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Monday March 10 2014
Tweet and sour

A post-match joke from the Turin giants has heaped more spice on the Juventus-Fiorentina rivalry. Giancarlo Rinaldi reviews the first of their three-course banquet of battles.

Somebody on the Juventus Twitter account just could not resist the temptation. A play on words compared the Bianconeri’s lunchtime victory over Fiorentina with the consumption of one of the Tuscan city’s famous T-bones. In the process, the stakes were definitely raised for the two clubs’ upcoming Europa League clashes.

Prior to that tasty tweet, in truth, the opening dish in this trio of ties had been a little bland. Deprived of their respective conductors of the Centrocampo - Andrea Pirlo and Borja Valero - the match had more errors than a schoolboy’s hurried homework. It was decided, however, by a single strike of sumptuous skill from Kwadwo Asamoah shortly before half-time.

That was no more than the home side deserved for a first 45 minutes in which they dominated with asphyxiating authority. Fiorentina found it so hard to get a foothold that they were entirely unable to get their challenge off the ground. In boxing parlance, all they could do was cover up on the ropes and wait for the bell to sound.

In the second half, at least, they showed that they might make a contest of those future encounters. A contentious offside call on a Modibo Diakite strike and a Ryder Matos header which cannoned off the crossbar were the best they could muster. It wasn’t really enough to feel aggrieved about - at least not until someone got carried away with the Turin giants’ social media.

“A Fiorentina for lunch was good,” the quick quip read. “We’ll meet again in four days’ time for dinner.” The speed and tone of the statement seemed to suggest that the Viola’s amazing 4-2 comeback earlier in the season had still not entirely been digested. It also served up a side order of snideness which the upcoming European clashes could probably have lived without. The winners, of course, get to celebrate in whatever manner they see fit.

And there was more good news for the Bianconeri from Sunday’s night game as Napoli all but served up the Scudetto on a plate for them. Roma looked the side more likely to succeed for long spells in their clash at the San Paolo but Jose Callejon had other ideas. His neat header had the cumulative effect of cementing Rafa Benitez’s side’s place in a Champions League qualification slot while also giving Juve a more than comforting advantage at the table top.

“It was an important goal,” said Callejon in one post-match interview. “But I hope there are more important goals to come. I think the team worked really well.”

That victory only compounded a bad day for Fiorentina. Their failure in Turin allowed Napoli to stretch clear and also put their fourth place under serious pressure. Both Inter and Parma got key victories in their hunt to overtake the Viola in the race for the Europa League places. A looping Rodrigo Palacio header was enough to get the Nerazzurri past Torino and, in the process, dent the Granata’s dreams of a top five finish. In Parma, Jonathan Biabiany and Ezequiel Schelotto won another key clash with fellow revelations Verona. For Lazio, however, their hopes of keeping close to the top were torpedoed by a home loss to Atalanta - Maxi Moralez getting the game’s only goal.

Comeback of the weekend came at the Stadio Marassi where Sampdoria gave Livorno a two goal lead before four second half strikes turned the game on its head. While the only team making significant progress in the lower reaches were Chievo who had a controversial late penalty to thank for their 2-1 triumph over Genoa. Catania had done no better than a draw with Cagliari on Saturday while the return of Eusebio Di Francesco to the Sassuolo bench produced only an insipid draw with equally drab Bologna.

Saturday evening saw another stuttering chapter in the Clarence Seedorf story at Milan. He can’t seem to get any consistency of results out of his side and, ahead of an impossible mission in the Champions League, they slumped in Udine. Toto’ Di Natale was their executioner with his 185th Serie A goal, overtaking a certain Gabriel Omar Batistuta in the all-time scorer’s chart. It has taken him about 60 more games to get there - but it is nonetheless the mark of an outstanding career.

The Rossoneri seem to have admitted defeat in the League and were fully focussed on trying to turn around their one goal disadvantage in Spain. “I asked the team to forget this game straight away,” said Seedorf. “If we dwell on it we can undermine our chances against Atletico. We are convinced we can win, Balotelli looked good.”

Nobody can blame him for being upbeat but his team face a huge challenge to make it any further in the Champions League. They have managed less than half the points of Juve in Serie A this season and that seems a pretty fair assessment of the gap between the sides this term. The Bianconeri, of course, are already out of Europe’s top competition but now they have their eyes firmly on a third consecutive Scudetto and, potentially, a continental final in their own ground. The table is already set for them in Turin - and they are clearly hungry to devour anything that gets in their way.

