The too-often dormant beauty of the Serie A was on full display during the Napoli vs. Juventus match at the San Paolo on Sunday. It also reared its pretty face during the frenetic shootout between AC Milan and Udinese, which saw the sides combine for a season-high 8 goals.
The Napoli/Juventus match was a real treat to watch, particularly in the wake of the hugely disappointing Manchester United/Liverpool clash that morning and the perennially ugly and boring display of American football consistently purveyed by the Baltimore Ravens. The flow of Napoli’s attack was truly something to savor and behold and I cannot wait until they square off with Villarreal next month in the Europa League. Juventus also attacked with grace and pace as they sought to avenge their abject, humbling 4-1 home defeat to Parma in the midweek fixtures. Juventus had a handful of tasty chances in the first half, particularly a few from Carvalho Amauri, that required Napoli keeper Morgan De Sanctis to make several strong saves to keep his club ahead. Meanwhile the ball movement and service provided to Edinson Cavani was nothing short of breathtaking! Cavani headed in all 3 of his goals, which arrived to him on exquisitely weighted, perfectly-placed balls. His second header was a thing of beauty, as he powerfully headed in a sublime cross from Andrea Dosseni. Juventus was controversially denied a goal when Luca Toni was called for a foul on De Sanctis, which was too bad because who knows the heights this match could have reached if Juve were able to breakthrough and dent the score sheet in the first half. Cavani’s 3rd goal, a diving, swooping header, was set-up by an absolutely gorgeous ball from Marek Hamsik. The entire sequence was emblematic of the beauty and skill that I know the Italian game has in abundance, but is often too cynical and stubborn to reveal. I keep hearing rumors linking Cavani to “insert name of greedy, usual suspect colossus squad here” and I really, really hope he stays with this exciting, dangerous Napoli side.
As I mentioned, I foolishly wasted some of my Sunday afternoon watching the NFL playoffs, which robbed me of my chance to watch this insane AC Milan/Udinese match in its entirety. I watched and fell in love with Milan during their artistic early season run of form that actually turned out to be Ronaldinho’s last gasp in Italy. The interplay between Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato in the Round 1 match against the newly-promoted Lecce was simply awesome and kept me watching Serie A for weeks, hungry for just a little more of what I’d seen that afternoon. Pato’s brilliance was again on display this match against Udinese, but his fellow countrymen was long gone. I tuned in when it was 3-1 Udinese and watched as Thiago Silva’s longball was deflected in to give Milan a chance at 3-2. The goals kept coming as Pato equalized only to see late substitute German Denis restore Udinese’s lead at 4-3. I’d foolishly switched the channel and actually missed Ibra’s late, late equalizer. Shame on me. The second half of this match was non-stop action. More please.