A weekend to forget for second-best Serie A

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Second best is an apt description of Serie A at the moment.

And suddenly the chase for the runners-up spot has taken on more significance that it would normally have done.

Inter did little to honour the title of “Italy’s top team” against Juventus – this being a game that is meant to be bigger for the Milanese side than their own city derby – allowing the Old Lady to somehow escape a potential mugging on Saturday evening.

And we thought Fabio Capello’s Juve side were dull.

Having been totally outplayed by the Nerazzurri, who at times seemed completely uninterested in adding to their 1-0 lead, Claudio Ranieri’s lame ducks - reduced to 10 men for the second week running – somehow contrived to find an equaliser.

It's a terrible state of affairs when a once-proud team are reduced to celebrating a home draw, and there was no surprise on Sunday when the club’s very own propaganda arm Tuttosport were calling for heads to roll.

Grygera nods home last-gasp leveller

First on the chopping block is, of course, Ranieri himself.

In the frame to take over is former midfielder Antonio Conte, who is leading Bari back into the top flight and whose name was chanted around the Olympic Stadium on Saturday – when the local Neanderthals weren’t racially abusing Mario Balotelli that is.

When are the authorities going to make a stand against such uncivilised behaviour, or is a club going to finally find the fortitude to order its players to walk off the pitch?

Anyway, on less pressing matters, Ranieri’s fate may well be sealed by Wednesday evening with failure to overcome Lazio in the Italian Cup.

The Bianconeri are trailing 2-1 from the first leg and the Romans will come into the tie fresh from putting a spanner in the works of Genoa’s Champions League hopes.

Then there is Milan to worry about. The Rossoneri are now level with Juve after sinking Turin’s other side in such a one-sided affair that watching Brazil coach Carlos Dunga asked Adriano Galliani if he could get Carlo Ancelotti to bring Ronaldinho on at the start of the second half.

It is ineptitude more than anything else that is turning the scramble for the Champions League and UEFA Cup spots into the focal point for the closing part of the campaign.

Having buried Roma last week, Genoa and Fiorentina breathed life into the ailing Giallorossi by their own inability to gather at least a point from the aforementioned Lazio and - in the Viola’s case - Udinese.

It is not as if Roma deserve to take advantage of any late nerves from the two sides above them, as they had to rely on a dodgy penalty decision to overcome doomed Lecce.

All-in-all, it was pretty much a weekend to forget all round, although Filippo Inzaghi’s failure to grow old gracefully as he celebrated another hat-trick in trademark demented manner did raise a smile or two.

Pippo pops in another three, and goes suitably insane

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