Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Monday, 03 October 2011 06:55
Sunday, October 2 2011
Juventus v AC Milan
What a way to end the round of Italian football prior to the international break, as heavyweights Juventus and AC Milan played out a thriller in Turin.
There was a great deal riding on the line for both clubs in this one, as the visiting Rossoneri were desperate to record what would have been just their second win of the campaign, whilst the Bianconeri simply had to bounce back from two successive draws to lowly opponents.
In a hard fought 90 minutes there was absolutely nothing to separate the two sides, despite the presence of Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
It was an unlikely source - Claudio Marchisio - who proved to be the decisive figure on the night, as the Italian international scored on 87 minutes to send the home fans into raptures, with a fortunate opener, before making it two within the space of only a few minutes in stoppage time, when his drive from distance somehow went through the legs of Christian Abbiati in goal.
The reigning champions remain firmly in the bottom half on just five points, whilst Juve return to the top of the table alongside Udinese, with 11 points from the opening five rounds of football.
Juventus 2-0 AC Milan
Cesena v Chievo
It was a dull and uninspiring afternoon at Cesena, as they and Chievo played out a scoreless draw.
The result ensured the hosts of their first point of what has been a very disappointing season, despite impressing on a number of occasions last term, on their return to the topflight.
The Flying Donkeys were expected to make light work of their opponents in this one, however managed to maintain their five game unbeaten run in the league.
Sergio Pellissier and Davide Moscardelli were unable to replicate their heroics in recent weeks, as Nicole Ravaglia held firm in between the sticks for Cesena lead his side to their first result of the campaign.
Cesena 0-0 Chievo
Fiorentina v Lazio
Fiorentina and Lazio have played out a number of thrilling encounters in recent years, and this was no different, as the Aquile picked up a crucial three points.
La Viola took just eight minutes to break the deadlock, as Juan Vargas' storming run down the left, was capped off with a wonderful ball across the face of goal and a calm finish by Alessio Cerci past Federico Marchetti.
The goal sparked the visitors into life however, as Hernanes ensured the two teams would be level at the break with a strike on the half hour mark, after making light work of Lorenzo De Silvestri.
As both teams pressed for a winner, it was the Romans that got their reward, with a late goal through Miroslav Klose to cap off a great comeback.
Fiorentina 1-2 Lazio
Lecce v Cagliari
It was a routine victory for Cagliari at the Via del Mare in Lecce, which helped to consolidate their spot in the top four at this early stage of the season.
The Sardinians went ahead on 10 minutes, when Thiago Ribeiro continued his impressive run of form, with a cool finish after narrowly beating an opponent to a lose ball.
The hosts have struggled desperately for goals this season, and it was a similar story in this one, as they failed to create anything of any significance in their attacking third.
To their credit, the visitors made it two on 40 minutes, as Davide Biondini was quick to get on the end of a Alessandro Agostini cross, to smash home a second, and the killer blow for Cagliari, as the game was all but over from there.
Lecce 0-2 Cagliari
Palermo v Siena
It was an entertaining affair in Sicily, as Palermo maintained their perfect record at home against newly promoted Siena.
The Sicilians have been surprisingly consistent under new coach Devis Mangia, and on 19 minutes they made the start they were after, as makeshift defender Giulio Migliaccio nodded past the keeper to make it 1-0.
This is how it remained in the first half, however the visitors began to build some momentum in the second period, particularly when the Rosanero were reduced to 10 men, following the dismissal of Federico Balzaretti for a deliberate handball.
Siena were unable to make the numerical advantage count, and had a man of their own sent off at the death, as Palermo won a late penalty, which Abel Hernendez coolly slotted away, to cap off a great individual game.
Palermo 2-0 Siena
Parma v Genoa
Genoa were on the receiving end of a second consecutive defeat, at the hands of Parma who were inspired yet again by Sebastian Giovinco.
The former Juventus attacker was on fire in the first half, linking up with Sergio Floccari for his side's first, before sending the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot on 42 minutes, to hand his side a two goal lead at the break.
Five minutes into the second half and Giovinco was at it yet again, playing in Stefano Morrone, who was able to tap in Parma's third and confirm a resounding win.
The visitors did manage a very late consolation, as Rodrigo Palacio scored from the spot with the final kick of the game, to continue his red hot goal scoring form this season.
Parma 3-1 Genoa
Udinese v Bologna
Udinese are top of Serie A, after yet another win, this time over Bologna at the Friuli stadium.
The Bianconeri are unbeaten in five games, have conceded just one goal, and lead the way by one point over a trio of opponents, and made their intentions clear in this one right from the onset, attacking with promise and real purpose.
It took them 29 minutes to find a way through, as Mehdi Benatia connected with a corner to deservedly take the lead for his side.
Bologna have looked a shadow of the side that at times threatened for a mid-table finish last term, and lost any chance of taking at least a point away from this one when Diego Lopez pulled down Antonio Di Natale in the area, with the captain making no mistake from the spot to round out the victory.
Udinese 1-0 Bologna
Novara v Catania
Novara and Catania played out a thrilling draw, on the hosts' synthetic pitch, to kick start the Sunday fixtures.
