Another match day down, and three more to go, to decide the Scudetto champions of 2011-2012!
Juventus were keen to maintain their position at the top of the table, leading rivals AC Milan by three points as the Bianconeri travelled to Novara with ex-Juve stars Michel Platini and Gianpiero Boniperti in attendance as both are from the Novara area. The Bianconeri went ahead from an Andrea Pirlo free kick outside of the box which led to a Mirko Vucinic cheeky chip into the net for the 1-0 lead. Before the halftime interval, the Old Lady doubled her lead with Emmanuele Giaccherini crossing the ball for a Marco Borriello diving header. It is the ex-Roma striker’s second goal in two games for the Bianconeri. At the 50th minute, Arturo Vidal continued his fine form bagging the third goal on a rebound from a Vucinic effort. Fourteen minutes later, it was 4-0 as Vucinic scored the final goal of the game. Novara are now relegated. La Vecchia Signora leads with 77 points and need two victories to secure their 28th Scudetto!
AC Milan put in a fine performance against Siena in Tuscany as the Diavoli ran rampant, 4-1, with Italian international Antonio Cassano scoring one and assisting two in his first start since returning from a long injury layoff. At the 26th minute mark, Bari native Cassano popped in a sitter to give Milan the lead. Three minutes later, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 26th of the campaign with a blast from close range. With seven minutes remaining, Siena pulled one back with Albania striker Erjon Bogdani. At the dying stages though, the visitors eliminated any sign of a comeback with goals from Antonio Nocerino and Ibrahimovic. The defending champions remain in second place on 74 points.
The race for third is heating up with 4 teams tied on 55 points – Napoli, Udinese, Inter Milan, and Lazio. Udinese defeated Lazio 2-0 at the Stadio Friuli with spectacular goals from Antonio Di Natale and Roberto Pereyra. There was controversy and confusion on the second goal though, as a whistle from the crowd was blown before Pereyra scored from the sideline which stopped the Lazio players from running. A tussle broke out as a result at the end of the match, as the Biancocelesti argued the man in charge which resulted in an André Dias expulsion.
Inter Milan gained three points with a 2-1 victory over Cesena. Cesena striker Luca Ceccarelli gave the visitors a surprise lead on 57 minutes. The boys in black and blue were not done however, as Swiss international Steve Von Bergen netted the equalizer two minutes later. Mauro Zarate bulged the ol’ onion bag with an effort of his own with 18 minutes remaining. Inter patron Massimo Moratti looks set to confirm youngster Andrea Stramazzoni as head coach for next season.
AS Roma tied Napoli at home in an exciting match up. The Giallorossi took the lead with Marquinho hammering in off a low cross from the right. The Azzurri came out flying in the second half with two super goals from Juan Zuniga and Edinson Cavani. The Romans were not giving up though and equalized with Brazilian substitute Fabio Simplicio who celebrated excessively by kissing his mother, daughter, and wife in the bleachers. The match ended 2-2.
Other results: Palermo 1-1 Catania; Cagliari 0-0 Chievo; Bologna 3-2 Genoa; Atalanta 2-0 Fiorentina; Lecce 1-2 Parma.
Serie A Preview of Week 36
Week 36 will be played May 1 and May 2 as the Italian Championship winds down in order to allow the national side time to prepare for the upcoming European competition. Juventus will welcome relegation-battlers Lecce to the Juventus Stadium. Antonio Conte’s men have no intention of becoming complacent in the final games of the year. The Bianconeri will come out firing on all cylinders as they need only two victories to write history – a chance to win their first Scudetto since Calciopoli which saw two titles revoked. Lecce, hometown of the Juve tactician, will also need the three points for salvation and will be desperate to get them. The Bianconeri spirits and motivation should prove to be too hot to handle.
AC Milan will challenge Atalanta at the San Siro. The Rossoneri were the first team to defeat the Bergamaschi at the Stadio Azzurri d’Italia earlier this season. Antonio Cassano will certainly start this match up as he has returned to full fitness and is Massimiliano Allegri’s best asset at the moment. The Milanista defence will be wary of German Denis as the Argentine is somewhat prolific in front of goal with 16 goals to his name this season – 6th highest in Italy.
In the battle for third place, Udinese will play Cesena at the Dino Manuzzi Stadium. Udinese are fired up after the victory over Lazio and will most likely cause trouble for the Serie B-bound club.
Napoli will battle Palermo at the San Paolo. The Sicilians may want to play the role of spoiler for the Partenopei, but Edinson Cavani and Co. may prove to be too strong for the Rosanero who do not usually perform well away from home.
Parma welcomes Inter to the Stadio Tardini. The Nerazzurri will aim to dispose of their counterparts as they battle it out for third place. Moratti’s side will need to continue their current run of good form if they are to continue their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
Lazio will have to deal with Siena in this midweek clash. This encounter may look easy on paper for the Aquile but Siena is well known for providing stiff competition. Without Miroslav Klose, Lazio has struggled to find the back of the net and it very well may happen again.
Other fixtures: Chievo v Roma; Fiorentina v Novara; Genoa v Cagliari; Catania v Bologna.
…and that’s the last word.