first half as Walter Samuels headed in a free kick from Cambiasso. Inter could have increased their lead soon thanks to a howler from Abbiati. AC Milan soon clawed their way back into the match as Inter looked all set to defend out their lead. Milan could have felt hard done by as a goal from Riccardo Montolivo was cancelled out controversially and they had some strong penalty shouts waved away. However, Allegri’s job future will not be bolstered by the fact that Milan failed to break down an Inter defence which played almost entire second half with a man down. Javier Zanetti’s 45th Milan derby (a new Inter record) ended on a happy note. Milan on the other hand slipped down further with just 7 points from 7 games.
A team that is showing signs of being a genuine title contender, Napoli, did carve out a 2-1 win over Udinese. The home team had been humbled 3-0 by PSV in mid-week but took the lead at the San Paolo as a Cavani-Maggio combination play set up Hamsik. Napoli got a taste of their own medicine soon as an incisive counter attack saw Udinese pull level thorough a Pinzi goal. Just before the half time whistle Napoli grabbed their lead back as Pandev scored after neatly turning past his marker. Both teams came close to scoring in second half but the scoreline remained unchanged as the home team grabbed three points to stay on top of the table. Despite pre-season doubts about their title credentials the Azzurri have begun their season on an encouraging note. They are one of the two teams to be still unbeaten and have the best defensive record till now with just three goals conceded. Next round has the mouthwatering clash between two old foes as Napoli travel to Turin to face Juventus.
Juventus, joint table toppers with Napoli, extended their unbeaten Serie A run to 46 games but dished out yet another unconvincing performance after being dominated by Shakhtar Donetsk in mid-week. The Old Lady took an early lead as Andrea Pirlo scored his 48th Serie A goal with a free-kick but didn’t look comfortable as Siena, Conte’s former side, looked dangerous on the counter. Juventus could have taken a 0-2 lead in first half had another of Pirlo’s free-kicks not come off the post. Siena got a well-deserved equalizer just before half time as Calaio was left unmarked. Juventus attacked in numbers in second half but failed to create many clear cut opportunities while Siena came close to scoring multiple times as well. Minutes before the final whistle a well struck volley from Marchisio handed Juventus three important points. Conte’s team has looked tired in past two matches and the lack of a genuine goal-scorer has hurt them, despite topping goal scoring charts in the league.
Francesco Totti, the eternal city’s eternal warrior once again rose to the occasion as AS Roma earned a 2-0 win over Atalanta. His delightful assist to Erik Lamela opened the scoring in this match and he forced Consigli to make several sharp saves. Zeman’s defensive woes continued in this match as well as the visitors could have scored a goal or two if they were more clinical. Michael Bradley’s goal just after the hour mark helped Roma fans breathe a sigh of relief as they notched up only their second win of the campaign. Cross town rivals Lazio continued their steady recovery after back to back losses in September by securing a dominant 3-0 away win over Pescara. Hernanes’ early goal, followed by a brace from Miroslav Klose rendered this match a no-contest in just 35 minutes. The Aquile are now third in the table and this victory will give them a confidence boost before they face Milan in the next round.
Stevan Jovetic scored his fifth goal of the Serie A campaign as Fiorentina scraped past Bologna in a 1-0 victory. La Viola are one of the favourites to finish in Champions League spot this season and they will be having a somewhat easy set of fixtures in next four rounds. Cagliari climbed out of relegation zone with their first win of the campaign as they scraped past Torino in Turin. Palermo now find themselves in relegation dog fight after a 1-1 draw against Genoa. Ciro Ferrara’s Sampdoria started the season well but have now lost back to back games as they helped Chievo climb out of relegation zone after a 2-1 loss.
Serie A will resume once again after International break and two blockbuster games will be awaiting Calcio fans – Juventus welcome Napoli while Milan travel to Rome to face Lazio.