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Have your say...
World class fullbacks ! Emanuelson & Abate who always leave a striker behind so they can run at him and show the world how fast they are. But heck, that was after conceding a goal. How pathetic ! Wait for a retard who will come up and say I hate Abate. Just wait for it.
on the 12th March, 2014 at 10:50am
''''''WELL AS MILAN'S RUN IN THE CHAMPION'S LEAGUE comes to an END, I would have to say that they've improved in ball possession and tactics. I personally believe they played the ball better than ATLETICO MADRID I really do.What clearly is the problem is the finishing which is Seedorf's dilemma. He's got overweight wingers, lazy mids, and clueless strikers. With Atletico he should have used a 3/4/3 system by keeping the pressure from the middle up, so that the strikers could preasure the defence
on the 11th March, 2014 at 11:56pm
@Anonymous

Juve paid the price got demoted to serie B and stripped their titles, milan fio etc got deducted point, what about Inter? found guilty sporting fraud and hid the evidence until statutory of limitation comes in place and yet all Inter fans bragging they are the saints hahahaha

Had statutory of limitations dont exist UEFA FIGC would stripped all Inter fake titles during 2007 onwards

Well I guess karma is a b**** hahahahahaha INcheaTER !
on the 11th March, 2014 at 11:51pm
@Maldini's Heir, at least you can take some comfort from what is happening at Inter. One minute Thohir states that he intends to focus on youth (despite having the anti-youth Mazzarri as coach); the next, they are being linked with Evra, Sagna, Eto, & sign an aging, injury prone Vidic-on massive wages. Inter are the only Italian club that I do not like & that is because they continually waste/ignore the young Italian talents that come from their strong academy.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 10:49pm
@Maldini's Heir, Vidal is one of, if not the best
,box to box midfielders in the world. I cannot think of anyone who is so good at both attacking & defending (it's usually one or the other)He has great ability & potential-he's still in his mid-twenties. The scary thought is that he can become even better. He'd do a great job at any club. But Conte deserves a lot of credit for Vidal's & Pogba's exponential growth. I'm gutted (& disappointed with some of Seedorf's decisions) about Milan.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 10:26pm
Can I just comment at half time! Poli is playing right wing because we signed Essien. He's not a right winger. Essiens been terrible. Kaka's playing left of striker because we signed tarabat who seems to doing his best to break up OUR attacks. Seedorf seems to have a thing for emanuelson so de sciglio starts on the bench. Now robinho s warming up. Do you not see what's wrong with milan? Seriously? What's not obvious about this shambles? Ps rami did nothing for the two goals. Glad we signed a CB
on the 11th March, 2014 at 9:39pm
Why is emanuelson playing ahead of de sciglio?
on the 11th March, 2014 at 9:01pm
So glad we signed Essien for his experience!
on the 11th March, 2014 at 8:54pm
@ Anonymous you're token Italian Materazzi has just said that if hadn't won the world cup he'd have been sold. Inter show no loyalty to players which is another reason they never did well when Serie A was truly competitive. I mean you spied on your own players??? How a gentleman like Zanetti has stuck by them is beyond me!
on the 11th March, 2014 at 3:26pm
@ Vidal fans. I admit I hit a sensitive spot there. I like Vidal. He's got lots of energy and has good technique. But at the moment in Serie A he's playing like one of the best midfielders in Europe. I just think there has to be a bit of Conte behind that. I've a bad feeling that if we went to another club he could struggle. For me it shows the subtleties in football. If the right player (Vidal) gets to work with the right manager (Conte) he can become a great player.So often this doesn't happen
on the 11th March, 2014 at 3:24pm
@ Maldini's Heir: You obviously don't watch enough of Juve to know that Vidal is not playing beyond his capabilities. I guess Barca, Real, and every other big club in Europe that continue to pressure Juve to sell him feel the same way as you.
@Interista23: Find some new material, you're boring me.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 1:49pm
I still live in hope there'll be a change in ownership this summer or as a minimum Galliani steps down. We cannot afford for the squad to be further decimated this summer and we certainly cannot afford to continue with a defence which has now conceded 38 goals this season in just 27 matches (that's more than a goal a game). We are almost starting each game with the guarantee we will concede goals. This cannot go on.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 1:12pm
@ Viktor staying positive as always. I can't fault you for that. I agree we should give Seedorf time. For me the minimum Milan should be aiming for is to finish 7th (that's above Verona who are currently on 40 points with Milan on an embarrassing 35). I don't think that's too much to expect. If Milan don't then I wouldn't be impressed with Seedorf's start although we may as well stick with him for another year (given he's still learning to be a coach!).
on the 11th March, 2014 at 1:09pm
@ Anonymous that's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is Inter weren't good enough to win the title back then. They spent a lot of money yes and had some decent players but it was mostly wasted. That's why you finished 12 points behind Milan and 15 behind Juve in the 2005/2006 season. You should be embarrassed that you were handed the title after that not still banging on about it.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 1:04pm
@ Viktor you are correct he is a footballing great, I don't hate Seedorf I just don't see the so called plan working out? I mean we all know its mainly money he needs to rebuild a team he wants...however Milan seem to have none and when they do Uncle Festa buys a 11 million Matri? My bet is now come may you will see Spaletti in charge of Milan.
on the 11th March, 2014 at 12:18pm
@ Maldini's Heir "Vidal is playing beyond his capabilities"! What the hell does that mean? Why don't you guys think twice before saying something stupid like that?
on the 11th March, 2014 at 12:07pm
@ Forza Juve. Yes Inter should be stripped of the 1998 UEFA Cup????? You seem to forget that during the period when it was PROVED that Juventus was cheating and locking referees in dressing rooms, Inter won nothing in Italy. All that could be done is demote them for phoning referees manager (what a waste that turned out to be) but so was every other club. So whats your suggestion? demote all of Seria A to Seria B? Trying to embroil someone else in Juve CHEATING is very childish
on the 11th March, 2014 at 6:07am
@Interista23

