A surreal Serie A round still had a good dose of action and some massive results. Here are the top performers from the weekend.
Juan Musso(7 points): five teams managed to earn a clean sheet and, out of all the goalies involved, Udinese’s one had the most meaningful save, on a Federico Chiesa potent cross-shot that could have swung the Fiorentina match late.
Nikola Milenkovic (5 points): Fiorentina’s defence held up well versus Udinese, allowing limited chances, and the Serbian defender also had one of the biggest chances for his side with a strikingly quick volley that went just wide. Continue reading →
Juventus broke through with a fairly flucky goal in the second half after a balanced first 45 minutes and actually for once gained steam after getting the lead and managed to control the remaining portion of the contest, gaining a monumental W and returning on top of the standings.
Matthijs De Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci (5 points): no separation between the two centre-backs, who perfectly tag-teamed to stymie one of the most vaunted striking duo in the League. They matched Romelu Lukaku’s physicality and contained Lautaro Martinez’s movements, and, as a matter of fact, even in the Nerazzurri’s best moments, the chances came from the ancillary players. Wojciech Szczesny answered the bell on the lone dangerous daisy-cutter from distance, while Alex Sandro put in the usual decent but not superb shift. Continue reading →
Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading →
Juventus fell into a coma for about 20 minutes in the first half in Lyon and that was enough to ruin a game that they for the most part conducted, or at least tried to, as the adversaries withstood a late push that could have easily led to a goal. The Bianconeri will have their work cut out for them in Turin against a very diligent team.
Matthijs De Ligt: the Old Lady keeps finding ways to give up wacky goals and the latest instalments was conceding while the back-line was all discombobulated because the Dutch starlet was on the sidelines getting treatment for a deep cut. It was a tidy performance besides that, but a goal is often enough to swing the qualification in this competition. De Ligt, with heavy bandage on his head, had almost a vintage Giorgio Chiellini performance in the second half and his recuperations deep into enemy territory set the tone. Danilo and Alex Sandro had plenty of room to attack but they did not take advantage of it due to a host of misplaced passes and crosses. Continue reading →
Champions League resumes on Wednesday, so Juventus will be back in the competition where they had the most success in so far, as they cruised during the group stage. If it was not for a late two-goal comeback by Atletico Madrid back in the first game, they would have prevailed in each of the six matches in the group stage.
Finishing in first position allowed them to land a fairly cosy match-up with Lyon in the round of 16, an opponent they have familiarity with, since they have faced them four times in recent years, winning in three occasions. The French club is also not having a particular great season as they are in 7th position in Ligue 1 and do not boast a particularly good record at home. Continue reading →
Pau Lopez (5 points): the Spaniard did not have a particularly busy performance in the Lecce game, but he was the only goalie to keep a clean sheet over the week and therefore the lone point-getter at his position. Roma had not blanked an opponent since the beginning of December.
Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): the Serbian fullback, who is usually a fantasy stud, had gone through a sticky patch where he even lost the starting job for a minute, but he roared back versus the Salentini with a strong display and a pretty strike to round up the score. He still has not patched things up with the fan base though. Continue reading →
Standings implications: unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak took its toll on Serie A and forced the postponement of four matches. In the ones that did happen, Juventus and Lazio confirmed their leadership by defeating SPAL and Genoa in hard-fought contests. Roma came back to life with a roar and torched Lecce.
Back on Friday, Napoli completed the comeback in Brescia and momentarily caught Milan in the standings, entering the Europa League zone after a long while, however few teams in that neighbourhood did not play. The Rossoneri instead shared the spoils with Fiorentina despite playing for a while in 11 vs 10men. Bologna pipped Udinese at the post, preventing the Friulani to gain some cushion over the relegation area. Continue reading →
The usual defensive slip-up led to a tenser-than-necessary final part in the SPAL game, but Juventus, after an encouraging hour right in the middle of the game, managed to land the plane, returning to winning ways after two road tumbles.
Alex Sandro: the Brazilian left back was move vivacious than usual in Ferrara, uncorked a pair of tasty crosses that could have easily earned him an assist. The left chain worked looked well-oiled, as he, Blaise Matuidi and Cristiano Ronaldo often moved in unison. Danilo was less active than Sandro, but the team had even more success on the other flank, so the 4-3-3 scheme yielded good profits. As for the rest of the defenders, Giorgio Chiellini looked rusty to open the game but got increasingly confident as the minutes went by. Daniele Rugani was fine but he was just a fraction of a second late on a tackle, causing a penalty and soiling his display. Matthijs De Ligt was dominant in the air when he subbed in, while ordinary business for Wojciech Szczesny. Continue reading →
SPAL-Juventus: Luigi Di Biagio devised a new system in his debut, arraying his men with a 4-3-3. While they failed to get the win, they attacked more than usual and Andrea Petagna bagged the ninth goal of his campaign. Federico Di Francesco has always been playing in very offensive role, but he is more comfortable out wide and the trident was completed by Mattia Valoti in that case, although Gabriel Strefezza will have his chances too. The duo gets a bump thanks to the coaching change, likewise Mirko Valdifiori, who resurfaced and can be a decent weapon on set pieces, as a matter of fact he picked up an assist with a corner kick. Simone Missiroli is back at box-to-box like earlier in his career, joining the sneaky Lucas Castro. On the downside, Arkadiusz Reca, and Mohamed Fares when he will be ready, will feature as fullback, so few meters behind what they were accustomed to doing. Scoring has been one of their main issues so far, as they have no reliable contributors behind Petagna. Continue reading →
Juventus will take on Milan in a midweek Coppa Italia away bout, where they will be looking to gain an edge in the first leg of an 180-minute contest that will be completed in three weeks, on March 4th. The Bianconeri fairly easily eliminated Sampdoria and Roma to get to the semi-finals. Their dominance in the domestic cup was interrupted last season, when they were knocked out early by Atalanta after taking home the trophy for four straight editions. A streak that allowed them to run away in the historical standings, as they were previously tied with Roma at nine. Continue reading →