Half a century since we had this clash in Serie B, and we're glad it's back.
Ahead of the first derby since 2018, we look at how one man became a hero at two rivals.
From Chiesa to multiple bankruptcies to a bizarre Armenian takeover, this is the story of Robur Siena.
From the glorious sixties to Baggio, the Derby dell'Appennino has given us some great days.
After an incredibly tough run to start the season, Gilardino's side can build up a points tally between now and Christmas.
Luca Toni's retirement was the death knell for the Italian centre-forward, but someone has to do it.
Each coach's reign is defined by pivotal moments, and two of Motta's came against Inter last season.
Napoli's 'apology' to Victor Osimhen is a case of pride too great to swallow.
A mainstay of millennial Serie A, what happened to the Flying Donkeys?
With a lightning start to the new season, it's safe to say that he is back, and possibly better than ever.
After a loveless summer of mercenary transfers and scandals, Joel Pohjanpalo's romanticism is giving me some hope that football is not dead.
When Jean-Pierre Papin moved to Milan for a world record transfer, it looked like a match made in heaven. So why didn't it quite work out for the French hitman?
A derby that spans war, culture, trade and, most importantly, football.
Are you confused? I'm confused. An overview of the reason behind the league starting with only 18 teams.
A 'luxury' player in the making or as we used to call it, an exciting one. Baldanzi can be that player who makes the entrance fee worth paying.
The boys from Lake Garda are doing it for themselves, but how far can they go?
Will we have a title race for the ages? Who's going down? Are Juventus any good? Does anyone care?
An already competitive league is more wide open than ever this year, but who will succeed and who will fall (with Brescia)?
Stood on the touchline at Stadio Olimpico as his Fiorentina team took an early lead in the Coppa Italia final, Vincenzo Italiano had come a long way from coaching amateur football in Padova. While his Viola eventually lost 2-1 to Inter that night, their coach’s stock has risen rapidly in the past five years.
Parma. The nineties. Channel 4. Those hoops. Lillian Thuram. It’s iconic. It’s the cult of calcio at its very greatest. And it was all built on sand.
If you ever wonder why good centre forwards cost so much money, just re-watch the 2023 Coppa Italia final.
Amidst the wave of calcio fever in the aftermath of the past few weeks’ Italian exploits on the continent, Fiorentina’s return to the upper echelons of the game has (almost) slipped under the radar.
FC Südtirol’s journey to the second tier of Italian football has been as rugged as the mountains they hail from.
I had the standard five channels on the TV growing up in the early 2000s, which meant my live football offerings weren’t exactly forthcoming. ITV’s Champions League slot was coveted, almost a holy day at home.
Warning. This won’t be an insightful football article. Genoa’s hugely stressful and impossibly atmospheric 2-1 victory over Ascoli to achieve promotion at Stadio Luigi Ferraris is unlike anything I’ve seen in my footballing life.
It's been a long time coming, so say Napoli when speaking of their third scudetto. Waiting for the party to start these past few weeks has, at times, felt longer than the 33 years that have passed since the last triumph of Santo Diego, but we're here now.
Florentines have always needed a figure of inspiration to believe in. Whether it be Lorenzo the Magnificent or Rui Costa, a figure resembling the divine has always played a central role. In an increasingly cutthroat season, Fiorentina have held their nerve and kept the faith; and it’s starting to pay off.
The Italian Wrexham. A football club in a region that ‘doesn’t exist’. The city of Campobasso in the region of Molise, is home to Campobasso 1919, a club that has fallen on hard times and been taken over by ambitious North American owners. The joke among Italians is that the region is so small and unassuming that it doesn’t exist, hence the trend of #IlMoliseNonEsiste. Obviously, it’s a real place known for pears, scamorza cheese, blade crafting and, to a lesser extent, football.
Before I begin, full disclosure. Venezia FC kindly reached out to me on Twitter and offered to have me over for a game after reading this piece on Joel Pohjanpalo. Eugh, I’ve sold out. Client journalism. Really though, I saw it as a chance to experience matchday in Venice. Football in an (almost) surreal city.
