Games are often described as tales of two halves in any sport, but what went down in Lazio-Atalanta pushed the concept to the extreme. The Goddess completely dominated in the first 45 minutes and deservedly built a three-nothing lead. However, after intermission, the Biancocelesti little by little clawed back into the game, riding the white hot Ciro Immobile, and earned themselves a point. Continue reading
Lazio-Atalanta: the formula for the Biancocelesti never really changes, as Ciro Immobile is going like gangbusters this year, while Luis Alberto has been their second-best player, especially thanks to his playmaking, as he has already provided five assists. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Joaquin Correa have both broken the ice, but they have yet to turn into consistent scorers. The ancillary contributors like Manuel Lazzari and Adam Marusic have been stuck in a timeshare, while Senad Lulic’s fantasy appeal is limited.
The Goddess lost Duvan Zapata for some time due to a muscular injury, so it now will have to be Luis Muriel’s time to shine as the primary go-to-guy. He has scored three times in five appearances despite the irregular playing time and, despite the different skillset, they might not take a big hit there. Continue reading
Alex Meret (7 points): pretty solid goalkeeping by those who earned a clean sheet, Bartlomiej Dragowski and Marco Silvestri in particular, but the nod goes to the Napoli youngster, who managed to parry away a cannon shot by Cristian Ansaldi and exuded confidence throughout the game.
Even though they did not succeed in getting a shut-out victory due to a cheap consolation goal, Atalanta were quite clearly the most dominant Serie A club of the weekend, as they torched Lecce.
They were hosting their first real home game of the season, as they had been playing in Parma in Serie A and at San Siro in Champions League so far. Their new and improved arena, which is now named after the naming sponsor Gewiss, features a Westfalelnsatdion-like Curva. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus prevailed in the Derby d’Italia and now lead the table with a narrow maring over Inter. Atalanta continue to be on a warpath and trounced Lecce. There were few ties in this round as Napoli did not manage to bend Torino, Roma could not get past Cagliari and Lazio threw it away against Bologna. Fiorentina instead kept it rolling against Udinese. Milan returned to winning ways in a battle with Genoa on Saturday night, while Sampdoria hit rock-bottom against Verona. SPAL flattened Parma, garnering their second W of the season and thus leaving the two Genoa-based sides in the last two places of the standings.
Standings implications: the top three teams in the standings were all successful on Saturday. The one that had to combat the most was Inter, which run into some trouble against Sampdoria but still prevailed, while Juventus and Atalanta easily disposed of SPAL and Sassuolo. The Roman sides kept up as La Lupa nipped Lecce on the road, while Lazio trucked Genoa. Fiorentina earned their second W in a row with a splendid display against a dwindling Milan. Cagliari came back to earth with a draw versus Verona. Udinese returned to winning days after four rounds by defeating Bologna. Parma outlasted Torino on Monday night. Continue reading
Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading
Juventus-Verona: the Old Lady had a subpar performance in Florence but obviously will be in a much better spot this week at home against a relegation struggler. Cristiano Ronaldo usually does not go scoreless for long and Gonzalo Higuain is not a bad pick either, as for now the coach has refrained from using Paulo Dybala there. Douglas Costa, who was their go-to-guy so far, will miss time, so Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado will return to prominence. Until the coach entrusts one of the newcomers, Aaron Ramsey in particular, Sami Khedira remains the most appealing midfielder for his offensive dexterity. Their defenders are surely worth consideration. Continue reading
Milan-Brescia: the first game under Marco Giampaolo presented the same issues the Rossoneri suffered from last season, primarily keeping the ball up front and feeding their main striker. They managed to get only some limited offensive forays without never building a constant assasult. A faux pas that could lead to some tactical and personnel change, with Suso possibly returning to the flank and Ismael Bennacer and Rafael Leao getting the nod from start. If they can turn it around, it could be a decent spot for Krzysztof Piatek, but it is tough to trust them right now. The Rondinelle showed to be solid right away in a fairly tough road game in Cagliari: last year’s design worked and the defense held up. If that continues to be the case, Alfredo Donnarumma will be one to watch, he scored 26 goals in Serie B, same as Dimistri Bisoli, who is their most dangerous midfielder, while Sandro Tonali’s fantasy production is a little shakier because it hinges on set pieces. Continue reading
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