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    Juventus, the club that Italians either love or hate. My impression of the club is very positive from the outside. Past bribes aside, this is a European club with a great blue print for success. Ok some might say that they have more money than their competitors, but still the club is run very very well. They have an excellent chain of command at the club from top to bottom whilst also having the benefit of a stadium of their own to maximize money generated from ticket sales etc. When it comes to matters no the pitch all I can really say is… what a team they have. Just mentioning a few names, Higuain, Mandzukic, Dybala, Pjanic, Alex Sandro and Matuidi are top top quality and as always they will be huge favorites for the title this season. This weekend in Turin Juve had what you might call an easy day at the office. Don’t get me wrong their opponents Chievo pushed quite a bit, but were kept to mainly shots from outside the box and were unable to break through a consistently solid defense. On Juve’s side they had good control of the game, decent penetration and when the moments arrived their quality shone through. A pretty easy 3-0 win. They will have more difficult days in future.

    Not something you see very often these days in southern Europe the much anticipated game between Sampdoria and Roma was postponed due to the threat of heavy rain in Genoa. Apparently, the city council met on Friday and issued an orange weather alert – the second highest warning – closing roads near the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. You would have to think it was serious threat to take such action, but perhaps they were just overly concerned with the amount of potential “bad hair days” that could have been had should the weather take a turn for the worse. Nobody wants to see that many Italians looking wet and ragged. So in my opinion, GOOD CALL.

    I don’t think many analysts of the game would have chosen Inter Milan as their pre season tip for winning the Serie A title however they have had a very solid start to the season. That continued this weekend with a comfortable winner over Serie A newcomers S.P.A.L. One of the minnows of Italian football their rise to the Italian top league since being re-founded in 2005, going bankrupt again and then being re-founded once more in 2012 has been nothing short of miraculous and they can go through this current season just enjoying themselves with no pressure of expectation. On Sunday Inter were too strong for their opponents and cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win. One point of the game which I found extremely interesting was during the penalty decision for the first goal. Joao Mario was clipped while streaming into the S.P.A.L. box and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. The referee then proceeded to head to the touch line for a second look using the newly implemented VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system which ultimately confirmed his original decision. It was the first time I had actually seen the new system in action and whilst it took a little longer than most would like it wasn’t altogether intrusive at all.  I think in future with a little fine tuning it will be a positive addition to the game. It is currently in active use in the Italian, German and Portuguese leagues and will be used during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Positive steps forward are always a good thing.

    There was another game in Italy affected by the weather this weekend. The kick off between Lazio and AC Milan was delayed by an hour after flash flooding in Rome saw fans facing big challenges to get themselves to the ground, but it seems like the weather did not affect the Lazio players at all as they hammered Milan 4-1. Funnily enough game stats suggest that AC Milan had more of the play and chances throughout the ninety minutes, but unfortunately for them and their fans a dozy five minutes on either side of half time cost them 4 goals and any chance of making a game of it. AC Milan fans will have great expectations for the season ahead with new owners and a good amount of cash laid out in the summer, but if they want to achieve anything this year they will have to defend a lot better than they did in Rome. Fans don’t despair though, it just so happened that on the day Ciro Immobile was on frikkin fire and sometimes these things can just happen.

    Other mentions from Italy, Fiorentina completely smashed Verona in Verona, but I guess three goals in the first 24 minutes is going to take the sting out of any game. It ended up 5-0, a good win for the Viola. Be interesting to see if they can improve on what was a pretty good season last year. Verona, just up will find it difficult to stay in the big leagues this time around. In some other relatively low key matches Atalanta beat Sassuolo 2-1, Cagliari beat Crotone 1-0 and Udinese beat Genoa 1-0. Nothing for me to really report on those games and I get the feeling after reviewing the details of each that I may have slipped into a self induced coma had I made the decision to try and watch any of them.

    In the later games on Sunday you would have clearly expected an easy win for Torino against a Benevento side who finished the season 5th in last seasons Serie B, but I can assure you this was definitely not the case. Although Torino had the majority of possession, the rest of the game was pretty even and Benevento had several chances to win the game. Of course they didn’t and Torino scored a 92nd minute goal to give Torino the win and truly break the hearts of all involved with Benevento. Shame, I love a good underdog story. In the later match Bologna huffed and puffed a little, but in the end lacked an end product. Don’t get me wrong, Bologna had chances and probably have been ahead early in the second half, but from there on they kind of fell away from the game. Especially in the last 30 minutes when Napoli put on the after burners and cruised to victory. Final score 3-0.


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