With the controversial Juventus Supercoppa victory this Saturday in China calcio is back. With Euro 2012, the Olympics, and the ever running transfer gossip mill it feels like it has never been away however, and it’s hard to understand that it has been been more than two months since Napoli beat Juve in the Coppa Italia final.
With the season starting it’s also time for Pondering Calcio to get back in the fray. This first installment after the summer break is on two things making me happy as the first round of Serie A action is getting closer. (It should have been three good things, but I ran out of time and space. But don’t worry – there’s more good things to come)
Zeman back at Roma
Zdenek Zeman, the all out attack guru, is back on the big scene. After a decade with smaller teams with smaller ambitions he now has what is most likely his last chance with a big team. It was Roma who took the bait after two good Zeman seasons in first Foggia and then Pescara. For neutrals it couldn’t be a better match.
When Roma started their new American lead project a year ago it was with a very attack minded Luis Enrique at the helm. When he all the way through the 2011-12 season got the exact same uneven results that any person with a just a little calcio insight expected him to get he was promptly sacked by the new leadership, who apparently had grown swiftly familiar with Italian ways. Now Roma sits with a much older and much more extreme version of Enrique. For fans of Roma it’ll be nerve wrecking, for the players it’ll be bone hard, and for the rest of us it’ll be a joy to watch.
Zeman deserves this chance. He’s a controversial character who doesn’t mind going against what he sees as an oppressive hegemony in Italian football – on the pitch as well as off it. With players like Totti, De Rossi, Bojan, and Balzaretti he has the material for huge results and huge panic. But who gives a damn about the latter? Roma is a club in a chronic and wonderful state of panic anyway.
Supercoppa around the world
While the actual game and the farcical victory ceremony showcased all the beautiful and all the ugly things about the Italian game, there’s only reason to praise the idea of bringing the game between the Scudetto winner and the Coppa winner around the world.
For the players the Supercoppa represents an end to the physically extremely hard training schedule where they’re supposed to lose the gained summer weight and at the same time understand who’s the boss (the coach)(until he’s sacked about a month later). To start with what is an important, but not insanely important, game is good for the teams and fans involved. To spread the love around the world is a splendid idea giving calcio fans outside of Italy the possibility to see two Italian top sides battle it out for (some kind) of glory. Not only will some fans see the game of their lifetime, fans all over the country will also get a clear indication that Serie A is starting and that it’s awesome, action packed, and international.
For the players involved a game in China, The Middle East, South America, or the USA is a chance to spend some time sightseeing, since there’s no game against Chievo in three days. I for one have seen Gokhan Inler pose in front of the Forbidden City, and it must be quite a relief to be able to see the world in a calm atmosphere without rush together with your team mates, as you’re preparing for a long season to come. If done properly a traveling Supercoppa is good for the players, the fans, the calcio.
Photo by Christiano Corsini