Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Friday, 28 October 2011 22:00
What a round of Italian football we have to look forward to, starting on Saturday, as Roma and Milan square off in the Italian capital, before Inter welcome Juventus to the San Siro stadium..
Saturday, October 29 2011
Roma v AC Milan
Super Saturday starts with a cracking clash at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, as Roma play host to reigning champions AC Milan.
Roma were defeated in dramatic circumstances midweek, going down to Genoa 2-1 at the Marassi, however they were narrow 1-0 winners over Palermo one week ago. The Giallorossi are beginning to show signs of a Scudetto-winning side, however their midweek defeat won't do their confidence any good.
Skipper Francesco Totti is set to miss out yet again through injury, while the Rossoneri are also still without a few stars, most notably Alexandre Pato, who is still a fortnight away from making a return.
The champions are back to their best, thumping Parma 4-1 at home midweek. There is no doubt that Massimiliano Allegri has found the right system now, and you would expect that they will go from strength to strength in the next few weeks.
The Romans have had a good record against Allegri's club in recent years, however an away victory is the most likely outcome this weekend.
Prediction: Roma 1-2 AC Milan
Catania v Napoli
Napoli will be looking to make it two from two in the space of a few days, after accounting for the previously unbeaten Udinese on Wednesday.
Catania were very impressive against Lazio at the Olimpico in their midweek fixture, taking a point away from a 1-1 draw, extending their unbeaten run to five in the process. Sensationally in this time they have met the likes of Inter, Juventus and Fiorentina.
Napoli have failed to win in Sicily against the Elefanti in their past three attempts, taking a point from their previous two trips. A drawn result is a likely outcome here, despite the fact that the Azzurri have kept four clean sheets in their past five Serie A fixtures.
Prediction: Catania 1-1 Napoli
Inter v Juventus
Wow! What a game. This will undoubtedly be the most ferocious Derby d'Italia for many, many years, on the back of the recent revelations that Inter were at fault more so than Juventus were in the Calciopoli match fixing scandal that rocked Italian football back in 2006, and say the Bianconeri relegated to Serie B.
Inter come into this match in 16th position, and on the back of a hard fought 1-1 draw in Bergamo against Atalanta on Wednesday. The Nerazzurri have won just two games this season, and just one at the San Siro stadium - the venue of this weekend's game of the round.
Claudio Ranieri will be without the services of number one goalkeeper Julio Cesar, however it is at the other end of the park where questions will be raised, given the fact that last term, Inter failed to score a goal in their two clashes with the Turin giants.
Juventus, the current league leaders, were sensational against Fiorentina midweek, and despite winning 2-1 on the night, it could very easily have been four of five. Mirko Vucinic showed some spark, but lacked a good final touch, Alessandro Matri continued his solid run of goal scoring form, while Andrea Pirlo continues his exceptional start to life in a Juve shirt.
With so much riding on this game, cards are definitely on the agenda, and at the end of the day the team that keep their heads will take the three points.
Inter 0-2 Juventus
Sunday, October 30 2011
Siena v Chievo
Siena fans thought they were going to claim a rare away victory when Emanuele Calaio opened the scoring on 17 minutes against Novara. But it took the Biancoazzurri until the 80th minute to find an equaliser and snatch a valuable point. The Robur will be coming into the Chievo clash being undefeated in their last three matches, and obtaining a least a point from four of five games, only managing a 2-0 loss to Palermo.
Chievo are in the exact opposite boat. Losing to Inter 1-0 on the weekend was followed up with a 1-0 home loss to Bologna, a match the side believed they could claim manimum points from. Prior to the Nerazzurri loss, the Flying Donkeys may have claimed two draws, but they were scoreless, meaning they have failed to find the back of the net in their last four matches. Can they rectify this stat on Sunday?
The away team is favoured when these two sides meet, having won three of four encounters.
Prediction: Siena 1-1 Chievo
Bologna v Atalanta
Bologna secured another victory on Wednesday evening when they defeated Cheivo 1-0 away from home thanks to Robert Acquafresca finding the target after the restart. Since taking over the Rossoblu, coach Stefano Pioli has managed to get something extra out of the side, and it has shown in their recent results, claiming victories against Novara as well. Acquafresca has been revitalised, and is now showing his true potential. Gaston Ramirez is also now playing some good, attacking football as well.
Atalanta could have easily claimed all three points against Inter midweek had striker German Denis not be denied from the spot-kick very late in the encounter. This would have topped of an excellent seven days for the Orobici, going along with their 2-1 away win over Parma. Denis himself moved up the Capocannoniere standings to be one behind Antonio Di Natale, and could have easily been level. Ezequiel Schelotto also impressed against Inter, and has been in unstoppable form.
The Rossoblu are on a mini resurgence, but will face stiff test from an in-form Nerazzurri outfit.
Prediction: Bologna 0-1 Atalanta
Fiorentina v Genoa
Fiorentina faced a stern test against Juventus midweek, but failed to walk away from the Delle Alpi stadium with a point, losing 2-1 to the home side. A bonus for the Viola was the sparkling recent form of striker Stevan Jovetic, who also found the back of the net. This was his third goal in four days, adding to the two he already had to be only one goal behind Antonio Di Natale in the Capocannoniere standings. Good news for Viola fans is that Alberto Gilardino is nearing his return from a knee injury.
Genoa snatched a 2-1 win over Roma on Wednesday, adding to the point they earnt against Juventus last Saturday evening. Bosko Jankovic and Juraj Kucka ensuring the points returned to Liguria. Rodrigo Palacio looked threatening in front of goal on occasions, but could not personally find the back of th net, helping Jankovic to score. This match will hold special signifcance for Sebastian Frey, who will be confronting his former side for the first since his summer departure.
