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Serie A Latest: Roma Top as Juve and Milan stumble, Euro 2008 Review and Italian CL Preview

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Greetings Soccerlens readers! Your resident Serie A expert Marco Pantanella is here to tell you all about what’s hot & hip, in other words ‘what’s happening’ over in the ‘Old boot’ these days. 🙂

Here’s a round-up of everything that took place in the past 7 days:

1. Euro 2008 qualifiers, it’s a tight race in group B

I guess it would only be appropriate to begin with the games from the Euro qualifying round, in particular Group B where Italy, France, and Scotland are currently in a very tight spot.

The Italy-France clash was eagerly awaited by millions of football fans across the world, but in the end proved to be a big flop. Both teams were more scared of losing than they were ready to actually fight for the win, and as a result the game ended in a fairly lame 0-0 draw. The only thing that made the game any fun was watching it on GolTV (for all the American readers out there) with Ray Hudson‘s commentary.

Who else than than the fiery ex-Magpie from Gateshead could deliver pearls such as “Gennaro Gattuso is playing like a tyrannosaurus rex with hemorroids“. True quote.

On a sidenote, if you want to have a few laughs check out the match report of the game over at the Roma blog at The Offside.

FIGCLater in the week, the Azzurri traveled to Andryi Shevchenko’s homeland and managed to pull away the 3 points from a battling Ukrainian team. Sheva had the momentary tying goal after Antonio Di Natale’s initial tally, but the Azzurri snatched away the win in the 2nd half thanks to a double by the Udinese striker – 2-1 the final score.

Meanwhile, Scotland surprised everyone (and France coach Raymond Domenech in particular, back from his 1-match suspension for match-fixing accusations to the Italian federation) by beating Les Bleus 1-0 over at the Parc des Princes in Paris!!

Rankings in group B now sees Scotland 1st with 21 points, Italy 2nd with 20, France 3rd with 19. The Scotland-Italy clash over at Celtic Park on November 11 promises to be very interesting.

2. Serie A salaries revealed: Kakà and Roberto Mancini top the charts

Kaká, age 25Italy’s most famous pink newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport, published last week a list of the 494 player salaries and 20 manager salaries of Italy’s top football division.

So we found out that Kakà is the highest paid player in Serie A (earning €6.0m Euros per year, that is around £4.2m Pound Sterling) and that Inter coach Roberto Mancini leads the manager charts with €5.0m Euros.

Considering that Kakà is, with Cristiano Ronaldo, the prime candidate for the European Golden Ball award this year, it’s not surprising AC Milan is willing to pay top dollar to keep the Brazilian at the club.

Speaking of Brazilians, I wonder if Inter boss Massimo Moratti is biting his nails for his yearly €5.0m paycheck to shadow-of-his-former self Adriano. The Nerazzurri striker has yet to score for Inter this year.

3. Serie A week 3 results: Juve stumbles at home to Udinese and Roma take the lead

Finally, this week-end saw the return of Serie A fixtures after the Euro qualifiers last week, and brought some bad news for the Bianconeri and good news for Antonio Di Natale. The Udinese striker capped a wonderful week by scoring the lone goal in the Juve-Udinese clash, and after the double that brought the Italy their win against Ukraine, the Napoli-born player can call this a pretty cool highlight in his career. Juventus was quite unlucky during the match, seeing the woodwork deny most of their chances (two nicely taken Del Piero free kicks in particular).

Serie AMeanwhile, AS Roma seized on the opportunity of Juve’s stumbling to take the lone lead of the Serie A (with 9 points) , thanks to their 2-0 win over at Siena. Other Scudetto hopefuls Inter Milan and AC Milan had mixed success this week-end: the Nerazzurri found the home victory against Catania thanks to goals by Crespo and Cesar, while the Rossoneri weren’t so lucky.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti decided to give half of his squad a rest in light of the European duties in the Champions League this week, and thus benched (or worse, sent to the stands) regular starters Oddo, Jankulovski, Pirlo, Kakà, and Inzaghi. The Milan team found themselves battling a very determined Siena side, which even went on the scoreboard first thanks to ex-Boro striker Massimo Maccarone. However, they couldn’t hold the final Rossoneri assault and conceded the equalizing goal late in stoppage time, as Milan defender Alessandro Nesta slammed the ball into the net following a corner-kick.

Other notable highlights of the week, the absolute peach of a goal that Roma defender Juan and Atalanta striker Riccardo Zampagna scored. It’s worth a look, no, scratch that, make that several looks.

  • Juan’s backheel flick
  • Zampagna’s reverse chipped shot

4. Upcoming UEFA Champions League duties for Inter, Roma, Milan, and Lazio

UEFA Champions LeagueI’m sort of getting a little bit ahead of myself here, but as you all know the Champions League is set to begin today.

The task doesn’t seem overly strenuous for the Serie A clubs, as luck of the draw somewhat favored the Italian clubs on this occasion (the Milan clubs in particular).

For a full Italian-club Champions League preview, you can check out this post.

And for a full-blown Champions League preview, see the 07/08 Champions League Preview page here at Soccerlens.

That’s it for this week! I hope to see you all next week for some more smokin’ hot Serie A news.

Marco Pantanella writes on the mCalcio blog.

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