The newcomers were playing their second game at home for the season, and were full of confidence on the back of their 3-1 triumph over Inter last time out, however it was the visitors who would take the early lead, as former Juventus and Milan defender Nicola Legrottaglie opened the scoring with a header.
That's how it remained for the half, however after just four second half minutes, Novara were awarded a penalty that Marco Rigoni dispatched to restore parity, only for Francesco Lodi to retake the lead for the Sicilians seven minutes later with a wonderful free kick.
There was to be another significant twist however, as Takayuki Morimoto scored against his former club to equalise for the hosts, whilst former Cagliari striker Jeda smashed home a third for Novara five minutes from time to cap off what looked to be a memorable comeback.
However deep into injury time, Alejandro Gomez popped up with a late equaliser for Catania, who in the end were deservedly rewarded with a point after controlling so much of the game.
Novara 3-3 Catania
Saturday, October 1 2011
Inter v Napoli
What was expected to be one of the matches of the season to this point, failed to live up to expectations as Napoli embarrassed Inter at the San Siro, to extend their dismal start to the campaign.
The Azzurri were without star man Edinson Cavani through injury, whilst the hosts welcomed back Giampaolo Pazzini, who was expected to miss the clash after picking up a knock midweek.
Nevertheless, the Nerazzurri were the better team early, and thought they had taken the lead midway through the opening period, when Pazzini tapped home from close range, only to correctly be adjudged to be in an offside position.
Things took a turn in the wrong direction for Claudio Ranieri's men in the closing stages of the half, as Obi pulled down Christian Maggio in the area, resulting in the Inter man picking up his second yellow card of the night, as well as Ranieri himself, who was sent to the stands for his protest.
Marek Hamsik stepped up to take the spot kick, and despite having his effort saved by Julio Cesar, defender Hugo Campagnaro was quick to follow it up to hand his side a 1-0 lead at the break.
It was much of a similar story in the second period, as the Partenopei were in full control, and doubled their lead through Christian Maggio before the hour mark, a strike that effectively put the game to bed.
Hamsik was rewarded for an impressive individual performance with his side's third on 75 minutes, after being played in expertly by Ezequiel Lavezzi, to ensure that Inter remain winless and scoreless in their three matches at home in all competitions this season.
Inter 0-3 Napoli
Roma v Atalanta
In one of the most intriguing fixtures of the round, Roma were too good for the previously undefeated Atalanta, a team that incredibly would have been top of Serie A, had they not been docked six points for their involvement in the recent Italian football betting scandal.
The Giallorossi were outplayed in the early stages, however a moment of class from new signing Bojan Krkic, resulted in the hosts taking a surprise lead on 20 minutes, as the former Barcelona man notched his first goal for the club.
As their confidence began to mount, Pablo Osvaldo made it two just after the half hour mark, with a fine touch and finish, to put his side in a commanding position at the half time break.
Francesco Totti somehow failed to score a glorious third for the Romans, as his precise effort from a corner kick trickled on the line, which proved costly, as moments later German Denis scored his fourth for the season to renew hope in the Bergamaschi.
Roma were in full control though, and a brilliant one-two between Miralem Pjanic and Fabio Simplicio was capped off exceptionally well by the Brazilian on 81 minutes, knocking home the final goal of the match.
The triumph means that the Giallorossi go fourth for the time being, and record a vital second consecutive victory.
Roma 3-1 Atalanta
Match Analysis - Italy
Friday, 30 September 2011 16:00
This Matchday could not be any more crucial. No introduction is required. Only to mention that Inter Milan take on Napoli on Saturday evening and 24 hours later, Juventus host Milan. Other noteworthy matches include Lazio taking a road trip to Tuscany to face Fiorentina and Roma playing Atalanta - the actual league leaders had they not had a six-point deduction to start the season.
Saturday, October 1 2011
Roma - Atalanta
Roma fans breathed a big sigh of relief after the Giallorossi claimed their first victory of the campaign, defeating Parma 1-0 away from home. A Pablo Osvaldo strike was enough for Luis Enrique's men to claim maximum points and take some pressure off the former Barcelona youth team boss. Osvaldo himself seems to have settled in better than most predicted, and will want to score his third goal in as many matches against Atalanta. One surprise inclusion for the Lupi could be goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who has significantly recovered from his sickening clash with Lucio on Matchday 2. Intense physiotherapy and a willingness to return means the former Ajax man could be between the sticks.
Had Atalanta started on zero, they would be leading the Serie A on 10 points from the four matches, after having secured three victories and a draw from their first four encounters. It is also the Nerazzurri's best start to a season since 2000. Ezequiel Schelotto opened his account last week against Novara, meaning the midfield maestros of Maxi Moralez, Giacomo Bonaventura and Schelotto have all been involved in one goal or another so far this term. But this match signals the start of a tough run for the Lombardy side, as they face Udinese, Parma and Inter in the next three weeks.
Only one point may be separating the two sides on the ladder, but the Giallorossi have won three of the previous four encounters. With indifferent form, the sides should split the points.
Prediction: Roma 1-1 Atalanta
Inter - Napoli
What a mouth-watering clash we have on Saturday evening, as both sides are coming off midweek wins in the Champions League. Inter travelled to Russia and claimed a 3-2 win - their third against a Russian opponent - over CSKA Moscow, whilst the Azzurri defeated Villarreal 2-0.
