In the intense international calendar of modern football, it is unthinkable to develop the idea of having a national team clashing with a club in a friendly.
Let alone if the national team and the club are two big calibres.
However, in February 1989, FC Internazionale hosted the USSR for a friendly game in the unfashionable scenario of the ‘Stadio Brianteo’, the Monza’s stadium, in front of 10,000 people.
It was exactly the 9th of February 1989.
In that year, many extraordinary things happened. Inter would have won their 15th scudetto in May (and it would have been the last one until 2006…) and the Berlin Wall would have fallen some months later, preceding the collapse of the Soviet Union and of its national football team.
The friendly full-time result was 2-2.
The scoreboard featured three Golden Ball winners. Igor Belanov opened for USSR (6’) and future winner Lothar Matthaeus pulled level (16’). Inter managed to go into the break thanks to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge netting (33’). The latter had already left the club in 1987 and was about to retire after a short experience at Swiss side, Servette.
Borodiuk (62’) fixed the score to 2-2.
The same friendly was repeated almost one year later (15th of February 1990) in ‘Stadio Zaccheria’ in Foggia. Inter had already the ‘scudetto’ sewed on their jerseys and USSR was preparing to Italia 90, the last international tournament they took part to before the end of USSR.
This time Inter won 1-0 thanks to Enrico Cucchi finish from the penalty spot on 60’ minutes.
However, these were not the only times Inter played against USSR.
In 1960, Inter was invited to play three friendly games in the Soviet Union.
The first game was in Odessa against a local representative. The ‘Nerazzurri’ lost 5-1. Later on, they travelled to Leningrad (present-day St. Petersburg) to play against Admiralteyets. Inter won 4-1.
However, the last and most important game, it was to be held in Moscow on the 21st of June at the 'Lenin Stadion' (present-day Luzhnik) where Inter took on USSR led by coach Gavriil Kachalin. It was the same USSR national team that would have won the European Cup in July the same year.
It was the USSR captained by midfielder of Estonian ascent, Igor Netto and featuring Lev Jashin between the sticks. Netto did not take part to the friendly that ended with a scoredraw: 2-2.
It was the Inter before the Helenio Herrera age, Sandro Mazzola and Giacinto Facchetti were just 18-year old subs travelling with the squad.
Internazionale shocked the hosts with a quick 0-2 lead: Bicicli (12’) and Masiero (21’). In the same first half, Ponedelnik (30’) and Ivanov (45’) pulled level.
Inter’s captain, Invernizzi, described the opposition as such: ‘the Soviet players have an extraordinary class. Their best player was Ivanov, the central midfielder. He can really perform at a great level. All their striking line was strong and it was not easy to control them.’
21st of June 1960 – Moscow ‘Lenin Stadion’
URSS – Inter 2-2
URSS: Lev Yashin, Vladimir Kesarev, Anatolij Maslënkin, Anatolij Krutikov, Jurij Vojnov, Viktor Carëv, Slava Metreveli, Valentin Ivanov, Viktor Ponedelnik, Valentin Bubukin, Mikheil Meskhi
Inter: Da Pozzo, Fongaro, Cardarelli, Masiero, Guarneri, Invernizzi, Bicicli, Venturi, Firmani, Angelillo, Corso (33’ Rizzolini)
9th of February 1989 – Monza ‘Stadio Brianteo’
Inter – URSS 2-2
URSS: Chanov, Kalaichev, Alejnikov, Kuznetzov, Cherednik (61' Jarovienko), Bo, Schirimbekov (61' Jakovenko), Tatarchuk (70' Savichev), Mikhajlichenko, Protassov, Belanov
Inter - URSS 1-0 in 1990
15th of February 1990 – Foggia ‘Stadio Zaccheria’
Inter – URSS 1-0
Inter: Zenga (46’ Malgioglio), Baresi (52’ A. Bianchi), Rossini, Brehme (52’ Ferri), Bergomi (46’ A. Rivolta), Mandorlini, Di Già, Berti, Klinsmann (46’ A. Serena), Cucchi, Morello.
URSS: Chanov, Bessonov (70’ Cherenkov ), Kuznetsov, Zygmantovich, Luzny, Rats, Jakovenko (74’ Tishenko ), Litovchenko, Yaremchuk, Protassov, Rodionov
A day later, in the city of Potenza, USSR took on local football team Potenza Calcio (see picture below)
Rainy day at ‘La Pinetina’, Internazionale training center, for Mancini’s presentation presser.
New Inter CEO, Bolingbroke, made the introduction. ‘Decisions like these are never easy,’ debuted the US executive referring to Mazzarri's sacking yesterday morning ‘there’s no wrong and no right. We made a decision for a change. Inter needs to return to top football, that’s why we wired Mancini. He has a stellar track record and international experience. He has succeded at every club he managed. I was at Man U when he joined Man City. He joined a club that was midtable and made them a powerhouse.’
Mancini was not expecting to return to Inter, however ‘things like that in football happen.’
After 10 years (his first spell started in 2004) Mancini finds a new squad: ‘it’s hard to draw comparisons between that squad and this one, I think it’s a good squad.’ He insisted several times on the need to meet the squad first.
However, upon being asked, he spent some words over the talent Kovacic, who, tomorrow, will face Italy in a utterly important qualifier. ‘Kovacic is a young player and needs to mature, however, seeing his qualities, he can be successful.’ He also thinks that Vidic needs more time to adapt himself to the Italian football, said the new Inter gaffer who drew a comparison with Platini, who also had a difficult adaption in the Italian football of the 80's.
Also the club has changed, as Moratti stepped down from any role some weeks ago. Mancini confessed he is very tied to the Moratti’s family. ‘Moratti’s family has done the history of this club. This cannot be forgotten. If he has decided to step back, it’s his choice. He’s still in Inter anyway. We talked and he was happy to see me returning.’ However, Moratti declined any assumption that he influenced Thohir in his choice. Mancini confessed of being very happy to receive the call from Inter, ‘they contacted me on Thursday night.’
Can he have another successful spell at Inter? He is optimist, ‘I think it can be another nice story. I believe in this project and can be another good story. I don’t have the magic stick but I think we can work a lot.’
He spent also nice words for Mazzarri who left Appiano with his things yesterday and literally from the back door: ‘when changing is not always the coach’s fault. I think Mazzarri is a good coach.’
Angelo Palmeri from Appiano Gentinle (Como, Italy)
When Massimo Moratti took over Internazionale from Ernesto Pellegrini (a catering entrepreneur, one scudetto, one supercup and two UEFA cups in 15 years) the fantasy of the interisti suddenly lightened up.
It was enough to pronounce that name ‘Moratti’ to make the mind travel back in years, decades, football ages, to the golden era of Angelo Moratti (Massimo’s father) and Helenio Herrera, the charismatic coach born in Buenos Aires and passed away in Venice where he is buried.
If Internazionale, simply Inter (never accompanied by ‘Milan’) became one of the most important Italian clubs well before Juventus and just a while after AC Milan, it is thanks to the Moratti family effort. In fact the ‘Nerazzurri’ reached a World status during an unforgettable two-year period that brought the first (and for long time only) international trophies: two European Cups and two Intercontinental Cups in 1963-64 and 1964-65 accompanied by several scudetti.
The trophies could have been more if HH and his XI would have not fallen against Celtic (1966-67) in the Lisbon final. It was Angelo Moratti final act as he left the club at the end of the 1967-68 season in the hands of Ivanoe Fraizzoli.
This was ‘La Grande Inter’, a name that, every time has been pronounced, it has given goose bumps to any Inter fan, either old or young. There’s no Inter fan who was born after 1968 that was not taught about it, about Moratti, Herrera, Mazzola and everything that was created during those years. It was a great tradition, but also the biggest curse.
Angelo collected most of the trophies the club managed to under one single president: 3 scudetti and the above-mentioned international honours.
After him, and before his son, neither Fraizzoli nor Pellegrini got any close to that.
Angelo founded also ‘La Pinetina’, the Inter’s training camp close to Appiano Gentile, in the surroundings of the Como lake. Moratti meant Inter as much as Agnelli has always meant Juventus, even if the Lombard family took the reins of the club just 10 years after then end of Word War II. Angelo was a rampant oil industry entrepreneur, an activity that he transmitted to his sons.
When Massimo took on Inter in a cold February day, the Inter people could not help about thinking ‘La Grande Inter’ was on its way back.
