Calcioland Week 33: Regime Change!

For the first time since 2007 Roma has made the top step its own. The 2-1 win over Inter already set the ball rolling for the Giallorossi but for a moment it seemed that Inter managed to stabilize itself with two 1-0 wins over CSKA Moscow and a very intimidating 3-0 over Bologna. The draw against Fiorentina 2-2 and Roma’s 2-1 win over Atalanta put Ranieri’s men a point ahead of Inter. It’s been ages since anyone replaced Inter at the top and suddenly all of Serie A rejoices its competitiveness.

Fiorentina 2- 2 Inter

Fiorentina’s currently struggling in the anonymity of the middle order behind Juventus and Napoli which have locked out 5th and 6th places and European qualifications. This means the Viola and Genoa are two very talented teams that could miss out on a lot and lose ground in this general middle order tussle between Sampdoria, Palermo, Napoli, Genoa, Parma and Fiorentina. The Viola are still in the Coppa Italia and face Inter again immediately after but requiring to overturn a one goal deficit. Quite a tall ask from Prandelli’s men. So this clash with Inter was clearly a very crucial one. Mourinho too required for his team to keep ploughing away and despite Fiorentina’s quality compared to a Bologna, there seemed no reason for Inter to falter.

To be fair Inter did manage to control the whole match. Mourinho employed the Pandev, Eto’o, and Milito trident and clearly fielded one of his stronger teams with Sneijder providing the artistry. Viola, on the other hand, rested Gilardino on the bench playing Barca loanee Keirrison alongside the diminutive Jovetic. Marchionni and Christiano Zanetti were on the bench too, the latter clearly just experienced support now for Prandelli’s team, he never really settled well after his injury earlier this season. But Montolivo pulled the strings fairly well, compensating for Vargas’ absence while Inter started off with a huge barrage.

The first few minutes saw Frey playing his wage’s worth by constantly managing one miracle save after another, keeping his team in contention. Milito at one point managed to miss a gaping goal and could only hit the post! The Fiorentina struck with what was probably their first legitimate attack of the day. Montolivo relived his early prodigious days by playing in Comotto who then gave a low cross to Keirrison for the youngster to tap it in and set the score moving.

Despite the score the match was always Inter’s to lose and an equalizer seemed inevitable, which came in the 75th minute. Kroldrup could only manage to toe the cross in by Maicon and the ball went straight to Milito who did what he does best. Smash it to the top of the net. Fiorentina 1 – Inter 1.

The winner was much sought after and the Viola struggled to contain their visitors as they did throughout the 90 minutes.  Then in the 81st minute Balotelli’s low cross met Eto’o who did the tap in this time in an almost exact replication of their previous goal. Just when you’d think Inter completed a brilliant and deserved turnaround, Kroldrup struck just a minute later. A completely misjudged attempt at a punch saw the ball strike Gilardino’s thigh and reach the Viola captain who unhesitantly put the ball in for the second equalizer of the game and a valuable point for the Viola.

Juve chuga chuga

Juve chugged away a solid 1-0 over Cagliari, a much needed home win in difficult times. This put s them 3 points away from 4th spot behind Sampdoria and Palermo but ahead of Napoli and somewhat safe for the Europa League. Buffon returned to replace Manninger at the sticks but while the Italian No.1 is undoubtedly important for the club, it was Chiellini’s return that really made all the difference in the weakest part of Juve’s first 11, the defence. In his first game back the former left-back and now a world class centre back (Thank you Ranieri!) put in a stellar performance alongside the errorless but unimpressive Cannavaro while Camoranesi rolled back his pre-injury years to be the creative spark of the midfield.

The 1-0 win was courtesy Chiellini’s 35th minute header off a Camoranesi cross and it could have been more were not for Amauri’s horrible form and Iaquinta’s lack of nerves. The strong Italian clearly looks out of place and seems nowhere near the form he displayed just prior to his injury. He’s been a shadow of himself lately and has failed to be the welcome relief Juve anticipated from his return. But Zaccheroni will be glad they played well without Del Piero and Diego. Marchisio playing well in the centre that he so rarely gets to play in. The left back is probably the weakest of all. Grosso really disappointed everyone with his performance and was replaced by De Ceglie was actually no better. Zebina too continued his lack of sting and barely added anything to the attack or defence. Nevertheless, a “complete victory” according to Zaccheroni. It just means the tomato bashing is kept or later.

AC Mila rues missed chances.

A 2-2 against Catania means a golden chance lost. Had they won this they’d be just a point behind Inter and just 2 behind Roma, a very competitive position to realistically think about the Scudetto.

Gaston Maxi Lopez (12) and Ricchiuti (43) threatened to derail Milan at home but the Rossoneri were saved the blushes by a Borriello double (47 and 80) which brought them back from two goals down to respectability. Pato’s long time injury really put Milan’s challenge on the ice. Ronaldinho and Borriello covered up for the leaky defence but couldn’t do the needful in a game where the tireless Ambrosini had an ordinary game almost gifting Catania victory towards the end, but Lopez couldn’t take full advantage of the one-on-one against bumbling Dida and 2-2 it was for the rest of the weekend. Leonardo stoically taking a draw on his chin, luckily for him, no one expects Milan to do any better.

Roma jump Inter!

They went into the game knowing very well that a win here means a 1 point lead at the top. There’s a good atmosphere floating around in Rome, despite all their financial troubles. The Burdisso and Toni transfers seemed to have worked for them and Totti’s back once again form injury but it is the great form that Vucinic has displayed all season that really kept them in the game with those regular crucial goals.

Mirko Vucinic put the Giallorossi on their way in the 12th minute before Marco Cassetti doubled the advantage before the half-hour mark. Tiribocchi pulled one back for Atalanta in the 53rd minute and his team should have equalizer plenty times more in reality. But they failed to do so in a match where Roma didn’t really exude dominance and always kept their opposition with a real chance at goal.

The loss for Atalanta puts them 4 points from the safety zone and Roma at 1st with 5 games to play. The games ahead aren’t very easy though. Juve face Inter in the next match day and Roma and Lazio face off in the Roman Derby. Ranieri’ll be hoping his former team helps them down a common enemy but will be vary of the tricky game against the rejuvenated Lazio. Past the next weekend safely, Ranieri will really fancy his chances of winning the Scudetto. Until then!

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