Serie a Wrap: Milan, Juventus, Inter Focus
It has been an eventful weekend of action in Serie A where the league's big three sides all managed to pick up three points.
The Old Lady's victory was marred by controversy though, after the Elefanti were denied a perfectly legitimate goal in the first half. Gonzalo Bergessio was adjudged to have strayed offside, but replays clearly showed that the Bianconeri should have conceded the lead to the Sicilians.
Arturo Vidal was able to capitalise on the champions' good fortune by snatching all three points to maintain the Bianconeri's relentless march towards a second successive title.
Interestingly though, there was such a sense of injustice that a bookmaker even paid out bets placed on Catania to win or draw the match. Still, this will be of no consolation to Rolando Maran, who cut a furious figure on the touch line at full time.
Last year's main challengers to Juve were able to potentially ignite their season with a scrappy win at home to Genoa. The Rossoneri were able to seal the victory in the closing stages through another Stephan El Shaarawy goal.
The Azzurri international, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday, struck with 13 minutes remaining. Ignazio Abate appeared to be offside when he gathered Urby Emanuelson's pass, cruelly denying Genoa a point, who had defended well until this point.
Inter Milan's fine form continues, with Andrea Stramaccioni guiding the Nerazzurri to a fifth successive victory, becoming the league's hottest team right now.
Bologna was absolutely sodden with heavy rain throughout Sunday, which appeared to make the encounter a little closer than it might have done on a hot, sunny afternoon in Emilia-Romagna.
Inter's performance was undeniably impressive though, taking the lead in the first half through an Andrea Ranocchia header. Rodrigo Palacio, who was in particularly inspiring form, set up Diego Milito for the Nerazzurri to regain the lead, before Nicolo Cherubin responded for the hosts.
It was another moment of genius from Palacio, who slipped in another compatriot, Esteban Cambiasso, who delightfully chipped the goalkeeper to ice the match.
Italian football is in a state of flux currently — given that it now appears to be a distinct possibility that Serie A will not have any representatives in the Champions League knock-out phases — which means that the traditional giants of the game are in need of a new strategy.
One thing that Milan, Juventus and Inter all seem to have in common is an outstanding young prospect in their squad that they expect to develop into a bona fide star.
Juventus have the young midfielder Paul Pogba, who recently signed from Manchester United on a free transfer. Potentially a replacement for Andrea Pirlo, although not directly, Juve have grand plans for the Frenchman.å
Milan are beginning to become very excited by the emergence of Stephan El Shaarawy as a deadly striker. With six goals in nine matches thus far, it is easy to see why, given his maturity to carry such a huge club in times of difficulty.
Inter Milan have quietly integrated the young Brazilian centre-back, Juan Jesus, into the starting lineup. The Seleção star is seen as being capable of replicating Lucio's success in Europe, having also joined from Brasileirão club Internacional.
With all three stars playing prominent roles in their clubs' victories in Serie A this weekend, the question is, which players will develop into the most prominent figure for their club in years to come?
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