Italian Serie A

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Banker Gaetano Micciche elected Serie A president

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MILAN (AP) Bank boss Gaetano Micciche has been elected president of Serie A.

Micciche, the president of Banca IMI, was chosen unanimously on Monday by the Italian league’s 20 clubs.

He succeeds Maurizio Beretta, who left the position nearly a year ago.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

The league has been under emergency leadership, first by former Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio then by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

Malago recommended Micciche for the position.

The federation remains under emergency leadership following Tavecchio’s resignation in the wake of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Rafa Marquez set to join Italian side Hellas Verona


At 35 years old and coming off of his fourth World Cup, Rafael Marquez has decided to return to top-flight European football.

Marquez was once one of the top defenders in the world, playing in France before racking up over 160 appearances for Spanish giants Barcelona. Still in strong form, Marquez left Europe to join the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2010. However, his stint in New York was disappointing and Marquez himself admitted coming to America was “a bad decision.”

He then returned to his native Mexico, leading Leon to back-to-back Liga MX titles. After captaining Mexico for a record fourth World Cup in Brazil, it seemed as if Marquez’s storied career was coming to an end.

Almost 20 years into his professional career, Marquez no longer has the pace to keep up with the top strikers in Europe, which was seen during his play in the World Cup. He instead relies on his experience and positioning to prevent younger, fresher legs from breezing by him. Verona manager Andrea Mandorlini will look to Marquez to help his club’s defense, which allowed 68 goals in 38 games last season.

Hellas Verona finished in the middle of the Serie A table last season, and adding a seasoned veteran with experience on the world’s biggest stage can help a team in many ways beyond the score line.

Milan fall to Verona before Juventus beat Sampdoria

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The start of the Serie A season has finally arrived, much to the delight of fans of Italian soccer, who’ve been forced to make do with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga over the past couple weeks. While the majority of the matches take place tomorrow, Saturday saw two interesting games played out on the peninsula.

Hellas Verona 2-1 AC Milan

To the casual observer, this match looked predictable. Milan ended last season in third place, clinching a spot in the Champions League qualifying round. The winners of Serie B last summer, Hellas Verona are back in the top flight after an eleven year absence. With the rossoneri fielding Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli up front, and Verona relying on 36 year old Luca Toni, it would seem — on paper, at least — that a Milan win could be the only ending to this match up.

“That’s why we play the games” may be a cliche, but it’s one for a reason, and it exists because there is no better way to describe a match such as this one. Sure, Serie A fans know that no trip to the cauldron that is the Stadio Bentegodi will be easy (caveat: at least, not when Verona are playing; Chievo don’t count), but even most supporters felt that, at most, the home side would come away with a point.

But they didn’t count on Luca Toni having a point to prove. Turns out that the veteran didn’t appreciate being written off as a has-been, and emphatically hushed the doubters with a come-from-behind brace to give Verona an opening day victory. Surprisingly, it was neither El Shaarawy nor Balotelli that scored Milan’s goal, but rather newcomer Andrea Poli. Balotelli got in a few words at the end, however, when he was carded for insulting the referee after failing to win a penalty.

Sampdoria 0-1 Juventus

The second of the day’s Serie A matches followed a much more predictable script, with only the torrential rains in Genoa deviating from the norm (and even that wasn’t all that unusual). The pounding water and slick surface combined to create less than ideal conditions, and most likely helped Sampdoria keep the scoreline looking respectable.

The game’s only goal came in the 58th minute, via summer signing Carlos Tevez. Juve’s new striker had already scored his debut goal for the side during the 4-0 Supercoppa rout over Lazio, but giving the bianconeri the goal that secures the first win of the season will certainly endear him further to the fans. Credit must be given to Mirko Vucinic as well. The two forwards combined excellently throughout the match — whenever the rain didn’t send them slipping and sliding — and put plenty of pressure on the Sampdoria defense.

That defense finally splintered in the dying minutes of the game. Paolo Castellini, on the pitch just six minutes, was shown a straight red card for a poor tackle on Stephan Lichtsteiner. There were four additional minutes left to play, but Samp’s back, already bent, was truly broken.

Fiery striker Pablo Osvaldo set to join Fulham… this could go badly


Controversial AS Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo is close to securing a switch to Premier League side Fulham.

