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Southern Italian Round-Up

On Saturday evening at the Stadio Sant’Elia, former Cagliari striker Alessandro Matri never expected a warm welcome just six days after leaving the club for his “dream move” to Turin. As he embarked on the flight home after the game, he had stuck a dagger right into the heart of the tifosi that once idolised him as his two goals helped La Vecchia Signora to a 3-1 win to put a temporary halt to the current crisis that has engulfed the Turin giants.  Prior to the match, Cagliari President Massimo Cellino had asked the supporters to go easy on Matri on his return to Sardinia and as far as welcomes go, a few whistles and a flare thrown onto the pitch in the direction of the 26-year-old was by Italian standards, fairly quiet.

The Former Cagliari Man Bagged A Brace

For the home side, the extent of how much they will miss their talisman was evident from the first whistle with Matri excelling for the visitors while the heir to his crown in Sardinia, Robert Aquafresca, was anonymous. After 21 minutes, the new kid on the block had netted his first goal for the club as the visitors dominated the opening 45 minutes. After the break, the home side struck back, inspired by the impressive Andrea Cossu, they grabbed a foothold in the game as Aquafresca decided to stop pining for his old team-mate to grab an equaliser on 52 minutes. As the game entered the final quarter of an hour, Matri struck again with a clinical strike that gave Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi no chance and just nine minutes later, the game was over thanks to an incredible headed goal from another Juventus new boy, Luca Toni, on his return from injury. A fabulous week for Matri concluded on Sunday evening as he received a call-up to Cesare Prandelli’s Azzurri team to face Germany on Wednesday evening.

Napoli striker Edinson Cavani notched up his 18th league goal of the season as the Partenopei beat Cesena with the minimum of fuss at the Stadio San Paolo on Sunday afternoon. On a gloriously sunny day in Naples, Walter Mazzarri’s men exorcised the ghost of last week and their mauling at the hands of Chievo to close the gap on the leaders Milan, who could only manage a draw in Genoa, to just three points. After 14 minutes, Il Matador gave the home side the lead to effectively end the contest before it had really started. The only surprising part of the whole afternoon was that it took the Azzurri until injury time at the end of the second-half to double their money -  José Ernesto Sosa grabbing his first league goal for the club. Next Saturday, Mazzarri takes his charges to the capital to face Roma, a fixture that will not be for the faint hearted.

In 12 incredible second-half minutes at the Stadio Via Del Mare on Sunday afternoon, Lecce turned victory into defeat against Palermo. No-one had any idea of what lay ahead after the home side took the lead through their captain Guillermo Giacomazzi after 18 minutes, only for it to be cancelled out by a wonderful free-kick from Lecce born striker Fabrizio Miccoli in first-half injury time. Miccoli has always stated that he would like to finish his career in Puglia and to score such a fantastic goal against his boyhood heroes must have broken his heart. Ironically, the little striker failed to show for the second-half after picking up an injury in the opening 45 minutes. Eight minutes after the re-start, Brazilian striker Jeda netted to give the home side the lead once again but 12 minutes later, his side had capitulated as Javier Pastore, Abel Hernández and Josip Iličić ran riot through the heart of the Salentini back-line to inflict the first defeat on Luigi De Canio’s side since the winter break. Palermo coach Delio Rossi has had a great week with this result coming off the back of last Wednesday’s home win against Juventus. The Sicilians are now right back in the mix for European football next season, the Puglian’s unfortunately, are right back in the relegation dogfight.

Simeone Has A Tough Task With Catania

Catania coach Diego Simeone explained to the Italian press this week that he will almost certainly return to Spain at some point to coach Athletico Madrid, a team he served so well as a player. After another defeat, this time away to Bologna at Sunday lunchtime , many supporters of Gli Elefanti will hope that its sooner rather than later. Simeone, a no nonsense player, seems to want to instill that in his playing staff as his team produced some x-rated stuff in the opening 45 minutes which culminated in five bookings and the sending off of his fellow countryman Pablo Alvarez. Even by South American standards this was pretty cynical stuff and when the home side took the lead through defender Daniele Portanova, the football purists would have been delighted that good had triumphed over evil. The Sicilians are in free-fall and if rumours are to be believed, President Antonio Pulverenti is already considering showing the door to Simeone and welcoming back Marco Giampaolo. The look on the patron’s face at the end of the game said it all and their won’t be many connoisseurs of calcio who will be sad to see the back of his team if they continue to demonstrate such thuggery on the field of play and lose their top-flight status.

One team that looks certain to lose its top-flight status is Bari. On Sunday afternoon, they lost another relegation six pointer at Brescia to leave themselves nine points adrift of safety at the bottom. Former West Ham man Alessandro Diamanti, put the home side ahead from the penalty spot after 18 minutes and they always looked in complete control of the game. Andrea Caracciolo added some gloss to proceedings with virtually the last kick of the game to leave Bari coach Gianpiero Ventura staring into the abyss. As bookmakers stop taking bets on what now seems inevitable relegation, club President Vincenzo Matarrese, already under intense pressure from disgruntled supporters, has to consider whether to stick with his experienced man at the helm or take one final throw of the dice and bring in a new face to see if a road to Damascus recovery is possible.

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One Response so far.

  1. Fonzzama says:

    thank you.

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