However, it took a while.
Massimo has been pouring money into his ‘family passion’, as he always described Inter, as no one else. On a farewell piece, it would be inappropriate to remind all the signings that went wrong. The man tried so hard and only his stubbornness and the discovery of one of the biggest scandals of the Italian football (Calciopoli) helped him to finally reach his goals in what will go down in history as his final years as Inter’s owner and president.
Contrary to his father Angelo who waited 8 years for his first scudetto, Massimo received his first joy in 2005-06. It was the so-called ‘scudetto di cartone’ (‘a cardboard scudetto’ - a fake title as opposed to scudetto badge made of real textile as it’s in the tradition) the Juventus fans named it. Moratti opted for the ‘scudetto dell’onesta’ – the honesty title, as stripped from Juventus chest and awarded to Inter.
After that, Massimo collected other four scudetto beating his father and becoming the most-titled owner/president in the history of the club.
The climax of his 19-year spell was in 2010 when he tied himself with another charismatic coach of our times, Jose Mourinho, and gifted Inter with the ‘Triplete’, (scudetto-Coppa Italia-Champions League) being the first Italian club ever to achieve the treble in one season. A feat that both Juventus and AC Milan had always been close without achieving.
Many of us believed the Madrid night was just the beginning of a new era. Instead, it was the end of one. ‘La Grande Inter’ had just reappeared to leave once and again. After that extraordinary season, the situation at the club has started to crumble. There was still time to win something (Club World Cup in 2010 and Coppa Italia in 2011) however, they were the last fireworks after the big show.
‘One day, when all this will be over, we will realize what great achievements we have reached,’ said once Esteban Cambiasso during the celebrations of one of the four scudetto.
Inter fans have now a new ‘Grande Inter’ to remind of for a little while. And it’s thanks to another Moratti.
Gathering thoughts when the emotions are still warm it is always a hard task.
Moratti has gifted us, Inter fans, many moments. He has also taken wrong decisions and probably acted more like a fan than a cool-minded manager. However, no one can take the credit away from him for what he has done in the past years. I was personally saddened at how the new management treated his administration. There were certainly mistakes, however a football club is made most of all by passion.
The hardest challenge for Mr. Thohir and his men will not only be to clear the debts and make the Inter S.P.A (Ltd.) a virtuous company, but to keep that passion alive and make sure that the tradition of 'La Grande Inter' will be repeated some day.
As far as concerns my generation, 'oggi e sempre, Moratti presidente'.
5 – Lorenzo Insigne
Lorenzo ‘Il Magnifico’ (The Great) is back. Against all odds, he managed to pull out a great performance in a home game (vs. FC Torino). In fact, what would rather seem simple for a guy born in Napoli and bred at the ‘Azzurri’ (he comes from the Primavera, where Frank Liivak plays) it had become like a curse.
Initially taken as the ‘local hero’, Lorenzo started to suffer the competition brought last season by Belgian wonderboy, Dries Mertens (a player Liivak himself told to Rumori to like and have tied with during trainings with first team). The latter came back from the World Cup and, as many survivors, he’s suffering the resume of club season. Involved in the stuttering start of Benitez’s squad, he was soon put into discussion only for Insigne to be re-discovered as a start. On Sunday, Lorenzo offered one goal, one assist and a convincing performance. Gone seem the times when the San Paolo would whistle at his address. On the resume, he will travel with Napoli to San Siro, visiting the same Inter that was rumoured to be interested to his performances.
4 – AC Milan first clean sheet
It took eventually 6 matchdays, however Pippo Inzaghi’s XI managed to leave the pitch after holding the clean sheet for 90’ minutes. One would question it was just relegation underdogs Chievo Verona, however we cannot forget the ‘Rossoneri’ allowed goals to newly promoted Empoli and Cesena. The Milan back line is far from perfection: several individual mistakes and a lack of balance between the two phases (offensive and defensive) seem still to be an issue as Chievo had few good chance to put it past Abbiati. There is still a lot of work to do and the game at Hellas on the resume will certainly be a good acid test.
3 – Pucciarelli who?
Rise the hand, who of you playing Serie A fantasy football have put him high in your draft lists or thought about his name during a players auction. If you rose your hand, then you are person who likes to take risks and was awarded with a guy (Manuel Pucciarelli, 23-year-old trequartista) who has already scored the same amount of goals as Mauro Icardi, Fabio Quagliarella and Jeremy Menez. He probably cost you not even half of the latters. At his first experience in the top-flight, Manuel helped Empoli to their first seasonal win by smashing Palermo 3-0 in the lunch-time game on Sunday. He scored one goal which he didn’t hesitate to define as his most beautiful. Assisted by veterans like Tavano and Maccarone, Pucciarelly can certainly flourish away from the metropolitan pressure of the big clubs and help Empoli to retain the tier.
2 – Sampdoria, the third way
Juventus tops, Roma follows and who would you expect on third place? Forget Napoli, still on the mend. Inter are dragged in a crisis and Fiorentina are just starting to recover at their expenses. The new kids on the block are the ‘Blucerchiati’ led by Sinisa Mihajalovic. The Serbian coach has had the chance to start a season from scratch and it only looks promising. 4 wins, 2 draws and 14 points collected (1 shy of AS Roma and 4 of Juventus) is the surprising start of Genova’s club. After securing the derby, Gabbiadini gifted the crowd with another netting and the three points in the home tie against Atalanta. Whether it’s a real bid as season’s third power, we will understand on the resume as Mihalovic&Co. will travel to Sardinia and take on powerhouses like AS Roma (home), Inter (away), Fiorentina (home) and AC Milan (away) all clubs which aim at podium.
1 – Juve-Roma, the mother of all fixtures
Yes, there were ugly things during this heated game on Sunday evening, however we cannot say it was boring. The first half result was already 2-2 and, referee’s decisions aside, it was an enthusing game with both sides giving the impression they could have won the game any time. In the end, a draw would have probably been the most fair result for this challenge, however a screamer by Bonucci made the Juventus stadium go mental.
5-Miralem Pjanic's 'Maledetta'
Some years ago, Sky Sport Italia commentator, Fabio Caressa, forged the term 'maledetta' (the 'cursed one' - by the goalkeepers) to describe Andrea Pirlo's free kicks. In his biography, Pirlo explained he inspired himself to Juninho Pernambucano, the Brazilian star who plied trade in Europe several seasons ago. We don't know who is inspiring Miralem Pjanic, the little Bosnian wizard that has replaced Lamela at AS Roma, however this was really 'Maledetta' for Mirante, the Parma goalkeeper. Roma blessed with the three points thanks to this beauty.
4 - Swedish hattrick
Albin Ekdal was picked some years ago by Juventus from Brommapojakarna, the Stockholm club which has a good name for his academy. Several times a start in Allsvenskan, he collected very few appearances in the first team of the 'Bianconeri'. After that, he started to go around on loan: Siena first, Bologna later until he settled himself in Sardinia in 2011. He has seen several coaches coming and going and also a change of property. At work with Zeman for the first time, he has admitted to Swedish press he was not used to Zeman methods (heavy workloads at start of season). They haven't seen Zemanlandia yet in Cagliari, however, the first three points collected are a famous scalp: Inter at San Siro. Albin made the Sunday afternoon special for himself as he scored a hattrick and brought the ball away with himself already in first half (1-4, also full-time score). Has Zeman found his talismanic player? Time will tell. Meanwhile Italian media have gone digging into Albin's biography bringing up he is the son of popular journalist from 'Aftonbladet'. His agent has already been talking about interest from abroad for his client.
3 - Strama's revenge
'Stramala' was the new slogan of the Inter under the helm of Andrea Stramaccioni, a merge of his last name and 'Amala' (Love It), the clubs' anthem/slogan. The young coach made the leap from Inter Primavera to the first team in few months two years ago when he replaced Claudio Ranieri. At the end of the 2011-12 season, he was given a three-year contract by previous chairman, Massimo Moratti, only to be sacked in May 2013 and replaced with current Inter gaffer, Walter Mazzarri. In football, and in Italian football, everything is very relative. However, for now, he can enjoy the third place with his new club, Udinese, behind Juventus and Roma. Most of all, he has Inter behind (4-point gap).
2 - Cassano, again!
