Italy: Still all to play for as midpoint approaches

As the Italian Football League (IFL) approaches the midpoint of the 2022 season, all is still to play for with most teams having only a win or two separating them from the league leaders.

Verona Mastini 1-1 @ Ancona Dolphins 2-2

The first week 6 matchup will see two teams vying to get past .500. The Ancona Dolphins started the season strong with convincing wins against both the Bologna Warriors and Milano Rhinos.

The past two games have been less fortuitous however as both the Firenze Guelfi and Lazio Ducks managed to get the better of them in close games.

The Dolphins will now look to reclaim their position as a top team. But to do so they will need to control the turnover battle. In both losses quarterback Colin Di Galbo was able to put up over 20 points, but interceptions and fumbles cost the team a win in the end.

On the other side of the ball, Verona has played only two games. Their first was a 31-0 stomping at the hands of the Warriors, while their second was a well-earned 23-16 win over the Modena Vipers. Neither game produced much in the way of offense with their turnstyle quarterback/wildcat style of play. If they hope to compete with the Dolphins this week, they will need to get some more consistency offensively and produce some longer drives, keeping their defense off the field.

Bologna Warriors 1-3 @ Modena Vipers 1-1 

This will be a game to watch as it will allow us to see which of these teams stands to challenge in the post-season.

The Vipers win last weekend against the reigning national champions, the Parma Panthers, shone a spotlight straight on Modena. All eyes will now be on this weekend’s matchup, to see if the Vipers are truly for real or if they just took advantage of an injury ridden Parma squad.

The Warriors on the other hand have had a tough season thus far. They narrowly missed out on two victories in the early part of the season before getting thrashed by the Firenze Guelfi in week 3. Their one win came against Mastina, which to their credit was a convincing 31-0 victory, showing exactly what the offense is made of with quarterback Gabriel Cousineau putting up over 220 yards in the air and three touchdowns.

Milano Seamen 2-0 @ Milano Rhinos 0-3

This Milan derby on paper looks to be a forgone conclusion with arguably the best team in the league facing off against the worst. But there will be a few things to consider before casting your votes.

The Milano Seamen have been inactive since week 2. This unusually long dry spell will mean that players, although keen to get back in action, may be slightly rusty and unacquainted with the flow of the league.

Additionally, the Rhinos are better than their record lets on. Outside of their beatdown in Ancona the Rhinos have been in two very tight games, one with arguably the best offense in the league, the Guelfi. In those two games Rhinos quarterback Daniel Santacaterina threw for 508 yards and five touchdowns. The Seamen should be wary when approaching him.

Despite these two significant considerations, the Seamen have proven to be a quality and consistent organization over the years. They will likely find little difficulty finding their groove once they step on the field.

Lazio Ducks 2-1 @ Parma Panthers 2-2

The final game of week 6 will see a Panthers side reeling from a loss to the recently promoted Vipers and the red hot Lazio Ducks. This will be each team’s toughest test so far and may be the defining point for their seasons.

Last week’s loss to the Vipers may have been aided by nine missing starters but championship teams find a way to win against teams in the bottom half of the table. 

The Panthers now sit at 2-2 after a beat down by their rivals, the Milano Seamen in week 2. If they want to turn their season around and get back to the dominance they had last year they will need to get a little more explosive and less predictable on offense. If anyone has the ability to forge this change, it’s head coach Marc Mattioli.

The Ducks on the other hand are already in a great position. Since their week one beatdown by the Seamen, the Ducks have been in two down-to-the-wire contests, coming out on top. Their ability to adapt and their gritty demeanor on offense has kept them in games. Expect quarterback Calvin Stitt to do the same this week and against a Panthers side lacking confidence.

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He played for the London Warriors for 15 years as well as Team Great Britain .