The Viola have claimed two of the last three victories in these encounters, and look impressive at home. Genoa are known for stealing points away from the Luigi Ferraris, so an enticing clash awaits.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-0 Genoa
Lecce v Novara
18th face 19th in this must-win match for both sides.
Lecce dropped three crucial points against Milan last Sunday after leading 3-0 at half-time, going on to lose 4-3 thanks mainly to an inspired Kevin-Prince Boateng. The Giallorossi attack seemed to be on fire in the first-half, but it was their defence which crumbled after the restart. Things got worse for this weekend's hosts, as they were defeated on the road at Palermo 2-0, with goals either side of the half.
Novara claimed its first point since the 3-3 draw with Catania at the star of the month, earning a 1-1 draw against Siena on Wednesday. It took a late Giuseppe Gemiti goal to resuce the Biancoazzurri, salvaging a point. Atilio Tesser would like to see some of his bigger names stand up and impress.
Goalfests cannot be excluded - especially between lower-ranked sides - and Serie A has a tendency to produce these kinds of scorelines.
Prediction: Lecce 2-2 Novara
Parma v Cesena
Parma's week has been horrendous at best. Suffering a 2-1 home loss to Atalanta was further compounded when the Gialloblu travelled to Milan and took on the Rossoneri, and were thumped 4-1. Defensively, the side struggled, but a positive note to come out of the match was that Sebastian Giovinco has gotten back to his scoring ways.
Cesena lie last and seemingly have no avenue to goal, whilst also having no way to stop them from going in. Managing three draws - two scoreless stalemates - has hurt the side on the ladder, but Antonio Candreva did manage to find the back of the net against Cagliari on Wednesday, resulting in the points being shared.
The spoils have been shared in previous matches, but the Seahorses have been woeful this campaign.
Prediction: Parma 1-0 Cesena
Udinese v Palermo
Udinese have been by far the most impressive side of the season to date, despite currently sitting in second place, behind new league leaders Juventus. The Bianconeri were defeated for the first time of the campaign midweek, going down to an out of sorts Napoli 2-0 at the San Paolo.
Nevertheless, they are presented with a wonderful opportunity to immediately make amends at home against a club that have picked up just one point and failed to score a single goal on the road all season.
Palermo got back on the winner's list midweek, accounting for Lecce at the Renzo Barbera, where they have enjoyed immense success this term. However as mentioned, their form on the road is where the problems are for the Rosanero, and this weekend won't be the time to improve on that record, as defeat is a certainty.
Prediction: Udinese 2-0 Palermo
Cagliari v Lazio
Who would have thought that after eight rounds of matches, Cagliari and Lazio would be meeting in a crunch top six clash in Sardinia.
Cagliari have been the surprise packets of the season, however they missed a great opportunity to remain in the top four midweek, dropping crucial points away to cellar dwellers Cesena, as they were held to a 1-1 draw. Having been beaten just once all season, they will prove to be stern opponents for their highly fancied and experienced visitors.
Lazio have won four and drawn two from their past six fixtures, but face a tricky trip to Cagliari, a venue where they haven't had much success in recent years.
These games in the past have generally produced goals, so that is what should be expected this Sunday.
Prediction: Cagliari 2-2 Lazio
Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Monday, 24 October 2011 06:55
Sunday, October 23 2011
Bologna v Lazio
Lazio continued their fine run of form, easily seeing off Bologna away from home.
It was a tough start to the game for the visiting Romans however, as Bologna had a number of wonderful opportunities to find the back of the net. Key striker Robert Acquafresca managed to do so on 23 minutes, albeit at the wrong end of the pitch, as his unfortunate knee scored an own goal to gift the visitors the lead.
One minute into the second period and the Biancocelesti made it two, as Senad Lulic got on the end of a wonderful through ball by Djbril Cisse, securing the three points for the club.
Cisse had the chance to make it three at the death, however he was denied by defender Daniele Portanova, although that miss counted for little, as Lazio incredibly are now second in the league, just one point behind leaders Udinese.
Bologna 0-2 Lazio
Cagliari v Napoli
Cagliari and Napoli played out a dull scoreless draw in Sardinia, a result that extended the visitors dismal run of form over the past month.
Having failed to defeat Bayern Munich in the Champions League midweek, and having gone down to Parma at home in the league last weekend, there were no signs of improvement by the Azzurri, as they were extremely disappointing over the course of the 90 minutes.
Edinson Cavani was very poor on the day, however he wasn't the only one, as to be fair to the hosts, they simply should have won this match.
Nene and Redja Nainggolan both struck the woodwork in the match, and both looked lively throughout. Mario Santana did likewise for the Partenopei, however it was one of few chances they had in the game.
Cagliari 0-0 Napoli
Inter v Chievo
Inter Milan continued their winning form after defeating Lille midweek in the Champions League, to erase the memories of last weekend's horror result against Catania in the league.
The Nerazzurri look to have turned a corner after a fairly convincing display against the Flying Donkeys, particularly in the first half, as Thiago Motta finally found an opener for the giants on 34 minutes, after a number of half opportunities in the lead up to it.
The visitors made a few tactical changes early in the second period, and looked quite menacing when going forward, however there was no way through for them, as the few chances they had were expertly dealt with by a determined Julio Cesar in goal.
Maicon struck the crossbar with a thunderous drive late on in the game, however it didn't matter, as Inter held on for just their second victory of the campaign.
Inter 1-0 Chievo
Parma v Atalanta
Atalanta continued their brilliant return to the topflight, edging out Parma at the Ennio Tardini stadium.
