What to Watch for in Serie A: Round 20

There is certainly a lot to look forward to in round 20 of the 2019/20 Serie A season. Here, we provide you with the main storylines to prepare you for what’s to come in the Italian top flight.

Here are five things to watch for in round 20.

Are Milan ready to make a run at 4th?

This happens every season it seems. The Rossoneri stumble out of the gate with a new manager that eventually gets sacked, players struggle and the entire fanbase loses their mind. But then, the winter months hit and miraculously, something clicks. Milan run off a few impressive performances that tease and flirt with a real second half push, only to return back to old ways. However, maybe this time is different, because it does feel it. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival has already begun having the contagious positive impact where the rest of the group begins to raise their games to meet the Swede’s. After one of the more impressive collective efforts last weekend in a 2-0 win away to Cagliari, and a 3-0 victory over SPAL in the Coppa Italia midweek, can Stefano Pioli actually compete for 4th? Considering the encouraging performances of Samu Castillejo, Rafael Leao, Ismael Bennacer and company in a 442, and the lighter schedule ahead, it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. Milan are 10 points off 4th. They look to make it two on the trot in the league this Sunday and put more dents into the wall that separates them from the UCL as they host Udinese.

Cagliari’s UCL hopes hang in the balance.

One of the biggest first half surprises of the season, Cagliari emerged as true underdogs to finish fourth. Uplifting performances from Radja Nainggolan, Joao Pedro and Robin Olsen have kept the Rossoblu right in the thick of things, but towards the tail end of 2019, they began their downward spiral. Rolando Maran’s side are winless in their last five league matches (1 D, 4 L) and have not won in six overall (4-1 defeat to Inter in Coppa Italia). It was expected that at some point, the Sardinians would come back down to earth and regress to the mean, but few envisioned such a massive decline so quickly. Currently 6th in the table, Cagliari are still six points back of 4th place Atalanta and will need a victory this weekend when they visit Brescia. Perhaps the 19th placed side can serve as the perfect opportunity to steady the ship and keep pace with the pack.

Roma in search of first win in 2020.

The 2019/20 Serie A season has been a tumultuous one to date thus far for new coach Paulo Fonseca and his Roma. Injuries have hampered the roster and limited what the former Shakhtar Donetsk boss wished to have implemented, but the Capital club has done well to stay on course to finish in the top four. Since winning back to back vs SPAL and Fiorentina in December, the Giallorossi lost their first two in 2020 against Torino and Juventus. Surely, the Roman outfit fancies their chances to qualify for the Champions League, but they cannot afford to continue dropping points as each one counts. Thankfully, their visit to Genoa on Sunday could be just what the doctor ordered for them to re-assemble and reclaiming form ahead of next week’s massive Derby della Capitale versus Lazio.

Juventus look to hit their peak.

Despite not having played out the best version of ‘Sarriball’ through the first half season, the Bianconeri still managed to become winter champions with their win last weekend over Roma put them ahead of Inter who tied Atalanta. Seeing as Cristiano Ronaldo is riding a serious hot streak of six straight matches with a goal and Juventus are to get Giorgio Chiellini back soon to support a defence that has lost Merih Demiral, it feels like it could be their title to lose once again. Even with Inter making significant improvements to their roster this month, ‘the Old Lady’ is battle tested and has proven themselves superior to all in the second half of the season before.

EL chase begins to heat up.

The three horse race at the top for the title between Juventus, Inter and Lazio continues to be the talk of calcio midway through the season. Yet, we would be remiss to think the chase for the Europa League spots won’t be as tightly contested. After 5th place Roma who are level with 4th place Atalanta on points, it is a dog fight for 6th. Cagliari sit on 29, followed by Parma (28), Torino (27), Verona (25), Milan (25), Napoli and Udinese (24) and Bologna all the way down in 13th (23). Keep a real close eye on the EL landscape in the coming weeks as that could also factor in which clubs become buyers and sellers the rest of the window.

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