I like to think of myself as a committed woman. Despite the grief many give to those who have multiple football teams, I pick but one team in a league to support, and I don't waiver. In Serie A, my team is Napoli. And my partenopei rarely disappoint. This is a team who invented Zona Napoli for last minute thrills, who create calendars featuring themselves as Harry Potter wizards, who press high, attack freely, and have a holy man as a goalkeeper. Not to mention Ezequiel Lavezzi's propensity to do naughty, naughty things to a corner flag when he scores. In short, there's plenty of excitement to be found in Naples.
Yet sometimes, I find myself wanting more.
I want your drama
The touch of your hand...
And sometimes, that desire spills over. I catch myself firing up highlight reels. Checking back through ESPN 3 matches. Furtively glancing over my shoulder to make sure no one's catching me in the act. Because I, a committed Napoli fan, am seeking out Udinese.
I want your love and
I want your revenge
I want your love
I don't wanna be friends
There is something seductive about Udinese. When they beat Napoli 3-1 back in November, I was furious with my club, thinking that it was their weakness that brought about the win. But since that match, the Bianconeri have lost just once in seven Serie A games, drawn 4-4 with Milan at the San Siro, and beat an Inter side that was undefeated since Leonardo took over.
More so than those impressive results, however, is the sheer joy of watching Udinese play football. Should you be so unlucky as to encounter anyone still stuck on the belief that Serie A is boring, sit them down and make them watch one of their matches. After failed formation experiments brought them four consecutive defeats to begin the season, manager Francesco Guidolin has settled, more or less, on a 3-5-2, with Alexis Sánchez playing in a free role behind Antonio Di Natale. In this position, Sánchez is able to utterly befuddle defenses, often causing them to resort to fouls in order to stop the Chilean. With opposing teams occupied by Sánchez, Di Natale takes advantage, getting himself into space. Those opportunities have allowed him to score 15 goals in league play this season, currently Serie A's top scorer.
You know that I want you
And you know that I need you
I want it bad, your bad romance
But just a woman cannot, in good conscious, give her friends advice on staying with the town playboy, nor can I recommend to people to become fans of Udinese. In all likelihood, even if the club advances to European play next season, the squad will be dismantled and sold off. Sánchez, first a target for Inter, is being wooed by Chelsea, and if the London club pony up the big bucks, it's almost certain Udinese won't be able to resist. Without the help of Sánchez, aging Di Natale will likely start to fade. The fluidity and attack of Udinese will be lost.
Clubs are a long-term commitment. To decide to chose Udinese this season just might resort in a lifetime of pain and heartbreak - a true bad romance. But then again, what fandom doesn't result in such suffering?
*Thanks to, or perhaps apologies to, Lady Gaga. Bad Romance lyrics found on AZ Lyrics.