Chelsea make the daunting trip to the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night, fresh from a frustrating 1-1 draw against Birmingham City in the FA Cup fifth round. And after André Villas-Boas’ side failed to keep out Championship opposition, it is difficult to envisage the Blues shutting out Napoli’s lethal front-three of Edinson Cavani, Ezeguiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik. Is there a better attacking trio in club football? Barcelona certainly have a shout, but Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik have scored a combined 32 goals this season. Italy’s most exciting side showcased their ruthless counter-attacking style against Manchester City in the Champions League group stages, and Walter Mazzari’s side are in fine form ahead of the last-16 tie, having dismantled Fiorentina 3-0 at Stadio Artemi Franchi courtesy of Cavani’s brace and Lavezzi’s superb solo strike. A Chelsea defence in disarray, and without John Terry, will be a tantalising prospect for Napoli’s Triumvirate.
Marco Di Vaio was Bologna’s best performer in a 3-0 victory over Internazionale on Friday, and the 35-year-old striker rolled back the years with a quick-fire brace which helped the visitors secure three vital points in their bid to avoid relegation. The former Italy international was on hand to complete a sweeping Bologna move and soon after, the former Valencia striker capitalised on Andrea Ranocchia’s mistake to double the away side’s lead. But the Bologna skipper provided more than a goal threat, defying his age to produce a tireless display and leading from the front. The Rome-born striker, perhaps Serie A’s very own version of Kevin Phillips, now has 64 goals in 133 appearances for Bologna.
Luis Enrique still found time to criticise Roma, despite his side’s 1-0 victory over Parma at the weekend. The Rome outfit bounced back from a disappointing defeat by Siena last Monday to grind out a narrow win, keeping Enrique’s side in contention for a third-place finish. Despite the prize of Champions League football next season still in sight, the former Barcelona B coach still has an awful lot of work to do at Roma. The 41-year-old has added quality to his squad with the likes of Gabriel Heinze, Pablo Osvaldo, and Maarten Stekelenburg, while Daniele De Rossi’s decision to stay in the capital was a vote of confidence for Roma’s manager. But the Spaniard’s attempts to get his side to replicate Barcelona’s style of play has delivered mixed results. Consistency remains the key for the capital club. “I am very happy with the three points and the squad did very well today, even when defending,” said Enrique after the win over Parma. “We still lack consistency, though, as that is what’s missing now. We need the right attitude and I believe we’ve made big steps forward compared to the opening 10 rounds of the season.”
A nine-year-old Inter supporter was captured on camera during his side’s shock loss to Bologna at the San Siro holding aloft a banner which read: “Could you win, please? Otherwise they make fun of me at school! Thank you. Filippo.” Veteran striker Di Viao inspired the visitors to a shock victory, prompting Inter to release an official apology to poor Filippo. Club president Massimo Morratti then organised the youngster a trip to Inter’s training ground, where captain Javier Zanetti presented Filippo with a signed shirt. “I won’t change team, as I remain an Inter fan,” Filippo told Telelombardia. “When we won the Treble, I was the one who wound up my friends. Now I can walk around with my head held high. I hope the banner I showed against Bologna is the last I will have to hold up.”