Why the negative vibe you ask? Well, he’s got previous.

The only reason Osvaldo is leaving Roma is because he’s had an almighty fall out with just about everyone at the club.

Do Fulham and their new mega-rich owner Shadid Khan really want to deal with Osvaldo’s antics next season?

Also, what if he doesn’t get along with Dimitar Berbatov? That has the potential, from those two alone, to make Fulham’s locker room one of the stroppiest and most negative in the Premier League.

But it shouldn’t all be doom and gloom.

Behind the veil of a troubled and flamboyant individual lies a sensational soccer player. How often do we see these mercurial talents gone bad in today’s game? Mario Balotelli, Joey Barton, Carlos Tevez and a handful of others could easily take the mantle as soccer’s bad boys.

Yet Italian international Osvaldo has the potential to be one of the very best. In flashes he has shown his goalscoring potential at Roma and in La Liga at Espanyol. The Argentine born striker has scored 47 goals in his last 99 league games, he is as strong as an ox, has incredible acceleration and can bring others into the game telepathically with his hold up play. On his day, he’s sensational.

But when things don’t go his way, it’s not a pretty sight. He’s been sent off nine times in six seasons, has returned late for winter camps, fans have vandalized his car at the training ground after he snatched a crucial penalty kick away from captain Francesco Totti… then missed it. The list goes on and on.

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Can Osvaldo finally exorcise his demons?

Like I said, he has previous.

But the latest blowout from Osvaldo is why he’s on his way out of Roma. The 27-year-old was dropped for Roma’s biggest game in years, a Rome Derby in the Coppa Italia final in May against their bitter rivals Lazio.

Following Roma’s loss, Osvaldo refused to get his runners-up medal and insulted interim manager Aurelio Andreazzoli before punching an advertisement board used for post-match TV interviews. Andreazzoli didn’t hide his feelings towards Osvaldo.

“Causing a scene when the TV cameras are running is nothing new for him,” Andreazzoli said. “But then in private he just moans and whines. That’s his problem, though, not mine. For a player who represents the national team, he should have better ethics. But again, that’s his problem.”

After hearing that interview, Osvaldo sent out the following Tweet. “You’d do more good if you admitted to being incompetent… Go celebrate with Lazio.”

For that outburst Osvaldo was left out of Italy’s Confederations Cup squad. Oh dear. Someone didn’t go to the social media training day…

Anyway, at Fulham maybe Martin Jol can keep a handle on Osvaldo and get the best out of his talents. A change of scenery and a new challenge could do the Italian forward the world of good.

But if it all goes pear shaped, expect an in-game scuffle between him and Berbatov. Flip a coin, this could go either way for Fulham.

Deadline day snapshot: Maicon moves to Manchester City from Inter Milan

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The diaspora of the 2010 Champions League winners from Inter Milan continued on Friday, with Manchester City nabbing a player who, despite some regression, is one of the world’s better right backs. For Maicon, he gets a reunion with Roberto Mancini, with whom he won two Scudetti in Italy. He also gets a nice new contract.

Who is this guy: At his best, he’s one of the best right backs in the world. A strong, athletic defenderwith a powerful shot, Maicon scored 16 goals in 176 league appearances during his six year tenure in Milan. At 31 years old, he’s starting to regress from the form that made him the best right back in the world, part of the reason a restructuring Inter are willing to move on.

What does he do: More than other elite right backs, Maicon is capable of doing a little bit of everything. His speed and athleticism can provide width in attack or, using his powerful shot, a threat cutting in. In defense, he can play as a conventional full back or a wing back (valuable given Mancini’s current dalliance with a 3-5-2). He has the physical strength to match attackers one-on-one. Injuries are starting to become a concern, and his rate of regression will be key to whether this is a worthwhile move for City.

How much did he cost: Only £3 million ($4.8 million), a price influenced by age and contract (Maicon was in the last year of his deal). His new deal runs through June 2014.

How does he fit: Not many players could step right into City’s team, but Maicon should. He can play on the right in a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. He has the physical strength to compete immediately in the Premier League, and being familiar with Roberto Mancini, Maicon’s transition time should be minimal.

More deadline day snapshots? Click here. We’ll be cranking them out all day.