The weekend in Italy – Woes for Serie A
The fortunes of Italian clubs in Europe went from bad to worse this week with not one of the clubs involved winning. Juventus struggled in a snowstorm against Lech Poznan, only managing a 1-1 draw, Sampdoria lost 2-1 to PSV while Palermo lost 3-2 to Sparta Prague, and a Edison Cavani hat-trick salvaged a 3-3 draw for Napoli against Utrecht, leaving them as the only Italian club able to move past the group stage.
Although for the most part Italian clubs were apathetic towards the Europa League – and rightly so in its current mostly worthless form – they now have to face the possibility of dropping further down the co-efficient rankings. Having already conceded their third place spot to Germany, and their fourth Champions League spot, they now must be edgily looking over their shoulders at the French clubs gaining ground on them.
Domestically, things are no better. Next weekend there will be no Serie A fixtures as the players are striking over collective contract rights after negotiations faltered. Far from the prima donna nonsense many might perceive it as, the strikers are arguing over clauses that will force a player to move to a club that could potentially be on the other side of the country if they are in the last year of their contract.
Just as things were beginning to look up for Rafael Benitez’s Inter, they were bought crashing back down to earth by a 3-1 defeat to Lazio, leaving the Romans three points off leaders Milan and the champions 10 off the pace. Inter have no more league games in 2010 while they jet off for the Club World Championship; winning gives Benitez the chance to get one over on his predecessor Jose Mourinho, but it’s easier said than done with Inter’s continued injury woes.
By swatting away Brescia 3-0, Milan look as if they will go into 2011 as Serie A leaders. Having somehow gotten the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho to defend, there looks to be a changing of power in Milan, although Lazio and Juventus, who beat Catania 3-1, look like potential challengers. However, much like the Premier League, there is a real lack of quality in Serie A this season and a downturn in form or injury problems could see any club go the way of Inter.
Cesena 0-2 Bologna
Fiorentina 1-0 Cagliari
Lecce 1-3 Genoa
Parma 2-1 Udinese
Sampdoria 3-0 Bari