In a fairly timid opening, both sides looked content to sit back and try and play on the counter. It didn't really work for either though, as the two sides were level without a goal to their names at the break.
The second half was a completely different story however, as the Bergamaschi's hero from the opening match day's trip to Genoa - Maximiliano Moralez - hit a quick fire brace within the space of just three minutes to turn the game on its head.
A disappointing Sebastian Giovinco tried to inspire his team into life, however he had no luck, but just when it seemed as if it was all over for the Gialloblu, a surging run forward by Massimo Gobbi, saw the defender play in Jaime Valdes with a wonderful cross, and the substitute made no mistake in pulling one back for his team.
It meant for little though, as the hosts were unable to produce anything further from there, as they slump to yet another home defeat this season.
Parma 1-2 Atalanta
Roma v Palermo
Roma bounced back from last weekend's Derby della Capitale defeat to Lazio, edging out Palermo at the Stadio Olimpico.
It took just eight minutes for the Giallorossi, as new signing Erik Lamela scored on debut for the club, as he netted with a brilliant side-footed finish to send the home fans into raptures.
Daniele De Rossi was pulling the strings in midfield and almost played in Pablo Osvaldo for the second soon after - however it wasn't to be, for the striker who was looking to score for the fifth game in succession.
To this point, the Sicilians had failed to record a point or score a goal on their travels away from home all season, however that looked like it was about to change midway through the second half when Abel Hernandez and Josip Iliicic combined. The latter easily made his way from the keeper, and side-footed a ball towards the goal, only for De Rossi to rush back and slide to clear it off the line.
With little time remaining the Giallorossi had done enough to hold on, but only just, as they jump to sixth in the standings, just four points adrift of leaders Udinese.
Roma 1-0 Palermo
Siena v Cesena
Siena comfortably accounted for Cesena in Tuscany, as the Seahorses look a near certainty to go down this season.
Having failed to record a win thus far, the visitors' task was immediately made tougher than it already was, when Pablo Gonzales netted the opener after just nine minutes of play.
The Biacnoneri dominated possession, but were unable to turn that into opportunities, however they maintained their goal advantage at the break, as their opponents offered minimal resistance.
Gonzales teamed up with his strike partner Emanuele Calaio eight minutes into the second half to double the hosts' advantage, ensuring Siena jump to 11th in the standings, while Cesena remain rooted to the foot of the table with just two points from eight rounds of fixtures.
Siena 2-0 Cesena
Udinese v Novara
Udinese are the new outright Serie A leaders, after thumping Novara at the Friuli stadium.
Since that memorable 3-1 victory over Inter a few weeks ago, the newly promoted club have picked up jut one point in four matches, with that being a 3-3 draw with Catania.
Coming up against an in-form Bianconeri side was therefore always going to be a tough ask, and it showed, when Antonio Di Natale scored his first of the day on 33 minutes.
Di Natale turned provider seven minuted later, when he played in Maurizio Domizzi expertly for the second, before he capped off his brace with his team's third and final goal of the day, four minutes into the second period.
The result leaves them a point clear at the top of the table ahead of Lazio, and two points clear of third placed Juventus after eight rounds of play.
Udinese 3-0 Novara
Lecce v AC Milan
In the Sunday lunch time fixture, Milan recorded a famous come from behind victory over Lecce at the Via del Mare stadium.
The hosts stunned the reigning champions after just four minutes, when Guillermo Giacomazzi was left unmarked at the back post to head home the opener, following a superb ball in by Carlos Grossmuller.
The Giallorossi incredibly made it two on the half hour mark, as Massimo Oddo scored from the spot against his former club, before the provider of the first goal turned scorer, as Grossmuller sensationally made it 3-0 at the break.
In desperate need of some inspiration, Massimiliano Allegri made a double substitution prior to the start of the second half, introducing Alberto Aquilani and Kevin Prince Boateng for Massimo Ambrosini and a disappointing Robinho.
The switch proved pivotal for the Rossoneri, as the latter had an incredible five shots within his first four minutes on the pitch, the last of which was a cracking opening goal on 49 minutes.
Boateng continued to dominate the game, and the visitors looked a completely different team with him on the pitch. On 54 minutes he banged home a superb second, and the belief was well and truly back amongst the Milan camp.
The champs began to push their opponents deeper and deeper at the back, and a third looked on the cards. Unsurprisingly it eventually came, when on 64 minutes, the Prince incredibly capped of the comeback.
Lecce eventually tested Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal for the first time in the second half on 76 minutes, but just moments later, Mario Yepes popped up to nod home a memorable winner, gifting the champions a crucial three points.
Lecce 3-4 AC Milan
Saturday, October 22 2011
Juventus v Genoa
Juventus were very disappointing at home to Genoa, dropping more points in the newly built Juventus arena.
The Bianconeri came into the match looking to go outright top for the time being, and made their mark on just six minutes, when Alessandro Matri continued his solid goal scoring form, after pouncing on a fumbled ball by the goalkeeper, following a Claudio Marchisio strike from distance.
As they so often do though, Genoa fought back in style, and looked a different team as the half wore on, getting their reward just after the half hour mark, when Marco Rossi scored the equaliser.
Andrea Pirlo began to pull the strings in midfield in the second period, and when he picked out Matri for his and the team's second of the evening, the three points looked secured, until Andrea Caracciolo popped up to score from an acute angle five minutes from time, to ensure his team took a share of the spoils.
Juventus 2-2 Genoa
Fiorentina v Catania
The opening game of the round saw Fiorentina held by Catania at the Artemio Franchi stadium, despite dominating large portions of the play.
