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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Five things we learned from Italy Serie A

There was a touch of nostalgia with the return to Pescara of Zdenek Zeman, but also the shadow of crime with the blackmailing of Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella

AFP , Monday 20 Feb 2017
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England's Joe Hart was given his coach's backing despite conceding four against Roma, who want more legendary players like Francesco Totti at the club.

Here are five things we learned in Serie A.

Pescara in 'zemanlandia'

When he led Foggia from the Italian third division to Serie A and the cusp of qualification for the Uefa Cup for three consecutive seasons, the term 'Zemanlandia' was coined to describe the effect Zdenek Zeman had on the football teams he coached. On Sunday, the 69-year-old Czech veteran steered Pescara to a thrilling 5-0 win over Genoa. It was the Serie A strugglers' second win in 25 league games and first since a shock 3-0 win over Sassuolo on the second day of the season. A legendary figure in the Italian game thanks to an offensive approach based almost entirely on the 4-3-3 formation, chainsmoking Czech Zeman had held the helm at Lazio, Napoli, Roma, Cagliari as well as Fenerbahce in Turkey and Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.

Hart Off The Hook At Torino

England's Joe Hart shipped four goals in a 4-1 reverse at Roma, but the Torino 'keeper was quickly off the hook thanks to coach Sinisa Mihajlovic – and Roma's impressive home form this season. "The quality of their players made the difference, to the extent that Hart, who wasn't able to make one save, conceded four goals," said the coach. Hart became the first English 'keeper to sign for a Serie A club since the league's inception in 1929 when he moved to Torino on loan last summer.

Spalletti Wants More Tottis

One-club man Francesco Totti is playing his 25th and final season with Roma, or possibly not if coach Luciano Spalletti's words are taken to heart. The 40-year-old Totti came off the bench to warm applause for the final 10 minutes of the game against Roma. He controlled a high ball while under pressure in the area to lay off for Radja Nainggolan to slam a low curling drive beyond 'keeper Joe Hart from outside the area. Roma are second at seven points adrift of Juventus but Spalletti said: "For us to keep pace with Juventus we need to improve in certain areas, but above all we need players with strong characters, as Totti has been for us. We still haven't found any yet. In a squad, you need more than one leader like Totti."

Cracks Appear At Title-Chasing Napoli

Until now, tracksuit-wearing, chainsmoking Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri has managed to keep his disagreements with club president Aurelio De Laurentiis under wraps. But De Laurentiis's public criticism of Napoli after a 3-1 Champions League defeat at Real Madrid have exposed cracks as reports claim Sarri met with Juventus officials with a view to replacing Massimiliano Allegri. "I would have preferred that certain things be said to me," Sarri said after De Laurentiis claimed Naples-born Lorenzo Insigne was the only player not cowed by Zinedine Zidane's team of 'Galacticos' at the Santiago Bernabeu. De Laurentiis, a film producer, added: "The rest simply didn't exist. It was like they disappeared." Sarri hit back: "I don't agree with anything (De Laurentiis said). For me, the team gave a good account of themselves." Since then, De Laurentiis has ordered a media blackout by the players and staff.

Blackmail Relief For Quagliarella

Sampdoria could only draw 1-1 at home with Cagliari on Sunday when the hosts' Naples-born striker Fabio Quagliarella hit the leveller. But that goal will likely be remembered for a long time, being the first following the end of a five-year blackmail 'nightmare' which forced Quagliarella to prematurely quit a dream move to Napoli. "A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders," an emotional Quagliarella said post-match. His stalker, former policeman Raffaele Piccolo, was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison last Friday after being found guilty of blackmail and extortion.

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