Serie A Round 37

8 May


After several court cases, disgrace, relegation and six seasons of waiting, Italy’s most decorated team finally got their hands back on the Serie A title. And how. Only twice in the history of Italian Football has a team gone undefeated in the league and on both occasions, it was a 34 game season. Juve have now gone 37 games unbeaten. And the latest was enough to win the Serie A title for 2011-12, with a 2-0 away win over 14th placed Cagliari. Mirko Vucinic got things going in the 6th minute to settle Juve nerves. It was the Montengro International’s 9th goal of the season and whilst there’s an element of a flat track bully about his goals (average opponent 14.67), no one will care one bit after the often frustrating former Roma front man scored. An own goal from Canini settled things, and as soon as the final whistle went in the Milan Derby, the Old Lady had their 30th Italian title – or their 28th, depending on your view of the Calciopoli scandal. Of course, Juventus winning the title means one thing, and it’s big:

Yep, for the first time since 2002-03, Ibrahimovic has failed to win the league title. And ironically, it’s been his best season in terms of goalscoring – hitting a massive 28 league goals (10.93) in just 31 games. And perhaps the 1-1 draw at home to Juventus when Ibrahimovic was serving a suspension, was decisive. His latest goals, were against Inter Milan in the ‘away’ Milan derby. He hit two, against Top 6 Inter, to put AC Milan 2-1 up. At that score, the title whereabouts was going to be decided on the final day. However, Stramaccioni’s Inter are a different animal than the up and down form of Ranieri’s. Diego Milito continued his excellent season with his third hat trick of the season, to take his personal tally to 23 league goals. As with Ibrahimovic, it’s been the 32 year old’s best league return, matching the 23 in 37 he hit in Spain for Zaragoza back in 2006-07. This season however, his 23 have been scored in just 29 appearances, and this latest treble against 2nd placed Milan propelled his average opposition per goal to a decent 9.43, and taken his goals against Top 6 teams to a respectable 5. In what’s been a strange season for Inter, Milito has at times been a one man rescue act (think 4 versus Palermo), and the second highest league scorer at the club is Pazzini with just 5 goals. Maicon put the cherry on the cake for the Inter Milan fans and confirmed Juventus’s title with this typically Brazilian effort:

I’ll be reviewing Juventus’ full season stats as they won the title when the season is over, and in a lovely twist, if they do go unbeaten, i’ll be comparing Juventus’ unbeatables 2011-12 to Arsenal’s invincibles of 2003-04, just for kicks.

After the title was decided, all eyes will turn to the race for 3rd place and a route to the Champions League. Going into this weekend’s fixtures, Napoli held the much coveted spot behind Juventus and AC Milan. After this latest round, they’re now 5th. How so? Well after 10 points from 12, they chose a very bad time to lose. The 2-0 defeat to Bologna (9th), Napoli gave fell behind Udinese and Lazio. Udinese moved into 3rd after a routine win over 17th placed Genoa who will have their Serie A future decided next weekend. Di Natale (12.00) did what he has done so often this season, by scoring his 22nd goal of the season against a team in the bottom 6 – his 10th against such opponents. Lazio are just two points behind them after their first win in five games (2-0 away at 11th placed Atalanta), to give them hope, whilst Inter Milan’s win over city Rivals AC Milan, mean they’re in 6th and 3 points off third, but are unlikely to get it despite the good form shown under former Under 19 coach Stramaccioni.

In terms of the Average Opposition ranking, this weekend saw a good bit of movement. Most noteably, in terms of the wooden spoon, or Flat Track Bully tag. Despite lowering his average to 12.00, Di Natale managed to shake off the unwanted label as Novara’s Marco Rigoni hit a hat trick against bottom placed Cesena to take his tally into the require double figures, and his average down to 14.91. The 32 year old has been one highlight of a poor season for Novara, as he’s scored 11 from midfield, albeit with the help of penalties. His 11 goals haven’t trouble any Top 6 team in what is a well deserved Flat Track Bully title.

Fabrizio Miccoli’s hat trick in a 4-4 computer game of a match against 12th placed Chievo lowered his average to 7.38 in the race for the Big Game Player title. The nearest challenger is Marco Di Vaio, who’s Bologna are playing 8th placed Parma. This means he’s better off not scoring and hoping that Miccoli scores against 17th placed Genoa next weekend. That will see Di Vaio nick it right at the death, although Miccoli’s 9 goals against Top 6 opponents will at least see him finish at the top of the Top 6 goals list.

Elsewhere, Milito moved into 3rd place in the golden boot race with his hat trick – level with Cavani on 23. However, there’s a different of 2 places in the opponents they’ve scored against on average, in favour of Milito. Giovinco (9.47) continued his excellent recent form with another goal in another win for Parma – this time a 2-0 win at 13th placed Siena. That’s 5 goals for the Italian in the 6 games that the club have won in a row, a run that’s seen them climb to 8th place. It took them 26 games to win their previous 6.

The last thing to be decided this season is the final relegation spot, with Lecce in 18th on 36 points (GD-15) and Genoa on 39 points (GD-21). Lecce’s 1-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers Fiorentina meant that the Viola were safe for another season after they did “a Wigan” and lost only 1 game in the last 7, whilst beating both big teams and relegation rivals.

And just to finish, a quick look at one of the main reasons why Juve won the league, and Genoa and Lecce are fighting relegation – goals conceded:

Just three goals conceded against fellow Top 6 teams tells it’s own story. In fact, in conceding only 19 goals all season, they’re 13 goals better off than 2nd placed Milan, who have only let in a decent 32. And Juventus’s defence has been laregly unchanged from the personnel seen last season, which let in 47 as they finished 7th. Well played Conte.

The updates are running a little slower than usual as I get to grips with fatherhood, but each league will be reviewed in detail once the season has ended.



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