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An antipodean’s guide to Serie A

Torino’s Frederico Graziani celebrating the 1976 scudetto, il Toro’s first since Superga and last to date.

Italian football’s Serie A starts in less than a fortnight and I, for one, am even more excruciatingly excited than usual. Why? Because my beloved Roma have a great new coach famed for his all-out attacking style and, what’s more, he has some exciting new young and ultra-talented signings at his disposal. This might just be our year!

But wait! There’s more! For those of you poor sad antipodean saps who are new to Serie A, just because this really is the sweet and wonderful kind of person I am, I have magnanimously decided to compile a completely unbiased (yeah right) wee guide to help you choose a team to support. Below you will find everything you always wanted to know about the 2012/13 Serie A clubs that Wikipedia could have told you but you probably can’t be arsed looking up yourself.

If you decide that Roma is not for you, fear not. Don’t let the disappointment of failure in your first season put you off. Just remember – It’s character building.

Atalanta – From Bergamo near Milan. Nickname is La Dea (The Goddess). Key derby is with Brescia (currently in Serie B). Best player is Germán Denis, the Argentinian international scored 16 goals last season. They are cool because it’s fun to taunt Inter by calling Atalanta “the real nerazzurri” (black and blues). They are uncool because they are always going to be a rather boring mid-table sort of team, seldom good enough to make Europe, seldom bad enough to get relegated. Yaaaawn. You might be an Atalanta supporter if your other interests include scrabble, long walks in deserted car parks, and the many restorative properties of vanilla essence.

Bologna – From Bologna in the region of Emilia Romagna. Nickname is the Rossoblù (red and blues). Key derby is with Parma (derby d’Emilia – derby of Emilia). Best player is Italian national team striker Alessandro Diamanti. They are cool because I tend to think with my stomach and the city of Bologna is famous for its yummy mortadella sausage and scrummy cheesy tortellini. They are uncool because The Rossoblù’s recent history has been somewhat tumultuous with several ownership changes. Might not be in Serie A much longer. You might be a Bologna supporter if you consider pasta one of the major food groups.

Cagliari – From the island of Sardinia off Italy’s Mediterranean coast. Nickname is the Isolani (Islanders). Key derby is with Palermo (derby delle Isole – derby of the islands). Best player is Daniele Conti – son of former Roma great and 1982 World Cup winner Bruno. The little snot always scores against Roma, damn him to hell… They are cool because being from Sardinia makes them a bit quirky and different. They are uncool because I REALLY hate Daniele Conti… You might be a Cagliari supporter if in Judas Iscariot’s shoes, you’d have probably settled for ten pieces of silver.

Catania – From the island of Sicily. Nickname is the Elefanti (Elephants). Key derby is with Palermo (derby di Sicilia – derby of Sicily). Best player is… personally my favourite is Japanese international striker Takayuki Morimoto, but he hasn’t seen a lot of game time recently. Catania fans might instead prefer their former Italian international central defender Nicola Legrottaglie who scored five goals for them last season. They are cool because they perform like a late model high spec Toyota Corolla – swift, agile, reliable and true, but with the aesthetics of a 1978 Lada. Particularly difficult to beat at home. They are uncool because there is nothing very fashionable about Catania, a real battler’s club, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might be a Catania supporter if you are a sucker for a good underdog.

Chievo– From Verona. Nickname is Mussi Volanti (Flying Donkeys). Key derby is with Hellas Verona (currently in Serie B) (derby Della Scala – named after the Della Scala princes that once ruled Verona). Best player is tough to pick but I’m going for Slovenian international left back Bojan Jokić. They are cool because their nickname came from taunting by rival Hellas Verona fans who had a banner that said “you’ll be in Serie A when donkeys fly!” They are uncool because they are a tiny club that apart from the whole underdog thing are difficult to find the beauty in. You might be a Chievo supporter if after reading ‘The Ugly Duckling’ you felt let down by the ending.