Massimo Moratti's trick of firing Gian Piero Gasperini and hiring Claudio Ranieri seems to have worked, as the side registered their first win of the new campaign last weekend against Bologna. Switching back to a four-man defence seems to have worked wonders for the side, but time will be needed to settle back in and keep clean sheets. Giampaolo Pazzini is in doubt to be available for the match, as he picked up an ankle injury, requiring him to come off the pitch. He will be given until the last moment to prove his fitness.
Also under an injury cloud is Edinson Cavani, who also sustained an ankle injury midweek. Should he be unavailable, Walter Mazzarri will almost certainly play Goran Pandev, and he will have a point to prove against his former side. After failing to trouble the scorers last weekend against Fiorentina, the Azzurri's main aim will be to score. Marek Hamsik seems to have found some form, and poses a great threat when near the goals.
On past instances, goals have been hard to come by when these two sides have met. Should four or more goals be scored, Inter have the advantage of claiming maximum points. Defence will be crucial to determining who walks away with the points, as the quality of hitmen is undeniable.
Prediction: Inter 1-1 Napoli
Sunday, October 2 2011
Novara - Catania
Novara stunned the Serie A by defeating Inter the last time they played at home, helping to sink Gian Piero Gasperini, but were brought crashing to Earth as they suffered a 2-1 loss to Atalanta. Atillio Tesser's men have made it at fortress for travelling sides coming to the Stadio Silvio Piola, losing only once since May 2010. Their synthetic pitch is not something many Italian teams are accustomed to playing on, giving the Piemonte-based outfit an advantage.
Catania stunned Juventus when they snatched the lead against the Bianconeri thanks to Gonzalo Bergessio, but a lapse early in the second half cost Vincenzo Montella's side two valuable points. Also against them is the fact they have failed to score a goal away from the Stadio Massimino, having only played once outside of Sicily this term.
The home team's synthetic pitch advantage - and fortress-like record - should see them claim maximum points.
Prediction: Novara 2-0 Catania
Cesena - Chievo
Cesena are the only team without a point next to their name this campaign, but have a chance to rectify this when they face Chievo on Sunday afternoon. The Seahorses put in a spirited performance against Milan last weekend, failing to score after Clarence Seedorf opened the scoring early on. Nicola Ravaglia was the main reason no more goals were conceded, as his agility and lightning-fast reflexes ensured the Rossoneri only scored once. Having had their chances, the likes of Eder and Adrian Mutu failed to get the ball past Christian Abbiati on the few occasions the side pushed forward.
Chievo are sitting in third place on the back of two strong wins against Napoli and Genoa last week. The attacking combination of Davide Moscardelli and Sergio Pellissier has done well to push the Flying Donkeys high up the standings. Michael Bradley has adapted well to Italian football, and he and Cyril Thereau are two major reasons why the GIalloblu are sitting pretty.
The home side is favoured in these clashes, with the team at home winning three of four previous matches.
Prediction: Cesena 2-1 Chievo
Fiorentina - Lazio
Had this match been on during any other weekend, it would have stolen the headlines, but due to two heavyweight clashes, it has fallen into the mix with the other eight games.
Sinisa Mihajlovic has started to get the best out of his players, and the results are coming. A Stevan Jovetic brace against Parma 10 days ago meant the Viola were full of confidence leading into the Napoli clash, and through some rugged and scrappy defending, managed to claim a point at the San Paolo. The Gigliati are yet to be beaten at home, and have only conceded in one match this term. The fans, despite not agreeing with the situation, have respectfully listened to the advice of the Fiorentina staff, and are jeering Riccardo Montolivo during the intervals, allowing the remainder of the squad to focus on the game at hand. But another cult hero may have been found, with Alessio Cerci capturing the admiration of former coach and now-Italy boss Cesare Prandelli.
Lazio's shaky start to the season saw them fail to score at home against Palermo last weekend. Adding to their disappointment was a 2-1 loss in the Europa League to Sporting Lisbon. But one positive was the return of Miroslav Klose. The Biancocelesti are not yet lighting up the Serie A world, but are able to grind out results in their favour, something that will prove handy as the season progresses.
The away side claimed victory twice last season when the teams met, but this is another Fiorentina outfit.
Prediction: Fiorentina 1-0 Lazio
Lecce - Cagliari
Lecce's impressive win against Bologna two weeks ago has been long forgotten, as a string of poor performances against Atalanta and Siena has seen the side conced five times whilst only finding the back of the net once.
Cagliari's defensive display against Udinese last weekend showed why they claimed victories against Roma and Novara earlier in the season. Shutting down the likes of Antonio Di Natale and not allowing Pablo Armero and Mauricio Isla to have an effect along the wings went a long way in seeing Pierpaolo Bisoli's men claim a crucial point. Daniele Conti will surpass Mario Brugnera as the club's games record holder should he be selected for his 329th appearance.
What impressive about prevous clashes between the Giallorossi and the Isolani is the amount of goals scored. The last time the sides meet, six goals were scored, and five the match prior. Expect a few to find their past the respective 'keepers.
