Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Italy is slowly waking up to the fact that the concept of the midweek league game is not going away.
Unless it’s a European fixture or Italy are in action, football-goers have never seen the point of giving up their Wednesday night TV soap viewing for the beautiful game.
Especially at the first hint of autumnal chill in the air.
It’s already the second slog on the midweek treadmill and the powers than be are hoping that attendances hold up well from the first round in September.
And despite Fabio Capello’s carping from afar, families are slowly venturing through the gates again, although maybe not on a school night.
Pizzerias are also looking forward to a surge of business as all the games will be broadcast on television – that’s pay-per-view, of course.
As for those who have to run out onto the pitch for the second time in four days there will be varying degrees of anticipation.
Inter hold an advantage in that they will not be in action until Thursday evening when they welcome Palermo to the San Siro – and will be armed with all they need to know on how the rest of the league fared.
However, all the praise heaped upon Wesley Sneijder in the last blog has had a bad effect: the Dutchman’s thigh strain is much worse than first thought.
Already ruled out on the domestic front, the little midfield wiz could even miss the trip to Kiev next week.
At least Thiago Motta and Diego Milito are primed to return, leaving Jose with the easiest of juggling acts.
He has already been at loggerheads with his medical staff over Milito, whom he wanted on the bench for Catania at the weekend but was vetoed by the stern-faced club doctor.
No doubt a clean bill of health will be demanded this time around – and the Nerazzurri will need to be on top of their game as the Sicilians are turning into a tidy little unit under Walter Zenga, who is set to receive a hero’s welcome on his return.
Juventus meet Sampdoria and the Old Lady has seen Vincenzo Iaquinta fall to the curse of the meniscus in recent days, just like Francesco Totti.
However for a footballer it’s a bit like having a tooth out – Totti’s surgery lasted less than 10 minutes yesterday and the Giallorossi captain has already undergone his first session of physiotherapy and strength training at Trigoria.
Antonio Cassano will want to use the trip to Turin to continue tormenting Marcello Lippi’s waking hours – and we will get a genuine idea if the Blucerchiati can begin to dream of a repeat of 1991, when Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini took the rest of the league by surprise.
Of course, it will probably remain outside the realms of reality, but Doria are enjoying their time in the limelight while it lasts.
And with Ciro Ferrara’s team yet to find an identity another high-profile scalp could be on the cards.
The autumn stars will be shining brightly down in Naples and a packed San Paolo will be the place to be when Napoli host AC Milan in a game that could go either way.
Both sides have suddenly run into form – Milan on the back of wins over Roma and then in Madrid, and the home side galvanised under new coach Walter Mazzarri.
There are plenty of other fixtures to drag the fans out of their homes, although it's doubtful the followers of AS Roma will making the long trip to Udinese if they expect to sit through a repeat of Sunday’s turgid performance against Livorno.
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