Juventus: Emre Can made the squad list, approximately two months after suffering the thyroid issue. Rodrigo Bentancur is dealing with a back problem, but he was called up. Alex Sandro (thigh) and Sami Khedira (ankle) have been ruled out, same for Andrea Barzagli, who is rumoured to have suffered a severe quad injury, and Moise Kean, who has some muscle fatigue.
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi is expected to be called up after shaking off an adductor problem, while Alex Sandro subbed off in Champions League because of a thigh issue that has not been disclosed yet, so he is questionable for the Fiorentina game. Sami Khedira (ankle) and Emre Can remain out for this week.
Napoli: Raul Albiol suffered a mild ankle sprain against Red Star Belgrade and he is at risk for the Monday game. After picking up the same injury, Amin Younes should be at the coach’s disposal, while Simone Verdi is set to skip another one, and likely few more, because his was more severe. Continue reading
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi and Sami Khedira will not play this week because of an adductor issue and an ankle sprain. Miralem Pjanic should be available after a little muscular ailment with Bosnia. Emre Can is recovering from thyroid surgery. The two German players could return within a couple of weeks, the Italian winger sooner.
Napoli: Simone Verdi worked his way back from a thigh problem, but rolled his ankle in practice and could miss some time. Amin Younes has shaken off the Achilles injury, but he had the same problem of his teammate, even though his one is considered milder. Alex Meret is dealing with a sore shoulder on top of going through a bumpy rehab from a forearm fracture. Dries Mertens got a bruise in practice. Continue reading
Milan-Juventus was the most anticipated match coming into the round and it did not disappoint, even though the score ended up being a little lopsided. As if there were not enough storylines already, one arose even before the start as Massimiliano Allegri elected to keep Leonardo Bonucci on the bench, sparing him a date with a very hostile environment. His replacement Medhi Benatia had a mixed performance.
The Bianconeri came into the game trying to maintain their lead over Napoli, which were victorious on Saturday, and looking to bounce back after a disappointing loss against Manchester United in Champions League. Milan had prevailed in five of their last Serie A fixtures, twice thanks to Alessio Romagnoli in the final minutes. Continue reading
Most of the fixtures were lopsided in the weekend, but Udinese-Milan, albeit decided by a single goal, was intense and certainly a ton of fun. The Bianconeri were coming off a 2-2 tie against Genoa on the road, which gave Julio Velazquez some breathing room after four losses in a row. The Devil prevailed in the midweek make-up game against the Griffon and therefore racked up four wins in the past five games.
The Argentinian coach tinkered with his system, using Ignacio Pussetto as trequartista, giving Hidde Ter Avest his first start on the flank and deploying Rodrigo De Paul in the midfield over a more defensive option. Continue reading
The latest, a 96th minute strike from the former Roma youngster, sealed a vital 1-0 win away at Udinese.
Gennaro Gauttso’s side have had to dig deep and show real resolve to pick up points in recent weeks, with three back to back wins moving them up into fourth place in Serie A.
Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala had a little scare with Argentina, but his knee is fine. Daniele Rugani nursed a rib fracture during the break. The only injured player is Sami Khedira, who is dealing with a hamstring strain. Leonardo Spinazzola is close, but he has not been called up for this weekend.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne has picked up a minor injury and will not be available. Kalidou Koulibaly returned early from international duties because of muscle fatigue and he is likely to rest. Faouzi Ghoulam (kneecap fracture), Amin Younes (torn Achilles) and Alex Meret (arm fracture) are inching closer to a return but the could be held out for another week. Sebastiano Luperto is fatigued. Continue reading
Leonardo Bonucci talked about his Milan move and subsequent return to Juventus in an interview with Corriere dello Sport: “It was a weird feeling. I was in a new place, but it was like I never left. Same faces, same hugs. This stadium, this team, this town are my home. It was nice to share the locker room again with Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli. Leaving it all was hard and I made that choice because I was angry. This experience taught me that in those moments the instinct can lead you to bad decisions that would not have been taken with a clearer mind.” Continue reading
The recent two matches against Poland and Portugal certainly didn’t do much to inspire hope that the Azzurri can rapidly turn things around failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
But the start of the Serie A season has given even a cynical person like myself at least some reasons to believe Roberto Mancini (or whoever could potentially replace him after the Euro) will be able to field a competent squad in Qatar should the Azzurri make it that far.
There have been some Italian players young enough to be in their prime in four years who have been able to shine in the first few weeks of the season including…
Nicolo’ Barella the 21 year old Cagliari midfielder was the man of the match in the recent showdown against Milan. The Sardinian native has shown his versatility so far this season, he packs a strong punch with his shot to go with good positioning and above average tacking ability. Barella has all the tools to slot nicely next to Jorginho, a player who so far has struggled to shine on the Azzurri the same he does at the club, likely because the system isn’t set up for him to shine and also because the drop off in talent when he plays for the Italian national team is significant to what he experienced at Napoli and now at Chelsea. Barella’s teammate Alessio Cragno has continued to build on the strong performances from last season, and could become Donnarumma’s backup on the Azzurri (or main competitor) should Mattia Perin continue to struggle to find playing time at Juventus.
Speaking of Juventus, Federico Bernardeschi has been arguably Allegri’s best player so far this season. During the summer there was talk the former Fiorentina player would move to the midfield to help overcome the lack of depth after Claudio Marchisio’s departure and because he wasn’t expected to play much in an attack featuring players like Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Mario Mandzukic. But so far Bernardeschi has shown the maturity that he lacked during his time in Tuscany and in the process made it really hard to bench him.
While Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are still certainly well above average players at their positions, it’s hard to imagine that either of them will be still viable options during the next World Cup. But luckily Italy will be able to count on Alessio Romagnoli, who recently inherited Milan’s captain’s arm band- the former Roma defender is in the verge of becoming an elite player at the international level after shining in Serie A. Romagnoli’s teammate Davide Calabria still hasn’t convinced most of his critics, but considering his young age and experience in Serie A and with Italy’s Under 21 where he appeared in 15 matches, there’s reason to believe he’ll at least be a potential backup wing back on the Azzurri.
Mancini must have have told himself “if you want something done right, you might as well do it yourself“ when he recently selected Nicolo’ Zaniolo to the Azzurri’s senior squad right after complaining Serie A teams weren’t fielding enough young Italians. Mancini’s bold decision inspired Eusebio Di Francesco to give Zaniolo his debut for Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu, the former Inter youth team player was a key member of Italy’s Under 19 that made it to the European finals and could single handedly change the way the Nainggolan deal has been evaluated.
Just like in Barella’s case, there’s no doubt that Federico Chiesa will benefit from at least another full season at his current club in a system where he’s comfortable. The Fiorentina winger is going from being rated as one of the beta prospects in Serie A to being considered one of the league’s best players outright with his performances to start the season.
Chiesa’s teammate, Marco Benassi is entering his prime now and his first few matches were so convincing that Mancini selected him for the two recent matches. Benassi has appeared in 27 matches with the Azzurri’s Under 21 team where he also scored six goals.