Yes, he was here last week and he doesn't want to leave. When Cassano gets in, it's hard to get rid of him. What can you do when he decides to take a penalty with a 'cucchiao' (spoon - the Italian version of 'panenka') as he did last night in Udine? This time his feat did not help Parma out in bringing points home, however the 'cassanata' (Cassano deed) stays.
1 - JUVENTUS vs. AS ROMA
Our top place is for the top teams and the capital letters are due because this will probably be the capital fight for the scudetto this season too. The gap with Milano is already dug out (7 points from Milan and Inter, have they ever been real contenders) and Sampdoria and Udinese should not pose a threat for a long term, should they? The 2014-15 season might be another Bianconeri-Giallorossi affair. A clash that smells of 80's when the likes of Platini, Boniek and Rossi (Juventus) were being challenged by Falcao, Conti and Pruzzo (AS Roma). Duels that marked a generation of fooball fans and brought to AS Roma their second scudetto (1982-83). The hope in the capital city is that after three years of Juventus supremacy, they could also taste the joy of the title again (last time with Capello in 2001).
But before tasting, comes testing. On Sunday the 5th, at 18:00 CEST, it's showdown time at Juventus Stadium as Garcia's band will take on Allegri's squad in what will be already the first of many crossroads of the current season. The country will stop.
5 - Away comebacks for AC Milan
We could stress the fact that AC Milan was able both in Empoli and Cesena to comeback and pull level with the home teams. However, the 'Rossoneri' come from the away games with a mere two points after the loss in the clash against Juve. The initial enthusiasm seems to have turned off and ambitions of title-fighting back to the ground as the gap increased to 7 points far from the leading pair (Juventus and AS Roma). Inzaghi said the right words in his post-match conference: 'we need to grow' - hopefully he'll be given more time than Seedorf.
4 - Inter, where art thou?
One step forward and two steps back. This is what Inter looks like. They managed to come out of a difficult match against Atalanta, only to plunge into an awful performance against Cagliari. It was the worst Inter seen since Mazzarri is at the helm of the 'Nerazzurri'. Mistakes after mistakes (is Vidic really the same one Man United fielded for years?) and the inability to turn the course of the game before it's too late, they are the main charges against the Tuscany gaffer who, once in a while, took the whole responsibility for the debacle without blaming anything or anyone else. What a change of atmosphere since the demolition of Sassuolo. As usual, the truth lies in between: Inter are not as bad as seen against Cagliari, however it's not based on tennis-score match that we can say Inter can fight for the title.
3 - Fiorentina's injury list getting lenghtier
First it was Giuseppe Rossi. Another problem with his delicate knee that followed his unlucky summer (no call-up for Brazil World Cup). He will be injured for a long term. Then came Mario Gomez. The German tank with Spanish heritage broke the engine at the start as last season. Luckily for gaffer Montella, it seems a slight problem and he shall be back after the international break. Last but not least, Juan Cuadrado having a problem with the menisc. During the weekend, Montella had to make go with the young players Babacar and Bernardeschi for the striker's line. A small light at the end of the tunnel since the latter set up the first for Fiorentina equalizer in Torino. Phewww!
2 - Is Iachini's job place safe?
Three draws and two losses, this is the tally collected by Palermo in the first five matchdays of Serie A 2013-14. A normal balance for a newly promoted. However, when it comes to Palermo, you have to take into account Maurizio 'The Coach-Eater' Zamparini, the club's owner. In 2013 he broke the record reaching 50 coaches sacked as club's owner (US Venezia first and US Palermo later - Eurosport offered a list of Zamparini's coaches up to Gennaro Gattuso, his 52nd who was sacked too...). Iachini replaced Gattuso exactly one year ago and helped Palermo in winning Serie B championship and being promoted. Will he be shown the door already?
1 - Nemanja Vidic shocking season start
'Is this Vidic the same Vidic that plied trade at Manchester United for many seasons?' This is probably the question buzzing into the head of the many Inter fans that witnessed his upsetting performance in San Siro against Cagliari on Sunday afternoon . Three of the goals suffered by Inter have his trademark. Particularly ingenuous the way he gifted Cagliari with a penalty since he produced himself into a sliding tackle in the box with spread legs. For less, a young Italian defender would be thrown back to the second team. San Siro is not an easy place to commit mistakes, however he is not a rookie. 8 seasons in Premier League with plenty of international football on his back, they should be enough to avoid being the laughing stock of a top club. After the penalty caused in Torino, and the goal gifted in Palermo, Nemanja lost it again. How much time can be given to a 32-years-old?
A bunch of weird, funny (and less funny) pieces of news from the World of Italian football.
GALLIANI ALL OVER THE FIELD
Long interview by Corriere della Sera with AC Milan CEO, Adriano Galliani. The nr.2 of the 'Rossoneri' spoke to the most popular newspaper about several topics ahead of the clash with Juventus on Saturday the 20th of September (0-1 for Juventus at San Siro). Interesting quotes about Antonio Conte ('we tried to bring him to AC Milan') Max Allegri transfer to Juventus ('I came across him while he was leaving for Torino and he told about that') and unheard football politcs entente with Inter ('we have a lot of commong points with Inter rather than Juventus as it happened in the past'). However, the most striking part is when we discover that Adriano was a Juventus supporter in his childhood. He explains his choice with geographical and historical reasons that put his native city (Monza) at odds with the Lombardy capital, Milano: 'Monza people don't feel like belonging to Milano (due to the expansion of the Milano hinterland, Monza has basically been absorbed into it -edit) therefore, they go at odds and support Juventus. Additionally, Monza diocese is the only one in the Milano province that follows the Roman mass ritual and not the Ambrosian one. We've been the capital of the Longobardic Reign, we've always opposed our identity to the Milanese one.' Football, religion and politcs. Welcome to Italy.
RUDI, KING OF HEARTS
The name of Francesca Brienza will not tell you much. However, the guy depicted with her with the background of the Coliseum is not unfamiliar given it's the AS Roma French coach, Rudi Garcia. After being spot by local yellow press together, the 'Giallorossi' gaffer decided to make a joint coming out with her on Twitter. But, who is Francesca Brienza? As commonly happens to average people in their average life, Rudi and Francesca met 'at work' since the brunette is anchor at Roma Channel, the club's tv. A lot of congratulating comments to the new couple 'Made in AS Roma' with a very funny one from a fan: 'I don't know either he is the lucky one or her.'
It is not the first time that TV and football worlds intertwine. Few years ago, Leonardo proposed to marry Anna Billo' (Sky Sport anchor) live while being interviewed as AC Milan coach. Recently, Gianluigi Buffon separated with wife, Alena Seredova, following the start of a relationship with popular Sky Calcio anchor Ilaria D'Amico. It's world know the tie between Spanish journalist, Sara Carbonero, with the Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
We need to travel several tiers down the Italian football system and go across the sea to reach the town of Sanluri, 8,500 people. The name will not tell you much, however this is the native town of Sardinian businessman and entrepreneur, Renato Soru, the founder of Tiscali, and Massimo Cellino, former Cagliari Calcio owner now off to UK with Leeds United. As any respectful city/town/village, Sanluri can also boast their own football club: A.S.D. Sanluri Calcio. The club plays in the Italian 5th tier, 'Eccellenza' which is organized in 28 regional divisions.
What happened that made the tiny club worth a mention? The Sanluri Calcio president, Paolo Pilloni, was object of the so-called DASPO, the suspension from attending football events at any level both in an official and unofficial role. The suspension was born as a measure against supporters violence however was later extended also anyone letting himself go to abuses.
Pilloni was found guilty of aggression against the match director of the Sanluri-Tortoli game. On the Sunday the 14th, during the interval of the fixture, Pilloni broke into the referee changing room and attacked the match director. The game was suspended since the referee was compelled to go to the ER of the nearest hospital following wounds caused by Pilloni's violent attack. The Sanluri Calcio president is now sidelined to attend any competition for the next five years.
SINISA STRIKES BACK
When he was a player, he never pulled himself out of the fight. His attitude on the pitch was several times controversial. Off the pitch, as a coach, it seems things haven'e changed much. Either you love him or hate him, and it usually depends on which side he plies his trade for. Sampdoria tifosi are certainly all behind Sinisa Mihajlovic since he took charge of the 'Blucerchiati' and helped the club to rise from the dumps and save themselves from Serie B. However, some people might still be at odds with him.
