Strangers in the Serie A beware! The last week-end of the Italian league was really special for Italian players. Super Borriello scored a hat-trick (including a wonder-strike featured in my ‘Goals of the Week’ selection), thereby also seizing 1st spot in the topscorer charts. Meanwhile, Matchday 24 marked the renewal of players that everyone thought long-lost, and confirmed that a certain talent from Bari Vecchia has gotten back on the champions track for good. Nicola Apicella from KwSport tells us all about it.
Borriello was but one of the many happy surprises provided by Matchday 24, a week-end filled with unbelievable goals, the vast majority of which were 100% ‘Made in Italy’. Indeed, out of the 35 goals scored this week-end, only 5 of them carry the signature of players from abroad: Igor Budan (Croatia, Parma), Cicinho (Brazil, Roma), Hernan Crespo (Argentina, Inter), Mark Bresciano (Australia, Palermo), and ‘Rambo’ Leon (Genoa).
But speaking of ‘Leons’, the real lion of this week-end’s fixtures and main man behind his team’s 5-3 final scoreline vs. Udinese, was another Genoa player: Marco Borriello. To truly show off his skills, all the Genoa striker was waiting for was opportunity. This week-end, he got that opportunity and boy, were we in for a show!! 3 goals against Udinese, 15 goals in the Serie A this season, reaching King Trezeguet and his “I’ll-make-scoring-look-easy” friends. With his second hat-trick of the season, there’s no doubt Marco must have caught the eye of Roberto Donadoni (who had already called him for the Italy-Portugal friendly). There’s a little more than 3 months left until Euro 2008 begins, and with this week’s performance, the ex-Milan striker is in prime position to be part of the Azzurri expedition to Austria/Switzerland this Summer. Besides, with the non-so-brilliant form period which Alberto Gilardino and Fabio Quagliarella are going through, there’s really no reason why Donadoni should ignore a striker who, at 26 years of age, seems to have achieved full physical and technical maturity.
Then there’s Emanuele Calaiò. 38 goals in two and a half seasons with Napoli are a pretty good loot, but lately the ex-Torino striker is having it tough getting some playing time (what with players like Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marcelo Zalayeta doing so well in Southern Italy and all…). This week-end however, Zalayeta was out suspended and Lavezzi dealing with a nasty influenza virus, alllowing Calaiò to get a taste of a starting role again, one which the player will not so easily give up. Indeed, manager Edy Reja’s choice will be all the more difficult when the two unavailable strikers return, because 26 year-old Emanuele was the author of a double on Sunday. Two goals which gave Napoli the edge over Livorno, and which provided an away win that the Partenopei were running after for over 5 months.
And what about Roberto Stellone and Andrea Gasbarroni, both protagonists of the most entertaining match of the week-end, Torino vs. Parma? Stellone, age 30, has had a pretty decent career thus far, albeit one filled with multiple injuries. Roberto is a guy who doesn’t score many goals, but when he does score his efforts are always quite spectacular. He practically saved Walter Novellino’s job as a manager (recall his goal vs. Reggina), and since then the Torino coach has always kept him in the starting line-up. With extremely good results. As for Gasbarroni, his technical talent isn’t up for discussion. His continuity certainly is, but that’s the deal with unpredictable players like Alessandro: when they’re in a moment of form (such as Saturday at the Turin Olimpico) they can really wreak havoc. Two vital goals, one stunner on a free-kick effort.
Joining the ‘Italian scoring fun’ this week-end, teams like Cagliari (desperately clinging onto hopes of avoiding relegation, getting some help from Alessandro Matri), Reggina (lead by the Franco Brienza/Nicola Amoruso duo), Atalanta (Sergio Floccari), and Empoli (Sebastian Giovinco).
Let’s finish up with a tale of generations: youngn’s & oldies. First there’s Antonio Cassano, who scored Sampdoria’s lead vs. Inter and otherwise displayed another excellent performance. His head certainly seems to be back in order, and that is music for Donadoni’s ears. And then there’s the goalpoacher par excellence, returning for an appearance (a game-winning appearance I might add): Filippo Inzaghi provides the stoppage-time goal giving AC Milan the win vs. Palermo, and proves that no matter how old you get (Super Pippo’s 34), you still have a place at AC Milan (ok, cheap shot).
Anyways, with 30 goals out of 35 scored by Italians, matchday 24 is testament to the fact home-grown talent still has a big say in the Serie A. Sepp Blatter should be happy to be reading this, but as we all know… he hates Italy, so… FU Blatter, and Viva l’Italia!