Serie A’s best kept secret, tucked away outside Florence, is a club that have defied expectations while nurturing some of calcio’s best young talent. It’s Empoli, the team you forgot about.
The reports of Serie A’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, cry those who love football on the peninsula. No, it’s not a dead league. Yes, none of its clubs have the wealth of states with questionable human rights records. And yes, all seven of its teams are still in Europe going into March.
“Some football players pay a billion lire for a Ferrari or a yacht; with that money I bought myself Livorno’s shirt. That's all.” - Cristiano Lucarelli
Juventus, Inter, Milan. Bleh. It’s been more than two decades since someone other than the big three won a scudetto and I’m sick of it. Naturally, I’ve enjoyed Napoli’s rampage through Serie A this season, but I’ve got a bone to pick.
Joel Pohjanpalo is now everything that’s good about football. Haven’t you heard? Despite being previously known for scoring Finland’s winner when Christian Eriksen nearly died, he’s reinvented himself as the pin-up figure of football hipsters and purveyors of pints, thanks to a twenty second clip posted on Twitter.
Think of something you hate. Queue jumpers, BMW drivers, YouTube boxing. Multiply it by a thousand, maybe a little more, and you’ve only begun to appreciate Fiorentina’s distaste for Juventus. When the two sides first met in 1928, Juve won 11-0 against a Fiorentina club that only formed two years prior. Brutal. If it were a kids’ game, the referee would have called it at half-time. Even with that, and another Juventus drubbing in 1953, this time 8-0, the rivalry only properly escalated in 1982, when Fiorentina and Juventus were level atop Serie A going into the final weekend.
I’m surprised my feet aren’t burning as I step into the volcano that is the Stadio Olimpico for the first time. The intro to Antonello Venditti’s ‘Roma, Roma’ begins as I reach the top of the stairs. The crimson flags and gold banners along with this passionately bellowed anthem seem to lift this stadium a hundred feet in the air, just as they have countless times in the past. Five matches in seven days. That’s the plan. Rome to Milan to Turin to Cremona back to Milan. You’ve planned this perfectly, every meticulous detail. An eighty day duolingo streak has you bouyed with misguided confidence, you’re practically a local. Roma’s curva sud have not come to play, it’s all business, they’ll leave any enjoyment to the players. The two-hundred or so travelling Ludogorets fans are assuring they’re not to be ignored either, adding a respectable amount of danger to the occasion, suitably shirtless and bally’ed up; seated half a mile from anyone else and yet still a little too close for comfort, they may have still been too close before I stepped on the plane.
Some derbies occur naturally through geography, politics and even historic feuds that trace back much further than the inception of football, to a point where some even forget why they hate each other but proceed to do so for ninety minutes anyway. It’s football, after all. The most primal of sports. You can’t divide a tennis match on religious grounds, or a F1 race over an ancient civil war. What family you’re born into doesn’t dictate whether you’re Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua because that would be silly, but blood can tie you to a football club.
In the wake of the terrible news of Gianluca Vialli’s passing, I thought I’d learn a bit more about his career before he moved to England. He won the scudetto with Juventus. OK, who hasn’t? Lifted the Champions League, as well. Fair enough, that’s impressive. Quite the CV for the late, great Luca. Trophies spilling out the sides, but one stands out in particular. A scudetto with Sampdoria.
The World Cup’s done, Serie A is back and we’ve had ten games in a day, with more coming at the weekend. This is living. Answers on a Postcard is back too, but with less conversation and a little more action, all for your satisfaction. Five moments that stood out this gameweek:
The World Cup is on and Juventus are in trouble. I feel like I have seen this movie before. With the resignation of the Juventus board, UEFA and FIGC have launched investigations into the club’s financial activity, that same old scene has reared its head.
