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December 2, 2011
 

Serie A Matchday Preview: Week 13

Did that great Napoli-Juventus tilt on Tuesday properly whet your appetite for Italian football?

The 3-3 goalfest, which saw Juve come back from two goals down twice to remain undefeated,¬†will hopefully prove to be a fantastic appetizer to this weekend’s main course: with a slate of games that could end up being full of surprises.

Genoa welcome champions Milan for some Friday football and with key injuries in defense to Nesta and Abbiati, the Rossoneri will need to be alert to Genoa’s danger: namely¬†Rodrigo Palacio.

Il Grifone are a maddeningly inconsistent squad but have yet to lose at home this season.

On Saturday, and Inter side which just scraped by Siena 1-0 last time out, might have just the amount of wounded pride to put in a great effort at home and knock Udinese off the pace a bit at the top.

Ok. So she's an Inter fan. No big deal. Don't judge me.

Elsewhere, I think WNF’s Chievo side, thrashed by Milan this weekend, will want to prove its top-flight pedigree and surprise upstarts Atalanta (who yes, are actually behind the Flying Donkeys in the table due to those pesky match-fixing penalties).

Also on Sunday, Roma and Palermo face tricky trips to Florence and Parma respectively. Both towns have squads that I expect to both sit comfortably mid-table at the end of the year despite some early struggles.

Major Storylines

He’s Baa-aack!

Hey! It’s our old pal Silvio!

Confirming what was never really in doubt, former Italian PM Berlusconi declared his intentions to return to the presidency of AC Milan. The 75-year old media magnate wasted no time tooting his own horn:

”I am the president who has won more than any other in the history of football. Santiago Bernabeu, who is the second in that list, didn’t win half the trophies I did.”

While I’m not sure that’s technically true, the fact remains that Milan have won 28 trophies during his 25 year reign, including 5 European Cups.

They have some catching up to do this year, but hopefully with a stable new contract for Allegri and some ince cash infusions from a bored Berlusconi the Rossoneri will rule Italy once more.

Now that the lockout is over, when will Kobe have time to catch up on calcio?

Serie A Exports

Lots of Serie A clubs are looking to offload unneeded talent in the transfer window and if you ask me there are some good bargains to be had. Many of these want-away stars will be looking outside of Italy for future employment.

Juve are shopping Amauri, Iaquinta, and most notably Milos Krasic and each member of the trio has been linked abroad.

AC Milan might be looking to offload Taiwo already, and former Rossoneri stirker Borriello might join him on the train back to France.

Inter also have some money to offload from their payload and the effective Milito and Muntari should also be up for grabs.

Player Spotlights: Marco Rigoni (Novara)

Rigoni had a promising youth career with Juventus and was capped for Italy at the U-17 and U-18 levels. But he made just one appearance for Juventus in 1999 before beginning a long odyssey through Serie B.

At 31, he may have finally found a place to shine, as he was an integral member for the Novara side that drastically improved and won promotion. He has now scored 5 Serie A goals and also leads the Biancoazzurri in assists with 4.

With Rigoni contributing from the midfield, Novara has had a surprisingly potent attack. If they can just figure out how to defend (they are currently Serie A’s worst) they might just find a way to survive.

I think this must be Mutu's MySpace photo.

Adrian Mutu (Cesena)

For all his problems, Mutu remains the Seahorses’ best scoring option. His contribution has been key in their recent 2 game winning streak. 2 games!

A brace from the 32-year old Romanian eased Cesena past Genoa last weekend and if anyone in their side is going to beat Buffon on Sunday, I think it will be the volatile veteran.

Claudio Marchisio (Juventus)

Juve’s 25-year old Italian international has been rampant this season. Marchisio has spent his his entire career through the youth level with the Old Lady, and the Turin side’s efforts and time spent with the young man now seem more than well spent.

Marcello Lippi recently sung his praises, comparing him to England’s Gerrard and Lampard in their primes. I think the comparison is apt. Marchisio is hard-working, gritty, and versatile.

In what has been Italy’s best midfield, Marchisio has still found a way to stand out.

Pick of the Week: Genoa v. AC Milan

Which Genoa side will host Milan today? The side that beat Lazio early in the season and matched Juve 2-2 in their stadium, or the side who failed to dispatch of Lecce at home and was soundly beaten by Cesena last weekend?

At home it’s more likely to be a solid Genoa side. Palacio, their main threat is easily identified. Dealing with him isn’t always as simple.

Thiago Silva will need to be strong as usual without his main partner Nesta.

Allegri faces a choice between Pato and Robinho to partner with in-form Ibra.

I think this is the kind of game where Milan get a scare early but ultimately prove their superior strength.

1-3 to the champions!

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