Like a mysterious man who address the Serbian coach with very straight words outside of the Sampdoria training camp in Nervi, just before the squad took the bus to ride to Emilia-Romagna to take on Sassuolo. 'You are a dickhead!' were the words of the verbal aggressor. Sinisa maintained composure and got closer to the abuser to ask him whether it was addressed to him or not. The abuser turned into a man of action and tried to hit Sinisa straight in the face. The Samp coach was quick in avoiding the jab (only his sunglassed got smashed) and soon got better of his aggressor until he regained control of himself also thanks to several players intervening to separate the coach from the aggressor. Later on, he filed an official complaint at the constabulary against the man whose identity has not been revealed but seems to be already notorius to the law enforcement.
'ME STAY HERE!'
More than a press conference, it was a one-man show the one given by Gennaro 'Rino' Gattuso as coach of the Greek club, OFI Creta. Started in Italian language (with translation into English for the Greek interpreter reporting into the local language), he soon decided to switch to his (broken) English. Futher words are not needed, just watch the video. Italian coaches are not new to outbursts in front of cameras abroad. All started with Trapattoni and his legendary press conference at Bayern Munich and continued with Luciano Spalletti in a hot post-match interview at Zenit St.Petersburg to finish with Alberto Malesani long rant at Panathinaikos.
5 - Antonio Cassano
He has probably entered our Top 5 already last season, however we simply cannot help to ignore the talent from Barivecchia (Bari Old Town) from time to time. Rumoured to leave FC Parma during the Summer due to the usual behavioural issues (he had a row with club's sport director Pietro Leonardi), he luckily (for the 'Biancocrociati' and all the football lovers) stayed at his place in Parma and is now helping the Emilia's side to secure the first points of the season thanks to his goals and performances. On Sunday, at the lunchtime game, his two goals helped FC Parma to turn the game on its head (from 1-0 to 1-3 in Verona at Chievo) and give them the first win of the season. The 1-2 goal was an absolute pearl you can just watch over and over again.
4 - Artur Ionita
We included him in the 'mysterious signings' made by Hellas Verona during the Summer, however now everyone is turning his attention to this 24-year-old central midfielder from Moldavia who was plying trade in Switzerland up to last year before the competent sport director of Hellas, Sean Sogliano (a former footballer himself) picked him to build a new Hellas for coach Mandorlini. 'I have patience' he told to La Gazzetta dello Sport 'I have been waiting for my moment' and the moment came as, not only Artur is the first ever Moldavian in Serie A, but he is also the first, ca va sans dire, to net a goal in the Italian top-flight. And what a goal, as it helped Hellas clinching a 0-1 away win at FC Torino. He speaks 6 languages and has promised to gift his father with the game jersey 'he's always been motivating me to reach any goal I was giving myself.'
3 - ACERBI'S RETURN TO FOOTBALL
Francesco Acerbi is not new to Serie A football having plied trade at Chievo, AC Milan and Sassuolo in the past seasons. However, due to cancer diagnosed twice, he had to quit the game a couple of times before making a comeback. As it happened 10 months ago, when again he was told he had to go under a new therapy. The 26-year-old central defender rolled with the punches and left the pitch before the season 2013-14 was over only to make his return on Sunday in the goalless draw against Sampdoria. Steel will.
2 - ALESSANDRO FLORENZI'S GRANNY
After scoring a goal we have seen many ways of celebrating: those putting a finger in their mouth to celebrate their new-born, those rising their jersey to show a message for someone, those pointing the finger at someone in the stands, those looking at the sky for god or a passed away relative. However, what Alessandro Florenzi did on Sunday after scoring the goal that fixed Roma-Cagliari on 2-0 win for the 'Giallorossi' has no precedents. The Roma full-back made a run backwards and, after ducking few teammates trying to block him, he jumped off the Olimpico fences into the VIP area placed behind the teams dugout. He climbed a few steps to reach...his grandmother! The lady hugged his grandson and broke in tears soon after among the Olimpico's standing ovation for the memorable gesture. Cuore di Nonna.
1 - POSITIVE DEBUT FOR THE ITALIAN CLUBS IN EUROPE
It was the first week of European fixtures for the Italian clubs busy both with the Champions League (Juventus and AS Roma) and the Europa League (Inter, Fiorentina, Torino and Napoli). Our of the 6 games, Italy can boast a comforting tally of 5 wins and one (goalless) draw (FC Torino away to Club Brugge). Of course, it is just the first game and as we say in Italy 'the first robin flying in the sky, it doesn't imply Spring is here', however it is a good start helping the UEFA ranking which has been sinking through the years.
5 - FEW GOALS ON A SUNDAY
With 5 goals scored on Saturday evening (Milan-Juve 0-1 and the enthusing 2-2 between Cesena and Empoli) to be added with the flamboyant ChievoVerona - FC Parma 2-3 of Sunday's lunchtime game, one would have expected plenty of goals also during the afternoon. Instead, the 3pm and 6pm (Italian time) programs gave only 5 goals out of 5 games (Genoa-Lazio 1-0, Roma-Cagliari 2-0, Sassuolo-Sampdoria 0-0, Atalanta-Fiorentina 0-1 and Udinese-Napoli 1-0).
4 - ARE SSC NAPOLI SINKING?
Another Serie A game and another loss for Benitez&Co. The comeback win against Sparta Preague on Thursday was the only happy moment of the season so far as the 'Partenopei' collect the second loss in three games and proved unable to turn the game on its head against Udinese. The atmosphere within the Napoli locker room seems to be incadescent. Rumours report Edo De Laurentiis (president's son) breaking a glass with his fist while players being totally at odds with Rafa Benitez line-up and formation choices. The Spanish gaffer will not have much time to think about it as the next game is already on Wednesday as Palermo will visit the San Paolo before the 'Azzurri' will travel to Sassuolo. A couple of games strung in few days that might decide Rafa's future at the helm of Napoli. Will he be the first coach to be given the sack?
3 - REFEREE VALERI PERFORMANCE IN PALERMO-INTER
Vibrant game at 'La Favorita' on Sunday night as the newly promoted Palermo took on the 'Nerazzurri' in the shadow of the Mount Pellegrino. After the lead, Inter pulled level with Mateo Kovacic. Unfortunately, from that moment on, the real protagonist of the game was referee Paolo Valeri from the Rome section of the AIA (the refs association). A couple of offside goals denied to Inter (only the call on Vidic goal seems good though) and a Vidic's handball completely overlooked in the second half. Each side has enough reason to complain about the international.
2 - NEMANJA VIDIC'S BLUNDER
During the week he criticized the Italian football mentality while praising the one learnt in the UK. Quite honestly, he admitted that he was not going to change that rather he would adapt himself to. Inter fans really hope he will adapt to a more concrete way of defending since his embarassing blunder against Palermo helped the 'Rosanero' to open the score and then hold Inter in a 1-1 draw until the final whistle. Facts before words.
1 - NOTORIUS ULTRAS CHIEF, 'GENNY 'A CAROGNA', FINALLY ARRESTED
It should be included in the Top 5, however, considering it took four months for the law enforcement authorities to arrest Gennaro De Tommaso AKA 'Genny 'a Carogna' (Genny The Swine) there's very little to praise. The arrest follows the events developed at Stadio Olimpico before the Coppa Italia final (Napoli-Fiorentina) when the Napoli ultras chief became the absolute protagonist of the evening following the killing of a Napoli fan in Rome before the kick-off. He's been charged with resistance to the law enforcement and for being in connection with the incidents occurred inside and outside the stadium. Meglio tardi, che mai (better late than never, sigh!)
A bunch of weird, funny (and less funny) pieces of news from the World of Italian football.
TEVEZ THE ROBOT
Last night the Champions League offered a lot of action for the European football gourmet. Plenty of goals and some surprise package almost baked (see Liverpool winning by the scruff of the neck against PFC Ludogorets from Bulgaria).
Carlitos Tevez earned the title of the Italian press for finally scoring a goal again in the Champions League (after about 5 years!).
What might have struck the watchers attention was his funny robot celebration. Something that EA Sports developers might have time to code and embed in the new FIFA 2015.
Why that? He explained soon at Sky Sport in the post-match interview: 'my daughter asked me to do that, if I was not to, she was not going to speak to me any longer'. Said, done. 'El Apache' explained the funny celebration also in his Twitter account @carlitos3210
A COOL DOC
Out od the Italian squad winning World Cup 2006, you probably remember most of players: from goalkeeper Buffon, to captain Cannavaro, from midfield maestro Pirlo, to final goalscorer Materazzi. The coach of that success is also a known name: Marcello Lippi.