Fiorentina – From Florence. Nickname is la Viola (the purples). Key derby is with Juventus. Best player is Peruvian international winger Juan Vargas. They are cool because Florence is a showy renaissance city that is one of the world’s finest centres of art and culture. Its cool aspects have traditionally rubbed off on its football team, albeit with limited success on the pitch. They are uncool because right now is not a particularly good time to be a Fiorentina supporter. Having recently boasted the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Rui Costa, and Luca Toni, they look a wee bit uninspiring at the moment. You might be a Fiorentina supporter if you drive a really nice car but only when there is no chance of getting it dirty.

Genoa – From Genoa. Nickname is the Grifone (Griffins). Key derby is with Sampdoria (derby della lanterna – named for the lighthouse in the bay of Genoa).  Best player is Italian international striker Alberto Gilardino. They are cool because Genoa is the oldest club in Italy and they have won Serie A 9 times. Only Juventus, Milan and Inter are more successful. They are uncool because their last title was in 1924. You might be a Genoa supporter if you were alive in 1924.

Internazionale – From Milan. Nickname is the Nerazzurri (black and blues). Key derby is with Milan (derby della Madonnina – named for the little statue of the Madonna that is on top of the Milan Cathedral). Best player is I will grudgingly admit that Wesley Sneijder is a pretty cool player to watch. They are cool because… sorry, nope, coming up with something cool about Inter would go against every fibre of my being. They are uncool because they cheat and they play dirty. You might be an Inter supporter if you kill small, cute and fluffy animals for the fun of it.

Juventus – From Turin. Nickname is La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady). Key derby is with Inter (derby d’Italia – derby of Italy). Best player is Gianluigi Buffon, best goalkeeper in the world. They are cool because there has to be something admirable about a club that inspired the sort of loyalty from players like Buffon and Del Piero that they were prepared to play a season in Serie B when the club was demoted for match fixing. They are uncool because they got caught red handed paying off referees, yet they still insist that the two championships that were stripped from them remain theirs as of right. No class. You might be a Juventus supporter if your gold medallions are only outweighed by your sense of entitlement.

Lazio – From Rome. Nickname is the Biancocelesti (white and sky blues). Key derby is with Roma (derby della capitale – capital derby). Best player is German striker Miroslav Klose. They are cool because they are the second best Serie A team based in the best city in the world. They are uncool because most of their supporters are openly fascist. You might be a Lazio supporter if you think Benito Mussolini was tragically misunderstood.

Milan – From Milan, obviously. Nickname is the Rossoneri (red and blacks). Key derby is with Inter (derby della Madonnina – named for the little statue of the Madonna that is on top of the Milan Cathedral). Best player is the mercurial, enigmatic and temperamental yet brilliant Antonio Cassano. They are cool because they were originally founded as a cricket club. They are uncool because their owner is the vile former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. You might be a Milan supporter if you are a bandwagon jumper who also supports Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Napoli – From Naples. Nickname is the Partenopei (Neopolitans). Key derby is with Roma (derby del sole – derby of the sun, named for the highway of the sun that connects Rome with Naples). Best player is lots to choose from here but it’s hard to go past Slovakian creative genius Marek Hamšík. They are cool because a powerhouse of Italy’s much maligned but misunderstood South, they used to be the club of Diego Maradona. They are uncool because their supporters can be a little annoying. Notoriously one-eyed and very vocal – bad combination. You might be a Napoli supporter if you start each season thinking you will win the champions league whether you’ve qualified for it or not.

Palermo – From the island of Sicily. Nickname is the Rosanero (pink and blacks). Key derby is with Catania (derby di Sicilia – derby of Sicily). Best player is their captain fantastic, former Juventus and Italian National Team striker Fabrizio Miccoli. They are cool because real men look fabulous in pink. They are uncool because they are gaining an unhappy reputation as a bit of a feeder club. They seem to lose many of their best players at each and every summer transfer window. You might be a Palermo supporter if you would consider swapping a Maserati for a Fiat Panda and a half eaten chocolate fish.

