Straight from the dark heart of Italy
It will be interesting to see if Wesley Sneijder’s late winner against Udinese on Saturday will finally kick-start Inter’s shilly-shallying start to the season – and in doing so draw the rest of the league into the fray.
The Dutchman’s goal certainly jolted Jose Mourinho out of his lethargy of late – the Portuguese was off down the touchline sharper than one of his cutting put-downs.
NEWS: Late Sneijder strike seals Inter success
Although not as manic as his Old Trafford celebrations back in 2004, it was good to see a glimpse of “Mour the Merrier” after so many weeks of brooding sullenness.
The little cocksure swagger was back again as he turned to the press box and then thought better of giving the occupants a salute of defiance as the seven games without a win finally came to an end.
Now with the pulses racing again, maybe the season can start to deliver the promised excitement.
With the summer weather deciding to hang around for a bit longer, Sunday afternoon’s action was on the whole equally languid.
We always knew the Devil doesn’t really wear Prada.
The sartorial elegant Leonardo is an angel and unfortunately the sacrificial lamb at the alter of aged Milan gods, who prefer to see out their mega-contracts without someone disturbing their idyll out at the Milanello country club.
Leading up to the Lombardy derby with Atalanta, reports were flittering out of the Rossoneri camp that some of the senior citizens were not too pleased with having their training methods altered.
They had been quite happy to play five-a-sides and one-touch kickabouts all morning, but now they were being forced to run around like teenagers.
Has that Brazilian no respect for his elders?
And what better way to get your own back but to go for a Sunday stroll, which they did for most of the afternoon in Bergamo.
Who would have thought then that Ronaldinho, of all people, would shake the team out of its collective inertia and save Leo from the chop for another couple of weeks at least.
NEWS: Ronaldinho goal spares Milan more misery
Roberto Donodoni’s future at Napoli now hangs by a thread – Delio Rossi or Walter Mazzarri have been lined up to take over - and once again it was a disjointed performance from his side at Roma.
Then again, the Giallorossi were nothing to write home about, but still had Francesco Totti to make the difference.
The captain scored both goals to draw level with Gabriel Batistuta in 10th spot in the all-time Serie A goalscoring charts, with 184 goals.
However, the old warrior’s knee buckled when putting every ounce of strength into driving home the winner, and we will not see him for the next month or so.
The fragile Diego Milito is also out for around a month, as is Alessandro Del Piero who cannot seem to walk on to the training pitch without being inflicted with some muscle problem or another.
It’s a pity really because the league is need of a few entertainers.
Maybe it’s the fixture list at the moment but it’s been slightly flat over the last few weeks.
At least after the international break there are three games, all in one weekend, to whet the appetite: Juventus-Fiorentina, Genoa-Inter and Milan-Roma.
Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara will lose the majority of his squad to World Cup qualifying duty and it will be his turn to brood over the troubles in Turin.
Having looked like genuine contenders after the first three games, Juve seem very ordinary indeed.
After labouring to a home win over Livorno, there followed a fortuitous draw at Genoa and then three points slipped away against Bologna, before the Old Lady was finally found out down in Palermo.
NEWS: Juve suffer first defeat of season
Swept away by the Sicilian side’s tenacity in midfield and searing pace in attack, five goals could have flown past Gigi Buffon and no one would have been that surprised.
An injury list that includes Fabio Cannavaro, Tiago Mendes, Claudio Marchisio, Hasan Salihamidzic and Momo Sissoko has not helped the cause, but it is having to adapt a game-plan around Diego that has seen Ferrara come up short.
The Brazilian has been plagued by injury all season and, lacking full fitness, was an easy target for a man-marking job from his compatriot Fabio Simplicio.
Once the fulcrum was out of the way the rest of the side was impotent to a man: the major culprits being Felipe Melo and Christian Poulsen who you would expect to match steel with steel.
The midfield breached and the defence folded like a cheap umbrella at the first sign of rain.
Giorgio Chiellini, Nicola Legrottaglie and Fabio Grosso are all in the Italy squad for the Ireland game, so Marcello Lippi will be carrying out his de facto Juve coaching duties.
Sissoko’s return to partner Melo in front of the back four is imperative: Camoranesi and Marchisio could then push along the flanks thus enabling Diego to play further forward to support a lone striker.
With Amauri a shadow of his former self and David Trezeguet marginalised after admitting he was on the way at the end of the season, Vincenzo Iaquinta’s tireless running makes him the perfect candidate to spearhead the attack.
A more balanced approach would certainly steady the ship heading into the next month or so.
Of course, as they say in these parts at this time of the year “there is still a long season to go.”
But Juve will not want to be playing catch-up even before the first winter fires are catching light.
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