The former Juventus skipper has joined China top-flight club Guanzhou Evergrande since a while managing to win some silverware in the meantime, the AFC Champions League. Notorius for his cigar smoking and his boisterous attitude on the touchline, he is less known for having taken with him in this Chinese adventure, the former national team medical advisor, Enrico Castellacci. The name will not tell you much probably, however you might remember a 60-something guy moving along the touchline in his Ray-Ban shades. Well, look what Enrico has decided to do with them for his team staff official photo.
If the English bookmakers are popular for giving out odds about everything, it is quite probable they had one for Supermario making talk about himself for what he does off the pitch.
If it's not an house set on fire or a car parked where it shouldn't, then it's obviously women.
Recently broken up with Fanny Neguesha, Mario has not wasted time to found relief 'elsewhere'. According to the usual English yellow press, he has had a quickie with a certain Emma Dalton, employed at a Liverpool beauty parlour. According to the same Emma, Mario showed her the door after a three-hour intercourse (not really a quickie). The girl decided to tell everything to the press, as it usually happens. Not happy enough with the new popularity status, she tweeted a photo of her rear end with Mario's initials.
Mario has not replied neither via the press nor from his Twitter account, apart from retweeting a quite significant aphorism from one of his friends.
Rumours only excite the stupid. Facts excite the smart.👏— DuceMayn (@ducieduce) September 15, 2014
DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER?
Fermando Torres is now in Italy at AC Milan. On loan from Chelsea, to whom he still belongs, he took a chance to speak about his unfortunate experience at the Blues. However, in 2012, he managed to win a title, the Champions League, under the guide of Italian coach Roberto Di Matteo. Is he proud of that achievement? Seems not.
'Chelsea were not the best team of Champions League 2012' he told to Spanish football culture magazine Panenka 'and I don't know how we won against Barca in the semifinal' told quite surprisingly the Spanish striker since he scored a goal in that semifinal. The conclusion it's even more striking: 'it is not fair to give any value to this title.'
How Di Matteo and his Chelsea former teammates will take his thought?
BITTER END OF MARRIAGE
He has been a legend of AC Milan of recent years, however his short spell at the helm of the side after replacing Max Allegri was much shorter and ended abruptly. Clarence Seedorf has never hidden his dissatisfaction at the way the 'Rossoneri' club treated him. First, important words were spent (even by Berlusconi himself) then the Dutch coach was given the sack in the aftermath of 2013-14 disastrous season. His place was taken by his former teammate, Filippo 'Pippo' Inzaghi. However, Clarence's contract had been hastily signed until 2016.
Is the former Milan midfielder available at breaking it? Not at all. As in any marriage ended prematurely, he is willing not to give up to any cent of this contract.
His salary is not cheap: 2,5 millions euros net per season, reports 'La Gazzetta dello Sport'. Seedorf doesn't want to give in and is ready to bring his former club to court as revealed by former Minister of Labour, Tiziano Treu, one from the pool of labour lawyers Seedorf entrusted his interests to. Quite curiously, Treu has been a minister of several left-wing governments which have opposed Berlusconi in the past years. To be continued.
Let's check what were the best and worst moments from the weekend in Serie A as Juventus, Roma and Milan consolidated their supremacy on top of the table. Next weekend, Milan-Juventus will already give a bite of scudetto fight.
5 - GOALKEEPER FRANCESCO BARDI (CHIEVOVERONA)
Let's say you play Italian fantasy football (fantacalcio) and among the three-goalkeeper allowance, you have the ChievoVerona shot stopper: Francesco Bardi. It's probably the third choice as for the first two places you made sure to invest your money in a couple of big names, one at least. When Sunday comes and you look at the fixtures to make your decisions and you see 'Napoli-ChievoVerona' there is not even a bell ringing that would suggest the 'Mussi Volanti' (flying donkeys) to keep a clean sheet against Benitez's side. Instead, expect the unexpected. Not only ChievoVerona keeps the clean sheet, but Bardi manages to save a penalty against no less than Gonzalo Higuain opening what is quite likely a crisis within the football city. Beware: as we say in Italy, Christmas comes once a year.
4 - PARMA vs. MILAN 4-5
Serie A is often accused to lack of entertainment. Too much tactics, too much attention to the defensive part, too few goals. Well, seems like someone forgot to tell to Parma and Milan on Sunday night as they gave life to one of the most enthusing games of the recent years with Milan leading and Parma stubbornly trying to come back. The referee gave 6 minutes of injury time, however we are pretty sure that people at the stadium and in front of the tv would have asked for at least the extra time had Parma managed to pull another one back and fix the full-time score on a 5-5 draw.
3 - MATEO KOVACIC (INTER)
Alright, it was Sassuolo and Inter punched them last season with the same result (7-0), however the young Croatian wizard has been outstanding per se during all the game. His ability of changing pace any time and compelling the opposition's defence to suddenly fold, it was the key that unsettled Sassuolo's plans. Not only he assisted his teammates, but he also produced himself in fine scoring (and could have been more than one!). Obviously everyone hopes he is going to repeat such feats in more proving games, however his talent is out of discussion and Mazzarri can build the team around him. He is also good at spurring the competition within the squad as Guarin gets in and shows he could play as well a regular start (one goal and one assist).
2 - STEFANO OKAKA'S SOLO GOAL AGAINST FC TORINO
'He threw his best years away, but he will become a top player' - these were the words of coach Sinisa Mihajlovic in the post match interview of Samp-Toro (2-0). Mihajlovic is not easy at spending words for someone, however, if he did, he must have seen the potential during the trainings. After all, he was the one spending his free time after trainings at Inter to teach Balotelli to shoot penalties surgically.
1 - JEREMY MENEZ BACKHEEL GOAL
I have heard someone righteously saying: rather than a goal in a Serie A game, that was the mocking gesture of a rascal playing street football with his schoolmates.
Jeremy Menez was indeed a rascal, the enfant terrible of French football who left Rome after a controversial season in the capital. Constantly on and off good performances and sleepy games when he was almost unnoticeable. He travelled back to France up to Paris to join the new PSG however he soon sunk in the rollercoaster of players bought by the sheik and eventually disappeared from the starting XI. He ended up to AC Milan as free agent (yes, AC Milan paid zero euros for his performances) and now could already be the best purchase ever done by the old fox Galliani in recent years. After the end of the game (Parma-Milan 4-5) even Silvio Berlusconi in person asked to talk to him over the phone. 'He scored a crazy goal!' shouted Galliani over the phone to his chairman. And it's indeed crazy what he did, just watch yourself if you haven't done yet (impossible). Under the curiosity point of view, Menez scored with his backheel in the same goal side as others did in the past in Parma: starting from the defender trying to desperately stop him after the blunder (Alessandro Lucarelli) and finishing with Roberto Mancini when he was playing at Lazio.
5 - DOMENICO BERARDI (SASSUOLO) ELBOWING JUAN JESUS (INTER)
It was probably the ugliest gesture seen on a football pitch during the weekend. Domenico Berardi is reputed as one of the most promising young strikers of the Italian nouvelle vague. However, as in the past, his behaviour has risen more than one eyebrow. Already about a year ago, U-21 coach, Luigi Di Biagio, was demanding the young striker to apologize if he wanted to be called back into the national team (he refused a call-up to the U-19).
'It is necessary to build up men first and then the football players' - said the former Inter and Roma midfielder. Domenico will not be the first and probably not the last to resort to an ugly gesture on a football pitch, however his age and potential increase the pity. On top of the gesture, he tried to make the referee believe also Juan Jesus had elbowed him by faking something wrong with his mouth.
4 - DIAL 7-0 IF YOU CALL OUTSIDE SASSUOLO
For Inter fans, it was a great way to see the 'Nerazzurri' debuting in San Siro: no stress and a lot of goals. It looked more like an end-of-season game rather than week 2 of the Serie A. The problem is that Sassuolo cannot play as if salvation is achieved. There are 36 games to go and with this attitude they will deserve that relegation they avoided last season by two points. On a side note, club's president, Giorgio Squinzi, in May 2013 said he wanted to go to Serie A to beat Inter (he is an AC Milan fan). Since then, Sassuolo lost three times out of three and suffered 15 goals. 'Don't say cat if the cat not is in the sac'.