Parma – From Parma in the region of Emilia Romagna. Nickname is the Ducali (Duchies). Key derby is with Bologna (derby d’Emilia – derby of Emilia). Best player is 2006 World Cup winning squad member Cristian Zaccardo. He might be remembered most for his own goal in the 1-1 draw with USA but he’s a pillar of strength in the Parma defence. They are cool because they are from the home of the best cheese in the world, Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham). They’ve also won a lot of European trophies (two UEFA Cups and a Cup Winner’s Cup) for a small provincial club. They are uncool because Their president, Tommaso Ghirardi, is a bit too trigger happy for most people’s liking. They change their manager more often than some people change their underwear. You might be a Parma supporter if you’re a bit cheesy and like to ham it up! (See what I did there?)

Pescara – From Pescara in the region of Abruzzo on the Adriatic Coast. Nickname is the Delfini (Dolphins). Key derby is with Lazio. Best player is I have to admit the only Pescara player I’ve heard of is Roma youth product Gianluca Caprari. So him…  They are cool because the coach that won them promotion to Serie A last season was the brilliant and avant-garde new Roma manager Zdeněk Zeman. They are uncool because they are almost certainly going straight back down. You might be a Pescara supporter if you live in Pescara.

Roma – From Rome. Nickname is the Giallorossi (yellow and reds) or Lupi (Wolves). Key derby is with Lazio (derby della capitale – capital derby).  Best player up until recently was Francesco Totti, hands down, although Daniele De Rossi is now starting to assume the mantle. They are cool because for a completely unbiased view on this, see my previous lengthy writing on the subject. You might be a Roma supporter if you are awesome in every way imaginable.

Sampdoria – From Genoa. Nickname is the Blucerchiati (blue rings). Key derby is with Genoa (derby della lanterna – named for the lighthouse in the bay of Genoa). Best player is potentially Italian age-group international Andrea Poli who had a successful season long loan spell at Inter last term. They are cool because they have the most stylish shirts in the league. They are uncool because their logo is supposed to be a sailor but instead it looks like a Star Wars bounty hunter with a tobacco pipe shoved through its schnozzle. You might be a Sampdoria supporter if you are so stoned that the logo really does look like a sailor…

Siena – From Siena in Tuscany. Nickname is Robur (Strength). Key derby is with Fiorentina. Best player is prolific Albanian international striker Erjon Bogdani. They are cool because Siena will always have a special place in my heart for beating Inter in the penultimate round of the 07/08 season, giving Roma an unexpected shot at winning the league. They are uncool because they have a she wolf suckling Romulus and Remus on their logo. Copy cats. Even though they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. You might be a Siena supporter if… let’s face it, you are not going to support Siena. Poor Siena. Why are you being so mean to Siena? What has Siena ever done to you???

Torino – From Turin. Nickname is the Granata (Pomegranates) or il Toro (the Bull). Key derby is with Juventus (derby della Mole – derby of the Mole, don’t ask me why). Best player is former Manchester City striker Rolando Bianchi. They are cool because a bit of a romantic’s choice, they have struggled ever since their nigh on unbeatable ‘Grande Torino’ squad was killed in the Superga Air Disaster in 1949. The working class choice of Turin. They are uncool because if you want to support Torino, you had better get used to a long hard slog of soul destroying wretched suffering. You might be a Torino supporter if after 20 years of abject misery, you still enjoy watching the New Zealand cricket team.

Udinese – From Udine near the border with Slovenia. Nickname is the Zebrette (Little Zebras). Key derby is with Triestina (currently in Serie D). Best player is talismanic Italian international forward Antonio (Toto) Di Natale. They are cool because they are in the Champions League this season! They are uncool because they are often thought of as something of a poor person’s Juventus. You might be a Udinese supporter if you prefer the Monkeys to the Beatles, the Android to the iPhone, and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Puccini.


Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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