With Alberto Gilardino out injured on the sidelines, Stevan Jovetic has stepped up in recent weeks, since returning from a long-term injury of his own, and it was he who on 20 minutes found a way through to grab the opening goal.
Similar to the match that would follow however, the visiting Sicilians lifted after conceding the opener, and found an equaliser just before the break, as Gennaro Delvecchio levelled the score line with a fine finish.
Jovetic was not done yet however, as he scored his second of the night just after the hour mark, and just as the Viola looked headed for a crucial three points, Maxi Lopez popped up to tap in a late equaliser to gift his side a crucial point on the road.
Fiorentina 2-2 Catania
Match Analysis - Italy
Friday, 21 October 2011 15:00
There were plenty of goals scored on Saturday, but a real dryfest on Sunday, as five Serie A matches ended in scoreless draws, the first time since June 1989. Inter face Chievo in a crunch match for both sides, Juventus host free-scoring Genoa and Roma take on Devis Mangia's Palermo.
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Fiorentina - Catania
It's been hard to fully grasp the form of Sinisa Mihajlovic's Fiorentina this season. Starting the campaign off in poor style against Udinese, the Viola then went on to defeat Parma convincingly, but were involved in a scoreless draw last week with Cesena. A big factor has been the loss of Alberto GIlardino to a knee injury, but the likes of Stevan Jovetic and Santiago Silva struggling to make an impact on the scoreboard. The match holds special significance for Mihajlovic and star winger Juan Manuel Vargas, as the dup play against their former side, and will want to highlight how far they have come since being at the Elefanti.
Despite leaving Catania's star attacker in Maxi Lopez on the bench, coach Vincenzo Montella has seen his side flourish recently, culminating in a 2-1 come-from-behind win against Inter last Saturday. Montella's emphasis on scoring goals has been paying off, as the Rossazzurri have scored five times in two matches. Nicola Spolli will slot back into defence, relegating Nicola Legrottaglie to the bench.
Catania have never won in Florence, and the last time they picked up a point was in 1971.
Prediction: Fiorentina 2-1 Catania
Juventus - Genoa
Much of the talk surrounding Juventus week has been about Alessandro Del Piero playing his last season at the club. The media has been linking the 36-year-old to a move to the US and to the UAE, but the club icon is only interested in doing well under former team-mate and now-coach Antonio Conte. Having failed to score last weekend against Chievo means the Bianconeri are yet to convincingly break their away 'curse' - unable to win by playing good football away from home. There is also speculation Conte could try the attacking trio of Fabio Quagliarella, Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic to combat the indifferent form of Milos Krasic and Eljero Elia. Gianluigi Buffon is under serious doubt after sustaining a shoulder injury in training, meaning Marco Storari could be deployed in between the sticks.
Pressure is still mounting on coach Alberto Malesani despite the side constantly finding the back of the net. And three games without a win means the Grifoni will be seeking to claim maximum points at the Delle Alpi. Defensively, the Rossoblu have been conceded regularly, as they have only kept a clean sheet twice this season, including last weekend's scoreless draw against Lecce.
The Bianconeri won both matches last season between the sides, and have been a fortress at home.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Genoa
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Lecce - Milan
Lecce were expected to be taught a footballing lesson last weekend by Genoa, whose goalscoring firepower failed to deliever. With plenty of shots on target, goalkeeper Massimiliano Benassi and defender Nenad Tomovic faced a horrid afternoon trying to keep the Grinfoni attack at bay. But the good news for Giallorossi supporters is that the side walked away with a point from the Luigi Ferraris, and will be looking to steal three more from Milan this weekend.
Milan got their campaign back on track after demolishing Palermo 3-0 last week at the San Siro. The match marked the return of Robinho from injury, and his influence was noted, as he found the back of the net and constantly provided headaches for the Rosanero defence. A strong victory in the Champions League midweek against BATE Borisov has lifted the mood at via Turati, with the club now believing they are on the right path going forward. A tough month awaits, and they will want maximum points from this match.
A strong head-to-head record in favour of the reigning champions should see them claim the points.
Prediction: Lecce 0-2 Milan
Cagliari - Napoli
Fifth take on third place in the Serie A table this weekend as surprise high-flyers Cagliari take on Napoli at the Sant' Elia.
One of Cagliari's problems this term has been their ability to score at home, though. Normally, team find it tough away, but the Isolani have only managed to find the back of the net twice this campaign at the Sant'Elia. The Rossoblu were also one of the 10 sides who were involved in the scoreless draw weekend, which will remain in the memory of Serie A fans.
Napoli held Bayern Munich to a draw at home in the midweek Champions League fixture, but Walter Mazzarri's team will need to refocus on the league, and looking to remain near the top of the standings. The Partenopei failed to claim a point against Parma last weekend, allowing Francesco Modesto and Massimo Gobbi to put their names on the scoresheet and walk away from the San Paolo with their heads held high.
Both teams have been playing better away from home, then at their principal fortresses. The Azzurri also claimed a win in the corresponding fixture last season, but Cagliari won't give up without a fight.
Prediction: Cagliari 1-1 Napoli
Inter - Chievo
There hasn't been a lot of positive news to come out of Inter this season. This is their second-worst season defensively - conceding 13 goals in six matches - a statistic dating back to 1930-31, and the club is sitting near the bottom of the table. But coach Claudio Ranieri has just turned 60 years old, and the players will want to put on an exhibition for him. It is also reassuring to see that the Nerazzurri's problems are only occurring domestically, scraping last Lille 1-0 in the Champions League midweek.
