The first round of action in the second phase of Serie A was a perfect amalgamation of expected as well as surprising results. While few of the top teams continued to mean business in the shrewdest possible manner, there were many that fumbled but since the matchday remained collectively unimpressive for a number of sides, it did little to reflect drastic changes on the league table.
Juventus hosted Udinese in what most certainly looked like the clash of the week. The game was played to the reputation of both sides where ultimately Juventus emerged stronger in a closely fought 2-1 victory. Alessandro Matri found the net twice in each half while half-time substitute Antonio Floro Flores managed to sneak one in early in the second half only for Matri to eventually find the winner. The result takes Antonio Conte’s men’s unbeaten streak to twenty league games which is not a mean feat by any means.
AC Milan however ensured Juventus do not enjoy any breathing space at the top as they destroyed a pedestrian looking Cagliari side 3-0 in a one-sided affair. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was once again on top of his game as he scored an astounding free kick while set up another for Nocerino to add numbers to his already handsome looking scoring form. Skipper Massimo Ambrosini who came off the bench during the second half scored his first goal of the season through an Urby Emanuelson assist to complete the demolition of the Tuscan unit.
The biggest upset of the week came in the form of Lecce’s home win over Milan’s high-flying city rivals Internazionale whose eight match winning streak came to an end. A first half effort from Giacomazzi was enough to see the home side through. Ranieri’s decision to start Sneijder ahead of Alvarez backfired and the tinkerman was ultimately forced to take the Dutch off at the half time throwing the Argentine in the middle of the things straightaway in the second half, to little avail though. Two potential equalisers from Cambiasso and Milito were disallowed for being ruled offside, rightfully so.
Roma added to their reputation of being unpredictable after being held for a 1-1 draw against Bologna at Stadio Olimpico missing on the opportunity to capitalise in a week when the rivals sitting close to them too dropped points. After being put behind by Marco Di Vaio in the second half, Miralem Pjanic put the Giallorossi on level terms only five minutes later but Luis Enrique’s men failed to invade the opposition goal another time and ended up dropping two vital home points.
To make matters worse for Roma, arch rivals Lazio managed an astonishing 3-0 away win over Chievo Verona which now keeps them trailing third placed Udinese by only two points and enjoy a one-point lead over Inter. Two late goals from German legend Miroslav Klose completed the routing of the home side after Hernanes put the visitors in front in the 21st minute.
Napoli’s abysmal run of form in the league hit another low after the 3-2 loss to Genoa which now sees them gradually slipping on the league table. After having managed to collect only two points from the previous two rounds, a lot was expected from the potentially emerging Serie A powerhouse but they failed not to disappoint on the trip to Genoa after being put 3-0 down at the 70th minute. Two goals from Cavani and Lavezzi in an interval of two minutes were unfortunately too late to upstage any miracle for the Naples based side. The results are not helping Napoli build any confidence ahead of their Champions League clash against Chelsea next month.
Among other results, Catania and Parma settled for a 1-1 draw after Francesco Modesto cancelled out Gonzalo Bergessio’s effort in the first half itself. Fiorentina finally registered a victory after failing to do so for two rounds beating Siena 2-1 courtesy goals from Jovetic and Natali. An own goal from Marco Rossi during the second half gifted Atalanta a crucial away victory over Cesena. The loss puts the home side further inside the relegation zone. Palermo continued with their winning ways with two goals from Igor Budan helping the Sicilians scripting a 2-0 victory at home. Novara’s exit from the top flight looks more and more certain with every round passing.
Player of the Week
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
The Big Swede once again was the protagonist in shaping Milan’s victory over Cagliari that helped them remain well within the reach of Juventus. Ibrahimovic dictated terms in the opposition half by outmuscling and outrunning his counterparts. His precisely aimed free-kick put the home side in front while his contribution in setting up the second goal was immense.
Match of the Week
Genoa 3-2 Napoli
The game of two halves easily qualifies itself for this category for the intensity, drama and overall levels of excitement maintained by both teams. Napoli’s efforts to set a dramatic comeback came too late to bear any fruits and Genoa, owing to the brilliance exhibited for the major portion of the game, earned the highly deserved three points.
Goal of the Week
Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa) v Napoli
Palacio’s scintillating volley from distance to put his side in front left Napoli custodian Morgan Di Sanctis and the entire set of home fans spellbound. The goal, apart from giving Genoa the all important lead, made a statement of intent and showed definite signs of things to follow.
Controversy of the Week
Wesley Sneijder’s Substitution & Argument With Pazzini
It was a forgetful week for Inter but the dreadful loss to Lecce was not when it ended. Star player Wesley Sneijder has raised questions over his substitution at half time and his heated argument with Giampaolo Pazzini during the first half was there for all to see. Certainly, these are not great signs for a healthy dressing room and it may be assumed that Sneijder’s exit from Inter is only becoming imminent.
Tiziano Crudelli Moment of the Week
Here’s how Milan’s most ardent fan on the earth chose to portray his sentiments on the air during the team’s emphatic victory over Cagliari.
Team of the Week (3-4-3)
Massimiliano Benassi (Lecce); Massimo Oddo (Lecce), Alessandro Nesta (Milan), Cesare Natali (Fiorentina); Mark van Bommel (Milan), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Arturo Vidal (Juventus), Ezequiel Matias Schelotto (Atalanta); Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan), Miroslav Klose (Lazio)
Results at a Glance