News From Italy

Last updated : 25 January 2003 By Grandmaster Suck
Some thoughts on events in the Peninsula:

Serie A, Florentia Viola and Castel di Sangro.

Lazio continue to defy their off field problems and end the first half of the season in 2nd place in Serie A. The club announced losses of £8m for the first 4 months of this season, and have not paid some players for months, and yet won again in front of 46,000 fans. The club have postponed a meeting designed to finalise plans to agree the payment of salaries, as Italian law states that they must now revalue the club and agree plans to recapitalise accordingly. The club have only lost one match this season but now run a very
real risk of losing key players for nothing unless they can pay them some kind of salary.

Gabriel Batistuta is nearing completion of his move to Inter, where he says he will welcome seeing Crespo again despite rumours of personal problems at international level. He also denied reports he had problems with Capello. His arrival was too late to stop Inter's heavy defeat at Perugia where they crashed 4-1.

Milan end the first half as winter champions after a home win against
Piacenza. Pirlo and Rivaldo scored the goals at the San Siro.

Roma's poor run continued with a defeat away at Atalanta. Chievo Verona failed to maintain their excellent form as they were thrashed 4-1 at home by Juventus. Juve's form has been excellent and they move into 4th place, 5 points behind leaders Milan.

Results -

Atalanta    2   Roma    1   
Chievo  1   Juve    4   
Lazio   2   Udinese 1   
Milan   2   Piacenza    1   
Modena  0   Brescia 0   
Parma   2   Empoli  0   
Perugia 4   Inter   1   
Reggina 1   Bologna 0   
Torino  0   Como    0   

Standings - after 17 games

Milan   39

Lazio  36

Inter   36

Juve    35

Chievo  32

Bologna  27

In the Coppa Italia there was something of a goalscoring spree. Roma hammered Vicenza 6-3, helped by a Delvecchio hat-trick, to progress to the semi-final 8-4 on aggregate. The giallorossi will now meet beloved city  rivals Lazio. Mancini's men fought out a tense 0-0 draw with giant-killers Bari to go through 2-1 on aggregate. Milan added to Chievo's woes by thrashing them 5-2, progressing by the same score on aggregate. This keeps alive the rossoneri's hopes of winning the scudetto , Champions' League and Coppa Italia. The final place in the semi-finals will be taken by Perugia or Juve. The Umbrians won 2-1 in the Delle Alpi last week and at the time of writing the return leg is 0-0 in the first half.

Down in the darkness of Serie C2B, Florentia Viola, the old Fiorentina are three points clear at the top. They won 2-0 away from home last weekend against a team who achieved some fame in the 90's. Anyone who watched Football Italia or has read Joe McGinniss's book couldn't have helped but be impressed by the rise of this small town, population 5,000, to Serie B. Castel di Sangro have slipped since 1996/97 when they performed another miracle to stay in B. Unfortunately that season will also always be remembered for the tragic deaths of Danilo DiVicenzo and Pippo Biondi.
The current incumbents of the famous Castel di Sangro jerseys are toiling though. They are fifth from bottom of the league and a return to the oblivion of D is looming. Let's hope they save themselves and maybe even make it back to B again.