Chievo obtained their second scoreless draw in a draw, holding Juventus at the Stadio Bentegodi. Prior to that, the Flying Donkeys had claimed two victories over Napoli and Genoa. Sitting only three points the league leaders has given the side confidence, and are now prepared to fight for a spot among Italy's elite.
Inter would be seen as favourites for the win based on previous matches, but the erratic form line suggests a draw is expected.
Prediction: Inter 1-1 Chievo
Parma - Atalanta
Parma has managed two wins from their last two games, taking the Gialloblou from the relegation zone to eighth place. Last week, the side were inspired by the San Paolo atmosphere, and claimed a shock 2-1 win over Napoli. More importantly, Sebastian Giovinco was not on the scoresheet, illustrating the Crociati do have other avenues to goal. Sergio Floccari stepped up whilst Giovinco was given close attention by the Partenopei defence.
Atalanta has also been surprising in its ability to gain positive results, but will now be tested, as Thomas Manfredini will be missing from the centre of defence for a month through injury. The captain has been instrumental in the Orobici's tight structure at the back, and it will be interesting to see who takes the reins and leads by example. Luca Cigarini will also want to show his former employers how his game has developed since leaving the side in 2008, when he was sold to the Bergamaschi.
Atalanta have scored at least one goal in their last 11 away matches, whilst Parma have failed to keep a clean sheet this term. But, the Nerazzurri have only recorded a win in 11 outings at the Ennio Tardini.
Prediction: Parma 2-1 Atalanta
Roma - Palermo
Both teams may have lost their respecitve matches last weekend, but Roma and Palermo will be keen to rectify this on Sunday.
Much of this week's focus for the Giallorossi has been on their 2-1 loss to fierce rivals Lazio on Sunday night, and especially on the red card sustained by Simon Kjaer. One positive aspect for Luis Enrique side is that Pablo Osvaldo has netted four goals in as many matches, helping the team to constantly find the back of the net. The former Bologna and Espanyol hitman may not be scoring pretty goals, but they are effective. Franco Baldini has taken over as general manager of the club this week, and the club should be more settled off the pitch.
Palermo's away record has been dismal this season, and it showed last Saturday evening, going down 3-0 to a Robinho-inspired Milan outfit. Coach Devis Mangia 4-4-2 formation has also come under fire from president Maurizio Zamparini, who believes the Rosanero are better than the scoreline suggested. Could he be preparing his bags to leave the Sicilians?
The Giallorossi have taken the lead in their last four matches, but have conceded all their goals in the second half.
Prediction: Roma 3-1 Palermo
Siena - Cesena
Their results may not have been spectacular, but Siena at least have a point from as many games. Their aim will be to avoid relegation, but should they continue this trend, they will have done just enough to survive. A scoreless draw last week to Cagliari meant a vita point away from home was earnt and deserved.
Cesena are faring much worse than their opponents. Rooted to the bottom of the ladder, coach Marco Giampaolo has plenty of problems to resolve - and quickly - should the Seahorses aim to stay in Italy's top-flight. Missing from the match will be Adrian Mutu, who is serving a three-match suspension for his red card. The side is also unbeaten in their last two matches.
Anyone got a coin?
Prediction: Siena 0-0 Cesena
Udinese - Novara
Udinese seem to going from strength to strength, and playing three matches a week is not having an effect on the squad. Picking up a 2-0 victory over Atletico Madrid in the Europa League means the Bianconeri come into this game with some form. Still undefeated in all competitions this season, Francesco Guidolin's men will want to continue this trend at home. Antonio Di Natale and co. may be the ones attracting the headlines, but it has been the Zebrette defence has flown under the radar. Only letting through one goal this campaign has meant 'keeper Samir Handanovic has been well-guarded by a wall-like defence.
Novara's fortress-like record at home came to an end last weekend against Bologna, suffering a 2-0 loss. What will also hurt them is coach Atilio Tesser will not be on the sidelines for the match, as he was sent off for questioning the referee. It was also the side's first time that they failed to score at home, having found the back of the net on their previous 10 outings.
Despite having never met in top-flight football, the Bianconeri should prove a class above.
Prediction: Udinese 2-0 Novara
Bologna - Lazio
Bologna started life under new coach Stefano Pioli in style after dispatching of Novara at home 2-0. Gaston Ramirez and Robert Acquafresca found the back of the net last weekend. The tactician revealed he would be prepared to try new things at the Rossoblu, and it paid off with maximum points. The two goals was also the first time the Felsinei had troubled the scorers on more than one occasion, dating back to March 2011. The team also jumped off the bottom of the ladder with the victory, and will want much of the same on Sunday evening.
Lazio claimed a 2-1 victory over fierce rivals Roma last weekend in the Derby della Capitale, with Miroslav Klose ensuring the points went to the Aquile late in the match. But the Biancocelesti failed to defeat FC Zurich in the Europa League midweek, meaning they are yet to find the consistency which they showed last term. Having notched up two wins and an draw on the road, Edy Reja's men will hope to play good football at the Renato Dell'Ara, and keep up their fourth-place in the standings.
Lazio has the better head-to-head in recent times, but the Felsinei claimed a 3-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season.
Prediction: Bologna 0-1 Lazio
Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Monday, 17 October 2011 06:50
What a dull round of Italian football! Incredibly five of the seven Sunday fixtures ended in a scoreless draw, making for a forgetful weekend of action.
Sunday, October 16 2011
Lazio v Roma
The Sunday evening clash finally produced some goals in Italy, as Lazio edged out Roma in a thriller in the Derby della Capitale.
