The Opening Whistle:
In the first few weeks of the season, I often wrote about how Inter, despite looking good, weren’t making the most of their ball possession and overall domination. That argument was put on the back-burner as Inter began to pick up steam. Today, after watching their match with Sampdoria, is as good an excuse as ever to re-hash the argument.
Believe me, I am aware that the recap of a soccer match, perhaps more than any other sport, can not always be explained through the stats of a boxscore. However, if you caught today’s match in Milan, you know this boxscore doesn’t lie.
Inter had 68 percent of the possession, took 20 shots, eight on target, had nine corners to Sampdoria’s one, and had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Not only that, they actually needed Eto’o to bail them out in the 80th minute to even salvage a point. Something tells me that if Inter narrowly misses out on a sixth straight Scudetto, they will look back with regret on some of these early matches they dominated, without taking the points.
- In a match that proved entertaining, Lazio hung on for a 2-1 home victory over Cagliari. The underdog visitors gave it a good fight despite going down 2-0, but just could not find a late equalizer. The slim victory for Lazio means that they will remain atop the early Serie A table.
- One of the better efforts of the weekend had to be 10-man Udinese hanging on for dear life in a 2-1 victory over Palermo. Andrea Coda was sent off in the 64th minute for Udinese, and Palermo halved a 2-0 deficit 20 minutes later, but Udinese still escaped with a spirited home victory.
- From spirited to downright depressing, did anyone see the ugly display of football, if you can even call it that, in Parma on Sunday? Roma, who has been all too disappointing so far this season, and Parma combined for two shots on target. Yes, combined for two shots on target in 90 minutes. What a disgraceful display. Again, at what point do we go from looking at Roma as a good team having a bad start to looking at them as simply a bad team?
- One of the must-see moments of the weekend had to be the absolutely despicable Milos Krasic dive. Justice was served in that Iaquinta missed the resulting penalty, and that Krasic, who has been otherwise brilliant for Juve this season, may be suspended for next week’s match versus AC Milan. Juve may also miss Amauri in that crucial match, after he sustained an achilles injury in Juventus’ 0-0 draw at Bologna.
- The week in the Champions League didn’t go so well for Italy’s three representatives. Sure, Inter won a 4-3 thriller with Tottenham, but Roma and Milan looked lackluster in losses to FC Basel and Real Madrid, respectively.
- I know that the next Italian Euro 2012 qualifying match will not be played until March (there are friendlies in November and February though), but it’s still got to be a pleasant sight for Cesare Prandelli and the Azzurri brass to see Mario Balotelli back on the pitch. Super Mario came on as a substitute in Manchester City’s 3-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.
The Final Whistle:
So you may have noticed that one of the traditional powers was missing in action this weekend. That’s because AC Milan is scheduled to play on Monday against Napoli. If you haven’t had your fill of Serie A action for the week, and I know you haven’t, then make sure you watch this critical matchup live on The Score at 2:45 p.m. ET.
A Milan victory will see the Rossoneri take over sole possession of second place, while a home win for Napoli would see them jump into a tie for second with Inter.
And as usual, you can also fill your thirst for more Serie A action by watching all of the weekend’s highlights on thescore.com.