Prediction: Lecce 2-2 Cagliari
Palermo - Siena
Palermo: fantastic at home, and look like a team that could challenged for a top-six spot in Italy. Away, another story. This is how Devis Mangia's squad has already been summed up after only four matches into a new campaign. The Rosanero failed to inspire against Lazio, managing only a scoreless draw in Rome. One benefit for the Sicilians was the return of promising defensive midfielder Afriyie Acquah. If he and Armin Bacinovic can work alongside one another like we saw last season, the side could fare much better this season than anticipated.
Siena registered its first win of the new campaign by comfortably defeating Lecce 3-0 last weekend, adding to the 1-1 draw they obtained against Roma last week. Mattia Destro and Emmanuele Calaio both found the back of the net for the Robur, and former Fiorentina winger Gaetano D'Agostino regained some much needed touch, providing two assists.
The Sicilians have an impressive record both home and away in previous encounters, and will be looking to continue this trend at the Renzo Barbera.
Prediction: Palermo 2-0 Siena
Parma - Genoa
Parma proved once again how much they rely on Sebastian Giovinco to score goals. The Italian international has looked like the only one who can find the back of the net with some regularity. Jonathan Biabiany has struggled for form, and Sergio Floccari is yet to settle in at the Gialloblu. One thing of major concern is the amount of goals conceded by Franco Colomba's team. Having let through more than three goals on two occasions, the defence will need to tighten up against a free-scoring Genoa outfit if points are the objective.
It is of no surprise to those who follow the Portuguese Liga Zon Sagres and the Serie A that Miguel Veloso was waiting for a breakout season. His talent has been unquestioned, and is now starting to show what he can do in the centre of midfield. Add to this the goalscoring efforts of Rodrigo Palacio, who currently leads the Capocannoniere on four goals, and Genoa suddenly have the belief they deserve to be considered in Italy's top six. Had it not been for the 2-1 loss to Chievo on the weekend, Alberto Malesani's side would still be undefeated.
Genoa have claimed two wins - both home and away - in their last four encounters, and look to have the better squad on paper. But will it translate into maximum points?
Prediction: Parma 1-2 Genoa
Udinese - Bologna
Udinese remain one of two undefeated sides in the league, and will be confident of claiming another three points when the take on Bologna. The importance of Antonio Di Natale to the Friuli-based outfit cannot be denied, as his goals are helping the side to remain in second place on the ladder. Having failed to score against Cagliari, it was the 33-year-old's goal that ensured a point would be assured against Milan 10 days ago. Almen Abdi's late penalty also helped the Bianconeri snatch a point from Celtic in the Europa League, but real questions over the side's mental and physical fatigue levels will come into play.
Bologna may have earnt their point of the campaign against Juventus during last week's midweek clash, but suffered a 3-1 home loss to Inter on the weekend, who were looking to impress under new coach Claudio Ranieri. Despite having an above-average midfield and attacking line-up, Pierpaolo Bisoli's men have failed to shine. Marco DI Vaio and Robert Acquafresca seem to lack chemistry, and last season's sensation Gaston Ramirez is the only bright spark in the team. But he needs help, and Alessandro Diamanti needs time to settle in at his new club.
The Bianconeri should return to winning ways purely based on their squad list, but the Felsinei have a good record, beating Udinese last season.
Prediction: Udinese 3-0 Bologna
Juventus - Milan
Arguably the biggest match of the round sees league leaders Juventus take on reigning champions Milan.
The Bianconeri are still undefeated from their four matches, but have looked shaky, especially against Catania last week, snatching a 1-1 draw thanks to Milos Krasic. One big plus has been the arrival of Andrea Pirlo - who will play against his former side - and how he has been able to push the side forward, espcially linking with the wings. Former Juve and Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti expects the home side to win, and believes it could be the catalyst for a strong season ahead.
Another player who is expected to play against his former side is Alberto Aquilani. His ability to be a box-to-box midfielder, threading a pass to the forwards will be crucial. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's presence in the Rossoneri attack will lift the team, and it showed midweek, defeating Viktoria Plzen 2-0 in the Champions League. Also possibly available for Massimiliano Allegri to select is Kevin-Prince Boateng, but Gennaro Gattuso, Robinho, Massimo Ambrosini, Alexandre Pato and Philippe Mexes are all still missing. Claiming their first win of the campaign against Cesena last week helped to bolster confidence around via Turati, and no extra motivation will be required when facing Juventus.
The match has already sold out, so a great atmosphere awaits. There is no form line between these two sides, other than a winner and a loser is guaranteed, with no draws in five outings. Tough to predict a winner, though.
Prediction: Juventus 1-1 Milan
Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 16:00
SoccerAnchor’s Winners & Losers is a weekly editorial that analyses the good, the bad and the ugly of Italian football, commending the impressive performances, as well as pinpointing the moments that gave cause for anguish.
They have had a difficult start to the season, however an extremely busy week was capped off exceptionally well by Inter Milan, as the Nerazzurri looked back to their best against Bologna away from home. Following the dismissal of coach Gian Piero Gasperini earlier in the week, Claudio Ranieri was called in, and to his credit had an immediate impact.
Making only a few minor changes to the team, Ranieri was able to get the best out of his players, so it will be very interesting to see how they fair in Russia against CSKA Moscow, in the Champions League this week.
