Predictably, the top point-getters among those listed as midfielders fully play as strikers. Some have done it for few years now, like Dries Mertens, who unleashed holy hell on the opponents down the stretch and run away atop of the chart with his 111 points, and Gregoire Defrel, who had a strong start and a prolific finish and collected 74 points. Others, like Josip Ilicic(72) underwent the transformation mid-season with good profits.
However, as far as the column goes, the choices fell on those who actually feature either as no.10, as winger or as a central midfielder.
Alejandro Gomez (63): he did the opposite compared to his Slovenian teammate, as he commenced the year as second-striker, but moved his position way back as the games went along, featuring as pure attacking midfielder in the second half of the season. Continue reading →
Atalanta’s top four finish was one of the stories of Serie A 2018-19, with consistency in the final weeks of the campaign ensuring a first ever crack at the Champions League in 2019-20.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s has turned the club into the biggest threat to the established powers in Italian football, and their performances in 2018-19 means there is no dramatic return to Europe’s premier competition for AC Milan, or Champions League regulars AS Roma.
Gasperini is likely to have a decent transfer war chest to spend ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, but he will also have to fight off interest in some of his own key players.
Ionut Radu (7 points): the best goalkeepers of the round all ended up conceding at least a goal, so the nod goes to the Genoa one for his ordinary but diligent work in the Fiorentina game, where the Griffon came away with the point they needed.
Franck Kessie (9 points): he was a beast in the SPAL match, as he set up Hakan Calhanoglu’s goal with a pinpoint square ball, found the target with a scorcher and ultimately buried a penalty. He concluded an up-and-down season with his finest performance. Continue reading →
It got tense and contentious in the first half, but Atalanta pulled away in the second one in the Sassuolo game and successful defended their third place, deservedly punching their ticket for next year’s Champions League for the first time in their history.
The Goddess approached the game having triumphed in four of the previous five fixtures, drawing only on the road against Juventus, and staying undefeated since late February. While the Bergamaschi were technically the home team, the match was actually played at the Mapei Stadium, the house of Sassuolo and where the Nerazzurri played in Europe, since their arena is undergoing renovations. Continue reading →
Standings implications: it was a rollercoaster because of the chronological order of the events, but the Champions League race finished in the same way it was entering the round, as Atalanta and Inter were successful and staved off Milan. The Nerazzurri sent Empoli to Serie B as Genoa’s grand plan to wait for the Beneamata to win worked out, as neither them or Fiorentina were interested in attacking in their match. Roma bid farewell to Daniele De Rossi with a W over Parma.
Among the meaningless games, Juventus got beat by Sampdoria, Napoli by Bologna, while Udinese bested Cagliari on the road and Frosinone and Chievo shared the spoils in a nil-nil tie. Continue reading →
Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapataand Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Bogaand Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run. Continue reading →
Sassuolo-Roma: the Neroverdi were handed their first loss since April last week by Torino, even though they certainly put up a fight, despite not being in need of points. The Giallorossi defeated Juventus with a late surge, garnering their fourth win in the last six rounds, tying in the other two and staying close to the fourth spot. Sassuolo have found the target in five of the last six rounds and La Lupa have not been great defensively on the road: they have spread the wealth around since Domenico Berardi was the only one to bag one in multiple matches. Jeremie Boga, Stefano Sensi, Manuel Locatelli and all the defenders contributed scoring-wise: Boga and Sensi have been their most lively contributors in the last few fixtures. The Giallorossi are getting a lot from Stephan El Shaarawy and Edin Dzeko, while the latest tactical change, if confirmed, would help the likes of Nicolò Zaniolo, Cengiz Under and Justin Kluivert, as the last two would see more minutes. Lorenzo Pellegrini is iffy due to a thigh ailment and his absence could allow Bryan Cristante to have a big role.
Juventus: Paulo Dybala (calf), Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh), Emre Can (thigh) and Alex Sandro have resumed practicing fully and therefore should be available on Sunday, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Daniele Rugani (thigh) will not come back this week. Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Moise Kean is out with the flu, Leonardo Bonucci with a bruised ankle.
Napoli: David Ospina is on personal leave to tend to a personal matter in Colombia. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) is slated to remain on the shelf, while Amadou Diawara(foot) got in a full practice after a long time, so he might be called up. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Adam Ounas have been surprisingly ruled out due to small ailments. Continue reading →
Just two shutout wins in this game, by Empoli and SPAL, but the Azzurri did not exactly dominate versus Fiorentina, while the Estensi did it against Chievo, which is easy pickings at this point. Therefore, the nod goes to the team that had the most impressive win, Atalanta, which ransacked Olimpico and pretty much eliminated Lazio from Champions League contention.
Juventus-Torino: the Bianconeri have no more achievements to pursue in Serie A, but they still showed up at San Siro last week and equalized in the second half after a poor start. They have yet to drop one at home. The Granata continue to be in the hunt not only for a Europa League berth: the fourth spot is four points away. They have defeated Milan and Genoa in their last two contests and have lost just once in the past 14. Cristiano Ronaldo scored last week and Miralem Pjanic has contributed with two assists recently. Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean are alternating next to the Portuguese ace, but neither is in supreme form, while Juan Cuadrado is starting to look sprier and Joao Cancelo is coming back on too. Continue reading →