venerdì 30 agosto 2013

From Italian serie B to the Champions League, Piovaccari finds glory in Romania

He scored 3 goals in qualifying matches against Vardar Skopje and Legia Warszawa. Steaua fans fell in love with him.

In these days, Italian media celebrate him as a case of brain drain, saying: "No one is a prophet in his own land". They look ready to kill the fattened calf if he returned home, describing his biography as the metaphor of contemporary Italy, a country that doesn't invest in its talents.  And yet, until yesterday, only seriously addicted football fans knew that some years ago (2010-2011) - in Cittadella, small football club in Northern Italy - there was the Serie B Top Goalscorer (23 goals in 39 matches).

We are talking about il pifferaio (the Piper) Federico Piovaccari, football player that travelled around Italy, playing for 10 different clubs (Vittoria, San Marino, Triestina, Treviso, Ravenna, Cittadella, Sampdoria, Brescia, Novara, Grosseto). In his youth career, he played an unforgettable season (2003) with Inter's primavera, scoring 19 goals. Since that moment, he dreamt to be some day on the stage of San Siro, but he never played a match in Serie A. But it's always time for a change and he let matters take their time.

Piovaccari is the new striker for Steaua București (on loan from Sampdoria). Federico - born 29 years ago in Gallarate, a stone's throw from Milan - in a few days (1st September) will celebrate his birthday with new team mates, the happiest in his career. In August, they won the Romanian Supercup (Steaua beat 3-0 Petrolul Ploiești) and by his 3 goals in qualifying matches, the Red and Blues (European Cup Champion in 1986) booked a place in the group stages of Uefa Champions League.Before the draw, he said: «I'd like to play at Camp Nou», but Romanian Champions will play versus Chelsea, Schalke 04 and Basel (Group E). Piovaccari could debut at Gelsenkirchen on the 18th of September against the German Miners and, in the second match, face Mourinho's Chelsea at the National Area of Bucharest. During the last match, he will visit Stamford Bridge.For the moment, Camp Nou is a possibility that can't be evaluated. But for The Independent Piovaccari is the "key player" of Steaua and "could be a surprise package in the group stage".

Good luck, Federico!

ANDREA MECCIA - Thanks to our reviewer Noemi Stacconi

martedì 27 agosto 2013

Milan suffers Verona's curse: 1973, 1990 and last saturday

When the rossoneri visited the Bentegodi, the Milanese side found themselves on the wrong side of history

Saturday afternoon. In the first act of Serie A Tim, Milan loses 2-1 to Hellas Verona. For the gialloblu - one Scudetto in their history (1984-1985) - it was the first match in Serie A after eleven years of hardship between the second and third division. Notwithstanding this unforgettable debut, the main objective of Mandorlini's team will be to stay in Serie A. Luca Toni - 36 years old striker, World Champion in Germany 2006 - scored a double against the rossoneri and will represent the ace up their sleeve. At the same time, we know that Massimiliano Allegri's teams usually have a hard time in the first part of the season. Apart from that, can Milan supporters smile after this defeat? This could in fact be the odd paradox of the first Serie A Tim match day. Yes, because matchups between H. Verona and Milan have a special place in the history of Italian football and very often when Milan visited the Bentegodi in the final part of the season, the Milanese side found themselves on the wrong side of history.

1972-1973 - On 16 May, Milan wins the Coppa delle Coppe (UEFA Cup Winners' Cup) against Leeds United in Thessaloniki. Four days later, Nereo Rocco's Milan can also win its tenth Scudetto (the so called “Scudetto della stella”, as every club in Italy is awarded a star for every 10 league titles). The last match will take place in Verona, against Hellas. On the stands, 30.000 rossoneri supporters. Juventus and Lazio are tied for second place in Serie A with Milan 1 point ahead. The Bianconeri face Roma at the Olimpico and Lazio visit Napoli. Alfred Hitchcock himself couldn’t have written a more thrilling ending. At the half, H. Verona leads 3-1. At the end of the match H. Verona beats Milan 5-3; Roma-Juventus 1-2 and Napoli-Lazio 1-0. Juventus are crowned Italian Champions thanks to a last-minute goal. The press will coin a new definition, the Fatal Verona.

1989-1990 - Arrigo Sacchi's Milan is the best team in the world. Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard are the brightest stars of a star-studded group. Their main opponent for the Scudetto is Ferlaino’s Napoli, led by Maradona, Careca and Alemão. Milan and Napoli have 47 points apiece, and the last two matches of the season will be breathless. Napoli will play away against Bologna and at home against Lazio. Milan, on the other hand, must go back to play a decisive match in Verona - the Fatal - before the last match against Bari. Hellas is in a bad table position and will put up a fierce struggle; moreover History is on their side. In the first fifteen minutes, in Bologna, Napoli scores three times with Careca, Maradona and Francini (2-4 the final result). At the Bentegodi Stadium, Milan leads 1-0 at the end of first half. But in the 63rd minute, Sotomayor, Argentinian defender, jumps very high and scores with a header. Rijkaard and Van Basten are sent off in a questionable way, before the deciding goal by Pellegrini in the 89th minute. Milan lost 2-1. The following Sunday, Hellas would be relegated to the Second Division, Napoli would defeat Lazio to be crowned Champion for the second time and Milan would burst into tears. Verona was again fatal for the Devil.