It’s that time of year. No, not the World Cup, something much more important. The latest Football Manager has arrived, and with FM23 available now, ideas for your first save are surely flowing. Blood money at Newcastle? Hollywood money at Wrexham? Now that Juventus have come in from the cold, maybe you could restore the Old Lady to the top of Italian football? Perhaps you have something different in mind. Regardless, I’m here to give you a few suggestions for a fun FM save and maybe even a new Italian club to fall in love with. So without further ado, your FM23 journey awaits: Image Credit: SI
Few places take hold of you like Florence, and that’s before you get as far as football. The city centre is a UNESCO heritage site, which says it all. It’s home to football hipster favourites, Fiorentina, a club that has something for everyone. Like cool jerseys? They wear purple. Love the 90s? Batigol on Channel 4. Like weird stadiums? There are mazes easier to navigate than Stadio Artemio Franchi. Or, like me, do you tend to back a team fuelled by nostalgia, living in constant hope of a return to glory? If so, then Fiorentina are the team for you. This is the story of my first time experiencing this weird and wonderful club live.
“We are stronger than ever, nobody will bring us to our knees”, cries the Westkurve at Sechzgerstadion, the mood triumphant on a mild (by Irish standards) Friday night in September. Fynn Lakenmacher’s hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Aue was enough to send 1860 Munich top of the 3. Liga and get Oktoberfest opening weekend off to a flyer. Why do I know this? Because I was there, a willing participant in an experiment to see how much German beer one man can consume and still be able to recall a football match. The answer? Not as much as I’d like, but as is often the case, the details are there and just need a little time to resurface. However, one thought penetrated the Augustiner fuelled haze. This club is in a really healthy place.
It’s all starting to ramp up. The World Cup’s only around the corner. It feels like the weeks before Christmas, when everyone wants to go out but you’ve only a finite amount of time (and money) to hand. Plenty of football still to play, even more so if you’re in Europe, so let’s not waste time with introductions. Here’s your Answers on a Postcard from GW10:
Much like a ‘Halloween jersey’ plastered in bats, you couldn’t take your eyes of Luciano Spalletti’s latest edition of Napoli even if you wanted to. Once again, they are at full tilt in the opening weeks of the season, much to the surprise of many, myself included. I was convinced this was a rebuilding year and anything inside the top six could be considered a relative success, but here we are. Unbeaten and joint-top of the table, having beaten Milan at San Siro, as well as dismantling Liverpool, Rangers and Ajax in the Champions League. Since we’re almost a quarter of the way into the season, it only seems right to ask *that* question, once again. Can Napoli win the league? Obviously, in theory, anyone can win the league but do they really have enough to break out from the pack and capture that elusive scudetto?
So many goals. Too many goals? Never. Little over three goals a game this weekend, in classic Serie A fashion. The world’s most entertaining league is at it again, leaving me with a challenge to fit each game into a paragraph. Again. I’m not complaining; quite the opposite:
Well, that was something. A potentially seismic week in Serie A, so much so that we might break the record for world’s longest postcard, or not. I’m a bit late in posting, as I was away. Ten games, a decent helping of goals and plenty of drama, so let’s get into it:
Week six, one that looked to be relatively uneventful. How wrong we were. Just the eight red cards, a handful of late goals and whatever happened at Juventus, to put it one way. This week’s Answers on a Postcard will completely miss the point and focus on something else entirely, much like VAR did late on Sunday night:
Che pericoloso. Campania hasn’t been this dangerous since the Four Days of Naples, damn those pesky Neapolitans. Anyway, let’s not dwell on a braindead, ignorant Tweet from a certain football club, let’s talk about Napoli, something the BT coverage declined to do after Spalletti’s boys gave Liverpool a night they’ll never forget. What went wrong for Liverpool? Who cares? Napoli were \*insert every superlative possible\* from start to finish and their opponents were lucky to escape with just a 4-1 loss.
