“This could only happen in Italy” mused Zdenek Zeman as yet another bizarre off-field incident made headlines in Serie A. Massimo Cellino, Cagliari’s President decided to better Mauricio Zamparini in ludicrous moves by asking home fans to attend Cagliari’s home match against Roma despite authorities asking for a closed-door match due to poor security measures in the stadium. As expected, the match had to be postponed with Roma demanding a 3-0 default win.
On field, it was an extremely good weekend for Juventus. The defending champions not only ensured three points in their match but also saw rivals drop points on Sunday. After an encouraging performance against Chelsea in mid-week, Juventus lined up against Chievo without Pirlo, Vidal or Giovinco.
The Flying Donkeys have been a bogey team for Juventus in recent past with the last victory against them coming on the first match day of 2009/10 season when Vincenzo Iaquinta scored from a Diego free-kick. Yes, that long ago. The story of this particular fixture unfolded in a familiar way – Juventus attacked in numbers only to see Stefano Sorrentino pull off one top drawer save after another. The scoreline remained 0-0 at half-time and Juventus must have been wondering what they needed to do to beat the Chievo ‘keeper.
As it has often happened this season, Juventus came out firing on all cylinders in second half. They needed something special and the man who rarely scores mundane goals made it happen in the 63rd minute. There have been question marks over Fabio Quagliarella ever since he returned from his injury last season. His goal against Chelsea seemed to have given him a boost of confidence as his movement against Chievo was reminiscent of his best times. The former Udinese striker unleashed a superb half volley from a Giaccherini corner to put Juventus ahead. Few minutes later he made it 2-0 after a calm finish. Sorrentino got his hands to both shots but couldn’t keep them out. As the final whistle went off, Juventus had conquered another target which they failed to do last season – defeat Chievo.
Saturday’s other game saw a flurry of penalties being awarded as in-form Fiorentina travelled to Parma. Viola took the lead thanks to Facundo Roncaglia’s debut goal. The home team came out strongly in second half and were awarded the first of three penalties in the match. Vladez’s effort was saved by Viviano as Fiorentina maintained their lead. Just two minutes before the full-time whistle it looked like Fiorentina would wrap up three points when a penalty was awarded and Parma were reduced to 10 men. Jovetic, not staying true to his form of current season, made a hash of the spot kick. There was more drama in injury time as a Luca Toni’s hand-ball earned Parma their second spot kick. Valdez didn’t make a mistake this time, tying the match.
Is it time to rename San Siro to San Zero? The twitter universe certainly seemed to think so as another Milanese club failed to win at home. Inter had never lost Siena in Serie A before, winning ten times out of fourteen encounters. Inter started the match without Javier Zanetti on bench, first time this had happened since 2008. The way Siena approached this match can cause more headaches to Inter than the eventual result. Siena didn’t seem intimidated by Inter’s reputation as they made forward forays frequently during the match. The Nerazzuri had their scoring chances as well but were repelled multiple times by an excellent Pegolo in Siena goal. Ze Roberto, who was strongly linked with AC Milan during transfer window, put Siena ahead in second half while another goal in injury time wrapped up a 0-2 win for the visitors.
Udinese rounded up a great week for teams in Black and White as they dispatched AC Milan 2-1. Both teams were coming off unimpressive draws during mid-week and both coaches were under pressure. This fixture traditionally involves goals but both teams were a far cry from the teams that played out a scintillating 5-4 scoreline in recent past. The match got off to a slow start but it was the home side which took the lead 5 minutes before half-time through Ranegie. AC Milan levelled the scoreline in second half with Stephen El Sharaawy scoring what was one of the contenders for goal of the week. The match decisively swung in Udinese’s way 14 minutes after Milan’s equalizer – Christian Zapata picked up a second yellow card with Toto Di Natale converting the resulting penalty. Milan’s problems were further compounded when Prince Boateng also got marching orders minutes before the end.
Despite wide-spread speculations regarding Allegri’s future the club has announced that his job is safe for now. Don’t place a bet on him ending the season with AC Milan.
The last time Palermo lost three out of their first four games they were relegated, almost four and half decades ago. The Sicilians, who have established themselves as one of the pluckiest side in the peninsula in past decade, dished out yet another ordinary performance as they slumped to a loss at Atalanta. Maurizio Zamparini’s annual policy of changing coaches when things go bad didn’t seem to have an impact on them this time. Talking of coaches, ex-Juventus gaffer Ciro Ferrara saw his Sampdoria extend their unbeaten start to four games albeit slumping to a slightly disappointing home draw against Torino.
An Eduardo Vargas hattrick in Europa League ensured that Napoli was the only Serie A side to come away with three points in Europe this week. Mazzari’s side was a mere shadow of their commanding 4-0 victory over AIK in midweek as they failed to break down a resolute Catania defence, despite having a man advantage for 88 minutes. Gli Elefantini could have actually wrapped up a shock win had Gomez’s shot not thundered off the post. The Azzuri lost their 100% record and will be disappointed at not being able to make their numbers count.
Lazio, who had won their first three matches for the first time since 1975, faced off against Genoa at the Stadio Olimpico in a late Sunday kickoff. The Romans pounded the Genoa goal time and again but failed to score despite having 20 shots at goal. Eleven minutes before the final whistle, Marco Boriello latched on to a pass from Antonelli to score the match-winning goal. After troubling Juventus in last match-day, the Grifoni continue their positive run of form and will be looking to get over the nightmare of last season.