Best of luck for Inter in ....??!? getting into Europa League!

Note: Statutory of limitations SHOULDN'T exist.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 8:37pm
I suppose you could draw parallels with the 97 season for milan this term however it is painfully obvious that this team is even weaker than that woeful side. I would however point directly at the lack of decent central midfield players and central defenders possibly a lack of time for seedorf to create a side which can creativity pass the ball. Fact being in in case this the best paid team in the league with that in mind milan should be doing a hell of a lot better.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 8:36pm
There is not a chance on hell that they would win the cl. They stand a better chance of coming 3rd in Italy even if its a tall order but at least climb up the league.But to spoil your chances for a mission that will end in failure is folly. 
on the 10th March, 2014 at 8:34pm
I do not understand managers that prioritize games that are harder to win but ultimately might prove fruitless. I am talking about Seedorf,Pellegrini n Wenger. Wenger got away with but going to Bayern and winning by 3 goals is a tall order. Pellegrini too is being wishful about his side at the camp Nou. As for Seedorf I have no idea what he was thinking. His team is struggling in the league and he is more concerned about beating Atletico. That is a huge task and even if he did so what. There is
on the 10th March, 2014 at 8:29pm
Imo what you said about juve - fio not being that intereting especially due to no pirlo and valero is very inaccurate, for starters juve where on firey form in the first half and fio were very lucky not to concede at least another two goals. Also in pirlo's absence we've seen the incredible emergence of Marchisio in the regista role in the first half alone he was wonderful the range and quantity of passing was amazing.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 7:18pm
@Marc F, his wig/hair transplant? Other than that no. His ban, because of what happened at Siena was an absolute joke, when you study the case. I'm not a Juve fan, but have much respect for Conte and the club in general. The constant 'cheat' jibes were boring 5 years ago and are just so sad now.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 7:12pm
Whilst I wouldn't go as far as saying that Juve's players are average; aside from a 4-5 player's, Juve have a mostly workman-like squad. Conte has done an outstanding job in both organizing & motivating them. I'd argue that Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina, & Milan have just as much, if not more, technical talents in their squads. Conte is amazing at not only getting the max out of his players, but also making sure that the players standards don't drop. He may be even better than Fergie, time will tell.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 6:46pm
Something very shady about Conte. What can it be? Hmmm??
on the 10th March, 2014 at 6:40pm
@ Vidal23 of course they've got some great players but there are some average ones including your goalscorer this weekend. Conte just gets the best out of everyone. I personally think Vidal is probably playing beyond his capabilities (sorry no offence!).

@ Marc F so far the only thing I can see that's dodgy is the ridiculous head of hair!!!
on the 10th March, 2014 at 6:17pm
@Adam

Still to early to say about seedorf but by all means keep hating if that makes you happy. I on the other side prefer living life with a positive attitude and give coaches at least a few month before butchering and trash talking em. Bare in mind, were talking about a player with great history within football. I personally think that's a big benefit. Time will tell.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 5:54pm
Marc F...haha perhaps its his frown and wig haha
on the 10th March, 2014 at 5:25pm
@Marc F
What? Aside from the fact he's a RuBentino??? Come on man... p.s. best of luck to La Viola in Europa league!!!
on the 10th March, 2014 at 5:09pm
@Marc F: You can't put your finger on it because there's nothing to put your finger on. You're tossing invisible mud at an invisible adversary hoping something will materialize and stick. Pathetic.
on the 10th March, 2014 at 4:33pm

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