Monday, 14 January 2008

Spotlight - Week 18: Like a duck to water

Here's a round up the winners and the losers from Week 18 of the Serie A season.

Alexandre Pato (Milan): Never has an 18-year-old had to deal with such great expectations as Alexandre Pato has at Milan, but he responded like a true champion. The Duck had the Diavolo faithful purring and was the star of the show even before he opened his Rossoneri account with aplomb. Like Milan's supporters, Pato may have found it difficult to sleep last night.

Amantino Mancini (Roma): The Brazilian sent a clear message to the Giallorossi directors ahead of this week's contract talks by guiding Roma to victory over Atalanta. With a superb goal in a menacing performance, the former Venezia man made his case for a pay rise.

Silvio Baldini (Catania): The pugnacious Coach spent the week insisting that his Catania side could upset Juventus and they were a minute away from doing so. The 49-year-old's infectious enthusiasm is working wonders at the Stadio Massimino and the Elefanti should fear no-one on home soil.

Tiago Mendes (Juventus): The Portuguese flop rolled out the red carpet for Mohamed Sissoko with another lacklustre showing in Catania. If Tiago has decided to stay in Turin and fight for a place, he will have to fight a lot harder than this.

Delio Rossi (Lazio): Everything the Lazio boss did last year turned to gold, but this term it turns to dust. Last season's third-placed side are in genuine danger of a relegation dogfight after throwing away a lead to lose 2-1 at home to Genoa.

Bruno Cirillo (Reggina): Given a hero's welcome on his return to the Amaranto shirt, Cirillo responded by giving away a penalty after just five minutes of his debut for a clumsy trip on Antonio Buscè. Not the response Renzo Ulivieri was looking for in a crucial relegation six-pointer.

Alexandre Pato (Milan):
A star is born. With his first touch The Duck left Maurizio Domizzi stranded by flicking on a long Giuseppe Favalli ball over the top, with the second he side-footed coolly past Gennaro Iezzo.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter): Roberto Mancini said "with the sheer power in his shot, Ibra can do anything." The Swedish magician showed what he meant with a screamer that flashed into the far top corner.

Claudio Bellucci (Sampdoria): Antonio Cassano showed how brilliant he can be when working as part of a team. He exchanged passes with Bellucci, who both started and ended the sweeping move to shrug off Ciro Capuano and place an angled drive past the goalkeeper.

Lifting the curse: Milan have finally broken their home hoodoo with a 5-2 triumph over Napoli. The Rossoneri were the only side in the top flight without a home win and had scored just three times all term at San Siro.

Capital gains: Genoa were more surprised than anyone when they came from behind to win at Lazio. The Rossoblu last took three points away to the Biancocelesti with a 4-2 win on January 11, 1959 and have taken three points on three occasions in 38 trips.

Toro's Tuscan trouble: Torino continue to find Livorno discourteous guests. The Granata haven't beaten Livorno on home soil since a 1-0 win way back on January 30, 1949 - three months before the Superga air disaster that killed the whole Toro squad.

Source: Paul Watson (C4 Football Italia)

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