Benevento-Torino: the Sanniti were quite surprisingly routed by Crotone last week, making it the second 1-4 in a row after the more understandable one versus Atalanta and the third defeat in the past four rounds. The Granata decided to change the coach after the disappointing nil-nil with Spezia: they have shared the spoils four times in the past six rounds, winning and losing once: 1-1.
Roma-Spezia: the Giallorossi were unable to prevail the last two matches as they equalized with Inter and were manhandled by Lazio. They have generally been automatic against the minnows but the atmosphere within the club is very tense and the coach is under scrutiny. The Aquilotti have started a positive streak by beating Napoli and resisting against Torino: 2-2. Continue reading →
Atalanta:Mario Pasalic had a small set back in his return from sports hernia and will miss some more time.
Benevento: Marco Sau was hit with a two-game suspension for berating the referee. Roberto Insigne hurt his ankle/foot in the past game but he made the squad list and will be a late call. Gabriele Moncini (ankle), Gaetano Letizia (thigh) and Pasquale Schiattarella (COVID) are out. Iago Falque, Nicolas Viola and Luca Caldirola are available but not ready to start. Continue reading →
Benevento: they surely had a weird faux pas versus Crotone for a team that had been mostly steady so far. Moreover, their most prolific guy as of late, Marco Sau, got sent off from the bench and the always lively Roberto Insigne hurt his ankle, which makes him very questionable for this match. The only positive note was that Iago Falque managed to return after a long time on the shelf and bagged a lovely goal, the first of his campaign, but he has generally fared well whenever available to play. He remains an option even though the coach stated that he is not ready to start. The injuries could thrust him into a major role this one, while Gianluca Caprari, who was banged up going into the previous contest, will surely return to the XI: he is their leading scorer with four goal. Gianluca Lapadula is their tip of the spear but has not hit the net since early November. With Pasquale Schiattarella and Gaetano Letizia missing, Riccardo Improta and Artur Ionita are set to be their secondary playmakers, but they have not picked up many bonuses so far. Aggressive midfielder Andres Tellocould have a big role as well. Continue reading →
Milan: the Rossoneri keep navigating their several absences in brilliant fashion and Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to the XI with a bang in Cagliari, putting together a brace and moving to 12 goals in the season in just eight appearances. The COVID outbreak is getting resolved as Rade Krunic and Ante Rebic tested negative, but their conditioning will have to be assessed in practice and Theo Hernandez was a false positive, so only Hakan Calhanoglu is out, which is a major loss, but at least they are in a better spot numerically and they recovered their stud fullback. Rafael Leao (three goals, one assist in the last five games) will be back from suspension and will likely supplant Jens Petter Hauge that has been pretty quiet despite seeing good minutes. Franck Kessie let Zlatan take the PK in the past game but he will probably re-gain those duties in this one: he has notched six goals and two assists in the season. Davide Calabria is trending up as he provided a great helper in the past game and also hit the net recently.
With a little help from lady luck, Juventus took home their ninth Supercoppa at the end of a game they mostly conducted, but without managing to bend the opposing defense. The Bianconeri seized their opportunities, while Napoli did not and that made all the difference.
Wojciech Szczesny: in a surprising twist compared to recent games, the Old Lady did not concede on the first chance created by the adversaries as the Polish goalkeeper denied a point-blank header by Hirving Lozano that would have significantly changed the complexion of the match. He made his presence felt also late on an instinctual save on a poisonous deflected shot. The back-line actually held up pretty well, and maybe Giorgio Chiellini being out there, even though he is not his peak self yet, keeps everybody on their toes with his personality. The rearguard did not leave much room to the Azzurri forwards in the box, but got bailed out by the goalie in the most dangerous situations. Continue reading →
Lukas Skorupski (7 points): a strong performance by defenses in this round as there were nine eclean sheets, which must be a record for the ongoing campaign. Few goalkeepers shined thanks to monster saves, but the nod goes to the Bologna one as he provided the most crucial contribution since his side won by just one goal. His best intervention came on a close-range attempt by Nikola Kalinic.
Alessandro Bastoni (7 points): not only he contained rather easily any Juventus player that operated in his area with ease, but he uncorked a tremendous long pass that found Nicolò Barella in stride and set up the second goal that pretty much sealed the clash. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Inter emerged victorious in the clash with Juventus, but Milan answered on Monday by strolling past Cagliari. Some pretty surprising results in this round in all levels of the standing, especially in terms of romps as Lazio rocked Roma, Napoli demolished Fiorentina and the Crotone stunned Benevento. Atalanta could not break Genoa and Sassuolo managed to equalize only late with Parma. Bologna returned to winning ways against Verona, Sampdoria mounted a comeback in the date with Udinese, while Torino-Spezia ended in nil-nil tie.
Juventus played right into Inter’s hands in the Derby d’Italia, conceding on the first chance and then having a very sterile possession that was easily stymied by the sturdy adversaries, which simply had to pack up the spaces and had countless chances to counter.
Once again the Bianconeri failed to switch gear when they needed to, as the game looked over as soon as they gave up the second goal, and only the imprecision of the opposing strikers kept the score relatively close. Here is who performed the least poorly.
Wojciech Szczesny: the goalkeeper had no fault in a defensive horror show and that is enough to stand out, even though his positive contribution was limited to just a pair of occasions where he came out of the goal with authority and timing. Continue reading →
Lazio-Roma: the Biancocelesti are coming off two wins in a row and have lost just once in the past five rounds, so they are getting back on track. Just one defeat for the Giallorossi in the last seven and they held Inter to a tie last week, but that signature wins against a top team keeps eluding them: 1-1.
Bologna-Verona: the Felsinei have not been successful in eight games, where they have shared the spoils five times and were upended by Inter, Roma and lastly Genoa. Two wins in the last three tilts instead for the Scaligeri, versus Spezia and Crotone, plus a tie with Torino. They have been going strong on the road: 0-1. Continue reading →