Around the League

Milan-Palermo 0-2: Milan's good run, coincidentally(?) given life by Roma, came to an end in a game that matched the EPL for intensity and retained some of the best from serie A. The mix made up one of the more entertaining games I've seen in a while now, which I didn't expect it to in the least. Palermo won by two goals, but it's not as if Milan was bad, and up until the second goal I was expecting the Milan resurgence any second. Delio Rossi is the newly appointed coach at Palermo, and he forced a second of severe confusion in the mental wasteland dedicated to serie A in my brain when he in the 60th minute, while leading Milan by a goal away at San Siro, took off his defensive midfielder Simplicio, and put on the trequartista/seconda punta Pastore. Not the other way around; he actually made a proactive, offensive change while winning. This inspired me to ill-advised proclamations of support, to no one in particular, for Delio Rossi. A minute later, Pastore was directly involved in Palermo's 2-0 goal, which brought about two realizations: first of all, the move had worked, better than anyone could have hoped; secondly, as soon as I saw Delio Rossi's disgusting running celebration I was thrown back to derbies of yore and my mild contempt for the man was restored.

Before the season, I wrote that without many paying attention or indeed realizing it, Palermo has one of the very best attacks in the league in Miccoli and Cavani. The latter couldn't shoot at all today, but the sentiment remains intact, and stronger than ever: do not, ever, sleep on Miccoli and Cavani. Miccoli is a good shout for being the player who's being underrated and ignored is most offensive to everyone who likes football.

Lazio-Genoa 1-0: Ah, what a poor fate it is to be a laziale. They finally won after 105 days of no doubt stressful mediocrity, but in doing so they beat one of the strongest competitors to Roma for the fourth spot, and strengthened Roma's position in the league table. Even more so than they did their own, actually. Lazio, despite the win, are only marginally better off now than they were 24 hours ago, thanks to the the wins of Livorno and Siena, and Atalanta's 1-1 draw with Inter. Even when they manage to cling on the the last scraps of the season, they wind up doing Roma a favor. It's hard out there for Lotito.

Bari-Juve 3-1: Actually not that surprising, given the situation. Juve are coming from a horrible week in which they were humiliated and eliminated from Europe, and everything is falling apart. The 50 million pair signed over the summer are among the worst performers - not that they stand out so much when near everyone else is down there in the lower levels hanging out with them. And as could be expected before the season began, Ferrara is not the business. Watching him stumble through the season so far, more often luckily than by design, it's hard to imagine what besides his name and past gave him the job. It really is that bad. Bari, on the other hand, continue to be a delightful surprise this season. They have a mediocre squad on paper, but it all comes together on the pitch, somehow.

Parma-Bologna 2-1: Parma are another surprise this year. They're playing good football, which is a small wonder given Guidolin's past as the most anti-Zeman of all coaches in the whole world. I'm most impressed by their signings; Galloppa is a player Roma will rue to have given away for the football equivalent of a coofee and biscotto, and they've managed to resurrect Bojinov into a half decent footballer after three years. They also picked up Nicola Amoruso and Cristian Panucci over the summer - the former goes round and round in Italy, playing for club after club, but seemingly never stops scoring, and the latter we all know and love have an unidentified relationship to. If anything, Roma should be able to stop him from scoring; two men on the far post on every corner. Failure to do so is an almost assured Panucci goal, still.

Cagliari-Napoli 3-3: Let's see, first Cagliari score in the 90th minute, only for Napoli to equalize in the 96th minute? It's just another day in the defensive serie A still plagued by catenaccio. There's plenty of reasons for both teams to feel abandoned by all good fortunes. Cagliari since they gave up the win in the 96th minute, which is maddening, and Napoli because they gave up a 2-0 lead before that. Go ahead, both of you, dwell in your misery! One thing about Napoli lately is that they refuse to say die. Again, pretty much since we played them, they perform miraculous comeback time after time, pulling home points and wins where they have have no business whatsoever doing so. Only they're beginning do, they've grown into a very good team. Oh, and Lavezzi's absolutely nuts.

Chievo-Fiorentina 2-1: Ha, ha, and may I add ha? Look, I'm actually genuinely glad for Fiorentina. They completely deserve their success in Europe, and they're by far the most sympathetic team of the Italians in the Champions League, making it a whole lot easier to take said success. But it also shows, like Roma has done before them, that doing well in Europe comes at a cost, and you will suffer domestically. So go on Viola, do your thing in Europe; I truly wish you the best there. At home, Roma will hopefully be there to benefit from your split attention and squad rotation (the drop off in quality between Gilardino and Castillo? Colossal.)