Big Brother closes in on time-old Italian tradition

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A much-cherished tradition will soon pass into the annals of folklore.

The time when anyone in Italy could turn up at a ground, buy a ticket, stroll in and take your seat – unless someone else had nabbed it first.

Those were the days we will lament as we gaze at our micro-chipped ID/credit-cards and wonder what new club merchandise we can purchase.

Big Brother will have all our information, if they don’t already, on an easy to scan piece of plastic.

And without it no one will be able to attend an away game, which can only mean that sometime in the near future it will be no card, no entry home or away.

The scheme is meant to begin at the turn of the year, so with this in mind Serie Aaaaargh! could not turn down an offer from a few Roman acquaintances to join them at the San Siro on Sunday.

At present, one can still enter a ground possessing a ticket which doesn’t match the name printed thereon.

In theory you can’t, but when around 5,000 AS Roma fans are bearing down on the turnstiles, matching names to tickets becomes less of an issue.

Having driven the near 500km from the capital that morning, the Roman connections were in surprisingly upbeat mood - if somewhat overdressed in puffa jackets more suitable for a full-blown expedition to the Arctic Circle than an evening in northern Italy.

The numerous gaps in the stands did send a chill of dejection down the spine, but at least a panoply of colourful Roman flags and banners gave an almost medieval feel to the occasion in the away end.

And to reshape the line from Marcellus in Pulp Fiction into the context of a Serie A game, Roma were getting medieval on Milan’s a** out there on the wide expanses of the perfectly manicured green turf.

Milan’s wretched season looked set to get even more pitiful when after a mere three minutes Thiago Motta trod on the ball and allowed Jeremy Menez to run unhindered into the area to score.

Just in case we were not aware that the home side were all at sea, a couple of distress flares were set off as the evening settled down into a game of keep-ball.

Time enough then to mull over the issues of the day.

In past years there would have been a European Footballer of the Year nominee in one or both of the teams, but then there is no accounting for taste with France Football - who of course overlooked Paolo Maldini for the Ballon d’Or.

There was no Francesco Totti on show – it seems more than likely that the old master will undergo a meniscus operation by the end of the week – but of the Italians out there surely Daniele De Rossi’s defensive midfield abilities were worth a top 30 spot.

Back in the here and now, light relief came whenever Nelson Dida was teased into kicking the ball by his back-peddling team-mates.

But apart from that, it was boos and jeers that greeted every Milan touch – and that was from the home support.

Then Ronaldinho and Pato had their say in between some eccentric refereeing by Roberto Rosetti.

And suddenly it was as if night had to turned to glorious day as the gloom descended on the visiting fans who were left wondering how their side had lost all three points.

NEWS: Pato rescues Milan against Roma

The great thing about the San Siro is that it clears so quickly at full-time, so it was only a mere 40 minutes after the final whistle that our now deflated guests had said their farewells and were off down the road faster than you could say “It’s a long way home.”

It was an even better weekend for the black and blue half of Milan.

Inter tore Genoa apart thanks to expediency more than anything else.

With only Mario Balotelli and David Suazo available up-front to Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese played the former as a lone striker, packed the midfield and, on his command, unleashed hell.

A five-goal haul was the end result, plus a contender for goal of the season when Dejan Stankovic volleyed home Marco Amelio’s wayward clearance from the half-way line.

NEWS: Stankovic scores stunner in Inter romp
VIDEO: Watch Stankovic score from half-way line

It’s doubtful Jose will use this “happy accident” as a foundation for the future – not with Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o and Thiago Motta waiting to return from injury.

However, given the responsibility to lead the line Balotelli can live up to his promise as one of the most exciting prospects in Italian football.

The youngster came in for some close marking and a verbal spat or two, but for once didn’t rise to the bait – that and finding the net will please his boss more than anything.

Although there is as much chance of Juventus looking like genuine title contenders than the Special One ever having a good word to say about anyone in public.

More points dropped, at home to Fiorentina, Juve still lack ideas and how to bring the best out of Diego.

The Brazilian is looking more and more like a lost soul, continually at the fringes of the action rather in the thick of things.

Much of the problem is the midfield which cannot increase their pace above the pedestrian, with Felipe Melo’s languid approach taking the sting out of any forward movement.

Ciro Ferrara has little time to pick over his team’s failings before what is a must-win game at home to Maccabi Hafia in the Champions League.

No doubt the Old Lady would not mind a slice of Milan’s good fortune to get their own season back up and running again.

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