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-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
Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): in another round that was lacking in terms of clean sheets, only three, the tentacular Torino goalie once again separate himself from the pack, mainly for a great save on a Tiemoue Bakayoko deep into the Milan game.
Federico Fazio (9 points): he paved the way for Roma’s easy win against Cagliari by leaping into the air to precisely send the ball towards the far post and outside of Alessio Cragno’s reach. He has impressively already scored five times this year.
Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): after multiple attempts, he was the one to finally bag Roma’s third goal on Saturday, with a persistent foray that he started and finished tracking down the second ball after a teammate was denied. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus and Inter shared the spoils in the Derby d’Italia, with the Nerazzurri now four points clear of the nearest team, while Napoli most likely put the final nail in Frosinone’s coffin. Torino bested Milan in the most meaningful match-up of the week and pulled even in the standings, while Roma dismantled Cagliari. It took them a while, but Atalanta lift the lid late against Udinese and thus seized sole control of the fourth place. Lazio sunk Sampdoria, which kissed the final European hopes goodbye, and are three points away from the crosstown rivals. The races to play continentally next season stay a big mess. Bologna delivered a big blow to Empoli with a three-one win on Saturday and also Parma, Genoa and SPAL were able to gain a little more separation from the Azzurri. Sassuolo topped Fiorentina. Continue reading
The last round had a pair of really intriguing and well-balanced match-ups, Lazio-Fiorentina and Atalanta-Sampdoria, but those were decided by a single goal. The most entertaining game was surprisingly the Friday one between Torino and Frosinone.
The Granata were coming off a late win against Chievo, while Frosinone picked up just one point so far. Walter Mazzarri gave Simone Zaza the start after the deciding goal in the previous contest, picking Daniele Baselli over Roberto Soriano as attacking midfielder and Ola Aina and Alex Berenguer as wing backs since Lorenzo De Silvestri was out. Moreno Longo, former coach of Torino’s youth team, stuck with a 3-4-3 featuring Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano up front. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus continue to dominate and notched their eighth straight victory in Udine, while Napoli topped Sassuolo at home. Roma and Inter extended their winning streaks in hard-fought matches against Empoli and SPAL. Lazio prevailed in the second-tier head-to-head game against Fiorentina. Sampdoria came away with a previous win from Bergamo, same for Parma, which staged a marvellous comeback against Genoa on the road. Torino and Cagliari nabbed two home Ws versus Frosinone and Bologna.
Confirmations: all the Serie A’s best striker did their thing this weekend. Krzysztof Piatek broke the deadlock with a header in the lunch match. Cristiano Ronaldo rifled one home against Udinese, Ciro Immobile found a clinical goal versus Fiorentina. Continue reading
There are not any mammoth clash this week, but a pair of match-up could turn to be very succulent.
Sampdoria-Inter: if it was not for the tumble they took in Udine in their season opener, the Blucerchiati would be regarded as one of the most impressive squads in Serie A, considering they how they dusted Napoli and Frosinone and came back against Fiorentina. Their attack is humming: Gregoire Defrel, Fabio Quagliarella, Gianluca Caprari and Dawid Kownacki have all already found the target at least once and the former Roma and Sassuolo striker is raining fire. Continue reading
Here are the latest updates on few players’ conditions heading into the next Serie A matchday.
Juventus: Mattia De Sciglio was taken out of the Real Madrid match due to an apparent plantar fascia lesion that will require further testing. Federico Bernardeschi and Andrea Barzagli are working their way back from a knee sprain and an abdominal strain and practiced partially this week, but they will likely not be available this week.
Napoli: Mario Rui is suspended, no other absentees other than the usual one, Faouzi Ghoulam.
On Sunday, Andrea Belotti left the pitch on a stretcher with a knee injury at the 82nd minute: Torino were up 2-0 against Hellas Verona and had already used the three substitutions, so they finished the game in ten men. The Scaligeri ended up tying the game thanks to a dubious Moise Kean’s goal and a penalty. Both circumstances were kind of fitting to underline how important Belotti is. Later tests revealed that Belotti avoided the dreaded ACL tear, but still sprained his MCL. He will not need surgery, but he will be sidelined him for four weeks, as per Torino’s official statement. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the recovery might take a little longer and he could be out until mid-November. The Rooster has had a good start of the season: he has tallied three goals in seven Serie A matches, adding two more in Coppa Italia. Torino are in sixth place in the standings.
Last season, Torino struggled in the three occasions they were forced to play without the star centre-forward. He suffered a minor injury with Italy and missed two games early: they lost to Atalanta and drew a goalless against Empoli, scoring only once in that span, thanks to a Iago Falque free kick. He was suspended for Bologna-Torino later in the year and the Granata were defeated two-nil.
Torino have let Maxi Lopez go this summer, they do have a deeper roster but there is no readymade solution for the absence of their emotional leader. After flirting with the idea of adding another strong striker that could team up with Belotti upfront, such as Duvan Zapata, they settled on Umar Sadiq as backup centre-forward. Sadiq is a very different player from Belotti, much taller and more physical: he struggled with injuries in the loan spell at Bologna, recording only 230 minutes and failing to score. He never really managed to threat Mattia Destro’s spot. He has scored twice in the six Serie A matches with Roma: he was a force in the youth system, especially during his time with Spezia, but so far he has not managed to assert himself in the pros.
Even if that is the easiest route, Sinisa Mihajlovic sometimes struggles to trust the youngsters and the task is massive in this case. The first option will probably be to rely on M’baye Niang as lone striker: the former Milan player has had a poor start in Piedmont, but has found the first seasonal goal in last game. He is not a pure centre-forward, but he has showed the ability to play centrally with Genoa and Milan. With the Grifone, he scored five goals in 19 games in 2014/2015, when he was primarily used in a similar position, and earned a return at Milan. The following season, he logged five goals and five assists with the Rossoneri as a second-striker in an injury-plagued year. He was used as a forward also at Montpellier. He does not have Belotti’s muscularity and tenacity, but his quickness could still be menacing.
Using Niang centrally will open up some minutes on the left in their 4-2-3-1. They signed Alex Berenguer from Osasuna this summer, but they were not totally satisfied with him in the early games and opted to add Niang on that flank. A very technical player, he might be a little too defensive and passive for the coach’s liking, but could improve over time. They have kept the youngster Simone Edera after a stint at Parma in the third league where he did not feature much, but he impressed Mihajlovic in the preseason: another speedster, he could earn himself some valuable minutes. Lucas Boye has just returned from an injury and the fact that he was here last season puts him on top of the pecking order: a winger in a center-forward body, he collected thirty appearances in 2016/2017, scoring once and assisting twice. He has impressive technique and dribbling skills and could be another option centrally as he was deployed there with Newell’s Old Boys.
In the next few games, Torino will face Crotone, Roma, Fiorentina, Cagliari and Inter. No matter who is chosen to replace him, a lot more will be asked to Adem Ljajic and Iago Falque, who started the season well but will need to take a further step forward. If things go awry, Mihajlovic could decide to bolster the midfield and revert back to 4-3-3, moving Ljajic to the flank, or even opting for a false-nine as a hail mary. There are some very demanding games ahead for Torino and their success, or lack thereof, without Belotti will set the tone for the rest of their season.
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