Benevento’s sorcerers add to Milan’s misery


You are not able to say that we did not alert you. Questioned to demonstrate just how tiny Benevento, from the Campania region, finds alone in Serie A this season, for the 1st time at any time, critics like your correspondent very last summertime pointed to the town’s so-termed “magical” characteristics.

The point is that, given that historic Roman moments, Benevento has been recognized as the “city of Sorcerers”, the residence city of wizards. Some could possibly even argue, with all because of respect to then coach Marco Baroni, that it was only many thanks to the endeavours of wizards and witches that the club unexpectedly created it to Serie A very last spring.

What ever about that marketing, you could be forgiven for arguing that the wizards were being challenging at operate down in Benevento very last Sunday. Until eventually then, Benevento’s season experienced been an unmitigated catastrophe. Their record go through: Played 14, Dropped 14, factors. And then together arrived the mighty AC Milan, by themselves just a tiny shaky pursuing very last week’s sacking of coach Vincenzo Montella, replaced by 2006 Earth Cup winner, Rino Gattuso.

When we seemed at the fixture list, most of us assumed that Gattuso experienced been gifted an great beginning place as Milan coach, with an away fixture towards Benevento, the club which now holds the Italian all-time record for the worst seasonal begin. Absolutely this function will get Gattuso off to a good begin, no?

In fact, as we headed into injury time, that was the way it seemed. Immediately after an admittedly unconvincing efficiency, Milan seemed completely ready to wrap up a very important 2-1 away victory. Buoyed by a target just soon after 50 percent-time and not resigned regardless of a second Milan target five minutes afterwards, Benevento poured forward in the remaining minutes towards a defensive Milan, down to 10 gentlemen in the wake of the 75th minute sending-off of defender, Alessio Romagnoli.

As the prevent watch strike 95 minutes, Benevento were being awarded a absolutely free-kick out on the left, shut to the penalty location. From the Benevento bench, a person shouted at goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli to “get up there” for what would probably be Benevento’s very last chance.

This is a scene that we witness week soon after week. In a remaining, all or nothing extraordinary gesture, the goalkeeper rushes up to the other stop for the injury-time corner kick that could possibly just help save the working day. Gigi Buffon, in the very last seconds of Italy’s Earth Cup participate in-off elimination by Sweden very last thirty day period, is just the most recent in a long line of keepers to hurl by themselves into the attacking fray.

In Buffon’s case, as in most other circumstances, the gesture was completely in vain frequently the keeper will get nowhere in the vicinity of the cross. The difference, however, is that Buffon and good friends do not have the witches and wizards on their aspect. Brignoli took a deep breath, shut his eyes and pulled off what he subsequently termed “a goalkeeper’s jump” to rating an historic target that gave Benevento a 2-2 attract and their 1st stage of the season.

For 26-calendar year-old Brignoli, generating only his ninth overall look in Serie A soon after a profession right until now with lessen division sides these types of as Montechiari, Lumezzane and Ternana, this was an surprising pleasure, “one that I will a person working day proudly notify to my grandchildren”. Even at Benevento, Brignoli did not begin this season as 1st-decision goalkeeper, owning replaced Slovenian Vid Belec on the eighth working day of the season.

The guy who created that determination, then coach Marci Baroni, was not on the bench on Sunday, owning been replaced by Roberto De Zerbi just five months again. A journeyman player whose actively playing profession touched lots of golf equipment and bundled two Romanian titles with CFR 1907 Cluj, De Zerbi started out off as a youth workforce player at guess the place – why, Milan, of course.

De Zerbi and Benevento, may well have place nevertheless a different spanner in the Milan operates as the aspect which reportedly invested additional than €250 million on new players this summertime continues to misfire in Serie A. Milan now lie joint 7th in Serie A soon after a attract about which Gattuso explained that “a knife in the abdomen would have been far better than that goal”.

Worse nevertheless for the Milan followers is that the consideration that at the stop of a sizeable weekend, it is their town cousins, Internazionale, who now sit atop Serie A pursuing on their 5- destruction work of Chievo and pursuing, previously mentioned all, that 1- Juventus earn above Napoli on Friday night, knocking the Naples club off the prime. (We did recommend that it was a tiny premature to be producing off the “Old Lady”).

Inter, much too, seem like a additional critical aspect, week soon after week. With 18 factors additional by comparison with the identical date very last season, owning conceded 11 fewer targets and scored 11 additional, and all with a largely unchanged squad, you would have to conclude that this season’s new coach, Luciano Spalletti, need to be performing a thing ideal.

The prime of Serie A, much too, is quickly searching really competitive, led by Inter on 39 factors followed by Napoli on 38, Juventus on 37 and Roma on 34 (but with a game in hand). Immediately after the trauma of Italy’s Earth Cup elimination, are the followers about to be compensated with the most intently contested Serie A title contest in years?

That stays to be witnessed. These are nevertheless early days. What is specific, even so, is that very last weekend’s outcomes have set us up for a mouth-watering “derby d’Italia” in Turin next Saturday night in between champions Juventus and leaders Inter. Possessing very last weekend struck a significant dent in Napoli’s ambitions, who is to say that the Outdated Woman will not repeat the trick towards Inter?

Internazionale, even so, go into this game with at minimum a person advantage, specifically no midweek European fixture. Juventus, in contrast, journey to Athens for an away Champions League tie towards Olympiakos on Tuesday night, figuring out that to be specific of their place in the second round, they need to have to earn.

Perhaps, the most fascinating, if noticeable sub-plot to this wonderful Juve-Inter drama worries the two gentlemen main the respective assaults, Argentine rivals Mauro Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain. The two gentlemen are in breathtaking kind as evidenced both of those by Icardi’s 16th goal of the season towards Chievo and, arguably even additional, by Higuain’s monstrous 13th minute match-winner towards Napoli. Stand by for a significant night at the Allianz Stadium and watch out much too for any indications of broom sticks or linked sorcery.

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