The new Serie A season is almost upon us and fans of Italian football are praying that someone can challenge Juve’s domestic dominance that has seen the Old Lady win the last eight league titles. Having already marked your card ahead of the new season, we now take a look at five alternative things we reckon you’re bound to see/hear in Italy’s top-flight this term.
ULTRAS GOING ON STRIKE
Everybody starts with a clean slate of course but don’t be surprised if just a few weeks into the season, a club’s depressing start to the campaign sees their hardcore supporters in the Curva show their displeasure by calling an all-out strike. The Ultra groups have a major say in how Italian teams are run and what better way to piss of the club President by either turning up en-masse 30 minutes after kick-off aiming abusive chants at the power brokers, or deciding to remain totally silent for 90 minutes and turning banners upside down (the ultimate insult to your teams hierarchy).
SHOW MUST GO ON
Believe it or not, it rains quite a lot in Italy and sometimes the sheer velocity of a sudden downpour ahead of kick-off can put a match in serious jeopardy. As the pitch starts to resemble a boating lake, expect to see the referee head out onto the field with the two club captains and the match ball, to test the surface’s suitability to host top-flight football. This process involves the official attempting to find a square inch of the campo that he feels is playable before dropping the ball to see if it bounces.
Despite needing waders to get around 99 per-cent of the pitch, TV money dictates that the show must go on so it’s “game on lads” despite the final outcome certain to be a goalless draw.
1. DAY. AWAY 😍
🇮🇹 Serie A returns tomorrow, with champions Juventus taking on Parma!#Throwback to the last meeting between the teams, when Ronaldo scored twice in a 3-3 draw!
📅 Tomorrow at 5:15pm
📺 Premier Sports 1 pic.twitter.com/w8KWkSiLi0
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) August 23, 2019
Trying to find a UK broadcaster that shows coverage of Serie A these days is like trying to find rocking-horse shit, but if you are one of the unfortunate ones that has to watch Italy’s top-flight via an online subscription, get ready for another season of badly pronounced surnames (with vowels appearing in places that have no right to be in), a co-commentator who barks on about how defensive Italian teams are despite watching a 3-3 thriller before picking out the man-of-the-match and explaining how he “wouldn’t be any good on a wet Wednesday night in Burnley”.
Whoever gets the gig this season however, will have a long way to go to top the late, great “Lisbon Lion” skipper Billy McNeill who, whilst watching former Inter President Massimo Moratti and his wife going mental in the posh seats after his side had secured a late winner declared that; “I think they must be Inter supporters.”
WHY ALWAYS MARIO
“Super Mario” Balotelli is back in the peninsula and will turn out for his hometown club Brescia this season. His arrival looks set to follow a familiar pattern after his first press-conference this week in which he declared his ambition is to “play for my country at next summer’s European Championships.”
Expect Balo to start quite well but as we head towards the Christmas break, expect to see his relationship with the coach and President and his off-field antics deteriorate to the extent that he’s dropped from the first-team and made to train with the stiffs from Monday-Friday. Don’t be surprised then, if come the resumption of Serie A in early January, Balotelli is lining-up for a team in a continent far, far away (or Newcastle).
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Italy is finally dragging itself into the 21st century by allowing women to anchor its flagship sports shows and live football coverage. Of course, the two essential criteria they have to have is legs up to their neck and not be afraid of being photographed wearing not much more than their birthday suits. For some of the old dinosaurs employed on terrestrial network RAI, this has already proved too much with former Inter Milan star and World Cup winner Fulvio Collovati declaring live on-air, that a “women’s place is in the home cooking the pasta, not giving her opinion on football”.
Despite the best of intentions at the start of the new campaign and with so many sports shows dissecting the weekend’s action in Serie A, it sadly seems just a matter of time before another old duffer ends up in deep merda by showcasing his chauvinistic tendencies.