In Italian football, an “allenamento di rifinitura” is the final training session before a match. In the Cult of Calcio’s Rifinitura column, we take a look at what the weekly Serie A menu has to offer and in what condition the teams are in.
Blue and Black vs. Red and Black. The Snakes vs. The Devils. Inter vs. Milan. What better way to end the weekend than to watch football’s biggest derby, the Derby della Madonnina!
Inter – Milan
“We will call ourselves Internazionale because we are brothers of the world,” declared Giorgio Muggiani, one of the founding members of Inter Milan in 1908, and the designer of the club’s original logo.
This splendid night will give the colors to our coat of arms: black and blue against the golden background of the stars. It will be called International, because we are brothers of the world. (Giorgio Muggiani, March 9, 1908) pic.twitter.com/kTO2UJymHN
— Nick Hofer (@nick_hofer_17) July 29, 2019
If you want to understand why this derby is so important, you have to know the history behind it.
Muggiani was a member of Milan for some time. But after having a dispute with the club’s president over the participation of foreign players, Muggiani decided to leave Milan and create, along with others, a new rival in town. Internazionale, or Inter, was born, right from the womb of what would soon be its lifelong arch-nemesis Milan.
Fast forward a little more than a century later, and the two clubs are still contesting dominance over who rules the city of Milano. This Sunday, they’ll go head-to-head for the 172nd time in history in Serie A.
In recent years, Inter have had the upper hand over their rivals in the league, winning the last three derbies. The last time the Nerazzurri won four in a row in the Derby della Madonnina was back in 1983.
The Rossoneri, on the other hand, are winless in the derby in the last four years, and they’re 19 points behind their city rivals.
Even though the odds favor Inter to clinch all three points, with the derby being played, you never just know what’s going to happen.
Fiorentina – Atalanta
Last week wasn’t the best by all means to Fiorentina and their manager Giuseppe Iachini. First, they were knocked out of the Italian cup. That was followed by a 0-3 defeat at Juventus, which ended Iachini’s undefeated start in the league in the Viola dugout. The Tuscan side, though, will find solace in the fact that they beat their next opponents Atalanta just three weeks ago in the cup. La Dea hasn’t won at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Serie A since 1993, and they will rely on ex-Fiorentina player Josip Ilicic to end that poor run.
Torino – Sampdoria
Three consecutive defeats. Thirteen goals conceded. One goal scored.
These are the recent statistics of Torino, which have consequently led to the sacking of manager Walter Mazzarri after two years in charge of il Toro. In his place comes former Granata full-back Moreno Longo. The new coach will hope to get off to a winning start, counting on his captain Andrea Belotti to deliver the goods. Belotti has an excellent record against Sampdoria, scoring seven goals in nine matches.
On the other side, Sampdoria’s go-to man for this match is Manolo Gabbiadini, having scored two goals in his last two matches against Torino. Gabbiadini was also decisive in the Blucerchiati’s last win in Turin, scoring the second goal in a 2-0 victory.
Hellas Verona – Juventus
After forcing high-flying Lazio to a goalless draw midweek, Hellas Verona welcome the league leaders Juventus to the Marc’Antonio Bentegodi Stadium on Saturday night. Ivan Juric’s side have certainly exceeded expectations, and are just one point away from a Europa League qualifying position next year. The Old Lady is marching steadily towards her 9th (Yes, 9th!) consecutive league title, and manager Maurizio Sarri will hope to get all three points, and then relax on Sunday and pray that his challengers Inter and Lazio drop points in their respective matches.
SPAL – Sassuolo
Against Lazio, SPAL suffered their seventh defeat in nine matches, pinning them to a bottom-of-the-table position on goal difference. Coach Leonardo Semplici will enjoy the services of striker Andrea Petagna after coming back from suspension. Petagna has netted eight goals this season, as many as the rest of his team combined.
Sassuolo beat Roma for the first time in their history in Serie A last week. The Neroverdi have picked seven points out of a possible nine, and coach Roberto De Zerbi will want that to continue. He’ll be counting on his top scorer Francesco Caputo, who reached double figures for the season with his brace against Roma last week.
Genoa – Cagliari
Genoa will face the wrath of their former striker Giovanni Simeone, when they welcome Cagliari to the Luigi Ferraris Stadium this weekend. Simeone’s first season in Italy’s top flight was with Genoa and saw him scoring 12 goals in Serie A. The Grifone is struggling in the league at the moment, and will look for inspiration from captain Domenico Criscito, who’s having his best scoring season ever with five goals (all from penalties). The last defender to have scored more goals from the penalty spot in a single campaign was Maurizio Domizzi in 2007-08 when he netted six for Napoli.
GOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL DO GENOA!!!
⚽️ Domenico Criscito
Atalanta 1×1 Genoa pic.twitter.com/bEPEVUYUu6
— Curiosidades Europa (@CuriosidadesEU) February 2, 2020
Napoli – Lecce
Things are coming good for Gennaro Gattuso and Napoli. With back-to-back victories in the league, the Partenopei are aiming for a third win on the spin when they host Lecce on Sunday at the San Paolo Stadium. Lecce will come motivated, however, after breaking their season-long hoodoo and winning for the first time this season at home, in a spectacular 4-0 demolition of Torino last week. The Giallorossi will want to end another hoodoo, as they have only won once in their history at the San Paolo, back in 1998.
Brescia – Udinese
Brescia have sacked Eugenio Corini for the second time this season after last week’s defeat at Bologna, and have appointed Diego Lopez in charge. The former Cagliari and Bologna manager will hope to get the best out of his controversial striker Mario Balotelli, especially with the other striker Ernesto Torregrossa suspended for this matchday.
Udinese have lost their rhythm with three consecutive league defeats. Nonetheless, the Bianconeri seem to like playing at the Mario Rigamonti Stadium, as they are unbeaten in their last four visits, winning their last three.
Parma – Lazio
Lazio lost the chance to get a hold on second place after drawing blanks in their rearranged match against Hellas Verona in midweek. The Biancocelesti travel up north to Parma looking to extend their longest unbeaten league run in their history to 18 games. The Gialloblu won’t be looking forward to this fixture, as they have lost the last six league meetings against Lazio. Who will come out on top? Make sure to check this one out as it is the teaser before Sunday night’s big derby!
Roma – Bologna 2-3
Roma’s disappointing run in 2020 continued as they suffered their fifth defeat in seven games in Serie A. The Giallorossi’s defense was in shambles as Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini found it tough to keep up with Bologna’s attacks throughout the 90 minutes. The Rossoblu of Bologna have recorded their third straight league win, thanks to no small part to the performances of Riccardo Orsolini, and most importantly, new signing Musa Barrow. The Gambian made a mockery of the Giallorossi’s defense as he strolled in the opposition box to cap off a brilliant evening at the Stadio Olimpico.
With two goals and an assist, Musa Barrow conquered Rome tonight 👏🇬🇲
— Bologna FC 1909 (@BolognaFC1909en) February 7, 2020