Serie A Returns!

After another off season that featured Euro 2008, Italy’s Serie A returned this past weekend. I was excited to see Roma being televised on Fox Soccer channel on Sunday. Unfortunately, Sunday, 6am came, I sat down by myself, a coffee in hand and damned if it was not AC Milan versus Bologna. I was upset after seeing Roma advertised.

All was not lost, it was good to see one of the perennial four teams that should be near the top of the table all season long, AC Milan. That team is LOADED from the back line to the front line. Especially with the addition of Shevachenko and Ronaldaniho, as well as Mattheu Flamini and Zambrotta. The talent is somewhat mind boggling, but the bigger question will be can the Rossoneri play as a TEAM?

There are many great individual players from Kaka to Pato, to Sheva and Ronny, but when all are healthy (Kaka was missing) there will have to be some hard decisions made as to the starting XI and who the offense will be centered around. Pirlo has run the Milan offense in past years, it will be interesting to see what sort of command that Ronny has on the field next to Pirlo or up front.

I think AC Milan will have chemistry issues, especially if somewhat is not getting the ball or or the playing time. We have seen it before on other teams that loaded with talent (Man U, Chelsea, Real Madrid, etc). This is why I don’t think AC Milan will raise the scudetto this year.

AS Roma returns with a few off season changes including John Arne Riise, Julio Baptiste and Jeremy Menez coming in on transfer which should solidify an already strong team. Now if Totti would stay healthy for a full season, they could truly challenge Inter for the scudetto. One thing Roma has is chemistry. They have not brought in high dollar transfers, but players who will fix a role for Roma. One part of their game that still lacks is their bench depth. Many young and inexperienced players who will need to play very well when called upon.

As for the other contenders I watched both Inter Milan and Juventus, both of whom drew this past weekend 1-1 to Sampdoria and Fiorentina respectively. I was not too impressed with the performances of either. I know Inter will be very tough as they have been in past years. I don’t see this draw to start the Mourinho era a blemish on their record. New manager, new system and a few new faces and Inter will be tough to take down.

Juventus continues rising to the challenge coming out of Serie B after being relegated due to scandal. They won the ‘B’ and were promoted and played well last year. This year they return a great squad with one of the best keepers in the world in Gigi Buffon. Solid on the offensive part of the game, but their defensive might be cause for suspect.

Regardless of what allegiance you have, mine is to Roma, it will be a great Serie A season I am looking forward to the thrills and excitement of the 2008-2009 season. As for the NFL…eh, not so excited.

Sunday’s Beautiful Game

Sunday is set up to be the biggest day in Serie A (Italian football for all you Yanks) in a long time. Inter Milan and AS Roma are only separated by 1 point, after Inter has choked away an 11 point lead that seemed insurmountable back in February. Since that time a string of losses and injuries have dealt Inter a tough hand.

AS Roma has been one of the hotter teams in Serie A, but at times have lose games against clubs they should have defeated. February Juventus beat Roma 1-0, a 1-1 draw versus Cagilari and another versus Livorno has not helped the Giallorossi.

Thankfully the last two weekends Inter has not been at their best, a 2-1 lose to city rivals AC Milan at the San Siro followed by a 2-2 draw versus Siena, a game Inter should have won but World Cup winner Marco Materazzi could not convert on a penalty kick.

Both games will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel, Inter Milan will play Parma, who is fighting to stay in the Serie A, while AS Roma will travel to Catania. Parma definitely has something to play for in hopes they won’t be relegated, but need help from Roma, who should defeat Catania.

This is why Serie A and football is “the beautiful game.”

Giallorossi Live!

Looking back on this football season, it has been a season of missed opportunities for AS Roma in Serie A. Unlike last season which saw Inter run away with the scudetto title, this year has been a banner year!

Roma  has seen some excellent play while on the pitch from the starting  eleven, lead by their captain, Francesco Totti. But it has  also been the brilliant managing of Luciano Spalletti. His timely substitutions and  tactics have seen Roma sore in the club ranking, as  the best team in  Italy and arguably one of the best in Europe.

While a Serie A  title is not out of the question, Roma must get the “monkey off their  back” in Champions League play against Manchester United, the best club based on Fox Soccer’s World Club Rankings. And who is number two? AS Roma!

Last season in Champions League play, Roma was embarrassed, 7-1 during the  second leg versus Manchester United and as luck would have it, these two giants face off again this season in CL play. Roma is  definitely in form currently, albeit a slip up last week in a loss to  city rival,  Lazio, 3-2 on a last minute goal.

As it goes now a strong showing  in league play has set Roma up with an excellent chance in Champions League play and an even stronger  finish to Serie A, as their remaining  fixtures are not all that challenging. Matches against Genoa, Sampdoria  and Udinese are all top  half of of the table, but all more then  winnable, regardless of how CL  play finishes up.