Catanzaro, Antonini convinced everyone


By John

The flag raised a few centimeters does not change the quality of the gesture, the strength and precision of the header, the skill with which Matias Antonini had equalized the match against Como. The offside call for nothing, due to a cursed shoulder forward, may have frustrated Catanzaro's comeback and left a burning zero in the standings (nullifying the equally extraordinary assist from Fulignati, a goalkeeper with the feet of a good midfielder), but it does not affect the centrality that the Brazilian defender was able to take on in just over two months and in just nine games.
From someone taken from Serie C and who had never been in Serie B before January, an even slightly slower insertion was expected: it would have been physiological. Instead, Antonini forged ahead. Evidently, together with the technical and physical skills that had aroused the club's interest since last summer, this boy who turned 26 just yesterday has personality and intelligence to spare. Otherwise he would not have absorbed the impact as if it were nothing against the strongest opponents he has ever faced (the first was Falcinelli in La Spezia, certainly not the last striker in the category), nor would he become so important in Vivarini's team .
«He's someone who learns quickly», explained the coach after the first days of work of the boy born in Porto Alegre and purchased from Taranto on 18 January. Matias would have agreed with him immediately. The first quality he added to the center of defense is physical strength, in the air and beyond: his signing filled the most well-known gap in defense, which needed kilos and centimeters to oppose to people who were generally more structured and bigger of the players in yellow and red.
Second positive aspect: Antonini knows what to do with the ball at his feet and this is why Vivarini had few problems deploying him both as a substitute for Brighenti – the crucial man for the approach from below –, both as an alternative to Scognamillo, who since the arrival of number 4 has also been moved to the left, increasing the solutions. The third profile for which Antonini is proving to be essential is his sense of position: he never seems to make a mistake in his positioning, in one area or in another. It is a sign that he knows how to read the movements of his opponents very well (in fact he has only received one warning so far), his teammates and the ball. And from this comes the fundamental that more than anything else puts him on display: he scores almost as if he were an attacker with those headers that look like whips. It's difficult to say which of the three goals scored so far is the best among those against Ascoli, Sudtirol and Parma. Certainly all three were perfect for the combination of body positioning, timing of the jump, precision and power of the gesture.
The one against Como would have been his fourth goal in the league, a magnificent early gift for his birthday. The forward shoulder choked the joy of him, of the team, of the fans, but there is still time to make up for it. In the tournament and in the playoffs, the Antonini factor can weigh heavily.