3 - EMPTY STADIA
It's not us saying that, but The Guardian: Serie A has the lowest attendance on week 1, 55.8% against Premier League scoring a 98,4% and Bundesliga a 93,6%. Even French Ligue 1 is doing better with 69.3%. What is the problem? The usual one: old venues, an idiotic ticketing system generated to prevent violence (?) but proven useless and easily bypassable and the economic crisis hitting households (some clubs have been offering season tickets payable with separate payments, like a mortgage). This is just one piece of the (broken) mosaic of the Italian football the 'new' Italian FA chairman will have to face.
2 - NAPOLI, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
'If we don't manage to qualify, it won't be a tragedy' - these were Rafa Benitez words ahead of the confrontation with Athletic Bilbao in the Champions League play-offs. However, he forgot he is coaching SSC Napoli and not a club from the Arctic Circle, 'tragedy' is a big component of the Neapolitan art of drama (said without any kind of mockery). And when comes to football and their football team, Neapolitans are not just sitting apart and watching coldly the developments. They participate, oh god if they do. At the moment Rafa's back is covered by the President, Aurelio De Laurentiis. Unwilling. In fact, the chairman is object of the Napoli fans criticism: 'Aurelio, it's time to pull out the millions!' - it was the chant topping the chart at the San Paolo in the game against ChievoVerona (0-1 loss...). However, if the team will not manage to shake from their situation, the next target will be Rafa and his 'relax' attitude. In Napoli, one cannot simply relax, Rafa. And the attitude of a team, most of the times, depends on its coach.
1 - PARMA vs. MILAN 4-5
How come the same game is also a flop? Because we're in Italy, the land of tactics and seamless defensive discipline. We love Zdenek Zeman, but we never really understood his maine rule: always score a goal more than your opponent. Because a clean sheet is more valuable that 4-5 goals scored. There were great goals in Parma (see Menez above) however also a lot of epic blunders which favoured the show. After all, the dean of Italian coaches said clearly: 'if you want entertainment, go to the cinema or the threatre' - Giovanni Trapattoni.
Both Donadoni and Filippo Inzaghi will review the many mistakes in the secret rooms of their training camps away from the press microphones and cameras.
Cover picture is the work of Old School Panini:
The typical stereotype of the transfer window is happy faces of players at the club's presentation. A warm handshake in front of the club logo. Few words in a presser and the ritual picture with the club jersey while the player gives a 32-teeth smile out to the cameras.
However, not everything goes as smooth as usual. Sometimes setbacks, mishaps and misunderstanding get in the way and prevent the club X to sign the player A.
Sandro Mazzola, former Italian international and Internazionale star player of the 60's-70', adores to remind the incredible anedocte concerning UEFA president Michel Platini. Scouted by Mazzola himself, Platini signed a contract prepared by Mazzola himself for 6 years. You would obviously read at this perplexed considering 'Le Roi' never wore the Inter jersey let alone played with the 'Nerazzurri', becoming instead an inconic star of the arch-rivals Juventus. The story was explained by Mazzola himself few years ago: 'when I signed him, we agreed he was going to play abroad until the customs for foreign footballers would have been re-opened' reminded Mazzola of a time when the frontiers were closed by the Italian FA to protect the local talent 'the cost was 80 million liras - about 40 million euros of today - which was Nancy's contact and the expenses.' Why 'Le Roi' never landed in Milano? 'We carried on this way for 6 months' explained 'Sandrino' to la Settimana Sportiva some years ago 'however, after that, Inter's president told me it was enough to pay and I should have got the money back.' Platini is still mocking the old maestro as it seems he's still asking for the remaining 50 million euros left to pay.
However, it is not the only anedocte around the present-day UEFA chairman.
Later on, Inter tried to make up to its mistake and snatch Michel from St.Etienne (his second club in France after Nancy). An Inter member of board, Giancarlo Beltrami, was sent to France to close the deal with the white-greens. However, a lost in translation, prevented Platini to wear Inter's jersey once and again. Beltrami met Platini before a game and fixed him to meet after: 'nous nous voyons...apres la gare.' What was wrong with this sentence? The intention was to say: we will meet after the game, however the word 'gare' does not mean 'game' in French but station, precisely railway station. In a broken French, Beltrami translated 'gara' (Italian for game, match) into 'gare'. Platini went to the railway station, but he never met Beltrami. Few weeks later, he signed for Juventus, winning everything he could win inside and outside the boot country.
Modern-day transfer stories are probably less romantic. Agents and clubs officials move fastily via plane, they speak at least two languages and with the help of internet can always control the situations and be in touch with each other with little room for misunderstanding.
However, some mishaps still happen.
It's the case of Srdjan Babic, promising Serbian defender of Vojvodina. The name will not tell you much, however he's been up in the news in the past days for similar case of misunderstanding if not complete neglect from the club (US Sampdoria).
The Serbian player had the eyes of Partizan and Red Star Belgrade before being signed by the 'Blucerchiati'. With Serbian Sinisa Mihajlovic as a coach, the young player was pushed to choose Italy rather than one club of the Serbian capital.
The completion of the signing was delayed to the end of the window as Sampdoria was trying to hold the non-EU spot left free for another defender that would have come from Argentina (Eder Balant, River Plate - who in the end was not signed).
Other than that, everything was set: tag price (1.5 million euros) and salary (120,000€ per season).
31st of August 2014, deadline day is close.
Babic travels to Genova with his agent in order to sign the contract.
Remember the smiling faces, the pictures and the warm handshakes? Well, forget about it: no one shows up at the airport to welcome Babic.
The player reaches the hotel. Even there, no one is waiting for him. The day after, they reach the club's headquarters where they meet Marco Ferrero, the club's new owner.
Why the agreement was not signed, it's a dispute. The club says some extra fees were asked and compelled Sampdoria to delay the transfer to the winter (January). Apparently, Babic had broken in tiers in Ferrero's office once he apprehended he was not going to wear Samp jersey any time soon. The Serbian version is different: Ferrero asked the player to reduce the salary demand.
What does Babic say? 'It was all set' he told to Goal.com 'but don't ask me why it didn't happen, all was set up... .' . Did Ferrero stumble in a lost-in-translation mishap?
Even more incredible is the story recounted by Gaetano D'Agostino to Panorama recently.
The Palermo-born midfielder, grown at US Palermo and later on moved to AS Roma youth, tells us that he was very close to sign for Real Madrid!
What went wrong here? 'I never told about that' revealed D'Agostino, a past also at AS Bari and 5 caps as international 'they offered me 5-year contract, 2 million euros per season. I just had to take a plane to Spain and sign, the deal was closed.' However... 'Udinese did not close the deal, they wanted two Real's promising players on top of the 20 million euros they were asking for me.' Xabi Alonso was his 'replacement'.
D'Agostino will now ply his trade in Apulia region at Fidelis Andria, Serie D, (fifth tier of Italian football).
Apres la gare.
We continue our two-part journey into the Serie A Summer transfer window with the other 10 clubs of the 2014-15 season.
First part here
Free agents. This is the credo of the 'Rossoneri' CEO, Adriano Galliani. The experienced Italian football executive has resisted last season's turmoil and is stronger than ever at the helm of the club together with Silvio Berlusconi's daughter, Barbara. The impression is that most of this transfer campaign was led by the former rather than the latter. The last-minute signing (Bonaventura from Atalanta) was a typical Galliani's 'coupe de theatre' as it happened in the dying hours of the deadline day and with the player shedding tears of emotions, a drama into the drama. The remaning signings are mostly free agents, ditto: goalkeeper Michael Agazzi (transiting from Chievo), midfielder Jeremy Menez (PSG byproduct), defender Alex (another PSG waste). The second favourite operation are loans: Pablo Armero (from West Ham but belongs to Udinese) and Fernando 'El Ninho' Torres from Mourinho's Chelsea. If the latter carries on more issues than certainties, a great signing was goalkeeper Diego Lopez from Real Madrid. The shot stopper who embarassed Iker Casillas in his own home, moved to Milano and has already clinched a place in the starting XI and saved a penalty against Lazio during last weekend.
