One of the best matches of the year shows Serie A at its best.
Great football. Great theater. A Napoli win would put them into second place. The Stadio San Paolo was stuffed with unruly Napoli fans and the coolest Neapolitans with close associations to Aurelio De Laurentiis. Down 2—0 at halftime was a tragic circumstance given the occasion. The final 30 minutes of the match more than made up for this slow collective deflation.
But Napoli came back in the second half to tie the game at 2—2 and nearly went ahead a few minutes later. Christian Brocchi answered for Lazio with an incredible shot that hit the crossbar and deflected straight down just inside the goal line, but the referee didn’t award the goal. Brocchi was displeased to say the least.
A terrible call, which fortunately amounted to little, as Napoli scored an own goal two minutes later and Lazio was again in the lead. After fighting so hard to get back in the game, the blunder sent Napoli manager Walter Mazzari over the edge. Managers often scream, throw their arms up in the air in angered disbelief, but Mazzari picks grass.
The irresistibly likable and soft-spoken Leonardo insists that focus should not be on him, but on the game between two teams fighting for the title.
Ahead of the Milan derby, Leonardo had no need to sidestep his controversial—or traitorous—switch to Inter Milan. He didn’t avoid answering a question that tried to set him up or grow irritable and recede into an evasive answer that only recognizes a disconnected present.
Instead he offered a thoughtful response that preempted controversy by expanding the idea of loyalty beyond belligerent chauvinism. And was perfectly sincere about it:
There is huge expectation ahead of this match. Emotions are no different than when I played in the derby. I have absolute respect for my past and for my present.
A battle of film genres.
A bright sunny day in southern Italy was witness to Lecce hosting Catania. In other words, 1970s Italian crime drama meets its more glamorous 1960s predecessor.
Spoiler: Lecce manager Luigi De Canio, playing the gritty cop, bested the more fragile-looking and intellectually disposed Catania manager, Marco Giampaolo 1–0.
Inter Milan wins an unlikely treble. The year of the Special One.
Jose Mourinho is a special kind of illusionist. He makes pragmatism magical and he makes walking down stairs look like he's doing the walking down stairs trick.