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Monday, August 8, 2011

Coppa Italia Report+ Opinion On Serie A Contenders

Serie A is never an easy league to understand but to the untrained it appears shockingly easy to predict. The big northern teams rule the roost and we witnessed that with the Super Coppa Italia this Saturday, and many will predict one of the two participating teams to win the league, but are Inter and Milan title contenders and do they have an easy run-in to a Serie A title?

This Saturday saw a intense game that saw the debut of Ricardo Alvarez for Inter, the 23 year old Argentinian signed this summer. Inter took the lead, with a wonderful Wesley Sneijder free kick in the first half and looking strong, making the current champions Milan look old and limited on ideas on how to break the Inter defence. Both squads in the Coppa, have made limited big name signings, with Milan’s seemingly big name signing coming into the San Siro at the beginning of the summer in Phillipe Mexes. And obviously the controversial signing of goalkeeper Viviano from Bologna by Inter, hitting the press for a bizarre mix up in the blind ballot.

But onwards to the game. An encounter not many could really understand taking place in Beijing, forcing the players into a climate with limited air and maximum humidity,  and yet the authorities still expected a world class show down. Both sides were slow in starting and slow in creating and maintaining a pace, so I don’t feel this was a suitable game to create a sensible conclusion on an outlook for the season ahead. But as always, players stood out. In the first half, already mentioned talent Wesley Sneijder, was pulling the strings in the game from the off looking to distribute to Eto’o to break Milan’s aging defence. But his easiest distribution was simply to the two wide men Obi and Alvarez, both with scintillating pace and very impressive control, they seemed the most likely ones to break the Milan defence. Just before the game paused for half time, a quiet Ibrahimovic hit the post with a header, but the games paused and the same Inter control resumed with Obi, Sneijder and Alvarez looking to crack the defence again.

On the fifty ninth minute, Ibrahimovic equalised with a close range header after an improvised cross from Seedorf. Ibrahimovic patiently taking his time for the chance to score after few chances. Rattled Gasperini brought in changes and off came Alvarez and away went Inter’s control and seemingly shape. Milan brought on Pato and he started creating the space and chances, Alvarez had done for the opposition and on the 68th minute, hit the post from a sharp shot allowing Kevin Prince Boateng to slide and knock in the winner.

This game in my view on no certainty contains the winner of the Serie A. With Lazio, Roma, Juventus and what is seemingly the strongest Napoli side, since the days Maradona graced the Sao Paulo turf, all looking to take a league victory this year. Roma are an outfit looking to bring in youth and build for the future, and are seemingly the weakest of the ‘big guns’ , as they seemed to have sold more talent than they have brought in. Lazio have the impressive attacking options of Zarate, who could be sold soon, Cisse and Klose. Juventus adding to their weakness’ in the squad have brought in Quagliarella permanently and Reto Zieglar, from recently relegated Sampdoria.

But the true revolution seems to be at Napoli, with the already envious front line of Hamsik, Cavani and Lavezzi.  They’ve bolstered their midfield with the very impressive signing of Inler and the introduction of Mannini. Donadel and Santana have signed from Fiorentina and they are looking very strong contenders to run away with the league. They’ve lost none of their main stars and have a very strong base. They in my eyes are the dark horse that could sneak the league away from the warring Milan factions. 

Written by Danny Kay

Twitter: @DKay32