It's a long list of players that AC Milan let go either due to end of loan or to loan contract. It includes: Urby Emanuelson (who found a new home in AS Roma) Adel Taarabt (back to QPR) Antonio Nocerino (back from West Ham, forwarded to FC Torino) Robinho (on loan to his old club, Santos) wonderboy Andrea Petagna (to Serie B act, Latina) and the already mentioned Matri to Genoa CFC. Kaka' second spell lasted just 6 months since the Brazilian midfielder took the chance of MLS side Orlando City as free agent.
The shock was created by sale of Bryan Cristante to Benfica since he was judged a promising prospect.
The early departure from the Champions League has made the atmosphere tense in Naples around Aurelio De Laurentiis, the Napoli patron who more often faces the criticism of the fans. He is accused of not spending enough. And actually, looking at the arrivals, the Napoli fans are not far from the truth. Exception made for Michu (on loan from Swanse) and Jonathan De Guzman (purchased from Valencia) there's not been much more for the Southern Italy side who probably needed a goalkeeper and a mifielder to cut the gap with Juventus and Roma. The majority of the other transfers are returns from loan.
In one session Napoli said goodbye to: Pablo Armero (definitely back at Udinese) Pepe Reina (end of loan) Bleram Dzemaili and Goran Pandev (Galatasaray) and Anthony Reveillere (free agent).
Out on loan to Gubbio (Lega Pro) the talented Polish youngster Igor Lasicki, who was Frank Liivak teammate last year at Primavera and they were both in the middle of a press case last season.
Just after our first part was published, the Joao Silva case was solved. If you remember, the transfer of the Portuguese striker was denied as FC Bari 1908 president, former referee Gianluca Paparesta, forwarded the documents 33 minutes later than the deadline. Not happy with the decision, both clubs forwarded a claim that was accepted letting the 24-year-old player (a former Everton signing) available for coach Iachini. Ivorian central defender, Sol Bamba, was signed from Turkish club Trabzonspor.
It's a latest news Palermo breaking the contract with defender Andrea Mantovani, now free agent. Before him. Kyle Lafferty was released to Norwich and Emiliano Viviano was loaned to Sampdoria.
Ishak Belfodil returned home since Internazionale decided not to purchase him at the end of loan. He is part of a huge list of players returning from loan and making Parma one of the most active clubs in the lend/loan market.
Ditto. The list of loans is quite big. However, some sales was made too. Marco Parolo found a new home in Rome at SS Lazio. Aleandro Rosi went to Genoa CFC and goalkeeper Alessandro Ligi (24) went to FC Bari 1908. Other big names departing were defender Cristian Molinaro to FC Torino, 34-year-old Marco Marchionni to Sampdoria and striker Amauri to FC Torino
In the attempt to close the gap with Juventus, the Roma management are trying to improve the squad year after year. A big purchase was Juan Iturbe, the former River Plate who made an impact at Hellas Verona and earned a move to a metropolitan club. Other than that, a couple of interesting free agents as former Chelsea Ashley Cole and Barcelona Seydou Keita. The capitoline club put its hands on Urby Emanuelson from AC Milan (free agent) and brought another Argentine from Buenos Aires: Alan Arario (River Plater - the 'new Lamela' according to many). Cagliari defender, Davide Astori, reached the capital on loan.
Among the many loans, only one relevant sale: Mehdi Benatia sold to Bayern München.
The new owner, film producer Massimo Ferrero, brought a new enthusiasm at the 'Blucerchiati' but no relevant signing that would put Sampdoria in the position for bidding for more than a smooth salvation. Defender Fabrizio Cacciatore from Hellas Verona, and Marco Marchionni from FC Parma are worth a mention.
Icelandic Birkir Bjarnason was definitely released to Serie B side, Pescara Calcio. World Champion Shkodran Mustafi was sold to Valencia. Massimo 'Big Mac' Maccarone returned where is career kickec off at Empoli. The football nomad, striker Federico Piovaccari, returning from Steaua Bucharest only to go to Spain at newly promoted Eibar.
Against all odds, at their first Serie A, the 'Neroverdi' (black-and-green) managed to retain their place. The team has not changed so much and this will be an advantage in the long run. Saphir Taider was loaned by Internazionale. Another interesting striker, Leonardo Pavoletti, was added to the front line already made up by Simone Zaza and Domenico Berardi. Croatian international Sime Vrsaljko (from Genoa CFC) was a top signing for a relegation-fight club as Sassuolo.
Slovenian international, Jasmis Kurtic, returned from FC Torino (loan) and was forwarded to AC Fiorentina with the same loan deal.
We shall start to talk about who came, however it is necessary to start from who left: Ciro Immobile (Borussia Dortmund) and Alessio Cerci (Atletico Madrid), the main protagonist of the FC Torino 2013-14 season which saw the return of 'Il Toro' to European competitions (they have been drawn in the same group with FC Copenhagen, HJK Helsinki and Club Brugge.
Were they replaced adequately?
If Fabio Quagliarella shall guarantee the same amount of goals scored by Immobile (however the past four season have seen him scoring 23 goals in 84 appearances, often craving for first-team football) the role of new Cerci is entrusted to Juan Sanchez Minho, a Boca Juniors academy output which 'Rumori' had the chance to admire back in October 2013 in a Superclasico against River. Albeit Sanchez Minho plays on the left flank. Defender Pontus Jansson arrived from Swedish Champions of Malmoe FF. Another striker for Giampiero Ventura is Amauri (from Parma)
Having said about Immobile and Cerci, there's very little to add considering that we're talking mostly about end loans or loans out.
Udinese scouting is one of the most effective of Europe. The list of players discovered, launched in Serie A and cashed with more than the money spent is quite long. However, sometimes, they might just buy from the neighbours. This is what happened with Cyril Thereau as the Frenchman left Verona (Chievo side) to travel the distance to Udine (235km) to join the 'Zebrette' coached by former Inter gaffer, Andrea Stramaccioni.
Talking of talents recruitment, special attention for Moroccan right flanker Nabil Jaadi, a youth produce of RSC Anderlecht who featured last season in the Viareggio Cup against Liivak's Napoli. He will play mostly with Primavera but might get some playing time in Serie A. A 1995-born and U-21 international, Melker Hallberg, was signed from Swedish club, Kalmar.
Dusan Basta left Udinese after 5 years in Udine to reach his first metropolitan club in Italy. Udinese cashed in another talent discovered. A valzer of loans and ends of loans complete the picture for the North-East club.
Similar story as for FC Torino: hard to speak about who arrived at the club without talking first about who left. Juan Iturbe (AS Roma) is definitely a big sale and also Romulo left for Juventus.
Were they replaced adequately? Javier Saviola is obviously a big name and the Argentine ex-promise (now 33) can bring his suitcase of experience and goals (he did 12 in 26 games last season in Greece at Olympiakos). Hellas performed another couple of 'mysterious signings': Moldavian international Artur Ionita (from Aarau, Switzerland) and Croatian Ivan Martic (from Sankt Gallen, Switzerland) a midfielder and a defender. The remaining players are coming back from loan or coming on loan (among others, Juventus Fredrik Sorensen, at Bologna last season)
Once we mentioned Iturbe and Romulo, we have mentioned all. We could add Brazilian Marquinho returned to AS Roma at the end of the loan - before being forwarded to Al-Ittihad - and his country fellow Martinho left for Serie B side, Catania Calcio, after two season with the 'Scaligeri'
After the international break, Serie A is resuming activities with Matchday 2, since season 2014-15 was born only on the 31st of August, well behind the other major continental leagues.
Here is the full program:
Serie A season 2014-15 has just born as during the weekend the 20 teams enacted the 'Prima Giornata' (matchday one).
Not even the time to taste club football in the Boot Country, that the international break kicks in as the 'new' Italy of Antonio Conte is about to take on Holland (in Bari on the 4th of September, friendly) and Norway (in Oslo on the 8th of September, UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier).
Meanwhile, it was 'deadline day' for the Italian 'calcio mercato' (football transfer market) Summer window.
As it's tradition, the event was followed live in the last hours by Sky Sport Italia with the last feverish minutes showing a door about to close and a countdown clock marking the remaining time to register a transfer.
As in the past, there was some drama in the tail.
For instance, FC Bari 1908's president, Gianluca Paparesta (former referee) running through the door when the 'final whistle' had already come. He was trying to register the transfer of Portoguese striker Joao Silva from Bari to US Palermo. A transfer that would have meant Serie A football for one of the protagonists of the enthusing march of the 'Galletti' (cockerels) in the Serie B (from drop-zone to play-offs in few months).
