What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 16

In the wonderfully enthralling world of Serie A calcio, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up with the current news, developing storylines, team performances and individual efforts on a weekly basis. This is where we come in.

As we head into round 16 of play on Italian soil, and rapidly approach the midway point of the 2019/20 season, we will begin to establish what is worth keeping an eye on and what should be less of a priority.

Here are five things to watch for in Serie A this weekend.

Juventus’ response after first defeat - Juventus were the only remaining unbeaten side left in the top five leagues, but that all changed last weekend in Rome as Lazio dealt them their first defeat 3-1. It was perhaps only a matter of time until Maurizio Sarri’s Bianconeri were humbled a bit as they have labored through many of their matches with less than convincing performances as a collective. After the loss at the Stadio Olimpico, Juventus returned to winning ways over Bayer Leverkusen in their UCL fixture to round out the group phase which saw them finish first. Attention now shifts back to the league where they are currently second behind Inter and need a stellar outing vs Udinese in all areas to quell any doubt and prove they remain the team to beat for the title.

AC Milan and keeping momentum - After an abysmal start to the campaign, it seems as though Milan have finally gotten back on track and order has been somewhat restored, thanks in large part to Stefano Pioli. The former Lazio and Fiorentina boss has simplified the way the Rossoneri play, relied on the likes of Ismaël Bennacer, Theo Hernandez and Giacomo Bonaventura, and is getting the right response from the squad. Yes, Milan are still in 10th, 9 points off fourth place Cagliari and have won just two matches in a row here, but the improvement is there for all to see heading into the second half of the season. They host Sassuolo at the San Siro this weekend and the fans will surely be filling the stands with much more optimism now than at any other point this season. Look for the red and black to continue building on this momentum and come out with another inspired effort.

Krzysztof Piątek’s search for consistency - Things have been difficult for Krzysztof Piątek in year two of his Italy adventure to say the least. At this point last season with Genoa, the Polish international had 11 goals to his name in the league, compared to the four he has now – only one of which is from open play. As a result of this, there has been plenty of questions being asked about whether or not he is fit to lead Milan’s frontline the rest of the way. Last week however, Piatek delivered arguably his best performance of the campaign, winning and converting a penalty, aiding in the support of the buildup and just overall more influential in the final third. As rumors of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic return persist, Piatek must show consistency week to week to solidify his starting status, and this upcoming fixture against Sassuolo at home works in his favor to do that.

Gennaro Gattuso’s first test as Napoli boss - Ancelotti OUT, Gattuso IN, words we never thought would be typed entering the 2019/20 Serie A season, yet here we are. Despite advancing to the UCL Round of 16, it wasn’t enough for Carlo Ancelotti to keep his job as failures in the league compounded with the Aurelio de Laurentiis feud led to his sacking momentarily after the win over Genk. With Gattuso already fitted for his new duds and ready to take on this new role after how things finished last season as Milan boss, Napoli fans will be extra keen to see if the Calabrese general can provide some semblance of balance in what has been a turbulent campaign. His first test is Parma at the San Paolo on Saturday, a match that surely demands a win for the Partenopei if they wish to climb from their current 7th place spot and into the top four conversation.

Vincenzo Montella’s job hangs in balance - Miraculously, Vincenzo Montella kept his job for this current season after nearly leading the Viola to a catastrophic drop to Serie B in 18/19. Upon being confirmed by new owner Rocco Commisso, there was plenty of doubt amongst the fanbase about whether or not Montella was qualified to skipper this Fiorentina project. Though he initially eliminated those doubts early on in the campaign with a nice run, things have quickly nosedived and taken a turn for the worse here in December. Sitting on a five match winless streak, Montella’s job hangs in the balance as rumors of the sack loom. To make matters worse, they welcome first place Inter to the Franchi this weekend. Can dead man walking Montella save his job, or will Conte’s Nerazzurri be delivering the final nail in the coffin?


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