Whisper it. Napoli could be champions. It could be their year. Finally, after half a decade of Juventus dominance in Serie A, a team has emerged that could legitimately challenge for the title. Not just because Juve has stumbled, but because Napoli is a legitimately fantastic team. Along with Manchester City, Maurizio Sarri’s men are playing the best football in the world right now. Could it be enough to take them to the top?
A Mauro Icardi hat trick inspired Inter Milan to a 3-2 victory over AC Milan in the Milan derby on Sunday at the San Siro. The two Serie A Derby della Madonnina matchups last year ended in 2-2 draws and it appeared Sunday’s would as well after Milan scored a late equalizer, but Icardi scored his third goal with a penalty shot in the 90th minute.
In a professional career that began back in 1994 with a Lazio debut as a 17-year-old and lasted until as recently as 2014 with Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League, Italian defender Alessandro Nesta spent over 20 seasons defining the center half position.
Ahead of the weekend, the most eye-catchingest of matches was undoubtedly AC Milan versus Roma at San Siro on Sunday. It was one of those neat and tidy matches, games which allow us to check in with two teams who are competing with the same aim: finish in the top four, possibly threaten a title challenge.
When do we begin to take Milan seriously?
Before we continue with this week’s column, it’s essential that we pause for a moment. On Sunday evening, Andrea Belotti did something. Something fantastic. The goal he scored — a first-time overhead volley — deserves a moment of reverence. That’s why the man has a $120 million release clause in his contract. Let’s take a pause here and appreciate the goal.
Demetrio Albertini enjoys a legendary status amongst those who watched AC Milan and the Italian national team in the 90s, but the midfielder’s remarkable talent isn’t widely recognized outside of that sphere. As a ball-winning midfielder that orchestrated play from deep, Albertini doesn’t have a massive highlight reel with regards to goals, although he did score a number of long-range screamers and some gorgeous free kicks.
In the early days of football and throughout most of the 20th century, it wasn’t uncommon for players to stay at a club for their entire career. Legends such as Santiago Bernabeu, Giampero Boniperti, Lev Yashin and dozens of others all stayed with one team for decades. It was kind of the thing to do.
For those familiar with the wizarding sport of Quidditch, you’ll know that teams inconsequentially spend long periods of time throwing the Quaffle through goal hoops for the pittance of 10 points. This is all entirely meaningless because during this time, the seeker is attempting to catch the Golden Snitch, ending the game and giving his side 150 points.
In his heyday, everyone detested playing against AC Milan and Filippo Inzaghi. Physically and technically there was nothing about Inzaghi that stood out. He didn’t possess incredible pace or sublime technical skill, but he was an absolute menace nonetheless.