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It was supposed to be the most heart-warming of sport stories. The triumph of life over illness borne from a self-determination forged in the fires of football, and all done with a quaint moustache. Yet it turned out to be just another calculated chapter of misadventure in calcio. After recovering from the stomach cancer that curtailed his time as coach of Albinoleffe in 2011, Emiliano Mondonico reappeared on the pages of La Stampa in early January, proclaiming, “I defeated the […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Mar - 12 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The bissextile or leap year has, despite its unswerving will to make the world work for free, aligned itself with some great things. The first Playboy club was opened on a leap year, the Olympics and European Championships are on leap years, and the motivational speaker Tony Robbins, described as “banana hands” by Jack Black in Shallow Hal, was born on a leap year becoming one of four million quasi-Tolkien figures known as a leaplings. In the middle earth of […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Feb - 29 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Diego Milito’s quadruple known as a ‘poker’ against Palermo was a rare moment, in fact it was only the sixth time it’s happened in ten years, but with Italy’s final friendly before Euro 2012 looming it focused the eyes on the Azzurri’s frontline. The Argentinian’s four-step sent him into a comic book group that features ‘the little plane’, Vincenzo Montella, twinkle-toes Christian Vieri, and ‘The Wonder Boy’ Alexis Sanchez. The sextuplet is completed by Alberto Gilardino, who should be nicknamed […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Feb - 6 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Unlike Notts County’s kit and Mister, the football term Derby used throughout Italy has largely diverged from its original English etymology. While fans in the Premier League still expect two-footed tackles and rabid commitment when local sides meet, some Italian derbies incur little or in the case of Sunday’s meeting between Fiorentina and Siena, no added enthusiasm. Only 700 Siena fans made the 70km trip across Tuscany for the early kick-off at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, while a portion of […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Feb - 1 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The flabby bull has finally, if only by the smallest of margins, been squeezed from the summit of Serie B. After a run of 114 days as league leaders, Torino’s second 1-1 draw with Cittadella was enough to see Sassuolo claim top spot on goal-difference and il Toro pushed back into the pack.  It’s taken brilliant consistency from the Neroverde and Verona and another blast of victories from Pescara to erode Torino’s advantage, but deservedly, as Giampiero Ventura’s side no […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Jan - 28 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

When Pasquale Sensibile arrived in Genoa following a triumphant two years as Sports Director of Novara, Sampdoria seemed to have invested wisely as it sought to wake from a nightmarish nine months. Sensibile’s CV was fat with success after presiding over the arrival of coach Attilio Tesser and a number of productive signings including Samir Ujkani, Michel Morganella, Marco Rigoni and Francesco Marianini. Tesser put together a 30-game unbeaten run in Lega Pro in 2010, and last year led the […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Jan - 19 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The Serie B seesaw has tipped and the slow descent to the end of the 2011/12 season has begun. Most onlookers had Torino pegged as certain for automatic promotion if not the title after ten wins, two draws and a solitary defeat cemented their position at the summit of the table. The superstitious amongst us might gape at the beginning of their demise, after the thirteenth game, and puzzle over those queer little numerical milestones that seem to plague sport. […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Jan - 12 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

While Serie A takes its third break two months into a delayed season, teams in Serie B are double yoked, with a full set of fixtures on matchday 15 and the league’s bright young stars fleeing to Istanbul for a hit on the international hookah pipe. Fifty-two sides are battling it out for a mere seven spots in the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in Israel. To put that in some perspective, fifty-one teams attempted to qualify for fourteen […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Nov - 10 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sampdoria thought it had left the Wild West of Campania behind when the players boarded the plane to Liguria; the in-flight meal a digestion of the 4-2 thrashing meted out by Nocerina. But after arrival, when passing through the Christopher Columbus Airport they were met not by smiling wives and girlfriends, but an aggressive mob intent on violence. CCTV in the airport confirmed a volley of eggs and vegetables preceded an all out attack which left defender Andrea Rispoli missing […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Nov - 3 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

“But age, with his stealing steps, Hath claw’d me in his clutch, And hath shipped me intil the land, As if I had never been such.” I don’t think the Clown in Hamlet was singing about a footballer’s career, but in the same way age steals away life’s vigour, so it diminishes the speed and skill that creates quality players. Serie A can resemble an old people home at times; Gennaro Gattuso’s failing eyes, Alessandro Del Piero constantly wrapped in […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Oct - 28 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

We’ve got the Champions League, the much maligned Europa League but if there was a knockout competition comprised of the top XI’s from Europe’s second divisions where would Serie B finish? As the first quarter of the season ends the column selects the stand out performers and those to compete in the inaugural Second Best League. Firstly the coach. There are a number of candidates; Torino are top of the league so Giampiero Ventura has a fair shout, Fulvio Pea […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Oct - 20 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST

It’s official, qualifying for the European Championships in the Ukraine and Poland next summer is over, well almost. 240 games have been played by 51 national teams across 403 days with 648 goals scored. So far the tournament has 12 sides confirmed, Italy topped group C and finally we can get on with a few weeks of uninterrupted domestic football; about bloody time. Domestic fans of Serie-A have had to suck on a trio of postponements with two international breaks […]

Posted by Owen Neilson On Oct - 13 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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