The cheek of Serie A to throw out three fixtures like that on a Saturday. What a day it was, an unforgettable Milan derby sandwiched either side of two highly intriguing contests. Sunday could have been another day on the sofa, but you’d have gotten value for money for the late kick off alone. By Monday, we were all footballed out, but we still had some moments. Not many, but some. Answers on a Postcard, for the fifth time:
Ask anyone unfamiliar with calcio to name some Serie A players and invariably you’ll get Dybala, Ibrahimovic, Lukaku and maybe a few others. They tend to leave Rafael Leao’s name off the list, partly thanks to his inconsistency and perhaps the decline of Italian football among mainstream audiences. BT are great, but c’mon Channel 4, get James Richardson on the phone and get the show back together, we need another helping of calcio propaganda each week.
Hello, this is the fourth Answers on a Postcard and I’m feeling rough. I always get a touch of man flu when the weather starts to switch, caught unaware by the sudden shift in temperature and left ruing my lack of a suitable jacket. Don’t cry for me. All I ask is that I’m feeling well enough to truly enjoy gameweek five, and that you don’t let my tired head get in the way of your memories of GW4. So, to the football:
The third Serie A gameweek was all about hype. Monza, the newly promoted hype. Roma, the dark horse hype. Samuel Umtiti, the unexpected transfer hype. Napoli, the rejuvenated team hype. Lots of hype, up to our necks in the stuff. Beyond the hype, we had the football and it was fun, with an upset on Friday, a dramatic return on Saturday and a surprise thrashing on Sunday. So, without further ado, it’s Answers on a Postcard for the third time this season:
Back for week two, with a new look. The second gameweek of this Serie A season was a poor sequel to last week, too many zeroes and ones, leaving us to be entertained by the odd daft red card. There’s a steady stream of clashes between top sides coming up after this week, so maybe this is just one we had to get through, to be totally ungrateful about it. Anyway, to the football:
A league season is only supposed to be 38 games long, so why does it feel like we’re entering our third season of the season and it’s only February? You know what I mean? No, neither do I, really. The first 10 games of this season were nightmarish, the stats said top six but the results said relegation fodder and we looked destined to become another victim of the football hipster’s ‘favourite’ side, due to what we’ll call a misunderstanding between performances and results.
A new Serie A season kicked off on Saturday and we were treated to ten games over three days without a single goalless draw. Sure, we had some dull moments, but 34 goals, a few red cards and a pair of stoppage time winners represent a decent return for the viewing fans. Well, depending on who you support. Answers on a Postcard reviews each game briefly and attempts to contextualise the meaning behind the result, so let's get down to it:
Now, Part II of TMG Italia's Serie A preview contains our reigning champions, a dark horse (or wolf) and some boisterous new kids on the block. More predictions, more players to watch, more things to get wrong. Wildly wrong. There's still weeks for all this information to be totally outdated, and it most likely will. Anyway, the preview:
It’s almost time. We’ve passed through a relatively normal summer for the first time since 2019 and a new season is almost upon us. It feels like longer than 12 weeks since Milan sealed their first Scudetto since 2011 and they’ll be looking to defend that title from their city rivals, and perhaps one or two others. Lecce, Cremonese and Monza ascended from Serie B and will be keen to impress, especially Monza who have raised eyebrows in the division with their aggressive recruitment. So, without further ado, your guide to the 2022-23 Serie A season:
Form is temporary but class is permanent and, in this team, nothing is permanent. Not even the summer signings, just ask Gollini. We were in a rich vein of form as we finished the last instalment of this crusade for Pisano glory, but it might just be that. Form. OK, I’ve used the word ‘form’ too many times already. Moving on.
Does everything in life even out in the end? No, certainly not for Pisa SC anyway. We're 5th in the xG table after nine games, but what about the real table? Rock bottom. Essentially, we are throwing a banjo at a barn door and managing to hit ourselves in the face with said banjo. We're creating chances that don't lead to goals and we're conceding very, very easy goals, the kind of goals that gets a manager sacked after long. Alternatively, we can look at the expected goals and dismiss is at nerd nonsense, just another thing to make us miserable at the football. Yeah, that'll do.
