Tuesday, 31 July 2007

2007-08 Fixtures: Reaction

Here is a round-up of the reaction to the presentation of the 2007-08 Serie A fixtures.

Juventus President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli admits he’s looking forward to the November showdown with rivals Inter. "This is a game that both sets of fans feel very keenly. November is a good date," he said.

The much anticipated clash between the clubs that have so bitterly argued over the Calciopoli scandal was set for Week 11 – November 4 and the return at the San Siro on March 22.

"I am seated next to my Inter colleague Ernesto Paolillo in the hall to watch the calendar draw and we hope to warm up the fans with a wonderful game in November."

The other major dates for the Bianconeri supporters upon their return to the top flight are also in the winter months. They face Roma on the weekend of September 9, rivals Torino on September 30 and Milan on December 2.

"Traditionally these big games tend to be in the cold months, but we’ll try to keep our fans heated up," smiled Cobolli Gigli.

Juventus were controversially included among the five seeds for the draw along with Inter, Roma, Lazio and Milan, despite the fact they had just been promoted from Serie B. "I don’t know if it was the right or wrong decision, but we certainly appreciated the gesture and will try to prove we deserve it every day on the field."

As the Bianconeri are not in European competition, some consider them to have an advantage over the others and that could turn them into Scudetto contenders. "Our objective is to enter the Champions League spots in the top four. If anything better comes along, then that’s a bonus."

Inter director Ernesto Paolillo confessed that the Milan derby dates so close to Christmas and the finale are "delicate."

The Nerazzurri begin the defence of their title on home turf against Udinese, a team that has traditionally given them problems. Above all, they must face rivals Milan on December 23 and May 4, the latter leaving just two more rounds until the end of the season.

"The derby is a Christmas affair and the second leg will be very close to the conclusion of the campaign, so they are two delicate dates," noted director Paolillo. "We are happy to be playing at home on the exact date of our club’s Centenary, March 9 2008 against Reggina."

Inter had requested that this weekend be specifically played at the San Siro to make a huge celebration of their 100th anniversary.

The other eagerly awaited date on the Nerazzurri fan’s calendars are Roma-Inter on September 30 and the return at the San Siro on February 27, plus the clashes with Juventus on November 4 in Turin and in Milan on March 22.

Roma were furious with the draw for the 2007-08 season, which sees them face all the big sides in September and October.

The Giallorossi have been given a nightmare start by the Lega Calcio’s computers, as they will take on Palermo in the opener in Sicily. The problems really begin in Week 4, where they have Juventus at home, Fiorentina away, Inter at the Olimpico, Parma away, Napoli at home, Milan at San Siro and then Lazio in the derby all in a row.

"Objectively speaking looking at this fixture list, I can say that Roma have been treated worse than all the other big clubs," noted director Antonio Tempestilli. "These are going to be tough games, but we are ready for them. Juve followed by Fiorentina so early into the season is difficult and intriguing."

A run of poor results so early into the competition – and with Champions League duty stretching their squad – could all but rule Roma out of Scudetto contention almost immediately.

Milan are set to switch their Week 2 encounter with Fiorentina to a Monday evening, as they must play the European Super Cup on the Friday.

The Rossoneri had already warned that they would request a postponement of that round, as the Champions League holders take on UEFA Cup winners Sevilla in Montecarlo on Friday August 31.

"We can play the first round on Saturday or Sunday, it really doesn’t matter, seeing as we won’t play in Montecarlo until the Friday," said Adriano Galliani. "However, for Week 2 we will ask to postpone until Monday, perhaps with a 18.00 kick-off, to allow our internationals to reach their squads in good time."

In fact, Week 2 is followed by a rest for international duty, as the Euro 2008 qualifiers are set to be played.

"It’s a great start full of meaning, as there’s a derby with Empoli and straight after that the challenge with Milan," added Fiorentina transfer guru Pantaleo Corvino. "It is set to be a season opener that will give the squad the right motivation to get off to a great start."

Lazio President Claudio Lotito is concerned at the packed Serie A and European fixture list for his side. "We’ll face Milan on October 7 and it will be a great game, but I am worried that these big appointments overlap with the Champions League requirements."

Although the Biancocelesti are not technically qualified for the tournament proper yet, they are in fine form for the Champions League preliminary round in August.

The other big matches for the Olimpico outfit are against Milan on October 7, the derby in the midweek round on October 31, Fiorentina straight after on November 4, then Inter on November 11.

"All predictions are worth nothing right now, the only judge will be what happens on the field," added Lotito. "I hope to see a relaxed atmosphere with fair play and transparency. Let the best team win on the pitch."

Lega Calcio President Antonio Matarrese also made a veiled reference to the Calciopoli scandal. "We have an intelligent and wise computer, as we will see a wonderful campaign. This tournament must bring back the positive image of our sport," said Matarrese.

"We have laid the path, now it is up to the Presidents to respect each other and the rules."

[2007-08 Fixtures released]

Source: C4 Football Italia

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