Both teams were deadlocked on eight points in the lead up to the game, and it was the Giallorossi who took the early advantage, as Pablo Osvaldo continued his solid run of form with a cool finish, to gift his side the lead within the first five minutes of play.
The Aquile started to work their way into the game from there, however were unable to find a way through in the opening period.
The second half was a completely different story however, as a small tug on Christian Brocchi's shirt led to a penalty and the dismissal of Roma's Simon Kjaer on 51 minutes - a spotkick that Hernanes made no mistake with.
Lazio pressed as they tried to make their extra man count, and had a number of wonderful opportunities against the Lupi, who were of course without their injured skipper Francesco Totti.
Djibril Cisse hit the post with a stinging volley in stoppage time, however it didn't matter, as fellow new signing Miroslav Klose popped up with a dramatic late winner, getting on the end of a glorious Matuzalem ball to coolly slot it past Maarten Stekelenburg in goal.
Lazio 2-1 Roma
Atalanta v Udinese
Udinese remain equal top of Serie A, despite being held to a scoreless draw in Bergamo against Atalanta.
Prolific goalscorer Antonio Di Natale and co were unable to find the back of the net, against the newcomers, who continued their impressive start to the season, and bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign, against Roma a fortnight ago.
Atalanta 0-0 Udinese
Cagliari v Siena
Cagliari are incredibly third in Italy after seven rounds of football, despite a disappointing scoreless draw at home to Siena.
The Bianconeri are still yet to record a victory this term, and to be fair to the hosts, they never really looked like doing so in this one. Credit to the Tuscans though, as they managed to close down their opponents, denying them the opportunity to go top of the league.
Cagliari 0-0 Siena
Chievo V Juventus
It was yet another impressive display at home for Chievo, holding Scudetto favourites Juventus to a scoreless draw in Verona.
Playing in a 4-1-4-1 set-up, the visitors had plenty of attacking options on the pitch, but despite their dominance, were unable to find a way through.
Substitute Alessandro Del Piero struck the woodwork just minutes after coming on in the second half with a fine header, however it wasn't to be for the Old Lady.
They do remain top and one of only two teams that are still yet to taste defeat this season.
Chievo 0-0 Juventus
Genoa v Lecce
Genoa have made the Marassi stadium a fortress in recent years, and despite avoiding defeat once again, it was anything but that against minnows Lecce.
The Grifoni were unable to break down a resolute Giallorossi defence, and not even the likes of Rodrigo Palacio could conjure up anything of note.
In one of the most uninspiring displays you will see, the hosts were reduced to 10 men in the second half, when former AC Milan defender Kakha Kaladze was shown a straight red card, however the Salentini were unable to capitalise on the advantage.
Genoa 0-0 Lecce
Novara v Bologna
The most entertaining game of the day saw Novara's tremendous unbeaten record at home come to an end, as Bologna picked up their first win of the season.
The newboys had only won the one game thus far - with that being a 3-1 triumph over Inter in former coach Gian Piero Gasperini's final game - however they had looked extremely strong in front of their own fans.
It wasn't to be their day today however, as Gaston Ramirez silenced the crowd with a fine header on the stroke of half time, before Robert Aquafresca sealed the win midway through the second period with his first of the season.
The win ensures Bologna move off the foot of the table and level on points with giants Inter Milan.
Novara 0-2 Bologna
Cesena v Fiorentina
The early Sunday game ended all square, as neither Cesena or Fiorentina found a way through.
Despite striking the woodwork in the opening half, the hosts had very few opportunities on the day, and never really looked liked recording what would have been their first win of the campaign.
The Viola were also very disappointing, and extended their winless run to three, despite playing against 10 men for the final 15 minutes, after former player Adrian Mutu was sent off for a swinging fist towards Mattia Cassani, who was pulling the Romanian's shirt.
Nevertheless, the result was a fair one on the day, and evidently proved to be the catalyst for the lack of goals to come in the matches that followed.
Cesena 0-0 Fiorentina
Saturday, October 15 2011
AC Milan v Palermo
It was back to business for the reigning champions, as they smashed Palermo at the San Siro stadium.
Milan took a little while to get going, but once they did there was no turning back, as Antonio Nocerino scored his first goal for the club, with a simple tap in that capped off a wonderful build-up play by his team-mates.
Robinho marked his return from injury with the Rossoneri's second 10 minutes into the second half, while Antonio Cassano completed the rout by continuing his red hot goal scoring form on 64 minutes to ensure a crucial three points for the club.
AC Milan 3-0 Palermo
Napoli v Parma
Parma pulled off one of the shocks of the season, defeating Napoli at a packed San Paolo stadium.
The Azzurri have been labelled by many as genuine title contenders this season, however they looked extremely uninspiring in the opening 45 minutes of play. Fortunately for their sake though, their opponents were playing in similar fashion, as it was deadlocked at the break.
The second half was a different story though, as the visitors opened the scoring through Massimo Gobbi after a sublime backheel by Sergio Floccari.
Napoli managed to find an equaliser thanks to Giuseppe Mascara 14 minutes from time, however Francesco Modesto popped up to slam home a shock winner on 84 minutes.
Napoli 1-2 Parma
Catania v Inter
Inter's miserable season continued, going down to an in-form Catania in Sicily.
The Nerazzurri got off to the perfect start, as Esteban Cambiasso nodded home the opening goal on six minutes, following an exceptional cross by Maicon, and they were by far the stronger of the two teams in the first half.
However, in a three minute period early in the second half, the game was turned on its head, as Sergio Almiron powerfully hit home an equaliser, winning a penalty immediately after, which Francesco Lodi successfully converted.
