Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

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 and the fabled start to the 2011/12 season, but followers of Serie B continue to enjoy a steady stream of action and controversy with week nine as eventful as any.
As we approach the end of the first quarter, the league table is taking shape with Torino three points clear of Padova, in turn three ahead of Sassuolo with Brescia, Pescara, Livorno and Sampdoria hoping a run can propel them to the top.
However the form side of the league are sitting snugly in mid-table after recording an unlikely four match winning streak on Sunday.
I know I’ve been banging the Juve Stabia pot most weeks in this column, but we have to recognize a side promoted to Italy’s second division for the first time in 60 years, if you didn’t know already. Stabia started the season with a point penalty for late payments of income tax and took four defeats and a draw before beating Pescara, Reggina, Nocerina and Ascoli.

Up the table the side from Campania have flown, but Lega Calcio rarely provides the perfect fairytale.
While commendations came in from media across the peninsula, Stabia took four steps forward and two back this week when handed a five point penalty after alleged match fixing in an April 2009 game with Sorrento. Managing director Roberto Amodio was also banned for three years and has stepped down for the charge and alleged involvement with the mafia organization known as the Camorra. It will be interesting to see if the punishment disrupts their excellent form on the pitch as The Wasps travel to top of the league Torino on Saturday. It might seem a bitter pill for the Stabiese but on the plus side, if it can be termed that, the prosecutor did ask for nine points to be deducted.
Last year’s whipping boys in Serie A, Bari, were looking to join Stabia in the quadruple club after a poor opening to the season but took a 3-1 hiding away at Reggina. Away from the pitch Salvatore Masiello’s time with the club was effectively ended after being found guilty of misconduct.

On 21st August, before the Coppa Italia game against Avellino Masiello had an argument with Czezh goalkeeper  Zdeněk Zlámal, possibly over who was entitled to the last white chocolate magnum. It’s unclear if Masiello thought he was in a Greek taverna or not, but the quarrel degenerated into the 29 year-old defender launching a plate. Zlámal was subsequently loaned to Czech side Sigma Olomouc, and little wonder as it was fullback Alessandro Crescenzi and not the keeper who parried the projectile, injuring his arm in the process.
Masiello played the match against Avellino, missing a late penalty in the 4-0 win, but was then suspended and will have his contract terminated minus his salary from September to Decemeber.
The incident will undoubtedly damage his sale-on value in January and Masiello’s legal team will appeal to reduce the punishment. In another player-club dispute that is becoming increasingly common in football, Bari could cite the decision between Antonio Cassano and Sampdoria when the player had his wages cut by 50% and subsequently left the Ligurian side. Cassano’s crime was more mouth than trousers so I Galletti will feel they have a strong position in dismissing the crockery wielding maniac.
‘Thank you, Sir! May I have another’
Good things come in small sizes, or so they say. Dwarves may have a divisive rep, but Ghandi, Sammy Davis Jr, John Keats and Danny DeVito have all left the mark and as we all know the vertically challenged have changed football in more ways than the likes of Jan Koller, Nikola Žigić and Peter Crouch.
The greatest of the minutiae is undoubtedly Napoli legend Diego Armando Maradona, and a new Neapolitan is making the headlines in the Italian peninsula.
At 1.63 metres, he may only just be tall enough to order a glass of milk at his local latteria but Lorenzo Insigne has again showed size is no issue in football.
The 20 year-old on loan from Napoli, scored 19 goals in 33 appearances last season for Foggia then followed coach Zdenek Zeman up the east coast to Pescara, and has continued his promising form for the Dolphins.

After providing a constant threat switching flanks in Zeman’s attacking three the forward’s two goals, two assists and three man of the match performances earned Insigne, which translates in English to ‘illustrious’ or ‘great’, a first call up for Italy’s under-21 game against Lichtenstein last week. He scored two on debut in the 2-7 win, one a delightful chip from 35 yards, and was a constant nuisance in the Azzurrini’s 2-0 triumph over Turkey on Wednesday.
Insigne has been compared to Napoli regular Ezequiel Lavezzi and Christian Maggio told ForzaPescaraTV this week, “I’ve seen that he is doing well in Pescara and we hope that next year he’s back with us [at Napoli].”
The player hopes the same, saying in a recent interview with TuttoNapoli that his dream was to play for Napoli and the thirty seconds he played at the end of Napoli’s 2-0 win over Livorno in January 2010 were the most exciting of his life. Despite the plaudits, he knows breaking the attacking trident of Lavezzi, Hamsik and Cavani wouldn’t be easy, he said, “It would be nice, but only if I can play. I would prefer a starting spot in Pescara where I have found a perfect place to improve instead of sitting on the bench or the stands [for Napoli]. ”
Under the tutelage of Zeman and with a sober head on his low shoulders it’s likely we’ll be hearing a lot more from Lorenzo the Illustrious.

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