2013-2014 - Now, we just have one question for Il Diavolo: to be or not to be happy after this first match? But then again, Verona is the city of Romeo and Juliet and there’s no time for soliloquys. The Fatal Verona can be filed already. It was only the opening act of a year-long script that is still to be written.

domenica 25 agosto 2013

Rafa the second: Benitez tries again to win in Italy

The Spaniard coach has a great chance in Napoli after the bad experience at Inter

Marca, spanish Daily paper, said: "He was born to sit on the bench". In his career, he achieved significant national and international honors with Valencia, Liverpool and Chelsea. But now, Rafael "Rafa" Benítez wants to make history in Italy, in Serie A league. This will be his second italian experience, this time as manager of Napoli. He replaces Walter Mazzarri, who won the Italian Cup against Juventus (2012) and in the last season took Napoli to the second place in Serie A. In the 2013-2014 season, Mazzarri will guide Internazionale, the first italian team of Rafa. Crossed fate.

The Spaniard joined Internazionale after the departure of José Mourinho, winner of the first "treble" in Italian history (season 2009–2010). It was an hard experience to replace the unforgettable "Special one". In seven months, as coach of Nerazzurri, Rafa won Supercoppa Italiana (August 2010), lost to Atlético Madrid Uefa Super Cup and won Fifa Club World Cup against TP Mazembe, congolese football club. In December 2010 the team had only slumped 6th in Serie A, and some days before Christmas, Internazionale and Benitez separated "by mutual agreement".

Now Benitez can live an important experience in the shade of Mount Vesuvius, looking to the sea of the Gulf of Naples. Benitez felt at one's ease in the city immediately. "I'm latino" - he said - "but I'm also very conceptual". Napoli will restart with an important group and with his methodical philosophy. The polyglot Benitez is known as "an hard worker, tireless and 100% perfectionist". If Mazzarri liked 3-5-2 system of play, Benitez in this pre-season tried different solutions, but for the first friendly march at San Paolo Stadium (3-1 against Galatasaray and about 55.000 supporters) he chose his classic 4-2-3-1. If Edinson Cavani (78 goals in 104 matches with Napoli) joined Paris Saint-Germain - that used a payout cause of €64 million - Napoli replaced "El Matador" with the argentinian Gonzalo Higuaín, Real Madrid striker.

"El pipita" is feared for "for his speed in the last third of the pitch and his great striking ability". The other new football players (Pepe Reina, the goalkeeper; Raul Albíol, central defender José Maria Callejon and Dries Mertens, attacking midfielders) will meet a group whose leaders are Paolo Cannavaro, the captain, and the slovak Marek Hamsik. The football players see Benitez as a teacher.

For Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli Club President, Benitez is "a leader" who captivate with his capacity of convincing by his original point of view on football. Benitez and De Laurentiis want to get Napoli to the top in Italy and in Europe. The main opponent in Italy will be Juventus. The city of Napoli wants to dream and to win. If Benitez didn't have a Merry Christmas in Milan, he could have a crackling one in Napoli. Thanks to artisans Rafa Benitez is already a character of "presepe", the nativity scene.

Higuain: last heir of the Argentinian dinasty

From Sivori to el Pipita. Higuain is the last heir of the Argentinian dinasty

Between Napoli and Buenos Aires there is a special feeling. We know that and probably  it's no coincidence. The Italians immigrants in Argentina were called tanos, diminutive of napolitanos. By this verbal expression it was "possible" to indicate indiscriminately all southern Italians that populated the streets of Argentinean cities. While tanos carried with them the sounds and the words of Neapolitan song, on the banks of Río de la Plata, the Tango Music took origin. Goodness knows if it's a "musical matter". For sure  the Argentinean football players have an important places in the history of SSC Napoli.

BRUNO PESAOLA - Nicknamed Petisso for his small stature, he was a very speed left winger. He was born in 1925 in Buenos Aires. His parents were immigrants from Italy. In Argentine he played for River Plate and Dock Sud. In Italy for Roma, Novara and Genoa. His longest stay was with Napoli (240 matches, 27 gol). As coach of partenopei, he won an Italian Cup (1962). He said: "I'm a Neapolitan who was born in a foreign country". The municipality of the city bestowed on Petisso honorary citizenship. He stills lives in Napoli.