Whilst Inter Milan recorded their first win of the season, it was a similar story for AC Milan and Roma, two teams that have struggeld thus far, but managed to grind out narrow 1-0 victories over Cesena and Parma respectively.
Chievo recorded a second consecutive victory over a highly fancied opponent, this time Genoa, with Davide Moscardelli once again scoring the winner.
Atalanta continued their tremendous start to the campaign, with another three points over Novara. Incredibly had they not been docked the six points for their involvement in the betting scandal, they would have been two points clear at the top.
Elsewhere, Catania held powerhouse Juventus to a 1-1 draw in Sicily, with Gonzalo Bergessio opening the scoring, whilst Emanuele Calaio bagged a brace, as Siena thrashed Lecce 3-0 in Tuscany.
Napoli's mini poor run continued, failing to score for the second game in succession, in their scoreless draw at home to Fiorentina.
Bologna were completely outplayed by the resurgent Inter, but Archimede Morleo's challenge in the area that resulted in a red card and a penalty cost his side the chance of recording an invaluable point, whilst the same can be said for Genoa's Dario Dainelli, who was sent off when his side were leading 1-0. The eventually lost 2-1, despite Sergio Pellissier missing the resulting spot kick.
Andrea Esposito was shown a red card in Lecce's defeat at Siena, and Parma were very disappointing at home, against an uninspiring Roma team - going down 1-0 in the Sunday evening fixture.
Del’s disaster of the week
Despite featuring in the winners section, my disaster of the week is AC Milan, simply on the back of a horror start to the season, and a few decisions that could prove costly in the coming weeks. Sure they recorded their first win of the campaign on Saturday, however take a look at their opponents - Cesena! And to score a goal that Seedorf later revealed was intended to be a cross on five minutes, is simply not good enough.
In addition to this, the reigning champions have a growing injury list, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alexandre Pato and Robinho all out on the sidelines, meaning something is not right on the training front, as most have been suffered off the pitch. The attacking trio will miss the next few weeks of football, and a clash looming against Plzen in the Champions League this week, a disaster could be on the cards.
One of the worst decisions made by coach Massimiliano Allegrii was leaving Filippo Inzaghi out of the club's Champions League roster for the group stage, meaning he will have the one recognised attacker in Antonio Cassano available for selection this week.
Think there was a standout performance that we missed? Or was their an awful performance that you believe deserves more attention? Give us your thoughts on all the action from the weekend below...
Match Analysis - Italy
Adrian Del Monte
Monday, 26 September 2011 06:50
A busy week of Serie A football was completed with AC Milan and Inter recording their first victories for the season, whilst Napoli struggled at home against Fiorentina yet again..
Sunday, September 25 2011
Parma v Roma
Roma continued their dominance over Parma, with a crucial win at the Ennio Tardini stadium - Luis Enrique's first in six attempts at the club.
Enrique played Francesco Totti, Fabio Borini and Pablo Osvaldo from the start, opting to leave big money signing Bojan Krkic on the bench for the third game in succession.
The match was a very slow affair in the opening half, with space hard to come by for both sides in attack. The likes of Daniele De Rossi and Miralem Pjanic were pulling the strings in midfield for the Giallorossi, however there was very little spark up front.
However, five minutes into the second half, and the Romans found their breakthrough, as Aleandro Rosi's superb cross picked out Osvaldo, who with a fine header, scored for the second game in succession.
Sebastian Giovinco, who made his return from suspension, tried to inspire the hosts, and almost did on 72 minutes when he picked out Jonathan Biabiany who simply should have scored, but didn't, as Bogdan Lobont did brilliantly in goal to keep the score at 1-0.
The Giallorossi held on in the end, recording a crucial three points, to incredibly take them to a tally of five that is just three points behind league leaders Juventus.
Parma 0-1 Roma
Atalanta v Novara
Newcomers Atalanta and Novara met in Bergamo, in a very intriguing clash, particularly considering the visitors defeated Italian giants Inter Milan midweek.
The hosts were by far the better team on the day however, and were rewarded on 34 minutes when Ezequiel Schelotto opened the scoring, after pressuring the opposing defence for several minutes prior.
Luca Cigarini made it two with a wonder strike midway through the second half, as the Bergamaschi looked on their way to another three points.
Novara were handed a late lifeline, when Filippo Porcari pulled one back on 89 minutes to ensure a nervy stoppage time period, however it was too little too late for the visitors, as Atalanta record their third win of the season - a result which means they would have been two points clear atop of the table, had it not been for their involvement in the pre-season betting scandal.
Atalanta 2-1 Novara
Cagliari v Udinese
Cagliari and Udinese played out one of the most uninspiring games of the season, at the Sant'Elia stadium in Sardinia. Despite a plethora of attacking quality present, neither side looked like breaking the opposing defence down at any stage of the game.
The likes of Gabriel Torje and Antonio Di Natale offered little for the Bianconeri, and were unable to make the most of their team's dominance of possession.
In fact, the biggest highlight of the afternoon comes from the fact that Udinese were handed three yellow cards in the final 10 minutes - a credit to the Sardinians ambition to surge forward in the closing stages.