The struggling giants tried to press late, but never really looked like pulling off a win. They are no incredibly languishing in 17th position with just four points form six rounds of football.
Catania 2-1 Inter
Match Analysis - Italy
Friday, 14 October 2011 14:00
The Serie A is back after the international break, and the first of the Derby della Capitale's takes place this weekend, with Lazio 'hosting' Roma. Inter travel to the Stadio Massimino to face Catania, in-form Napoli meets Sebastian Giovinco's Parma and Milan take on Palermo. On Sunday, Chievo play Juventus and Atalanta will have to contend with Udinese.
Saturday, October 15 2011
Catania - Inter
VIncenzo Montella's men provided one of the matches of the season last time they played in the league, with a highly-enterntaining 3-3 draw against Novara. Wide open play saw chances created at will, and many people admire both sides. The Elefanti will now hope to bring that style of play against an Inter side, fighting tooth and nail for every point. Nicola Legrottaglie made his debut in the Novara game, and will now look to form a defensive partnership with Giuseppe Bellusci.
The Nerazzurri are at the wrong end of the table, and are trying hard to rectify this. Striker Diego Forlan will be out of action for up to a month with a leg injury, but news has emerged linking Anzhi striker - and former Beneamata hitman - Samuel Eto'o with a sensational loan return to the club. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar could also be rested for this match, meaning Luca Castellazzi will be between the sticks. News which will boost the 2009/10 Champions League winners is that midfielder Dejan Stankovic will solely be focusing on the Nerazzurri, as he retired from international football.
Inter have the better record against the Rossazzurri, winning four of five encounters, but up-and-down form this term mean this could a closer game than many predict.
Prediction: Catania 1-2 Inter
Milan - Palermo
Milan's strikers have stolen the headlines over the past fortnight. Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently revealed he is starting to think about life after football, Antonio Cassano said he could finish playing football in three years' time, but on a positive note, the Rossoneri regain the services of Robinho after his injury lay-off. Also hoping to return from injury is Philippe Mexes, who is yet to make his debut for his new club since his free-transfer move from Roma during the summer. The Diavoli may be languishing in 15th place, but coach Massimiliano Allegri is not looking at the league position just yet.
Palermo's up-and-down form this term mean it has been hard to gauge how good (or bad) they really are. Fortress-like performances at home but disappointing performances away mean we don't know just what to expect from Davis Mangia's outfit. Rosanero 'keeper Alexandros Tzorvas seems to have settled in at the club, and the likes of Mauricio Pinilla, Fabrizio Miccoli and Abel Hernandez have posed a real threat up front for opposition sides. Miccoli is in doubt for the match, and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
The Sicilian side have had the wood over the Rossoneri in recent times, winning three of five previous encounters. Only a draw was the result in the corresponding fixture last term, but the return of Robinho will add extra firepower to the team.
Prediction: Milan 2-1 Palermo
Napoli - Parma
Napoli seem to be the best of the sides who are coping with the balancing act required to do well in the league and in the Champions League. According to the players, it is down to the support and attention to detail provided by coach Walter Mazzarri. Many of Mazzarri's men were involved in international duty, but Gokhan Inler admitted his team-mates have now become accustomed to playing every three days, and it will not be an excuse for them to lose this weekend. Goran Pandev also revealed he wishes to repay the faith shown in him by the club, and the best way is by scoring against the Gialloblu. The side has demolished both Milan teams so far, and look like they could do the same on any given day.
Constanly touted as one of the best players so far this campaign in the Serie A, Sebastian Giovinco has been a name not very far from anyone's lips. Five goals so far has helped the Crociati sit mid-table. The 3-1 win over Genoa prior to the international break will give the side a huge boost going into the match at the San Paolo, but they will need to quickly forget about their two away trips, as they have ended disastrously. A 3-0 loss to Fiorentina and 4-1 hammering by Juventus sent shockwaves through the club.
The Partenopei won both clashes last season, and look the goods again this weekend.
Prediction: Napoli 3-1 Parma
Sunday, October 16 2011
Cesena - Fiorentina
Still without a win in Italy's top-flight, pressure is starting to mount on coach Marco Giampaolo. President Igor Campdelli has come out and defended the tactician, which can only mean he is on a limited tenure at the club. The Seahorses are currently relying on former Fiorentina hitman Adrian Mutu too much to score goals, and he has only showed glimpses of his absolute best. Captain Giuseppe Colucci will be out of action, as he has a torn meniscus ligament.
Fiorentina have been preparing on a synthetic pitch all this week, in order to simulate the ground conditions at the DIno Manuzzi Stadium. Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has only had three days to properly prepare for this encounter, as most of his squad has been away on international duties. Striker Alberto GIlardino has not been properly covered by his team-mates, and an over-reliance on the likes of Stevan Jovetic has emerged. The 21-year-old will need to find the back of the net to go along with his brace against Parma from a few weeks ago.
Horrible form has struck the home side this campaign, but the threat of international duty for Mihajlovic's men could see them lose.
Prediction: Cesena 1-0 Fiorentina
Atalanta - Udinese
It will almost become a recurring talking point when discussing Atalanta that they had a six-point deduction to start the season, but the good thing is that they are now in positive-point territory - and would be lying in join-second spot - behind Juventus and Udinese. Coach Stefano Colantuono has managed to get the best out of his side thus far, and the loss to Roma prior to the international break will be seen as a stumbling block. A tough few weeks await the Bergamo outfit, and will want to claim as many points as possible. German Denis takes on his former side, and has been scoring as of late, finding the back of the net on a consistent basis.
