Thursday, March 02, 2017

Italy February 2017

An afternoon flight, late because of storm Doris, to Rome then train to my B & B near Termini.
Followed by metro and tram.

23rd February 2017  Roma 0 Villarreal 1  Europa League  19,495 (c. 100 away)

The Rome Olympic Stadium is as ever, iconic even though the outcome of this tie, with Roma 4-0 up from the first leg, was never in doubt.
Despite that decent numbers turned out in the Curva Sud.
They, like many, had to witness a fairly inept first half from the home side.

Then Roma gifted Villarreal an early goal but that was it for the visitors despite quite a few efforts on goal.
Most of the time they were thwarted by Brazilian goalie Alisson.

He was replacing Szczesny and Roma also did without Dzeko and Salah but did include the ageless Totti up front.
The famous no.10 was never likely to run the channels but he can still deliver a telling pass.

Roma stepped it up after the break and Perotti, particularly, produced some testers.

One negative, apart from the home defeat, was a red card for full back Rudiger who received a second yellow for a push to the face of a Villarreal defender.
Otherwise it was job done for the Giallorossi.

I returned via the tram (comfortable enough) and metro.
Some Valpolicella, plus nuts and crisps - a version of the Mediterranean diet, to complete the evening in the Eternal City.

24th February  Benevento 3 Bari 4  Serie B  11,498 (c. 500 away)

I took an early train to Benevento in Campania ,east of Napoli which features a very impressive Trajan Arch.
Also impressive is the rise of the local football team, now aiming for Serie A.

But on this showery evening they had a setback, ultimately being outscored by Bari

Not only did we get a pulsating first half but also some fine choreo, from both sets of fans.
Bari brought a large group of supporters and they played their part.

And the home Curva Sud, as forecast in the local paper, produced a fine display.

Straight from the start Bari pushed forward but their initial wave of attacks were repulsed and   
the home side went in front when full back Lopez headed in at the far post.
Within a minute Bari had levelled when the excellent Galano shot in from close range.

Bari then extended their lead, first from a low cross then from a penalty conceded by Chibsah.
However Benevento got it back to 2-3 after Cisse headed in a right wing cross.
The second ended with plenty of abuse for the officials (missing offsides, fouls and awarding the pen.)
After the interval we couldn’t get another half like before but Benevento immediately equalised after a fine move down the right and a near post conversion by striker Ceravolo.

But ultimately it was Bari who would have the last word when Galano controlled a cross and shot pat Cragno to make it 3-4.

The last twenty minutes saw the away side consolidate and waste time (particularly their goalie)
Although the excellent Falco threatened via a free kick and a shot against bar, it was not to be for Benevento.

I walked back to my B & B near the Arch having witnessed an excellent evenings’ entertainment.

25th February  Avellino 3 Vicenza 1  Serie B  2,956 (c. 20 away)

Thinking of travelling between Benevento and Avellino by public transport ?
Well there are not too many options with limited buses and just a few trains a day.
It seems not many people make the trip - just one other on the early train and only myself for the late afternoon return ride.

I guess Avellino has limited outstanding features though there is a chemical plant on the road into the town.
Arriving early I whiled away the time drinking coffee and eventually finding some wi-fi.

After that a walk to the stadium as the rain started to fall.

As in Benevento this was another two tier mostly open ground.
Like many in Serie B it has seen better days but the character remains.

Fortunately the pitch was artificial as in other circumstances the game would have been postponed because of the persistent torrential rain.
As the match wore on there was more and more surface water to splash through.

It was the home side that eventually adapted and their determination got them the points.
They scored two first half goals from Angelo D’Angelo and added another, helped by a Vicenza error, soon after the break.

The visitors managed one strike from Nicolo Bellomo mid way through the second period.
And though they applied some late pressure Avellino held on for the win.
The result left Vicenza in continued danger of relegation.

I splashed through the car park and took a taxi back to the station for the (replacement) bus
service to Benevento.
Back at the B & B the hair dryer came in handy to help dry out my clothes.

I finished the evening watching some of the Juve game while quaffing some vino rosso.

26th February  Lupa Roma 3 Lucchese 1  Lega Pro  c.150 (c.30 away)

The day dawned drier as I took the early train back to the capital.

As before I stayed near to Termini and thence to the metro to Ponte Mammolo.
Where you can get a fairly frequent bus to Tivoli.

On the bus you might need to avoid those begging before you arrive about 50 minutes later.

Then its a forty minute walk to the ground, on the edge of town past an old archway.
I had to forgo the villas and old temples but had a very pleasant afternoon strolling through some of the Campagna countryside on the way to the Olindo Galli.

Which comprises a single stand plus some semi-temporary seats for the away fans (who brought some impressively large flags)

The game featured French striker Mohamed Fofana who was involved in most of the significant action.
Firstly he was brought down by a Lucchese defender when put through on goal.
That meant the visitors ended up playing most of the game with ten men.

Though nothing came of the resulting free kick Fofana would get the chance to convert two penalties (both coolly done - looking at the goalie) and they added a third at the end through sub. Iaderesta.

It had started very promisingly for Lucchese after the tall Fanucchi headed in a cross on 4 minutes but after that red card the match went away from them.

So three points for Lupa in their battle against relegation.

Going back the bus was packed due to various activities in the centre of town (carnival-related I think)
Meanwhile in Roma your correspondent settled down in a hectic central restaurant with some escalope while forcing down some more vino.

The following day I spent a little while admiring the ancient forums (yes - they had forums in those days too) and the coliseum (where gladiators v lions was the big match) before getting my flight back to Gatwick.

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