Juventus face Napoli on Saturday, but Alex Mott explains why there's only one team to watch in Serie A at the moment – a reinvigorated Fiorentina.
After a pair of turgid international fixtures, it's back to the topsy-turvy world of Serie A this weekend and there's only one fixture in Europe that's got everyone talking. Alessio Tacchinardi has had his say. Cesare Prandelli had to stop journalists asking him about it. Even Darko Kovacevic has piped up. It seems Juventus-Napoli this Saturday has got calcio in a bit of a fluster.
A top-of-the-table clash is enough to get anyone's mouth watering, but not it seems Eugenio Corini. Chievo host Fiorentina at the Stadio Bentegodi this Sunday and of all the fascinating fixtures this time around, the Florentines visiting the Flying Donkeys might not stand out as one to watch.
The 42-year-old Coach couldn't really give a hoot about what goes on in Turin, though. He only wanted to talk about one team to Radio Toscana on Tuesday. And it was not his own. “We have to try and stop Fiorentina,” he said. “Because at the moment, they are playing the best football in Italy.”
And with that, the former Palermo midfielder let slip what may be the best kept secret on the peninsula – La Viola are the No 1 team in the country.
Yes, Juventus are top of the League. And yes, they are on the verge of a half century of unbeaten games, but they steam-roller teams. You can tell me that Napoli play a rapid counter-attacking game that nearly took European champions Chelsea to the sword, but they're just a vehicle for Edinson Cavani. Argue all you like that Udinese under Francesco Guidolin have produced a brand of fast-flowing play that has put them consistently at the top of the League, but remove Antonio Di Natale and then what? Wax Lyrical about Hernanes and Miroslav Klose's relationship at Lazio, but when they inevitably crumble towards the decisive periods in the campaign, the German's goals won't be enough to save them.
They are all good teams in their own right, but in terms of sheer aesthetic beauty, Vincenzo Montella's men are what Serie A should be all about.
Under the tutelage of the one-time Roma striker, the Tuscan side have reformed over the summer as a team that can rival the very best. His management style has impressed everyone he's come across. The 38-year-old stabilised the rocky ship that was the Giallorossi for his brief period there in 2011. He then went to Sicily and preformed a minor miracle at Catania before his appointment this year as boss of Fiorentina.
Manuel Pasqual has said he “brought peace” to the camp, Alberto Aquliani has described him as “destined for success,” and that man Corini called him “amazing.” It's praise from across the board, but those adjectives can probably be used for the team's star striker as well.
The comeback of Stevan Jovetic has been nothing less than sensational. The Montenegrin suffered a terrible cruciate ligament injury at the start of 2010, and has really spent two years recovering. Fans of Italian football suspected he may be something special, but the current campaign has confirmed his brilliance.
The 21-year-old has been courting interest from some of the best clubs in the world. But at the moment the young forward seems to be happy in Tuscany and flourishing alongside some astute summer signings.
Villarreal's relegation was a lesson for all football clubs looking to invest a quick buck and reap the rewards the game can bring. It was a tragedy for the team's fans, but those tears were ones of joy on the peninsula when Fiorentina announced the captures of Borja Valero and Gonzalo Rodriguez.
The pair of them have been a revelation early on in the campaign, and alongside fellow new boy Facundo Roncaglia, have formed the spine of a side that had previously lacked any drive, fight and determination. The 3-5-2 formation may have become a default setting for most sides in the League, but with the likes of Pasqual and Juan Cuadrado on either flank, theirs is the high-pressing, fast-tempo variant of the system.
The two wing-backs are allowed to bomb forward, safe in the knowledge that other new arrival David Pizarro will sit at the base of the midfield and cover. The veteran Chile midfielder has been around the block a few times in Serie A, but his game is the glue that binds the creative flair of the rest of the side.
The Gigliati have now become a team. A proper team that plays football the proper way. The results may not be perfect, but in this cynical age of Arabian petro-dollars and Russian Oligarch billions, isn't it nice to see a team from the Renaissance city of Florence playing the game like brush strokes on canvas?