Straight from the dark heart of Italy
It is time to get ready for the rivalries that gave birth to match-fixing allegations, anti-Semitic banners and the odd moment brilliance on the pitch.Yes, it is the Derby of Italy – a grandiose title well past its sell-by-date – and the Derby of the Capital – an event that defines a city – and all on the same weekend.In fact, the weekend starts early this week, with Inter and Juventus locking horns on Friday evening and ends on Sunday evening with the Roman rumble.There have been drab encounters through the years - especially in the Eternal City where those in the stands have provided the colour and passion - there have been plenty of one-sided meetings, and then there have been enthralling matches that have made for captivating viewing.Whatever the ultimate outcome, these are two matches that can never be ignored and while the Romans bring a city to a standstill when the northern rivals meet the nation just about comes grinding to a halt. When we talk about defining moments of the season then this weekend will be definitely be one of them.Inter are no longer top of the pile and for the first time since Claudio Ranieri starting playing down his side’s chances of winning the title, the Giallorossi have the Scudetto fate in their own hands.And lo and behold it is Lazio who can derail their cousins’ dreams of having the mother of all parties at the end of May.Come Monday morning, it will be banishment to the dark corners of bars and cafes for the vanquished and a table in the sunniest part of the piazza for the conquering heroes – and for Roma victory will have even more significance in the grand scheme of things.In the meantime, by Roman standards, the week has been rather benign. This should be cause for concern – the calm before the storm so to speak. On the contrary, it has been a fraught week up north in the cities of Turin and Milan. Both clubs have been refusing to speak to the press so it has been left to events away from the game to take centre stage – and those have been played out back down south in Naples.Luciano Moggi is having is day or days in court to prove that he was not the great puppet-master in the grand scheme of Calciopoli but just one of many who were pulling the strings to influence the outcome of games.[Un]lucky Luciano’s defence team have got their hands on a few wiretaps which did not see the light back in 2006, and on one of them then Inter president Giacinto Facchetti is heard chatting to the referee’s designator Paolo Bergamo.Old Bergamo gives him the rundown of officials available to referee Inter games and Facchetti apparently demands that Pierluigi Collina – and who would not, the bald one was the best man around at the time – takes charge of a game.There is also some discussion about dropping around for ‘a little gift’ which proves nothing considering it was coming up to the Christmas period and no doubt ‘little presents’ were being wrapped at many a club’s front desk.We may never know what was behind the Facchetti-Bergamo chin-wag as the latter is no longer with us to give his side of the story.The question is; why has it taken four years for this new ‘evidence’ to see the light of day? Moggi has promised more wire-taps next week and Carlo Ancelotti has been called to give evidence on Tuesday.It is now a case of ‘wait and see’ if new ‘explosive evidence’ is brought to light and the case is reopened but in the meantime at least there is some intrigue on the pitch to keep us all occupied.
More from Serie Aaaaargh!
As a Juve fan, I recall this season went to crap after the last Inter match: That ended 2-1, and seemed to promise so much. Then came the FALL - starting with Bayern the very next match.
Would it be too ironic if Juve's season re-found itself today with another win against Inter? It would be the way football always works; Juve destroy Inter's serie A season (no chance of Lazio beating Roma) only for Inter to win the Champ League and Juve to finish 4th with 100 million dollars and Benitez (who will surely leave Liverpool now that the club is up for sale) in the can.
Oh I can only dream!
Oh and I should add - Inter will win Champ League against - yes, of course, Bayern Munich. It's all too perfectly set-up not to happen!
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