A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World. Rhys Montanarello analyses and gives his opinion here on the talking points in Italian football.
The revival of Keisuke Honda
When you think about stunning player transformations in recent months, none have been more drastic than that of Keisuke Honda. The playmaker brought in on a free transfer from CSKA last winter has been in scintillating form this season and continued that with a stellar performance against Verona on the weekend.
His first goal was a one touch finish over the keeper off of El Shaarawy’s through ball, and his second a calmly caressed pass into the far corner past Rafael. He currently sits tied on top of the league scoring charts with six goals and has another two assists to his name. Whether it be with his head, left foot, or right foot, Honda has been banging in chances that he could not have ever hoped to score last season during his horrendous start to his Milan career.
What is odd is that Honda is still being played out wide by Inzaghi, the position that was apparently the player’s biggest issue last season, but he has experienced opposite results. He still spends a fair time of the game out wide, but has a large amount of freedom to roam around the field and dictate play from open positions. What has also gone unnoticed is his newfound partnership with Ignazio Abate, another player rejuvenated under Inzaghi. Often making marauding runs forward, his extra movements help pull defenders and open up more space for Honda to spot runs and create chances.
While we have already seen the Japanese star praised in Italian media for his improvement, we should probably wait to see if Honda can continue this wonderful form consistently beyond seven matches before we jump into that bandwagon.
Vidic’s abysmal start continues
Inter extended their winless run to three games this weekend after drawing 2-2 with Napoli, and we were offered yet another display of Nemanja Vidic’s poor form since he made the switch from Manchester this summer. It seems that the red card on his debut was just a tinge of misfortune, the Serb has in fact been utterly dreadful so far in his Italian stint.
Vidic was not in the best form when he left England this summer, but I’m not sure anyone expected him to be this diabolical since moving to Italy, especially when you remember that his signing was meant to bring reassurance and experience into Inter’s disappointing backline. But quite the contrary has happened; since his arrival he has been shown a straight red card, and hilariously gifted Palermo a goal through slow play and poor decision making from the back. To add to this poor record of his was the display against Napoli in what is thought to be a clash for Champions League spots. His poor headed clearance from a corner put in on a plate for Jose Callejon to volley home; not an error you’d expect from an experienced Champions League and Premier League winner.
It has become apparent that he cannot be relied upon as a quality defense option, and I do not think there is any way that Inter’s form will improve if Mazzarri continues to rely on the Serbian as a stalwart in his backline. Sooner or later he will have to be dropped, if performances like the one witnessed this weekend at the San Siro continue.
Chievo sacks Eugenio Corini and replaces him with Rolando Maran
At the beginning of the Serie A season, the question surrounding the first managerial sacking was not which side would be the first to drop the axe, but rather how long it would take for Palermo’s Maurizio Zamparini to fire Giuseppe Iachini given his infamous history of giving the pink slip to those in-charge of ‘his’ football club. However, the first managerial change did not happen in Sicily, but rather in Verona.
Chievo have started the season with a run of poor form (despite beating Napoli 0-1 on match-day one) and their defeat to Roma this past weekend was the final nail in Eugene Corini’s coffin. While Corini was not equipped with a side meant to get results against the likes of Milan, Roma, and Juventus, chairman Luca Campedelli would have wanted his coach to achieve more when they faced sides such as Parma and Empoli, against whom they only managed one point from a possible six.
Chievo sits joint 19th in the table, tied on four points with Sassuolo, and new boss Rolando Maran will be hoping to get a string of positive results going as the side’s upcoming four games will be against Genoa, Palermo, Sassuolo, and Cesena, all sides against which Chievo could grab a few points. However, he will be expecting more from his attackers in these matches. Maxi Lopez, Alberto Paloschi, and Valter Birsa only have 3 goals between them this season in about 1300 minutes combined playing time. Whether they can turn this around it will remain to be seen, but Maran certainly has his plate full in the coming months, just as he did when he took over for the eventually-relegated Catania last season.
Talent Radar Player of the Week
Paulo Dybala put in a fantastic performance this weekend for Palermo, as they defeated fellow promoted side Cesena, 2-1. Dybala grabbed a goal in the thirty-second minute with a delightful curling shot from the corner of the box into the far side. As the match progressed, Dybala later grabbed the assist for debutee Giancarlo Gonzalez’s winning goal as he sent in a corner during injury time which found the Costa Rican’s head to seal all three points for Palermo. As the season progresses, many clubs will be watching him and his fellow 20-year old striker Andrea Belotti.
Written by Rhys Montanarello
- Italian Column: Jeremy Menez back to his frustrating self while Paulo Dybala rises to the occasion - November 14, 2014
- Italian football column: Struggling Parma, improving Udinese and more - October 29, 2014
- Italian Football Column: Keisuke Honda’s revival, Nemanja Vidic’s dreadfulness & more - October 22, 2014