10-Men Inter Reclaim Their +6 Serie A Lead as Juve & Milan Stumble (Serie A Matchday 21)

As a Bianconero, big disappointment lingers in my mind after Wednesday’s Serie A action. Not only did an unrecognizable (and Del Piero-less) Juve lose away to Udinese, but Inter Milan‘s concurrent win over Catania (and AC Milan‘s draw to Genoa) restores the Nerazzurri’s +6/+8 lead, leaving us to wonder if the current order of the top three Serie A teams will ever change again.

Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’ve been following the soccer scene for quite some time now and I’ve got this hunch: usually during a title race, when the top team loses some ground only to regain it the following week, they are keeping their lead till the end. I’ve got no scientific or tactical evidence to support this theory, it is what it is: a hunch. But based on my previous years of Serie-A watching experience, it is somewhat reminiscent of the Juve vs. Parma and Juve vs. Inter title races of the late 90′s.

Secretly of course, I want to believe otherwise…

Catania vs. Inter Milan


(Gazzetta reports) Inter were rewarded for a strong start in the 5th minute, when Dejan Stankovic sprinted into the box to head in a Julio Cruz cross. 1-0 Inter. The hosts, who had a Michele Paolucci goal disallowed (apparently for dangerous play by Japanese forward Takayuki Morimoto), really surged forward to put the Nerazzurri on the ropes especially after Sulley Muntari’s sending off in minute 31: Esteban Cambiasso produced a desperate clearance off the Inter line to deny Morimoto just before half-time, while Giuseppe Mascara hit the post at the hour mark.

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic however wrapped it up for the visitors in the 71st, running on to an offside-splitting pass from Stankovic before chipping the ball over oncoming keeper Albano Bizarri. 2-0 Inter who with this win, reclaim their +6 lead over rivals Juventus and +8 over cousins AC Milan.


 Calcio Catania
[Match Highlights]
F.C. Internazionale Milano
GOALSCORERS: 5’ Stankovic (I), 66’ Ibrahimovic (I).
CATANIA (4-3-3): Bizzarri – Silvestre, Silvestri, Stovini, Capuano (72’ Llama) – Martinez (87’ D’Amico), Baiocco, Gia. Tedesco – Morimoto, Paolucci (76’ Spinesi), Mascara. (bench: Acerbis, Sardo, Sabato, Ledesma). Coach: Zenga.
INTER (4-3-1-2) Julio Cesar – Maicon, Cordoba, Burdisso, Santon (88’ Rivas) – J.Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari – Stankovic (91’ Figo) – Ibrahimovic, Cruz (64’ Maxwell). (bench: Toldo, Mancini, Quaresma, Crespo). Coach: G.Baresi (Mourinho suspended).


Udinese vs. Juventus


Over at Stadio Friuli, 2nd-placed Juventus were undone by Fabio Quagliarella (slipping the ball past the keeper on 20 minutes) and Antonio Di Natale (who topped off a strong run in the 74th by curling the ball home). The two Azzurri strikers had no mercy for national team colleague Gianluigi Buffon, and gave Udinese their first league win since October. 1-0 and 2-0 Udinese.

Former Udinese forward Vincenzo Iaquinta (replacing Marco Marchionni at half-time) pulled one back for Juve with a penalty in the 77th, but the 2-1 was too little too late for a Bianconeri team who, today more than ever, suffered from the absence of talismanic captain Alessandro Del Piero and defender Giorgio Chiellini. The only positive note of Juve’s evening? The return of David Trezeguet, if only for 10 minutes…


 Udinese Calcio
[Match Highlights]
Juventus F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 20’ Quagliarella (U), 74’ Di Natale (U), 77’ pen. Iaquinta (J).
UDINESE (4-3-3): Handanovic – Zapata, Coda, Domizzi, Pasquale – Inler, D’Agostino, Asamoah – Isla, Quagliarella (85’ Floro Flores), Di Natale (81’ Pepe). (bench: Belardi, Felipe, Ferronetti, Obodo, Sanchez). Coach: Marino.
JUVENTUS (4-4-2): Buffon – Grygera, Legrottaglie, Mellberg, Molinaro – Marchionni (46’ Iaquinta), Sissoko (83’ Poulsen), Marchisio, Nedved – Giovinco, Amauri. (81’ Trezeguet). (bench: Chimenti, Chiellini, De Ceglie, Ekdal). Coach: Ranieri.


AC Milan vs. Genoa


Lastly at the San Siro, AC Milan could have easily been more than 1-0 up at halftime. On-loan Galaxy midfielder David Beckham had a powerful shot well saved in the first minute, and Andrea Pirlo twice hit the crossbar with free-kicks.

The Rossoneri eventually opened the score in the 32nd minute, after Beckham surprised Genoa’s keeper Rubinho with a straight-to-goal free-kick from a very tight angle (all this under the eyes of England boss Fabio Capello). 1-0 Milan. The English midfielder (who came off in the second half for Mathieu Flamini) produced another strong performance after scoring Milan’s 4th tally in their week-end win over Bologna, which is set to add to the clamour for him to prolong his stay in the Serie A.

Ronaldinho came close to double the Rossoneri’s lead with a free-kick (after coming off the bench in the second half for Pato), before Argentine striker Diego Milito stunned the home crowd three minutes from time. 1-1.


 AC Milan
[Match Highlights]
 Genoa C.F.C.
GOALSCORERS: 33’ Beckham (M), 87’ D.Milito (G).
MILAN (4-3-2-1): Abbiati – Zambrotta, Maldini, Favalli, Jankulovski – Beckham (71’ Flamini), Pirlo, Ambrosini – Seedorf (79’ Senderos), Kaká – Pato (75′ Ronaldinho). (bench: Dida, Antonini, Shevchenko, F.Inzaghi). Coach: Ancelotti.
GENOA (3-4-1-2): Rubinho – Biava, Bocchetti, Criscito – Mesto, Milanetto, Juric, Modesto (40’ Jankovic) – Th.Motta (45’ Vanden Borre) – Sculli (64’ Palladino), D.Milito. (bench: Scarpi, Papastathopoulos, Ma.Rossi, Olivera). Coach: Gasperini.


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Posted in Catania, Genoa, Inter, Juventus, Milan, Serie A, Udinese |

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