The hype surrounding Serie A 2018-2019 has been unprecedented in the recent seasons of the Italian top flight, but not many fans will have the will to celebrate at a goal scored on a football pitch this weekend, as the whole of Italy is still shocked at the tragedy that struck the city of Genova, where last Monday a motorway bridge collapsed taking 41 lives.
The purchase of Javier Pastore from Paris Saint Germain, and of young prospect Justin Kluivert from Ajax were not enough to put a smile on Roma supporters’ faces, as they were rather disappointed at the sales of some of their top stars like Radja Nainggolan and Alisson Becker, replaced by second-choice or mostly unknown players.
Juventus’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo will go down as the big hit of this summer’s transfer market. But other Serie A clubs have not been sitting on their hands. Napoli secured the services of coach Carlo Ancelotti, and now dreams of bringing back Edinson Cavani. Inter stole some key players from their direct opponents, whereas Roma decided to bet on fresh forces.
All Roma fans could hope for yesterday was an entertaining match, conscious that coming back from three goals should be an exception, not the rule. Still, the Giallorossi went as close as possible to another sensational comeback, prevailing over Liverpool 4-2 in the second leg of a Champions League Semifinal. The Reds advanced on a 7-6 aggregate score, but Roma left the Stadio Olimpico with their heads held high.
Liverpool had to score five times, led by a sumptuous Mohammed Salah, before Roma finally woke up and remembered they were playing a Champions League semifinal at Anfield Road. Late goals by Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti saved the Giallorossi’s face, leaving a feeble qualification hope alive, but it will take another remuntada for Eusebio Di Francesco to come back from last night’s 2-5.
For six minutes, Serie A 2017-2018 virtually ended in the hands of Juventus last Wednesday, as Massimiliano Allegri’s band were all set to increase their gap versus pursuing Napoli to nine points. But then, the unexpected happened in Round 33, with the Bianconeri conceding a shocking equaliser at Crotone, and Maurizio Sarri’s Azzurri managing to come from behind with Udinese.
Some football fans live their whole life waiting for a night like this. Then, that moment suddenly comes, when the irrational becomes possible, and football turns into epic. Roma did what seemed impossible to do: Beating Lionel Messi’s Barcelona 3-0 to push them out of the Champions League, and advance to the semifinals of the top European competition for the second time in their history.
The saddest of Serie A rounds, the one cancelled one month ago after the shocking passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, was recovered between Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven matches out of ten still needed to be played. The program featured a long-awaited Derby di Milano, but the stracittadina didn’t live up to expectations and ended with no goals. Therefore, the stage was stolen by Andrea Belotti and his three goals, which came at the end of a tormented season.
The Serie A amusement park reopened, and saw Juventus promptly jumping back to +4 over Napoli, as the Neapolitans were held to a tie by Sassuolo. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, overcame Milan 3-1 in the partitissima of the weekend. The thrilling battle for the top scorer title between Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi continued, with both bombers scoring twice to lead respectively Lazio and Inter to winning their games, and reducing their distance versus third-placed Roma.
“Gufare.” There is no better verb to express the sublime pleasure Italian football fans feel, when genuinely wishing the worst to their rivals. Former Roma legend Francesco Totti performed a top-class “gufata” yesterday during the Champions League quarterfinals draw, as he was caught by cameras wishing longtime rival Juventus to be paired with Real Madrid – which promptly happened a few seconds later.
A lone goal by Edin Dzeko put Roma past Shakthar Donetsk and booked them a ticket to the Champions League quarterfinals, a stage the Giallorossi have not seen in the last 10 years. The 2-2 aggregate score promoted Eusebio Di Francesco’s side on away goals. Roma did their homework and beat a weaker club on paper, but overcoming the Ukrainians was not a stroll in the part for the red-and-yellows.
This is a special edition of our A to Z column. As yesterday the whole world of football remembered Fiorentina captain Davide Astori after his tragic passing, we also thought to honor him our way. We highlighted some key moments in his career, the good and the bad ones, that made his history. We did it to remember and celebrate an unfortunate player and a good man, who delighted us with many of those football moments that remind us why we love this game.