A disappointing match, but not a bad result for either side, particularly the visitors, who remain equal top alongside Juventus.
Cagliari 0-0 Udinese
Catania v Juventus
Juventus have drawn their second match in succession, however managed to maintain their unbeaten start away to Catania.
The Sicilians have a solid recent record against the Bianconeri, and showed no signs of intimidation or lack of confidence in the opening period.
So there were no surprises when on 22 minutes Gonzalo Bergessio wonderfully beat Gianluigi Buffon to open the scoring.
Juve were outplayed and outclassed in the opening period, however a half time substitution and just four second half minutes was all it took for the Old Lady to finally equalise through Milos Krasic, whose powerful strike was too good for Mariano Andujar in goal in the tough conditions.
The Bianconeri had their chances in the closing stages, with Krasic and Alessandro Del Piero amongst the opportunities, however it wasn't to be, as Juve drew 1-1 for the second consecutive round.
Catania 1-1 Juventus
Lazio v Palermo
Another disappointing clash was played out at the Stadio Olimpico, between Lazio and Palermo.
Plenty was expected from these two sides, who are expected to challenge for a spot in Europe next term, however both failed to deliver.
Starting with Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse up front, the duo were unable to replicate their fine form of the opening round of matches against AC Milan for Lazio, and they therefore offered minimal against the Sicilians.
Up the other end, Mauricio Pinilla and Abel Hernandez were anonymous, and made the club look a shadow of the team that defeated Inter a few weeks back, and more recently impressed against Cagliari.
There were minimal opportunities for both sides over the 90 minutes, in an uninspiring and dull affair, that won't ever be spoken about again.
Lazio 0-0 Palermo
Siena v Lecce
The most impressive result of the day came from Tuscany, as newcomers Siena smashed Lecce at the Artemio Franchi stadium.
Mattia Destro made the club's intentions clear on six minutes, with a wonderful opening goal, as the Bianconeri scored their first goal at home on their return to the topflight, and looked to be heading to their first win of the season.
Despite looking by far the better of the two teams in attack, Siena incredibly were going at 35 per cent possession in the opening period.
This counted for little however, as Emanuele Calaio made it two on 53 minutes, ensuring the game was all but over. The referee confirmed that it was all over just six minutes later, when he sent Andrea Esposito off for a second bookable offence.
Calaio scored a sensational third for Siena, with a sensationally timed chip from all of 25 yards, to complete the memorable rout.
Siena 3-0 Lecce
Chievo v Genoa
An inspired Chievo side played host to the shock league leaders Genoa in Verona, and pulled off a memorable comeback over their 10-men opponents in the Sunday early game.
Despite controlling large portions of the opening half, it took just three second half minutes for Chievo to concede the opening goal, as the in-form Rodrigo Palacio scored from a wonderful strike - his fourth of the season.
The Flying Donkeys were gifted a glorious opportunity to equalise on the hour mark, after Dario Dainelli was sent from the field as a result of picking up a straight red card. However captain Sergio Pellissier scuffed his effort, to ensure the score remained 1-0.
Pellissier made amends just 14 minutes later though, knocking home the equaliser, before Davide Moscardelli scored with the final kick of the game, to pull off a memorable comeback, and score his second decisive goal in the space of a few days, after grabbing the winner against Napoli midweek.
Chievo 2-1 Genoa
Saturday, September 24 2011
AC Milan v Cesena
The Italian champions have recorded their first win of the season, however in unconvincing fashion against minnows Cesena at the San Siro stadium.
It looked like it was going to be a relatively straightforward evening for Milan, when a Clarence Seedorf wonder strike got the ball rolling after just five minutes of play.
However a resolute Cesena held firm at the back, and looked dangerous at time in attack, inspired by Adrian Mutu, who looks to be enjoying life at his new club.
Both teams had penalty claims turned down in the second half, and as the game drew to a close, the opportunities began to dry up, ensuring that the Rossoneri attained a crucial three points that hopefully for their sake will help to kickstart their season.
AC Milan 1-0 Cesena
Napoli v Fiorentina
Napoli and Fiorentina played out a dull, scoreless draw at the San Paolo stadium, as the Azzurri's slightly poor run of form continued.
On the back of last week's 1-0 defeat away to Chievo, Walter Mazzarri recalled his star trio in Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, however it didn't cout for much in the early stages, as the Viola's Alessio Cerci had the best opportunity to score.
The second period was much of the same, as both teams struggled to create openings in their attacking third, although Napoli were very unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty, as Hamsik was brought down in the area by an opponent.
Fiorentina maintained their impressive run at the San Paolo, having lost just once in their previous eight trips to Naples, and it was a second consecutive clean sheet for the club, after last week's 3-0 rout of Parma.
Napoli 0-0 Fiorentina
Bologna v Inter
Inter Milan finally recorded their first win of the season, and look to have put their dismal start behind them, under new coach Claudio Ranieri.
Despite being without star man Wesley Sneijder, Ranieri implemented a simple four man defence, as president Massimo Moratti had been requesting under former boss Gian Piero Gasperini, and it worked wonders immediately.
The Nerazzurri were resolute at the back in the opening period, and even more impressive in attack, as they went close to scoring on a number of occasions in the first half hour, with the best chance calling to defender Walter Samuel, who somehow found himself unmarked in the area, but missed from six yards out.
