Serie A Week 13 2012/13 Round-Up: El Shaarawy rescues AC Milan as Inter & Juventus drop points
For 43 minutes, Napoli were running riot. Marek Hamisk and Edinson Cavani were causing chaos to the delight of a roaring San Paolo crowd and looked like it was going to be another episode in a long running series entitled “Milanese Misery” starring a bunch of blokes wearing red and black looking forlorn. However, in any good episodic drama, there is a long running hero to maintain viewer optimism and figures. That hero came in the shape of Stephan El Shaarawy, whose wonderful looping finish gave Milan hope before doubling his and the Rossoneri’s tally later in the second half to nab a 2-2 draw for his side. Already leading the Serie A scoring charts with 10 goals, the Italian is once again providing the only shaft of light in a long, dark tunnel.
Elsewhere on the pitch, Massimiliano Allegri’s side displayed all the same problems that has plagued them so far this campaign. A frail defense once again out of sorts and embarrassingly slow, Philippe Mexes and Francesco Acerbi only competing with each other over who could be the worst defender rather than trying to stop Napoli’s fluid attack. The Partonopei can consider themselves unlucky to be held to a point in a game where they looked the better side overall, but once again failed to take advantage and put the game beyond an opponent when it looked easier to do so. Before El Shaarawy’s first goal Napoli had several chances to make it 3-0 and really put it out of sight, but failed to take advantage of their opportunities. Milan escape with their tail between their legs, whilst the Vesuviani rue what should have been.
Juventus and Inter also dropped points – the Champions being held 0-0 but not for the want of trying, Lazio enduring 21 shots on their goal but crucially just 4 were on target. It once again highlights the need for a top level marksman – Juventus can’t wait for Arturo Vidal every game. Dominant in all other areas of the game including winning 11 corners and holding nearly 60% possession, the inability to take advantage of their stranglehold in a football match was evident during last season’s stalemate filled unbeaten run – and looks to be a continuing trend this season. Putting 10 past FC Nordsjaelland and Pescara is one thing, but goals in tight games are worth their weight in gold and Juve just can’t get ahold of it.
Inter failed to take advantage of the league leaders slip, drawing 2-2 with Cagliari in an exciting encounter and once again sabotaging their chance at a Scudetto challenge. After seeing their Serie A unbeaten streak end at six after being beaten by Atalanta they failed to get a gain on Juventus again, the Sardinian side pulling themselves into the lead after going behind at the San Siro, before a Davide Astori own goal saved the Nerazzurri’s blushes. With Inter failing once again to build a consistent threat, they sit 4 points behind Antonio Conte’s side, which appropriately is the amount of points they’ve dropped in the last two matches. As a
Elsewhere, Fiorentina moved into third and deservedly so after another fine performance saw them thrash Atalanta 4-1. After the Bergamo side have beaten Milan and Inter already this season La Dea would have headed to Florence feeling confident. However, an Alberto Aquilani double and another goal from Luca Toni secured the victory for Fiorentina. Vicenzo Montella is already an early contender for manager of the season, and all without Stephan Jovetic, who remains injured. The Champions League race looks to be more compelling than the title race, and Montella’s purple warriors are a large part of that.
Sampdoria bought under-fire manager Ciro Ferrara back from the brink of losing his job with an potentially vital 3-1 derby win against Genoa at the Marassi, goals from the talented Andrea Poli and Emmanuele Icardi and a Cesare Bovo own goal capping off a famous victory for the newly promoted side. As for Genoa, it would appear that Luigi Del Neri has put another nail in his coffin. Sticking with the 4-4-2 that was responsible for his success at Chievo and Sampdoria is admirable, but frustratingly stubborn. A two man attacking partnership works well when the strikers in question compliment each other, ideally with contrasting but workable traits. Marco Boriello and Ciro Immobile are too similar to construct a fluid partnership. They make the same runs, look for the same spaces. The two man strikeforce works well when there is a creative second striker present similar to how Antonio Cassano played at Sampdoria under Del Neri, and ironically a man who would have been perfect for that role, Rodrigo Palacio – left the club in summer to join Inter. Del Neri is a respected coach, but unless results improve the former Juventus manager will seeing in the New Year looking for a new job.