January 6, 2010

Curva Sud 2010 kickoff

Finally, with the winter break behind us, Serie A is back, and what better way to usher in the New Year than with a mid week clash on the Epiphany. Lets hope old Befana brings us Southern tifosi something extra special this holiday.

With the exception of Catania, the 2009 part of this campaign has been pretty good for the South. Our clubs, outnumbered 4 to 1 in the league, have more than held their own against their Northern and Central counterparts and represented us proudly. Consider that mighty Juventus have won 0 points out of a potential 12 against Southern teams. If the Old Lady from Turin doesn’t win its 28th Scudetto this season it has the South to thank for it.

Of course it wasn't all good news (Roberto Donadoni and Walter Zenga come to mind), but triumphing over adversity will make our success all the more sweater. I know it’s a long shot but can you imagine the euphoria if Catania dodges relegation and remains in Serie A? Sure it's not the same as winning the coveted Scudetto or a chance to compete in Europe but playing in Serie A, even poorly, is infinitely more satisfying than dominating Serie B. I guess you could say it's a "Better to serve in heaven than to rule in Hell" thing. Anyway, don’t count the Elefantini out just yet.

Napoli and Palermo, on the other hand, had high expectations going into the season and so far they have not disappointed. Both teams find themselves in good position and are hungry for more than just Europe; they’re vying for Champions League births.

What more can we say about Bari? They have been a revelation. Considering the level of respect they were afforded at the start of the season and the number of key injuries they had to overcome I don’t think anyone expected the level of success the Galletti have reached at this point and, more importantly, there is no reason to believe they will stop.

Enough fluff; let’s get to my predictions.

Napoli vs Atalanta
The realist in me knows that Partenopei’s ten game unbeaten streak will eventually come to an end. Inevitably all good things must; but will it be against struggling Atalanta this week? I don’t think so. On paper Napoli should be more than a match for the Bergamo outfit and Napoli skipper, Walter Mazzarri, has the lads confidence soaring. The Vesuviani will win all three points.

Bari vs Udinese
The Stadio San Nicola has been a fortress for Bari of late and if history has anything to say about this match it doesn’t bode well for the visiting Friulani. Having failed to get a winning result in 19 visits it’s safe to say that Udinese don’t fare well at the Nicola. Meanwhile, the Biancorossi are having a magical season, knocking off some of Serie A’s stiffest competition; they currently find themselves in ninth position. I predict the Apulian upstarts will not be content with their recent success and look to climb the table some more. Bari should win this match.

Catania vs Bologna
This match will be a dogfight. If Catania are to stay in Serie A this is one of the opponents they are going to have to overcome. Fourth from bottom, Bologna are teetering on the edge as well. The proud Felsinei won’t go down without a fight. Fortunately, the Sicilians are at home (Stadio Massimino) and should still be flying high over their unlikely victory against Juventus in Turin before the break. This will give them the necessary edge over their opponent.

Palermo vs Sampdoria
Little separates these two teams. In fact only one point, in Palermo’s favor, separates them in the standings. However, of late, Samp have been struggling a bit so perhaps the break was what the doctor ordered to regain their early form. Playing at home (Stadio Luigi Ferraris) will also work in Sampdoria’s favor. Even so, Palermo are also rested, in good form, and have a three game winning streak on the line. These are two good squads with a lot to play for so if for no other reason then because I want them to, I’m going to pick Palermo to win.

As unlikely as this may be, I predict a clean sweep for the South this round.

We’ve seen some pretty exciting Calcio so far this season but I suspect the best is yet to come.

Happy New Year. Forza Napoli! Avanti Sud!

By New York Scugnizzo

Results for week 18 (Added Jan. 6th 2010):

As predicted, the South dominated!  La Befana delivered big-time, making this holiday celebration a little extra special for us Southern tifosi.  I’ll be drinking more than just one shot of Strega in her honor this evening.

But first things first: 

• Napoli finally won in Bergamo.  Considering some of the drubbings meted out in recent years to my beloved Partenopei by Atalanta this 2-0 victory was especially sweet.  It was also good to see the Vesuviani win on the road again.  It would appear that their troubles playing away from the San Paolo are behind them.  This victory puts the Southern giants in fourth place and within striking distance of a second place finish. 

• Bari maintained their home dominance against Udinese.  Their 2-0 thrashing of the Friulani at the San Nicola proves the Galletti are for real.  This victory puts the newly promoted side in an impressive 8th place with a game in hand due to snow.

• Catania are not dead yet.  Their 1-0 victory over Bologna has given the Elefantini new life.  Sure, they’re not out of the relegation zone yet but the Sicilians are playing better football.  With a bit of luck and a string of good results they could see themselves through to salvation.

• I’m not terribly disappointed with Palermo’s 0-0 draw against Sampdoria.  Obviously I wanted a Sicilian victory but considering the quality of their opponent and playing away from home, the result is nothing to be ashamed of.  The Rosanero are still in the top half of the standings and are in good position to push forward.

I won’t dwell too long on today’s successes because we’re back in action this weekend, but for tonight, at least, I plan on enjoying the moment.  Thankfully, there’s a lot more calcio to play.

Week 19 preview:
Napoli vs Sampdoria
Bari vs Fiorentina
Palermo vs Atalanta
Catania vs Genoa