The biggest match in European Soccer this weekend will undoubtedly be the Derby della Madonnina or as most people know it, the Milan Derby (The best derby game in Europe in terms of quality) between Inter, the reigning five times in a row champions, currently fourth in the Serie A and going in after three matches without a win (two consecutive league draws and one Champions League loss), and AC Milan, league leaders with 23 points, 3 above Inter, despite all the problems the team is having.
Inter do have the better side, although it seems that under the hands of Rafa Benitez it’s going to be hard for pretty much the same squad of players Mourinho had last year to capture another treble. Mourniho squeezed the maximum out of his chaps last season, probably neutralizing a bit someone like Eto’o who flourishes in attacking play and not as a right back, but it brough out the best of almost everyone else last year. Pretty much everyone but Eto’o (8 goals in 11 matches) were better last year.
On the redder side of Milano the fans aren’t exactly pleased with Allegri’s side, but being ahead of Inter in the tables is something of a rarity in recent years. The star studded attack hasn’t gelled yet, and maybe Pato-Ibra-Robinho and Ronaldinho can’t co-exist, but the wins are still coming, in unimpressive fashion.
Inter have won the last three derbies, but I’m seeing a draw or an AC Milan win tomorrow. There’s something positive about Milan this year, and despite Pato missing the game and Inzaghi’s (career ending) injury, they’re coming in a bit hotter. Inter aren’t as bad as the draws with Lecce and Brescia suggest but it is clear that this isn’t the same team that ruled conquered Europe last season. Sneijder, Pandev and Eto’o’s performances will be the key for Inter making me swallow my words.
Another big game will be Juventus – Roma, always a very fiery fixture, with Roma going to Turin red hot, backed by four consecutive wins, including that huge derby win over Lazio on Sunday (2-0) and three players – Vucinic, Borriello and Menez playing brilliant soccer of late. Juventus? Not too bad. They haven’t lost since September and have survived the Krasic ordeal stronger, mostly thanks to that win over AC Milan. Roma beat Juventus in Torino last season, but Juve were a crumbling team last year. This season and especially in recent weeks, they seem to be potential challengers for Inter’s title. Juve win in my opinion.
Lazio, who are suddenly slipping after all the praise before the derby loss, will face Napoli, in Rome, in another very interesting encounter. Two teams you never know what you’ll get out of, but an entertaining early noon time game is assured. Winner? Lazio are at home, but signs of trouble usually send the Roman clubs to a very negative spiral, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Napoli making the way down south with 3 points.
Of things that trouble my sleep (well not really, but they do piss me off a bit) – Roy Hodgson and his boys failing to win at Wigan. A brilliant start was followed by terrible 60 minutes in which Liverpool, for no apparent reason, just dropped back and let the home side, considerably inferior in talent, take over the DW. Gerrard missed an awesome opportunity, rattling the crossbar around the end, but still, it’s a waste, especially with Torres finding some joy in football again.
The Manchester Derby was complete rubbish. United are clearly entering a slump. Maybe a short one, but Ferguson won’t be winning any titles this season, at least it doesn’t look like it. There’s talent, but not enough to consistently dominate. And the defence? Well it didn’t have much trouble against a disappointingly defensive Manchester City side, that despite all the cash spent seem to be completely reliant on one fiery lad from Argentina, Carlos Tevez. Carlos come back, or City will bore us to death. And what is Bellamy doing in Cardiff? Never understand why teams give up on him.
La Liga? Just passing the time till November 29th, when another chapter of the biggest soccer match in the World takes place. For some reason a lot of ruckus was made about the game being played on a Monday instead of the weekend because of the local elections. Who cares. As long as Mourniho doesn’t pull what he did with Inter last season at the Camp Nou (and with that I also mean I hope Barcelona win), any day is fine by me. The rest of the Spanish league is just trailers and commercials, helping us pass the time between the two big matches, that have been going Barca’s way the last two seasons.
Good word? Dortmund. Just beat Hamburg 2-0, and despite Kagawa making a terrible attempt at faking an injury and getting someone sent off (and I do hope he gets banned for it), it’s great to see this team with their amazing fans dominating the Bundesliga again. Not sure Bayern won’t be back on top though. Too much talent on that side to not challenge for the title in the funnest league in Europe.