However on 39 minutes, Giampaolo Pazzini did find a breakthrough, hitting home the club's first goal under Ranieri, to silence the home fans.
To Bologna's credit, they managed to restore parity on 66 minutes, after Samuel brought down Daniele Portanova in the area, and Alessandro Diamanti successful converted from the spot, however as Inter pressed in the closing stages, two goals in the final 10 minutes were enough to record a crucial three points.
Diego Milito's penalty on 81 minutes and Lucio's stunning header three minutes from time was enough for the Nerazzurri to cap off the impressive display.
Bologna 1-3 Inter
Match Analysis - Italy
Friday, 23 September 2011 14:00
An intriguing round of clashes awaits us this weekend, as newly-appointed Inter coach Claudio Ranieri tackles the tough task of taking on Bologna. Napoli and Fiorentina are set to play at the San Paolo after mixed results midweek. Milan meet Cesena without a win next to their name and Lazio and Palermo square off in an early-season Europa League play-off.
Saturday, September 24 2011
Bologna - Inter
Bologna claimed their first point of the campaign on Wednesday evening when the side drew 1-1 with Juventus at the Delle Alpi after losses to Fiorentina and Lecce. Captain Marco Di Vaio and Robert Acquafresca haven't yet found their ranges in front of goal, and will be looking to sneak a goal or two past the Beneamata defence. Gaston Ramirez will need to be at his best if he wishes for the Felsinei to win.
The biggest headlines from the midweek certainly revolved around Inter, and Gian Piero Gasperini getting the sack so early on in the season. Bickering was also occurring between the players - especially Esteban Cambiasso and Andrea Ranocchia - about whether a four-man defence should be employed, especially against Novara. Now that Gasperini is gone, Claudio Ranieri has been put in charge, becoming the 17th coach to take over the coaching role in the Moratti era, and will bring a structure and organisation clearly lacking. The 'Tinkerman' has been noted for his classic 4-4-2 formation - a welcome relief for many Nerazzurri fans.
Whenever a new coach is appointed, the team generally win, and this should be the case. Four of five previous matches have been won by the Nerazzurri.
Prediction: Bologna 1-2 Inter
Milan - Cesena
Defence seems to be the issue for Milan, as they have conceded eight goals in all competitions including three to Napoli. Add to this their crippling injury list - including Alexandre Pato who picked up a thigh injury against Udinese - and this may explain why the Rossoneri are sitting near the bottom of the Serie A ladder. Several positives have come out of their matches, including Stephan El Shaarawy and Alberto Aquilani scoring their first goals for their new club. Christan Abbiati will also want to make up for his howler against the Zebrette, as it cost his side two crucial points.
Cesena started the season with such optimism and enthusiasm against Napoli, as Serie A followers got to see a team with many attacking options. Eder, Adrian Mutu, Marco Parlo aren't names to be laughed about. Having somewhat reverted to a more defensive approach against both Lazio and Catania have seen the Seahorses drop points, losing their last four Serie A matches - a stat going back to last season.
Teams who play at home tend to win this clash, with the Diavoli claiming a 2-0 win last time the sides met at the San Siro.
Prediction: Milan 2-0 Cesena
Napoli - Fiorentina
Walter Mazzarri chose to bench several stars against Chievo midweek, opting to give fringe players a chance to shine, but the experiment failed as the Azzurri lost 1-0 to the Gialloblu. Mazzarri defended his move, saying he would do the same thing given his time over. The likes of Edinson Cavani, Gokhan Inler, Marek Hamsik and Paolo Cannavaro will come straight into the starting XI. Should Mario Santana be selected, he will be facing his former team, after his move away during the summer transfer season.
Fiorentina are full of confidence after defeating Parma 3-0 midweek. Stevan Jovetic returned to his best with a brace, but the one thing that his holding the Viola back is the reported departure of midfielder Riccardo Montolivo to Milan during the upcoming winter transfer season. The fans were respectful towards the 26-year-old by not jeering him, but a love-hate relationship has started to develop.
The returning stars for Napoli suggest the home side should get the chocolates, but Jovetic is keen to score at the Stadio San Paolo.
Prediction: Napoli 2-1 Fiorentina
Sunday, September 25 2011
Chievo - Genoa
Not many pundits believed Chievo could attain maximum points against a depleted Napoli outfit, but the Flying Donkeys obtained a 1-0 win with Davide Moscardelli grabbing the matchwinner on 72 minutes. Coach Domenico Di Carlo recorded his 100th win of his career. Alberto Paloschi will be keen to play against one of his former clubs, as he scored two goals in 12 appearances for the Grifone last season.
Genoa sit atop of the Serie A ladder at this early stage, but will be aiming to stay there for as long as possible. Miguel Veloso revealed earlier in the week that this could be the the right motivation for him and his team-mates to continue to do well. Still undefeated this season, and scoring goals with little trouble makes Alberto Malesani's side one to fear. They will take confidence from their last away match, when they defeated Lazio 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Tough match to predict a winner, as both teams come into the match registering wins midweek. A draw the more likely outcome.