The bargain will not take place, however there is a chance that the two clubs will appeal considering Paparesta was just 33 seconds late.
What were the other transfers made on time and worth of a note?
Let's take a look at the 20 Serie A sides and focus on the major arrivals/departures.
Most of the names will not tell you much. However, one name is tied with Estonian football since Ghanaian striker, Nana Wellbeck, was taken from back from Brescia Calcio and forwarded to Slovenia at NK Krka, where Estonian Kevin Kauber arrived from Finnish TPS.
Rolando Bianchi, returned from the loan at relegated Bologna FC.
The biggest transfer was made in the dying hours of 'calciomercato' as Giacomo 'Jack' Bonaventura signed with AC Milan. The attacking midfielder couldn't refrain shedding a tear when he put his name on a 5-year contract with the 'Rossoneri'.
Other relevant names are Colombian international Mario Yepes (free agent) and Croatian striker, Marko Livaja, sold to Rubin Kazan (RUS). The fantastista Franco Brienza left Bergamo for Cesena.
With Husbauer not leaving Prague (Sparta) for Sardinia (as confirmed to 'Rumori' by Sparta's coach in July) Cagliari got content of bringing Samuele Longo (striker, Inter grown and former Espanyol) and other names.
Remarkable the release of Chilean striker, Mauricio Pinilla, to Genoa CFC. He already opened his season tally by scoring the 1-0 lead against SSC Napoli (1-2 FT result for the 'Azzurri'). Adryan was sent on loan to Leeds United since former Cagliari owner, Massimo Cellino, had sold the 100% of the club's stake to another entrepreneur, Tommaso Giulini. Also Uruguay forward, Nene', left off to Hellas Verona
There were concrete rumours that Konstantin Vassiljev was offered to the newly promoted club however nothing happened and the Estonian midfielder signed with Polish side Piast Gliwice. Among the remarkable transfers, Brienza from Atalanta BFC and Icelandic defender, Hordur Magnusson
Uruguay striker, Pablo Granoche, left upon loan end to continue his career in Serie B at Modena.
Maxi Lopez (from Catania) Valter Birsa (from AC Milan) Ezequiel Schelotto and Ruben Botta (both from Inter) are the main signings of the Verona's side. They also got in Alessandro Gamberini (defender from SSC Napoli) as free agent.
Releasing Cyril Thereau to Udinese was the big transfer out. Whether he was adequately replaced, this is another thing. Victor Obinna returned to Russia (Lokomotiv Moscow) at the end of loan deal. Same story for Leandro Paredes, the former Boca Juniors went to AS Roma.
The most interesting arrival is Diego Laxalt, from Bologna (belongs to Inter). Tiberio Guarente, midfielder, left ChievoVerona to join the Tuscany side.
The loan of Sebastian Sosa to Vllzania (Albania Kategoria Superiore) hit the headlines in the Eagles country.
No big signing in the forward line for the Firenze club as they counted on recovering Mario Gomez, whose season in Italy hasn't really taken off due to injuries. The last-minute issue with Giuseppe Rossi (he will go under surgery again) might make space to new signing Babacar from Modena. Micah Richards from Manchester City is a promising addition to Montella's squad. Fiorentina picked up in Eastern Europe with goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua Bucharest) and the 19-year-old Ricardo Bagadur (HNK Rijeka). Another Croatian talent is Milan Badelj (from HSV Hamburg), they both belong to football agency 'Friend and Football International LLC' one of the biggest agency operating in Eastern Europe (among others: Southampton Dusan Tadic and Fenehrbace Milos Krasic). Another Balcanic addition is Jasmin Kurtic coming from Sassuolo.
Should I stay or should I go? In the end Colombian Juan Cuadrado, stayed.
Those who left are Alessandro Matri (back to AC Milan from loan) and Massimo Ambrosini. The latter hanged the boots and became Sky Sport pundit making his debut at Roma-Fiorentina (1-0) Saturday night game. Legia-grown Rafal Wolski went on loan to Serie B side FC Bari 1908
Pinilla made already an impact by scoring Genoa's first season goal (the only one in the 1-2 defeat against SSC Napoli). Other relevant signings were Alessandro Matri on loan from AC Milan and former AS Roma Alessandro Rosi (coming from FC Parma)
Panagiotis Tachtidis (midfielder) was sent on another loan to Hells Verona. Paolo De Ceglie also ended his loan spell to return to Juventus FC who re-loaned him to FC Parma. Defender Daniele Portanova broke his contract with the club and is currently free agent.
No big signing on deadline day for the club of Indonesian tycoon Thohir. Nemanja Vidic was signed back in Spring as the Man U central defender promised himself to Inter as soon as his contract with United was due to end (June). Sport Director Piero Ausilio brought French midfielder, Yann M'Vila from Russia (Rubin Kazan) and Brazilian Dodo' from AS Roma as he didn't find enough space in Garcia's tactical plans. A couple of signings from UK: Pablo Osvaldo came on loan from Southampton and Gary Medel was purchased from Cardiff City.
The moves out had Javier 'Il Capitano' Zanetti retiring (he is now behind a desk at the club) Esteban Cambiasso continuing his last years of career at Leicester and Diego 'El Principe' Milito returning home in Argentina at his club, Racing Avellaneda. Same story for Walter 'The Wall' Samuel who took a road trip from Milano to Basel to join the Swiss side. With these four pieces of history gone, Inter have definitely put their past behind the back. Ricky Alvarez was loaned to Sunderland and series of young players were once again sent out on loans (as Slovenian goalkeeper, Vid Belec, sent to Turkey at Konyaspor)
The curious case of Saphir Taider: sent on loan to Southampton, he did not even manage to earn one appearance as he was sent back to Italy. The Algerian was then forwarded to US Sassuolo.
La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady), has made the biggest change on coaching side. Antonio Conte left Torino among the general amazement just few days after the season preparation started. The club pulled itself together and chose Massimiliano Allegri as the next gaffer of the 'Bianconeri'. The choice created a stir among the fans, however the start of season with a neat but tiny win in Verona against Chievo (0-1) has put criticism aside for a while. Meanwhile Conte was appointed for the 'Italian Job' to replace Cesare Prandelli who fleed to Turkey (Galatasary) few days after the Italian World Cup debacle. He must have eaten his hat considering his name has always been quite hot for the job in Torino.
The change of guard did not imply any major change in the transfer policy: Juventus tried to cash big names (Pogba, Vidal) and purchase at low prices. The former did not happen due to offer not matching the demands, the latter concretized with Parisian Kingley Coman (free agent) - already a good impression at debut - and Patrice Evra (Man United) one of the many Premier League players moving to Italy at the end of their careers. The needed some money for Brazilian Romulo from Hellas Verona. Alvaro Morata was the big signing, 20 million euros, and he injured himself soon after the preparation started.
Given that the hot items will stay in Torino for now, the outwards remarkable movements regarded only Osvaldo (returned to Southampton before he changed city moving to Milano) and Mirko Vucinic (moved to Middle East on a permanent basis). Same story for Fabio Quagliarella who jumped the river and kicked off his season at Torino FC for his third spell with the 'Granata'.
Lazio’s owner and president, Claudio Lotito, is not known for being eager in spending his money. Feature that earned him the nickname of ‘Lotirchio’ (The Scrooge). However, during this transfer window he managed to invest some money to bring Dutch defender Stefan De Vrij to the capital, Udinese’s left full-back, Dusan Basta and national team midfielder Marco Parolo (from Parma). The remaining signings are end of loans (Giuseppe Sculli from Genoa CFC) or free agents (Filip Djordjevic from Nantes). Curiosity around Argentine signing from San Lorenzo (the Pope's favourite club) Santiago Gentiletti. He became South American Champions with the 'Matadores' by winning the Copa Libertadores. The start was not really promising for the new defence as Lazio lost 3-1 to AC Milan at the San Siro
All the previous defense was basically released: Giuseppe Biava and Andre Dias have both been released as free agents. In the Primavera squad, Joseph Minala (impressive body for his 18 years old of age and under the media attention last season for his older appearance) was loaned to FC Bari 1908. Portuguese striker, Helder Postiga, returned to Spain (Valencia) at the end of the loan.
- END OF PART 1
In the second part we will check the other 10 clubs of the Serie A transfers and give a rating to each club for the arrivals/departures completed. Including this 'ninho' here.