Serie A 2012/13 Week 20: Old heads reign supreme once more in Italy
It was a weekend where experienced heads won the day. In a game where the trend is progressively edging towards younger teams, younger managers and older players are cast aside to make room, Serie A proved (as it often has in the past) that there’s no replacement for a calm head tough situations that only comes with years of playing. In contrast, teams that have chosen to rest their clubs ambitions on younger shoulders felt the sting of inexperience this weekend.
Antonio Di Natale, now at a positively ancient 35, scored twice to help Udinese come from behind to beat Fiorentina. La Viola lost out to Pescara the week before, and once again were undone.Vincenzo Montella’s vibrant young side took the lead thanks to an entertaining own goal, Gonzalo Rodriguez’s header bouncing off the underside of the crossbar and coming out, only to bounce off Zeljko Brkic’s head and into the net in comedy style.
Toto stepped to convert a controversial penalty after Alberto Aquilani tried to invoke the spirit of Benito Lorenzi by kicking the spot to make it more difficult to score. However, the veteran was typically unflappable and converted for his 166th Serie A goal. He went onto score from open play just after the hourmark and Luis Muriel made it three to continue Udinese’s perfect start to 2013.
Andrea Pirlo is another familiar face, whose experience has been emphasised further by the Tom Hanks in “Castaway” facial hair the Italian has cultivated. Pirlo was pushed aside by a Milan team who chose not to benefit from his experience in 2011, and has continued to lend his hand – or rather, his feet – to Juventus.
The 33 year old scored his 5th free kick of the season to give Juventus the lead against Parma as the Bianconeri once again looked sluggish in the final third, thus emphasising Il Maestro’s contribution on the pitch and the scoresheet. Parma maintained their unbeaten record at home with a solid performance after Nicola Sansone grabbed the equaliser to end the game 1-1. After the game Roberto Donadoni spoke of his desire to one day “land in a big club”, and the former Milan winger could well be attracting attention in the summer after his firefighting mission at the Ennio Tardini has turned into a genuine project.
Remember Alberto Gilardino? A forgotten striker in a Calcio world obsessed with the plights of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy, the 30 year old’s name has almost completely disappeared from view. The former exciting prospect turned Serie A journeyman bagged a brace as Bologna put four past Chievo, linking up with equally unassuming (and 30 year old) attacking midfelder Alessandro Diamanti to end his 13 game streak without a goal.
Inter beat Pescara 2-0 thanks to Rodrigo Palacio and Fredy Guarin, the 29 year Argentine giving Inter the lead after combining with the 30 year old Antonio Cassano and the 32 year old Christian Chivu to fire a shot past the 20 year old Matthia Perin, who has enjoyed(or suffered) the Gianluigi Buffon comparisons in recent weeks.
Lazio, the second best side in Serie A and led by 34 year old forward Miroslav Klose maintained second position after Sergio Floccari (31) fired them past Atalanta, while youth centred city rivals Roma lost 1-0 to Catania – who were wasteful without 36 year old Francesco Totti. One would argue that Er Pupone, responsible for 221 Serie A goals would have put away a few of the chances afforded to the likes of Matthia Destro.
AC Milan fielded a front three with an average age of 20, and lost experienced captain Massimo Ambrosini after 10 minutes but struggled to put passes together and even test Sampdoria, exuberance no replacement for positioning and tactical awareness – something not usually associated with excitable youngsters (in any profession). The game ended in a drab 0-0, befitting of the movie star style hype that preceded the Rossoneri’s teenage trident.
Napoli mix youth and experience to create balance and appropriately looked the most comfortable out of the top teams in the peninsula after a 3-0 victory over Palermo, goals from Christian Maggio (30), Gokhlan Inler (28) and young upstart Lorenzo Insigne further darkened the Palermo skies, rumours growing that Maurizio Zamparini will satisfy the urge of his notoriously itchy trigger finger to end Gian Piero Gasperini’s tenure in Sicilly. One will assume the next guy in charge will find himself relying on 33 year old Fabrizio Miccoli, who has always provided consistency in a club wrought with chaos.
Football is a young man’s game but it is fitting that Calcio and Italy, often criticised for the maturity of its players proves that it doesn’t matter if you have the young talent in the world, sometimes all you need is a little experience.
Cagliari 2-1 Genoa