Standing’s implications: Atalanta clinched a Champions League berth despite making the Genoa contest a little tougher than it needed to be, while Milan will have to wait another round as they could find a way to perforate Cagliari. Juventus eked out a win over Inter in an improbable manner, but Napoli responded by breezing past Fiorentina Sunday, so the Bianconeri remain outside looking in the top four. Roma finally won a big game as they prevailed in the Derby with Lazio. Sassuolo remain in the hunt for the seventh spot by strolling past Parma. Sampdoria pipped Udinese away.
Benevento frittered away a golden opportunity as Crotone equalized late, and, even though Torino were deep-sixed by Spezia, they might not have away a final shot to avoid relegation next as the Granata will face Lazio midweek in a make-up game. The Aquilotti instead clinched a remarkable Serie A permanence, and so did Cagliari. Continue reading
Juventus came out on top in a crazy game versus Inter to remain in contention for a Champions League berth regardless of the results on the other pitches Sunday, although they will still need some help.
Juan Cuadrado (6 points): the clear man of the match, as he picked the most opportune time to find his first goals of the campaign, coming through in clutch situations. The first goal on a sharp strike, evidently deflected by an opponent, was a dagger considering what happened shortly after halftime. He shrewdly won a PK in the final minutes on a light contact with an opponent, but the most stunning part is that he stepped up to the plate and converted it. He drew the red card for Marcelo Brozovic that sealed the game to round out a dominating display. Continue reading
Genoa-Atalanta: the Grifone clinched the Serie A permanent with the W over Bologna, so the dip in motivation could make it hard for them to keep up with a side that has been successful in eight of the last round, lastly versus Parma and Benevento, and is still fighting for prestigious goals: 1-4.
Spezia-Torino: the Aquilotti finally managed to grab a point on the road in the 2-2 tie with Sampdoria, while at home, they have been taken down only by Napoli in the last seven matches. Torino will hope the drubbing by Milan will not have lingering effects on the morale. They had been bested just once in the previous seven tilts: 1-1. Continue reading
Genoa (3-5-2): Marchetti; Goldaniga, Zapata, Onguene; Ghiglione, Melegoni, Rovella, Zajc, Cassata; Pjaca, Destro.
Potential lineup changes: Paleari for Marchetti, Zappacosta for Ghiglione, Shomurodov for Pjaca.
Likely bench options: Pjaca, Cassata, Portanova.
Ruled out: Pellegrini (thigh strain), Biraschi (hip muscle strain), Badelj (quad contusion), Criscito (calf edema), Scamacca (muscle fatigue), Czyborra (back pain).
Atalanta: Rafael Toloi might be available following a small thigh strain. Luis Muriel picked up a knock in the same area and might be managed.
Benevento: Luca Caldirola is suspended. Iago Falque was unavailable midweek due to a sore adductor. Their other injured guys are done for the season.
Missing: Caldirola, Iago Falque, Foulon, Moncini, Sau.
Bologna: Gary Medel could make his return from a calf strain either in this or in the final round. Slim hopes instead for their other players on the shelf. Continue reading
Benevento: coach Filippo Inzaghi continues to go back-and-forth with the tactics, but he has not found a solution for their woes. They have collectively netted just one goal in the last three games, on a combination between Gianluca Caprari (5 goals, 6 assists) and Gianluca Lapadula (7/2). The Italo-Peruvian striker and Nicolas Viola (5/3) have been their only reliable contributors in their skid, and the latter is not necessarily a full-time starter. Adolfo Gaich has fallen into a slump after a positive start, while Roberto Insigne has not exploited his recent chances. Riccardo Improta continuously switches from position to position, making it hard to trust him. Artur Ionita is a secondary option thanks to a pair of recent goals. Continue reading
Genoa: two usual suspects powered them in the Bologna game, as Davide Zappacosta recorded his second goal in a row, while Gianluca Scamacca made no mistakes from the penalty spot, improving to eight goals in the season, six of which coming recently. However, he will miss this one with a minor problem, clearing the way for Mattia Destro (11/1) to be their main finalize. Goran Pandev (6/2) had a brace in the last five matches. Eldor Shomurodov (5/1) has found the target twice in the past four appearances, and Marko Pjaca (3/2) picked up an assist over the weekend. They have not really unleashed Paolo Ghiglione (4 assists) despite the absences on the flanks. Nicolò Rovella could gain some momentum in the midfield with his ability on set pieces. Kevin Strootman (four helpers) and Miha Zajc (1/3) are steady hands. Nicolò Rovella has some value for his ability on set pieces. Continue reading
Thomas Strakosha (7 points): Lazio surprisingly had major trouble working their way around the usually sketchy Parma defense. They eventually got an extremely late game-winner, but that was made possible only because the Albanian goalkeeper, who returned between the sticks after ages, stabbed his arms out at the last moment a couple of times to deny surefire attempts by the Ducali.
Theo Hernandez (13 points): he put together the finest performance of the season for a defender in the commanding win over Torino as, on top of securing the clean sheet, he hit the net twice, with a lefty scorcher in the first goal and with a lovely chip over the goalkeeper on the second one. Continue reading
Juventus benefitted from some luck and perfectly used Sassuolo’s aggressiveness against them, feasting on counter-attacks, to take home a precious win that keeps them alive in the Champions League race.
Adrien Rabiot (6 points): he did not look great on the conceded goal, where he got turned around too easily, but he more than up for the mistake on the other end. He opened the scoring against the run of play with a surgical lefty daisy-cutter from distance and played a part in the second goal too, finding Cristiano Ronaldo with a little header to set up the teammate’s fantastic finish. Continue reading
Napoli-Udinese: the Partenopei demolished Spezia over the weekend, taking home the fourth W in the last six rounds, where they have tied with Inter and Cagliari. The Friulani are coming off a draw with Bologna after the burning defeat with Juventus. They have won two road matches in a row, with Crotone and Benevento, but have generally struggled against elite competition: 2-0.
Cagliari-Fiorentina: the Sardinians came out on top in the monumental clash with Benevento, conquering the fourth win in the last five matches, but their work is not done yet. The Viola are in a positive stretch as they topped Lazio and Verona and shared the spoils with Juventus and Bologna in the last four contests: 1-1. Continue reading