Despite the shocking start in each half where they literally gave away two goals amid a very lackadaisical performance, Juventus maintained their qualification hopes alive in the Porto clash thanks to a late push that culminated in a vital score by Federico Chiesa.
Chiesa: the Italian winger bagged it with an accurate strike, and who knows whether he intended to do that or if it was just a lucky bounce, but the trajectory ended up being just perfect considering the bodies in between. However, the whole action would have not been possible without a very clever cut down the flank by the Frenchman and an impeccable low-driven cross. He also produced the only other major chance for the Bianconeri, forcing the opposing goalie into a difficult save with an acrobatic kick. Continue reading →
Alex Meret(7 points): a decent number of clean sheets in this round as well, but it was pretty clear who the top goalkeeper was as the Napoli youngster got the call just a handful of minutes before the Juventus clash due to a late injury to David Ospina and delivered a fantastic performance, denying the mighty opponents time and time again even when they managed to shoot from point-blank range. His best save came on what was basically a tap-in by Cristiano Ronaldo on a corner kick.
Gianluca Mancini(7 points): Roma stymied Udinese with ease thanks to a tidy display by all three defenders, who did not suffer for the absence of Chris Smalling. The ex-Atalanta center-back showed up on the other end as well, setting up an easy header for Jordan Veretout with a surprisingly feathery cross. Continue reading →
Standings implications: changing of the guard at the pinnacle of the standing Inter picked up an impressive win over Lazio, while Milan and Juventus both came a cropper. The Rossoneri did it in shocking fashion versus Spezia, while the Old Lady could not find a way around the Napoli’s undermanned defense. Roma took full advantage of the competitors’ misfortune and strolled past Udinese. Atalanta conquered the Cagliari at the buzzer, staying close to the top four. Sassuolo returned to winning ways as well after some time, but the gap between the first seven teams and the rest is now quite significant.
Juventus played the exact same match they had versus Inter and Roma, but in this case the events went against them and Alex Meret played hero once they revved up a little in the second half, condemning them to an costly loss in what looked like a feasible fixture going in.
Federico Chiesa: he was the outright best player for the Bianconeri on the night, as he was pretty much the only one capable of dribbling past his defender to create some advantageous situations. Sometimes he still has tunnel vision with the ball on his feet, but his blitzes were vital in a game that had an excessively low rhythm, likely by design. Continue reading →
Bologna-Benevento: the Felsinei continue to be up-and-down but took advantage of the more feasible matches lately, beating Verona and Parma, while they lost to Juventus and Milan. The Sanniti have not been successful in five rounds but they have shown some improvements in two of the last three, sharing the spoils with Torino and Sampdoria, but on their home turf: 2-1.
Torino-Genoa: the Granata are coming off four consecutive draws, against Spezia, Benevento, Fiorentina, Fiorentina and Atalanta, where they have showed a ton of resilience. They will do battle with a side that has prevailed in four of the last four outings, versus Napoli, Crotone, Cagliari and Bologna, tying only with the Goddess: 1-1. Continue reading →
Atalanta: Hans Hateboer and Joakim Maehle are both trying to solve foot problems, with the latter having way better chances to be available than the former and he has indeed been called up. Rafael Toloi is suspended.
Benevento: Riccardo Improta and Artur Ionita are disqualified. Gabriele Moncini is back after missing time with an ankle sprain, while Gaetano Letizia remains shelved.
Bologna: Mattias Svanberg is out due to yellow-card accumulation. Gary Medel (calf) and Paolo Faragò(thigh) were again excluded from the squad list. Continue reading →
Bologna: the time and effort put into turning Musa Barrow into a striker is starting to pay off as the youngster resurfaced after some quiet rounds with a clinical brace versus Parma. He now has five goals in the season. The move is working out also because Nicola Sansone has been very solid out on the left wing after shaking off an injury and he is coming off his best outing of the season as he dished two assist last week. Roberto Soriano (six goals, five helpers) also picked up offensive bonuses after a while as he set up Riccardo Orsolini, who came off the bench but still delivered. He is clearly on the rise as he has hit the net twice in the last four matches, on top of furnishing strong performances. Nicolas Dominguez should have an increased role with Mattias Svanberg suspended and Takehiro Tomiyasu is worth a flier now that it looks like he is going to stay at right-back. Continue reading →
Spezia: Vincenzo Italiano shook things up against Sassuolo, going with Kevin Agudelo as false-nine over Andrej Galabinov and, while the bouncy attacker did not score, the solution worked out pretty well as he added an element of unpredictability and a ton more pace. It could be the solution here again as it does not look like M’Bala Nzola will be ready to start. Diego Farias is likely to be sidelined, which will allow Daniele Verde to stay in the XI, but so far he has had success mostly in Coppa Italia. Emmanuel Gyasi’s starting job instead has never really been in question and he returned to the stat-sheet after months in the previous match: he is now up to two goals and four assists. Their second leading scorer Tommaso Pobega (three goals) is back from suspension and their midfield does not have the same punch without him, even though Matteo Ricci has been a nice assist-man and Giulio Maggiore is decently involved in their offense, but not as effective as the Milan loanee. Continue reading →
Juventus held serve and successfully protected the lead they created last week in the return leg of the Coppa Italia semis, punching their ticket to the final of the domestic cup for a record 20th time in their history.
Merih Demiral: the Bianconeri surely did it with tidy defending in this one and the Turk youngster had the most noticeable performance among the contributors in the back, making his presence felt with multiple blocks and interceptions and never letting the ball or the opponents pass through the areas he was patrolling unscathed. Matthijs De Ligt was tasked with shadowing Romelu Lukaku and held him in check pretty well, as only it was Lautaro Martinez that led the charge for the Beneamata. Continue reading →