The summer transfer window is the FM aficionado’s happy place, a space for them to roam and sign players and dream big ahead of a new season, before cursing the useless bastards a few months later and demanding more money to sign new useless bastards. So, onto the transfer fun!
McMenamy Meltdown is the new Bielsa Burnout, a mostly fictional misdiagnosed issue in a team. Pisa haven’t burnt out, we just caught teams by surprise early in the season. Seven without a win turns into ten as we lose to Roma, Juve and Inter, with the manager performance rating dropping to a whole B-, after 18 months as an A+, worrying times indeed.
Right, two more games before we all head off on a winter holiday. Sitting comfortably after 14 games with 21 points, Parma’s trip to western Tuscany is almost stress free at this point. Lucca’s comeback tour continues as Parma fall victim to the near post corner routine twice; his double kicking off a 5–0 win and now the Champions League music is faintly playing in my head. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, but on current form, we might just win the bloody league.
Six games and four points into the new season, Pisa SC are starting to get the hang of this Serie A malarkey, something that's taken a bit longer due to the unnatural format of the season with this winter World Cup. Oh, and the fact the team isn't exactly top flight material, with the exception of our brightest (and in some cases, tallest) lights.
Summer is upon us in Pisa, a city with a Serie A club for the first time in 31 years. Well, in Football Manager. We’ve got champagne ambitions on a Carlsberg Special Brew budget and we’ve unnecessarily restricted ourselves to signing Italian players only, but we’re going to have fun nonetheless. Realistically, we need four first team players and cover across seven positions to help with our two players per position philosophy.
January is the month where seasons go to die. A bad transfer window, tough run of games or maybe even a bad cold going round the squad, it can all go to pot after Christmas if you're not careful. Coming off a winter break, we win our first two games back, comfortable victories over Lecce and Brescia take us to the end of the month and our last chance to do any transfer business.
So, how is Operation Build a Team Around Lorenzo Lucca going? Swimmingly, he's torn his groin in pre-season and his replacement is a a foot shorter than him, which is great for a team reliant on set pieces and crosses. However, the show must go on, no time to panic and abandon everything we've spent six weeks learning. If the 5ft 7ins man must start up front, then we'll use him as a decoy at corners, maybe he could go on all fours behind the goal line and we'll have a defender push the goalkeeper over. Improvise, adapt, overcome.
Football Manager has an insatiable desire to make you look stupid. Sixteen years of playing it and I still haven't quite found a failsafe way to beat the computer. Sure, every so often a save bears fruit and you end up winning it all, but the game is always ready to pounce once you make the slightest mistake and take you to the brink of discovering that your laptop cannot fly. But, what if I were to tell you there's a way to make this pesky little game come to heel? And that you can do it with Pisa SC?
Drama and Italy go together like ragu and a nice Montepulciano (or pizza and beer if you’re slightly less cultured like myself). Italian football is no different, whether it’s feast or famine for the Azzurri or yet another evenful Serie A season, it’s rarely quiet. The instability caused by manager and player turnover across the league this summer meant we were either going to get great value for money on opening weekend or we’d have everyone screaming blue murder at BT Sport and demanding a refund because none of the managers had long enough to work out their best team. Thankfully, it was the former.
At Zingonia, they love it when a plan comes together. There is real belief in Bergamo that Atalanta are on the cusp of throwing their hat in the ring when it comes to the race for the Scudetto, a scenario beyond the wildest dreams of most fans of La Dea’s fans. It seems being one of football’s best run clubs has its benefits, in fact if my Granny were into football, she’d definitely be an Atalanta fan. They both love a bargain, Atalanta spend a few spare pennies on Robin Gosens whereas my Granny gives me a six-pack of Lucozade she got for a quid. Both are elite in their field, but only one is starting to get the recognition they deserve.