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Offside - 22 February

22 Feb 2013 | 11:09

Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero committed his future to the A-League in what is the biggest news of the week for Australian sport fans.

ADP sticking around

Yet another win for Sydney FC. Not on the field of play but in a solicitors office where Alessandro Del Piero signed a contract to play for the Sky Blues for yet another season.

The deadline for the signature of his second year contract was the end of February, but the parties signed early, given that both the player and the club were happy with each other.

A few days before announcing the re-signing of Del Piero, Sydney FC beat Melbourne Hearts to the signature of Lucas Neill, the national team defender and captain.

To suggest that Melbourne is not exactly amused would be an understatement. So, expect fireworks when Neill takes the field in Melbourne this weekend in his Sydney FC debut.

AC Milan upstages Barca

Catenaccio is back! Perish the thought but that was the concept expressed in some English-language media organisations in relation to the stunning 2-0 win by AC Milan over Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. Maybe these critics should have bothered to look again at the tape of the game.

Barcelona did dominate possession (65% to 35%) but created very few dangerous situations for goalkeeper Christian Abbiati. Of all the thousands of bets on the match, only 1900 people got the result right at an outstanding 30-1 return.

The fact of the matter is that mighty Barcelona had only a couple of shots at goals. And if you don’t score, you don’t win matches. All of which makes for a very interesting second leg at the Nou Camp.

And a mention of the TV audience in Italy. Nearly eight million people watched the first leg match on television. Not a record but still an amazing figure. I wonder how many of them thought that the first goal from Milan should have been disallowed for a handball that only the referee did not see.

One of the greats

Any doubts about Gianluigi Buffon’s status as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of football? Let’s dispel them with a few figures.

Buffon has played 428 games for Juventus, conceding 361 gols for an average of 0.843 per match. Only the great Dino Zoff, so far, has a better record: 0.737 goals conceded in the 476 games played for Juventus.

Back to Buffon. His performances as a top goalkeeper, regrettably, are not matched by his foray into management/ownership. His team Carrarese (Lega Pro Prima Divisione B) is running (for want of a better word) dead last with only 13 points.

Nello Di Costanzo, the coach, was sacked on Sunday after the seventh loss in the last eight matches.

Bargain hunting

Now and then some Italian clubs do get it right on international markets. Take Siena, currently involved in the Serie A relegation battle.

During the January market it got rid, surprisingly, some of its better players, like Emanuele Calaio going back to Napoli - on loan. However, it signed from French club Lorient Innocent Emeghara, a Nigerian-born centre-forward with Swiss nationality. For nothing.

If they want to keep him at the end of the season, Siena will have to pay three million dollars, a pittance for a striker who has scored four times in his first three matches for the Tuscan club.

Judgement time

Do you remember one week in which the Genoa chairman and owner Enrico Preziosi is not in trouble with judges, magistrates, police and similar people or institution? I don’t.

And this week was no different.

A Genoa prosecutor has ordered the confiscation of millions of dollars from his bank accounts for failing to pay provisional tax on players salaries. The amount? Four millions of dollars. How does he sleep at night?

Licence please, signore

Another football figure is in trouble. He is Walter Mazzarri, the Napoli coach. He failed to attend a coaching course deemed essential by UEFA to coach at international level next season. In theory, he should not be allowed to sit on the Napoli bench in international matches.

However, you can rest assured that, in the land of Machiavelli, a solution will be found to allow Mazzarri to be on the bench.

Assuming that, next season, he won’t take a break from football as he has been threatening (or is it promising?) to do for the last few months.

Stadium shambles

Can you believe this? The match between Cagliari and Torino, scheduled for Sunday, will be played behind closed doors because the new Cagliari stadium of Is Arenas does not meet the safety standards required.

An amazing situation for a Serie A club, but that’s not all.

Because of irregularities in the building of the new stadium, Cagliari Chairman Massimo Cellino has been jailed!

In the local prison he received the visit of Italy great Gigi Riva. The two have had a stormy relationship in the last 20 years and it was nice of Riva to visit Cellino in a moment of need.

Or was he there to make sure that his old enemy be kept in jail?

About this blog

TONY
PALUMBO

Tony Palumbo

A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football. Read More.

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Tony Palumbo

A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football.

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