Juventus

As many as 39 goals were scored this weekend, a season high for Serie A clubs with just Palermo and Torino failing to find the back of the net. It was a weekend where the big sides dominated their matches and barring Fiorentina, all emerged with the three points. Juventus, Milan, Inter, Lazio and Napoli cruised to victories but the Viola came only managed a stalemate against Ciro Ferrara’s Sampdoria thus causing their title challenge to take a minor hit.

Juventus conquered Turin as home-grown boys Sebastian Giovinco and Claudio Marchisio inspired the Bianconeri to yet another win in the Derby della Mole. A derby that seemingly had it all as Torino, who had Kamil Glik sent off for a reckless challenge on Emanuele Giaccherini, more than held their own up until Juventus were given a man advantage. However, it looked like one of ‘those nights’ as relentless Bianconeri pressure had no end product in the first half. Add to that a very un-Andrea Pirlo like penalty which was blasted over the bar saw both the teams enter the tunnel all square.

However, Juventus came out all guns blazing in the second half with a brace from Claudio Marchisio and a clinical finish from Sebastian Giovinco handed the bragging rights to the Bianconeri. Turin was painted bianconero that night and the side have responded well to last weekend’s loss to AC Milan. The decisive midweek Champions League clash against Shakhtar remains on the horizon for the Bianconeri and they will go into that one in a confident mood in the final game before Antonio Conte’s long-awaited return to the touchline.

But on a night that was joyous for Juventus, it was a banner that was laid out by the home side’s tifosi that garnered controversy. A disgraceful banner that mocked the Superga tragedy has amounted to a 10,000 Euro fine that levied on Juventus. The banner read: “We in Torino have pride and joy, you, only a crash”. Torino too, were handed a 25,000 Euro fine for the damage to the property the fans have caused at the Juventus Stadium. Banners provoking away sides over tragedies aren’t rare in Serie A, just last weekend Milan were fined 4,000 Euro for their banner poking fun at Gialuca Pessotto’s suicide attempt. Fans have to face the consequences following their wrong and frankly disgraceful acts which tarnish the name of the club they support.

AC Milan have well and truly turned a corner following their away win at Catania. Stephan El Shaarawy’s eye-catching performances have been similar to his equally unavoidable hairstyle. He was on the score-sheet yet again but of course controversy surrounded the goal. The little Pharoah was definitely offside when he received the ball and slotted past Andujar, a goal that sparked Milan’s come-back after Legrottaglie opened the scoring for the Elefanti. Milan’s inability to cope with set-pieces and their particular vulnerability to aerial balls have seen them concede many goals this campaign.

Kevin Prince-Boateng gave the Rossoneri the lead but then was then sent off making it a 10v10 affair. The goal was Boateng’s first of the season while the sending off was his second. El Shaarawy put the game beyond Catania’s reach with a wonderful curled effort netting his 12th goal of the campaign firmly placing him as the front-runner for the Capocannoniere award. His goals also remarkably make him responsible for exactly half of Milan’s goals in Serie A. A startling fact and a testament to the talent and character of the 20-year-old attacker. Milan jumped up to 7th place in the league table and will hope to continue their good form as they host Zenit in the Champions League next.

The blue side of Milan, Inter, also notched up their first three points since they got the better of Juventus a month ago. They returned to winning ways riding their luck in the bargain as a Santiago Garcia own-goal gave them the win by the slightest of margins against Palermo who are managed by former Inter boss Gian Piero Gasperini. Palermo were defensively sound and rarely give Inter a sniff but a cross from Andrea Ranocchia was turned in by Garcia who was visibly and understandably disappointed with himself.

News also emerged of Inter’s trequartista – Wesley Sneijder – who refused to put pen to paper on a new Inter contract. The midfielder hasn’t seen much game-time this season and was also ordered by the club to halt his interactions via social media website Twitter. Sneijder looks set to be on his way out of the club in the January transfer window in a story that has gone too public for Inter’s liking. The Dutchman, on the other hand, will feel aggrieved about the way he has been treated by the club.

Napoli continued their title challenge with a 5-1 demolition of Pescara at the San Paolo. Walter Mazzarri’s side are right on Juventus’ tails in second place with 2 points separating them from the Bianconeri. Edinson Cavani bagged a brace and with those two goals, he now has the unique achievement of scoring against all the current Serie A sides. Gokhan Inler’s fierce long-ranged efforts were the highlights of the night as they head into their midweek Europa League encounter against PSV brimming with confidence. Pescara are rock bottom of the charts and with their solitary goal against Napoli have finally reached double figures in terms of goals scored this season. Needless to say, their strike-force is the most impotent in Serie A. 

In the other games, Udinese annihilated a hapless Cagliari side 4-1 while Gigi Del Neri’s reign at Genoa continues to sprout up awful results. This time, at home to Chievo where an Alberto Paloschi inspired Flying Donkeys ran riot winning 4-2. Zdenek Zeman’s Roma have well and truly recovered from the derby loss to Lazio. The win against Siena was their third on the trot since their neighbours secured the derby. Mattia Destro returned to his former stomping ground and scored twice to help the visitors to a 3-1 victory. Lazio will have their goal-keeper Albano Bizzarri to thank as his penalty save was vital for Lazio to grind out a 2-1 victory over Parma. Fiorentina drew their second consecutive league game against 10-man Sampdoria. The result may have been a positive one for Ciro Ferrara’s recovering outfit but it is a rather dis-satisfactory one for Montella’s otherwise impressive side.