Madonnina – Many in the Italian press are hailing a changing of the guard. Even more have hailed AC Milan as the champions in waiting. One of these prophets is one Gianluigi Buffon, which should make for some interesting discussions at training when he returns to action for Juventus.
To give credence to these predictions, Milan played terrifically against a rather toothless Inter in the Derby della Madonnina. For a city famous for being a capital of style – the derby was dirty, intense and had many flashpoints. It was throughly enjoyable nonetheless.
The 1-0 defeat was the first time that Inter had been beaten at the San Siro since 2008 and serious questions will now be asked about the future of Rafael Benitez’s tenure at the club.
The decisive goal came early. Marco Materazzi, never one to shy away from incendiary fixtures against Milan, tripping Zlatan Ibrahimovic to concede a penalty. The former Inter star stepped forward to take the penalty and slotted it confidently.
Milan had to finish the game with ten men following the ejection of Ignazio Abate. Abate had gotten himself involved in a shoving bout with Inter’s Goran Pandev and received a second yellow.
Despite having inferior numbers, Milan remained the better side. Much of this has to do with the inability of Inter to create any meaningful threats to Christian Abbiati’s goal.
Massimo Moratti, Inter’s outspoken President, was understandably angry.
“I didn’t like anything,” he told reporters. “We didn’t do enough to think about winning.” Moratti will have been almost equally aggrieved to have seen former Inter starlet Mario Balotelli in the crowd offering his support to Milan, a club he has supported since childhood.
The derby win saw Milan overtake Lazio at the top of the table again after the Roman side rebounded from two straight defeats to beat Napoli 2-0. Mauro Zaraté, often overlooked because of the impressive performances offered by many of his teammates, opened the scoring with a fine individual effort. A shocking miss by Napoli’s Marek Hamsik and a goal from Sergio Floccari ensured Lazio held on for an important win.
A spectacular volley from Vicenzo Iaquinta was cancelled out by a controversial Francesco Totti penalty as Juventus and Roma played out a 1-1 draw in Turin. Iaquinta’s wonderful goal was set up by former Romanista Alberto Aquilani, who continues to earn plaudits for his tremendous displays of accurate and incisive passing.
There were two hattricks in Serie A at the weekend, one coming from one of the league’s bright young stars while the other came from a striker who had been previously fading from prominence. Javier Pastore of Palermo earned the attention of one Lionel Messi for his fantastic performance against Catania in the Sicilian derby. High praise indeed. The Argentine led the Rosanero to a 3-1 win.
The other hattrick hero, Antonio Di Natale, bagged his three goals against Lecce. The reemergence of Toto has coincided with the recovery of Udinese. The Zebrette have moved up to eighth after a terrible start and will be hoping for more inspiring performances from Di Natale and their industrious winger Alexis Sánchez in the coming weeks as they eye a place in European competition next season.
Next week, Udinese will face a tougher opponent in the form of Roma, while Rafa Benitez should know that failure to pick up a result against Chievo might spell the end of his short time at the San Siro.
League leaders, AC Milan, will play host to a Fiorentina side desperate for points. It promises to be another exciting week.
Fiorentina 1-0 Cesena
Juventus 1-1 Roma
Lazio 2-0 Napoli
Bari 0-1 Parma
Bologna 1-0 Brescia
Cagliari 0-1 Genoa
Palermo 3-1 Catania
Sampdoria 0-0 Chievo Verona
Udinese 4-0 Lecce
Internazionale 0-1 Milan