OMAR SÍVORI - He was born in Argentina in an Italian family in 1925. When he played for River Plate, he was nicknamed El Cabezón, the man with a bighead. When he moved to Juventus, other Argentines came to Italy (Humberto Maschio, Bologna; Antonio Angelillo, Inter) and the trio were nicknamed "the angels with the dirty face". With bianconeri team he won 3 Serie A, 2 Italian Cups, scoring 135 goals in 215 matches. In 1965, when he joined to Napoli, the supporters said: "Sívori, you are my life". 63 matches, 12 goals, a second place and a Coppa delle Alpi (Cup of the Alps). He had audacious dribbling skills, a vindictive temperament and was a brilliant left-footed player . When he died, in 2005, The Telegraph said: "He was a volatile blend of wizardry and devilry, of sublime audacity and sheer spitefulness. His sole object on the pitch appeared to be to hoodwink, to provoke and to humiliate both rivals and the referee. His hallmark was the nutmegging of defenders - pushing the ball between their legs - but his repertoire also included dazzling feints and flicks, superb dribbling, and powerful shooting from distance". In Italy, the football-addicted remember him as "the Maradona of the Sixties".

DIEGO ARMANDO MARADONA - An encyclopedia will not be sufficient to explain the Maradona era in the city of Napoli, the deep and sometimes "dangerous" relation of Diego with the city. When Diego visited the San Paolo stadium for the first time (5 July 1984), 80.000 supporters screamed his name. He immediately became a star. With Maradona, Napoli won his only Serie A Championship (1986-87; 1989-1990), an Italian Cup (1987), a Uefa Cup (1989), an Italian Supercoppa and twice took Napoli to a runners up spot in serie A. In those years Serie A had the biggest football stars in the world. In the day of first scudetto, el pibe de oro said: "For the first time, I won something at my home". When Napoli won Uefa Cup against Stuttgart, in German stadium thousands of Italian immigrants lived that moment as their collective revenge. When Italy lost to Argentina the semi-final of Italy '90 Fifa World Cup in Napoli, it is said that Neapolitan people supported the team of Maradona. Diego is the best ever scorer in Napoli's history (115 goals). His last match at San Paolo was in 1991. When Maradona dies, we will outline a balance of this incredible history.

EZEQUIEL LAVEZZI - "The Argentinean dream goes on" said supporters when Lavezzi from San Lorenzo moved to Napoli in 2007. They watched his bravery on YouTube and they fallen in love of his speed and fantasy, in spite of the fact El pocho was not a left-footed like Sívori  and Maradona. After five seasons with azzurri (156 matches, 38 goals), Lavezzi moved to Paris Saint Germain.  Anyway Lavezzi era coincides with Neapolitan Renaissance with the President De Laurentiis. Napoli signed Lavezzi after 2 years in third division and one in Serie B. With El Pocho, Napoli won an Italian Cup and got back to Uefa Champions League after  about 15 years. He will be remembered for his two goals against Chelsea at San Paolo.

GONZALO HIGUAÍN - El pipita has a double heritage in the city of San Gennaro: to honor Argentinean history and take the place of Edinson Cavani in the heart of supporters. El Matador moved like Lavezzi to Paris Saint Germain after three excellent season with azzurri, and De Laurentiis wanted the Real Madrid striker to win the Serie A and create a good impression in Uefa Champions League. For the supporters, Higuaín is a dream come true, the diamond point in the team of Rafa Benitez. El pipita doesn't need endorsements. He scored 107 goals in 190 matches in the biggest football club in the world, Real Madrid. Napoli welcomed him with open arms and an Argentinean flag.

A safe refuge for tifosi from all over the world (on line since 24 th August 2013)

Ok, this is not the Serie A of Platini, Maradona, Falcao and Van Basten anymore. But we love it anyway. And, furthermore, we are optimistic. After years of decadence the Italian championship is starting see the light at the end of the tunnel. Top players are coming back, people have never ceased to support, season tickets as well as revenues are going up. And we want to tell you this story. Italian football has often been somewhat protectionist: for a supporter from abroad, it is hard to read analysis, details, stories of Serie A in English. Italian is not an easy language, and life, for foreign tifosi, is sometimes hard. Serieaddicted wants to be a safe refuge for them.

Italian football is still competitive. And it has strong roots and a long tradition. Its story is full of beloved players, damned talents, great coaches, crazy and wise chairmen, picturesque characters. Our goal is to spread this 'heritage' as far as possible. But we want your contribution as well. We have collaborators from England, South Africa, Ghana, Australia and Argentina. And we'd love to have more and more. Because we are really curious to know – and to read on this website – the way supporters from abroad see Serie A.

In these pages you will notice that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We try to be as ironic and easy going as possible but without losing in quality. Editors of Serieaddicted will not hide their passion for their favorite team. We are tifosi as well, and we don't like to make a fool of you. But we can make a promise: facts will never be made up.

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