Prediction: Chievo 1-1 Genoa
Atalanta - Novara
Atalanta fans can take heart that the -6 penalty enforced upon the club for their involvement in the summer betting scandal has been wiped, with the team moving off the bottom of the ladder. Had they begun the season on zero, they would currently be in fourth place on seven points. German Denis has shown he has settled into the Nerazzurri line-up, scoring a brace to go along with his matchwinner against Palermo, taking his tally to three goals for the campaign. Ezequiel Schelotto and Giacomo Bonaventura have also developed a wonderful rapport, and seeing them work together can only give further hope to fans of the Lombardy club.
Novara will go in history as being the club which helped get Gian Piero Gasperini sacked at Inter. Their impressive 3-1 win over the Beneamata was also coach Attilio Tesser's first in Italy's top flight, and the side first win in the league since May 1956, when they defeated Pro Patria 2-1. Marco Rigoni was the hero for the Biancoazzurri, netting a brace in five minutes to secure maximum points.
Both newly-promoted teams met last season, with a 1-1 draw the result in the corresponding fixture. More quality talent has been added to the Nerazzurri than the Piemonte club, and this should be the difference on Sunday.
Prediction: Atalanta 3-2 Novara
Cagliari - Udinese
Had Cagliari walked away with a point against Palermo midweek, this match would have been a top-of-the-table clash between two undefeated sides. But the Isolani could only manage two late goals to lose 3-2 to the Rosanero. Showing their fighting spirit, the Rossoblu came close to snatching a point late in the game, but could not convert their chance. Daniele Conti has been their standout player so far this campaign, leading by example with his hard work in the midfield. Another tough battle for the Sardinians, do they have the mental and physical toughness?
Udinese have gone from strength to strength so far this season, valiantly being led by talisman Antonio Di Natale. The 33-year-old once again found himself on the scoresheet for the Bianconeri, as the side managed to walk away with a point against Milan. There seems to be no lingering effect of the summer transfers out of the club, with sporting direct Fabrizio Larini finding more than capable replacements.
Previous matches between the two sides show the Friuli side have the wood over Cagliari, including a 6-2 win two seasons ago.
Prediction: Cagliari 0-3 Udinese
Catania - Juventus
An up and down season so far for the Rossazzurri, as they have claimed a win, draw and a 3-0 midweek loss against Genoa. The Grifoni played attacking football, opening up the back four at will. Had it not been for goalkeeper Mariano Andujar, the scoreline could have been much worse. Nicola Legrottaglie's absence will be noted, but will provide inside knowledge of his former club. Davide Lanzafame will also be aiming to fire up against his former club, and should be preferred ahead of Gonzalo Bergessio.
Juventus' 100 per cent winning record ended midweek against Bologna, only managing a 1-1 draw. Mirko Vucinic was the hero when he scored just prior to the half-hour mark, but turned villain when he was sent off for a second bookable offence. Leonardo Bonucci is also in doubt after sustaining a muscular injury in his right leg. Coach Antonio Conte will have a tough choice selecting his starting XI, as Eljero Elia, Arturo Vidal and Marcelo Estigarribia are fully-fit and available.
The Turin side have been noted as dropping points during these 'smaller' fixtures, but will want to prove their critics wrong and get back to winning ways.
Prediction: Catania 1-2 Juventus
Lazio - Palermo
Lazio has been creating headlines off the pitch rather than on it, despite claiming their first victory of the campaign against Cesena midweek. Rumours have been circulating about whether coach Edy Reja wil remain at his post, but president Claudio Lotito has attacked the press for manufacturing the story and creating a poisonous atmosphere.
Devis Mangia has had up an down success since taking over from Stefano Pioli prior to the season kicking off. The Rosanero has been able to win at home, but struggled when they played away to Atalanta last Sunday. Josip Ilicic will return to the starting XI, and Eran Zahavi should keep his place after his debut goal against Cagliari midweek.
Previous encounters have seen the Biancocelesti walk away with the points, and the same should occur on Sunday.
Prediction: Lazio 2-1 Palermo
Siena - Lecce
Siena snatched a point from Roma on Thursday evening, when Roberto Vitiello scored in the 88th minute. It was also the club's first goal of the season, and it couldn't have come at a more important moment.
Lecce will want to quickly forget how poor their home form has been, as they lost 2-1 to Atalantamidweek to go along with their 2-0 loss to Udinese on the opening day of the season. But will want to remember their 2-0 away win over Bologna, and how well they played.
The Giallorossi have won four of five previous clashes, with plenty of goals scored on all occasions.
Prediction: Siena 1-3 Lecce
Parma - Roma
Parma sporting director Pietro Leonardi has been far from impressed at the Gialloblu's start to the season. Two of three matches have seen the Crociati concede three or more goals. The Ducali barely looked like scoring against Fiorentina on Wednesday evening without influential playmaker Sebastian Giovinco, who was suspended for the clash.
Pressure is slowly starting to mount on Luis Enrique after a last-gasp draw to Siena on Thursday evening. Still without a win this term, one positive to come out of the match was Pablo Osvaldo finding the back of the net for his new club. The team is gradually beginning to play like the tactician is wanting, but a long road is still ahead.
A great spectacle awaits, but goals will be hard to come by for both sides.
Prediction: Parma 1-1 Roma