Over the past few years there have been many swings taken at Italian soccer. There have been some that have been glad to see a match-fixing scandal which hit the peninsula four years ago.
There have been some that have noted the drop in the success rate of Italian teams in European competition.
But those are also the same people that were not happy to see Italy win the World Cup in 2006. And chances are, those are the same people that do not watch Serie A on a weekly basis and realize there is no such thing as a weak team.
After three weeks of Serie A action for the 2010-11 season, there is a tie amongst the league leaders. But this is a tie that nobody would have predicted. Defending league and European champions Inter Milan are sharing the top spot with little Cesena with seven points each.
Cesena is a city in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and has a population of a slightly under 100,000.
Its squad is back in Serie A for the first time in 19 years. And Cesena knows being in a tie with Inter is an honor.
To put it into context, Cesena’s payroll as a team is 8.3 million euros.
Inter’s highest paid player Samuel Eto’o earns 8 million euros a season.
Cesena’s highest paid player, Luis Jimenez earns 350,000 euros a season. Only Inter’s third-string goalie Paolo Orlandoni earns less than Jimenez.
While Cesena President Igor Campedelli is simply hoping for 40 points (generally the magic number for salvation in Serie A), coach Massimo Ficcadenti has backed little-known striker Emanuele Giaccherini for a spot on Italy’s National Team.
The tiny 25-year-old is playing his first season in Serie A and just three years ago was playing in Italy’s fourth division.
Italian National Team coach Cesare Prandelli admits he has taken notice of Giaccherini.
The league is back in action on Wednesday and Thursday.
Bologna hosts last-place Udinese as reigning Serie A scoring king Antonio Di Natale tries to get his side some points against one of the weaker sides in the league.
Genoa hosts a struggling Fiorentina side, which will try to break out of a slump after earning just a single point after three matches. It was just last season that Fiorentina played in the Champions League and only lost out to Bayern Munich on the away goal differential, not to mention a goal that the German side scored that was clearly offsides and turned out to be the difference.
Inter plays host to surprising Bari, which has yet to lose this season.
Lazio, which has started out strong led by its new attacking midfielder Hernanes, will host AC Milan. The Rossoneri have just four points through three league matches and will hope to break through with a second win of the season.
Napoli hosts Chievo, which was the league leader until losing to Brescia 1-0 this past weekend.
Juventus will host Palermo on Thursday in the final match of the fourth matchday of the season. Palermo has struggled without injured star forward Fabrizio Miccoli and will hope to steal some points from the Bianconeri.