Straight from the dark heart of Italy
RESULTS Sat Apr 7 Atalanta 1-2 Siena, Cagliari 2-2 Inter, Cesena 0-0 Bologna, Chievo 3-2 Catania, Lecce 4-2 AS Roma, AC Milan 1-2 Fiorentina, Novara 1-1 Genoa, Udinese 3-1 Parma, Palermo 0-2 Juventus, Lazio 3-1 Napoli
It was a weekend of shocks and surprises around Serie A, with the biggest coming at the San Siro, where Amauri scored his most important goal yet for Juventus.
Sure, the striker happened to be wearing a Fiorentina shirt at the time, but although his late winner against AC Milan helped ease the Viola’s relegation worries, it was the club who had previously discarded him that benefited most.
The Ital-Brazilian had been shown the door in the most acrimonious of circumstances by the Turin club at the start of the season, after returning from a loan spell at Parma. He had hung around like a bad smell until January, training with the youth team, until a window of opportunity finally opened in Florence.
Having failed to score since April 2011, the gangly front man broke his duck in the most unlikely of surroundings and in the most unlikely manner, having only charged on to the pitch like a bolting horse in the final quarter of a match from which the visitors had been more than willing to take home a point.
Even if Juventus had not been preoccupied with the preparations for their early evening match at Palermo, there was little chance of Antonio Conte or anyone else from the Turin club calling the 31-year-old to offer their congratulations and thanks.
Not that Amauri would have cared that much after his fractious break from the Bianconeri, and who better to enjoy the moment with than the missus, who was straight on the phone to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.
But you can rely on Sky Italia to take the shine off anyone’s day, and one of their reporters was quick to ask the tousled-haired forward how good it was to have done Juve a favour.
Although he may have lost his beaming smile for a moment, he bounced back by chirpily insisting all he was interested in was helping Fiorentina.
Amauri is all too aware of how football can turn against you, and Massimiliano Allegri is beginning to learn the same lesson. With the Champions League now gone by the wayside, the Milan coach is duty bound to defend the club’s Serie A title, but his side looked completely spent after their exertions at the Camp Nou last week.
It was the first time the time Milan had lost two in a row under Allegri, and he was at a loss to put together a compelling defence for his side’s below-par performance, one which saw the champions blow a 1-0 lead.
The only bright note on an otherwise listless afternoon was the return of Antonio Cassano, who was given a ten minute run-out after receiving the all-clear to at last resume playing. The forward almost produced something out of nothing late on with a darting run into the area.
However, even with his cardiac problems hopefully behind him, it will take time for the 29-year-old to rediscover his match fitness, and with it the sort of form that can give Milan a much-needed fillip in the run-in.
Impetus is something Juve do not need and with the positive news arriving from the north, down in Sicily they then tore into Palermo to take command at the top of the table.
Conte has been chipping away at Rossoneri confidence for some time and last week he led a 12-minute motivational speech in the centre of the training pitch, tellingly in full view of the TV cameras.
It was almost akin to Al Pacino’s rousing pre-game team talk in ‘Any Given Sunday’ - a loud and clear battle cry of intent and one that Allegri would do well to heed.
There is little time to be introspective, however, with a full midweek round to face: so confident are Juventus that even the arrival of third-placed Lazio, who saw of a very tired looking Napoli on Saturday, looks unlikely to knock them off their stride.
Milan, on the other hand, with injuries and suspensions mounting, will travel to Chievo knowing they need to bounce back immediately or risk handing the physiological advantage to the Old Lady once and for all.
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