Serie A got off to an exciting start with 35 goals being scored in first match day as calcio fans were treated to some scintillating football in the weekend. Some results were expected while there were two shockers.
First round was postponed due to strikes hence AC Milan’s home game against Lazio turned out to be the first game of 2011/12 season. And what game it proved to be! The defending champions were left stunned within first 21 minutes as Lazio raced to a 0-2 lead. Miroslav Klose opened the scoring as he schooled Alessandro Nesta while fellow debutante Djibril Cisse made it 0-2 with an expertly taken header. Allegri’s team clawed back into the match with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a surprisingly headed goal from Antonio Cassano.
Juventus hosted Parma in the Juventus Stadium in what was the first official game in Old Lady’s new home. The Bianconeri treated the 41,000 fans present inside the stadium to a complete domination. Enjoying 66% ball possession throughout the match, Juve toyed with a Parma side, which seemed daunted by stadium atmosphere. Juventus lined up with 10 Italian players in the starting XI but it was the only foreigner – Stephan Lichtsteiner who scored the first official goal in new stadium after a beautiful chip from Pirlo. Three beautiful goals from Simone Pepe, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio made it 4-0 as Juventus effortlessly pummeled Parma. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect day was a late red card to Paolo De Ceglie and Parma scoring from the resultant penalty.
Napoli, who finished third last season showed no signs of slowing down as they breezed past Cesena with goals from Lavezzi, Hamsik and Campagnaro. Udinese, another standout performer from last season didn’t look like they missed Alexis Sanchez and Gorkhan Inler as they eked out a clinical 2-0 win against Lecce. Fiorentina too made a solid start to their campaign by defeating Bologna 2-0 with goals from Gilardino and Cerci. Serie A newbies Novara traveled to Verona to take on Chievo in one of the tougher away trips in Italy. The away team made good accounts of themselves scrapping to a 2-2 draw with a late goal from Caci.
Two of the biggest upsets in the second round saw AS Roma slump to a home defeat against Cagliari and Internazionale lost to Palermo in a seven-goal thriller. Roma has been bolstered considerably with a host of new transfers but hasn’t made the start that was expected from them. The Lupi fell to Slovan Bratislava in Europa League. On Sunday, Luis Enrique’s team had no answer to Cagliari as the away side took a 2-0 lead at Rome. Bruno Conti’s son Daniele Conti scored his 5th goal against the club where his father in an all-time legend giving Cagliari a 1-0 lead while Kabir made it 2-0 before Daniel De Rossi pulled one back.
Giam Piero Gasperini’s Genoa side was infamous for its lack of defensive organization. His Inter side showed glimpses of defensive implosion as it went down 4-3 at the Renzo Barbera. Diego Milito scored a brace while Diego Forlan scored on his Inter debut but their goals were cancelled by two goals from Palermo captain Fabrizio Miccoli and goals from Pinilla and Abel Hernandez.
Are Luis Enrique’s Days Numbered?
The Barcelona legend’s career in Eternal City hasn’t got off to a dream start. Roma has already lost to less fancied opponents in both Serie A and Europa League and there are rumours about his falling out with Francesco Totti. In Roma, if a coach feuds with Totti, it is usually the former which has to leave the club. The 1999/2000 Serie A champions have made considerable investments in the transfer market and pressure will be mounting in Enrique if results don’t start coming soon.
Star of the Week
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
The man who was identified as player to watch out for in our preview made justice to the enormity of the occasion of playing in a new stadium. Against Parma, Pirlo rolled back the years and showed a display reminiscent of his matches during 2006 world cup. He completely controlled the tempo of the game and rarely misplaced his passes.
His delightful chip over the Parma defence released Lichsteiner, who scored Juve’s opening goal with calmness of a striker. With Claudio Marchisio doing the work of a defensive midfielder with great panache Pirlo had both time and space to pick his passes. He also assisted his central midfield partner to score Juve’s 4th goal. Marchisio’s goal from Pirlo’s pass was somewhat similar to Johann Cryuff’s famous “Phantom Goal” against Atletico Madrid
Save of the Week
Samir Handanovic (Udinese vs Lecce)
After taking a 0-2 lead within 16 minutes the Udinese defence became somewhat complacent, allowing Lecce to launch a host of counter-attacks. On 39th minute Guillermo Giacomazzi found himself unmarked in the penalty box and unleashed a header towards the bottom corner. Sami Handanovic was up to the task as he pulled off a stunning one handed save.
Goal of the Week
Miroslav Klose (AC Milan vs Lazio)
Alessandro Nesta, one of the best defenders to have come out of the peninsula may have lost some of his pace but is still a world-class defender. Nesta has rarely been made to look so foolish in his long and illustrious career. Klose is a consummate poacher and age hasn’t allowed his incomparable instincts to rust. He was outside the penalty box when Stefano Mauri received the ball near the touchline. By the time Mauri turned, Klose had entered into the penalty box with a sudden acceleration. He completely wrong footed Nesta with his first touch and calmly slotted past Abbiatti with his second.
There were some stunning goals last weekend – Vidal and Marchisio’s goals against Parma, Pinilla and Miccoli’s strikes against Inter but the technique and calmness behind Klose’s goal against a quality defender takes the cake.
Flop of the Week
The ex-Barcelona striker had a horrible debut against Cagliari. He was anonymous throughout the match as Cagliari defenders kept him under a tight leash for 90 minutes.
Assist of the Week
Hugo Campagnaro (Cesena vs Napoli)
Rory Delap take a bow! Campagnaro’s throw in from half line against Cesena was jaw dropping to say the least. His long throw found a completely unmarked Ezequiel Lavezzi inside the Cesena penalty box. The Argentine didn’t make a mistake as he gave Napoli the lead. The Argentine was involved in a serious car accident few months back and capped his return with a goal and an assist against Cesena.
Manual Pasqual’s cross to Alberto Gilardino and Andrea Pirlo’s chip to Lichtsteiner deserve special mention.
Match of the Week
Palermo 4-3 Internazionale
Inter took the lead at Palermo when Diego Milito’s shrewd deflection of Stankovic’s long ranger wrong footed Sirigu. Inter led 0-1 at half time but soon found why the Sicilians are so strong in their own stronghold. Fabrizio Miccoli made it 1-1 with a well-taken goal on 48th minute. Diego Milito restored Inter’s lead after converting a spot kick on 51st minute. Within three minutes Abel Hernandez made it 2-2 by tapping the ball into an open net after a free flowing move. The match was tied 2-2 till 85th minute when the real drama began.
Miccoli gave Palermo the lead for the first time in the match with an incredible free kick on 86th minute. Four minutes later Mauricio Pinilla made it 4-2 for the home team with a perfectly dipping long ranger. Inter never had a chance to get back into the match despite a late goal from Diego Forlan on his debut.
Team of the week (4-3-3)