The Bianconeri are in contention for a Champions League spot, predominantly thanks to marksman Antonio Di Natale. Scoring four times in five matches has seen the Friuli-based outfit remain unbeaten this term, and looking the goods to be a serious Scudetto chance. Gabriel Torje has been labelled the Romanian 'Lionel Messi' and he will want to show why. His debut showed glimpses of why the comparison has been made, but he will need to back it up on a weekly basis.
Atalanta have a perfect home record this season, but the Zebrette will be tough ask to keep at bay attacking-wise.
Prediction: Atalanta 1-1 Udinese
Cagliari - Siena
Cagliari have now become known as the heart-stoppers, as half of their goals this campaign have come in the last 15 minutes of matches. Coach Massimo Ficcadenti has also had the luxury of very few injuries - actually one to be exact - meaning he has been able to keep the same starting XI since the start of the term. Should the Isolani claim victory this weekend, their reward could be leading the Serie A table. Daniele Conti is still seen as the Rossoblu's key man, and has already been rewarded with two goals.
Siena are on the improve, and showed why as they dispatched Lecce 3-0 prior to the international break. The Robur could have also had a few more points, as they were unlucky to score a second goal against Roma. Sitting in 14th place, Giuseppe Sannino's men are having a good campaign thus far.
The home side is favoured in this encounter, winning three of the past five matches. Cagliari are also in better form than Siena.
Prediction: Cagliari 2-0 Siena
Chievo - Juventus
The Chievo fans will be out in force to see their heroes play, as the Bentegod Stadium has sold out. The Gialloblu will want to add notch to their belt, as they have defeated both Genoa and Napoli - albeit understrength - at home this term. Michael Bradley has settled in well at the club, and Sergio Pellissier looks like he has not lost his speed and pace up front.
Many of the Bianconeri players are returning from international break, and will want to find the sam rhythm and winning edge they had prior to departing for representative duties. Andrea Pirlo has been touted as the best player so far this campaign, and it isn't hard to see why, as he led the Turin side past his former club Milan 2-0. What will test the side is how they perform away from home, playing against the smaller teams. Only managing a 1-1 draw to Catania and scraping past Siena with a 1-0 win weren't convincing performances.
Two draws last season make this a crucial match, especially if they wish to remain near the top of the league.
Prediction: Chievo 1-1 Juventus
Genoa - Lecce
Despite sitting in mid-table after a strong start, Genoa boss Alberto Malesani is starting to come under pressure over his job. This may seem silly considering the Grifoni are the second-highest goalscorers, but recent losses to Parma and Catania have mounted pressure on the tactician. Reports have also surfaced that a hunt for Malesani's replacement has begun. One thing going well for the Ligurian side is striker Rodrigo Palacio, who currently tops the Serie A Capocannoniere standings on five goals. The Argentine international has repaid the faith shown in him by the club, as he turned down a lucrative summer move to Inter.
If Genoa's coach is struggling to keep his, then no one understands how Lecce boss Eusebio Di Francesco still has his. With only three points to their name, the Giallorossi are rooted in third-last position, losing to Udinese, Atalanta, Siena and Cagliari so far this term. Goals have dried up, not scoring in 245 minutes, and have only found the back of the net three times.
Lecce have only won once at the Luigi Ferraris in 15 attempts, dating back to 1998. They have also lost their last five encounters against Genoa, so the Rossoblu should pick up the three points.
Prediction: Genoa 3-1 Lecce
Novara - Bologna
Novara may not have stolen the headlines as much as fellow promoted side Atalanta, but the Piemonte-based outfit have caused a few sides some headaches this term. Defeating Inter a few weeks ago - which saw the final nail put in Gian Piero Gasperini's coffin at the Nerazzurri - was backed up with come-from-behind draw to Catania. Atilio Tesser's men have also not been afraid to play some attacking football, as the Biancozaaurri lead the goalscoring ranks, but they also have been poor defensively, conceding just as many.
Stefano Pioli believed he may not be involved in this campaign, after being sacked by Palermo prior to the season commencing, but he has been given a lifeline after Pierpaolo Bisoli was shown the door. The new tactician announced recently that it was intention to play free-flowing, attacking football, and intends to use tri Robert Acquafresca, Marco Di Vaio and Alessandro Diamanti up front. Di Vaio is yet to find the back of the net this term, and this could explain why the Rossoblu sit in last place, having only scored twice.
Still unbeaten at home since May 2010 means the Biancoazzurri will provide a tough challenge for the new Rossoblu boss.
Prediction: Novara 3-2 Bologna
Lazio - Roma
Throw out the form guide. Throw out past performances in these matches, as the Derby della Capitale is about the here and now!
Lazio's have been up and down so far this campaign, but their home form has been slightly better than their away performances. Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse will both be on the hunt for goals, as will attacking midfielder Hernanes. The defence has looked shaky when put under pressure, and will need to stand up to the likes of the in-form Pablo Osvaldo and Bojan Krkic, who scored his first goal for his new team.
Coach Luis Enrique's new football philosophy has started to flow into the players, and they are starting to express themselves like the tactician wants. Krkic dispelled any rumours floating about him wanting to return to Barcelona by scoring against Atalanta prior to the international break. He has now settled into the side, and will be expected to play a key role. Pablo Osvaldo was rewarded for his good form by receiving a call-up to the Italy squad by coach Cesare Prandelli against Northern Ireland. Daniele De Rossi's future has all but been resolved, as he looks to remain at the club.
The only thing to remember about past encounters is that the Giallorossi claimed victories in both matches last season - and the last five times the sides have met - but Lazio supporters feel they have the firepower up front to win this time.
Prediction: Lazio 1-2 Roma