In a week when four Serie A games were cancelled due to the snow and ice that affected most of Italy, Juventus again grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Ciro Ferrara’s side capitulated to Catania at the Stadio Olimpico to plunge the Old Lady deeper into crisis whilst Inter seized their opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points going into the winter break.
To begin with the weekend’s biggest story, Juventus continued their woeful run of form with a 1-2 defeat at home to Catania throughout which the players and management were subjected to a barrage of abuse from the fans. Ferrara was without a number of regular first team players who were missing with injuries and suspensions, but the performance from the Bianconeri was simply not of the standard Juve fans have come to expect over the years. After going behind to a Jorge Martinez penalty mid-way through the first half, Juve briefly rallied after the break to draw level through a Hasan Salihamidzic strike as the Bosnian deftly beat the offside trap to equalise on the hour. However, with just three minutes of normal time remaining, Mariano Izco found himself clean through on goal to tidily chip the ball over Alex Manninger and seal a superb win for the Sicilian side and pile yet more misery on Ciro Ferrara and his team.
At the San Siro, Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale ground out a 1-0 win over a steadily improving Lazio side amid freezing conditions in Milan. The Nerazzurri started brightly and their early pressure was rewarded after a quarter of an hour as Samuel Eto’o headed Dejan Stankovic’s cross against the post before side-footing the rebound beyond Fernando Muslera. Lazio carved out a number of chances but were constantly thwarted by an in-form Julio Cesar, whilst Inter were wasteful at the other end, Patrick Vieira guilty of missing a particularly simple chance during the second half. Despite not producing a vintage performance, Inter took advantage of Juve’s defeat and Milan’s game with Fiorentina being postponed to extend their lead to eight points and cement their strong position going into the Christmas hiatus.
In the capital Claudio Ranieri’s Roma continued to surge up the table, comfortably beating Parma 2-0 at the Olimpico. Nicolas Burdisso’s goal immediately after half-time, a low shot that picked its way through the goalmouth melee, gave the Giallorossi the lead their performance warranted as they outplayed the Ducali in all departments. There were chances for Francesco Totti and Marco Motta as Roma sought to put the result beyond doubt, something they eventually did in the ninetieth minute as Matteo Brighi collected Mirko Vucinic’s pass and finished with ease to seal the victory. Roma now move up to fourth, just two points behind Juve, and look to have their season well and truly back on track.
In the other of the weekend’s games which remained unaffected by the weather, Livorno continued their revival with a superb 3-1 win over Sampdoria, Napoli recorded a 2-0 victory over Chievo thanks to goals from Marek Hamsik and Fabio Quagliarella, and Palermo narrowly beat Siena courtesy of a first-half Edinson Cavani strike.
I’ll be back in the new year as Serie A gets back underway after the traditional Christmas break.
Week 17 results in full:
Internazionale 1-0 Lazio
Juventus 1-2 Catania
Livorno 3-1 Sampdoria
Napoli 2-0 Chievo
Palermo 1-0 Siena
Roma 2-0 Parma
Bologna v Atalanta (Postponed)
Fiorentina v Milan (Postponed)
Genoa v Bari (Postponed)
Udinese v Cagliari (Postponed)