Monday, 29 October 2007

Spotlight - Week 9: Vucinic revelation

Here's a round up of the winners and the losers from Week 9 of the Serie A season.

Mirko Vucinic (Roma): It has been quite a week for the Montenegrin, who scored his first goal of the campaign in the Champions League and then snatched the decisive winner away to Milan. It is to his credit that few noticed Francesco Totti’s absence, proving at long last that Roma are not a one-man team entirely dependent on their captain.

Domenico Di Carlo (Parma): The coach could feel the cold blade of the axe on his neck going into a relegation six-pointer with Livorno, but despite a shaky game Parma got the 3-2 victory they needed to avoid a dismissal. President Tommaso Ghirardi made the situation all too clear. "Was Di Carlo at risk? He can be more relaxed now."

Manuele Blasi (Napoli): Controversy over the spot-kicks aside, the former Juventus midfielder was a candidate for Man of the Match in Napoli’s fine and aggressive performance. He fought for every ball, harangued each opponent and contributed greatly to winning back possession. The Bianconeri probably wished he had still been on their side.

Marcelo Zalayeta (Napoli): The real villain may have been incompetent referee Mauro Bergonzi for awarding two shocking penalties against Juventus, but at least Ezequiel Lavezzi fell because he was (cleanly) tackled by Giorgio Chiellini. Zalayeta, on the other hand, blatantly dived over his former Bianconeri teammate Gianluigi Buffon and conned his old club out of two points. He should be ashamed of himself.

Carlo Ancelotti (Milan): The Rossoneri’s crisis is reaching epic proportions and their Scudetto ambitions already sunk without trace just nine weeks into the season. Not even with a Calciopoli penalty were Milan in the lower half of the table at this stage last term, yet the same team performed brilliantly in the Champions League midweek. Ancelotti spent the last few days giving the players "psychology lessons," but the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome is increasingly inexplicable.

Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria): He makes his first Serie A start for the Blucerchiati, continually loses the ball and picks up yet another muscular injury just 39 minutes into a 2-0 thrashing at Catania. This was unlucky, but understandable. What stood Cassano apart – as it often does – was his reaction, storming off the pitch without waiting for a substitute to be called and insulting teammate Vincenzo Montella. Typical Cassano, then.

Walter Gargano (Napoli): The Uruguayan netted a screamer last week, but this time he took a different route, dribbling past the entire Juventus defence before smashing a left-foot strike across Buffon to the far corner.

Mirko Vucinic (Roma): Amantino Mancini sparked a counter by releasing fellow Brazilian Cicinho and the cross found Vucinic in front of his marker for a precise diving header at the near post.

Francesco Tavano (Livorno): Tavano bagged a brace at the Tardini and opened his tally with this strange finish – part volley, part curler from the edge of the area, part lob – that finished its journey in the top corner.

Milan nightmare: This is Milan’s worst start to a Serie A season since their last promotion in 1983 with just 10 points from their opening nine games. It is also their second consecutive 1-0 home defeat, so at San Siro this term they have picked up just three points from five matches.

Maradona memories: Napoli had not beaten Juventus in any competition since a 5-1 Italian Super Cup win on September 1, 1990. In Serie A their last victory was 3-1 on March 25, 1990 with Diego Armando Maradona bagging a brace. Edy Reja’s men had knocked the Bianconeri out of the Coppa Italia last term, but only on penalties after a spectacular 3-3 draw at the San Paolo.

Blank brothers: Both Inter and Fiorentina fail to find the net for the first time this season. The Nerazzurri had not fired blanks since a 0-0 at Reggina on April 7, while the Viola last faltered in a goalless draw away to Milan on May 6. In Week 9 there were three 0-0 results – more than in any other round so far this term.

Source: Susy Campanale (C4 Football Italia)

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