Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci has recovered from his ankle sprain, Daniele Rugani from hamstring soreness and even Mario Mandzukic was able to practice fully late in the week after dealing with a patellar tendon problem for a while. Moise Keanhas shaken off the flu. Giorgio Chiellini has picked up yet another calf ailment, but he is available. Miralem Pjanic is fine after twisting his ankle last week.
Napoli: Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have good chances to return after skipping one with muscle fatigue. Nikola Maksimovic and Amadou Diawara are close to healing from their foot infractions. David Ospina is still in Colombia for personal reasons, while Adam Ounas remains questionable after missing one. Continue reading →
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 →
Marco Sportiello(7 points): few unexpected clean sheets in this round, which had some extraordinary saves, but not by goalkeeper that managed to keep the goal locked up. Among them, Pierluigi Gollini had probably the best performance, but he was docked one point because he was booked. So the shout-out goes the Frosinone player for his alert work in Florence against a pretty good offence.
Erick Pulgar(13 points): the reigning player of the month confirmed his proficiency from the penalty spot by convering two in the span of three minutes. Continue reading →
Milan-Udinese: the Rossoneri slowed down just as things were starting to get really interesting, as they were defeated by Inter and Sampdoria after they had managed to surpass the Nerazzurri riding a five-game winning streak. They also have to look behind at the onrushing Atalanta and Lazio. Udinese came out on top in Igor Tudor’s second debut, besting Genoa after two losses to Juventus and Napoli, although their home numbers were solid also before the firing of Davide Nicola. Milan have had troubles feeding Krzysztof Piatek in the last two matches and they do not really have a second reliable scoring option because Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu are more creators and have not had much feeling with the goal recently. Samu Castillejo did not deliver in Genoa despite the opportunity to start. Lucas Paquetà and Franck Kessie were benched after international duties, but they should be back in the XI here and could provide a decent boost. The Brazilian starlet might play closer to the guy and Patrick Cutrone could get to start over Suso in a different scheme. Continue reading →
SPAL-Roma: the Estensi are pretty much starving for points as they collected just one in their last five games, against Sassuolo, and were beaten by Atalanta, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Inter, further signaling their struggles against good competition. Their lead over the danger zone has been cut to just two points. The Giallorossi partially course corrected after a rough week with a narrow win over Empoli, where they did not look imposing and were lucky in the end, but also had to endure a host of absences. One of the main issues for the Biancazzurri has been the fact that they have not identified reliable offensive contributors other than Andrea Petagna, Jasmin Kurtic and Manuel Lazzariand the house of cards crumbled once the wing back was sidelined by an injury. Continue reading →
Gianluigi Donnarumma: the starlet is in great form and Milan have been able to keep a clean in five of their last seven fixtures, while Chievo have failed to score in five straights.
Alex Sandro: he will be suspended for the return leg of the Atletico Madrid clash, therefore he should be out there against Udinese. Either way, one Juventus defender could be a good pick in this round since the Zebrette have not found their target in their last five away games. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus surged past Lazio late and saw their lead swell because Milan and Napoli shared the spoils. The Rossoneri remain fourth due to some ties behind them. Torino torpedoed Inter at home and re-emerged in the Europa League race. It was a Sunday of comebacks, as Atalanta erased a three-nothing lead against Roma and SPAL proceeded to win the game after being down two-nothing in Parma. Fiorentina outlasted Chievo in a rollercoaster of a game. Sampdoria and Sassuolo easily took care of business in the early Saturday matches, smoking Udinese and Cagliari. Frosinone surprisingly pounded Bologna on the road, re-emerging in the relegation race and putting the Felsinei in real trouble. Continue reading →
Alex Meret(7 points): five clean sheets this week, with some fine goalkeeping too. Napoli had to sweat against SPAL, but the youngster answered the bell with two solid saves to protect the result late.
Raul Albiol(9 points): the Azzurri attack came up shot on Saturday, but the Spanish defender steered the game in their direction with a wicked header that turned out to be the game-winner.
Mattia De Sciglio (7 points): Juventus’ back-line did not crack under pressure versus Roma and the fullback played a major role in the deciding goal with a sharp cross to set up Mario Mandzukic. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus edge past Roma and they are now officially Winter champions. Napoli are not in a prolific stretch, but they eked out another win, this time squeaking by SPAL. Inter was pipped at the post in Verona. Lazio returned to winning ways by squashing Cagliari, re-claiming the fourth spot, since Milan got beat at home by Fiorentina. Sampdoria soared past Empoli late, defending their sixth position and building some separation over Sassuolo and Torino, which shared the spoils. Genoa outlasted Atalanta, giving Cesare Prandelli his first win since coming back to Serie A. Marco Baroni salvaged a decent point in Udine in his debut. Parma and Bologna settled for a nil-nil tie. Continue reading →
Roma-Genoa was pretty much the only back and forth game of the weekend and it had plenty of storylines in it, so it is an easy choice for match of the round. The Giallorossi were coming off two straight 2-2 ties, with different flavor, against Inter and Cagliari and had prevailed just once in the past seven fixtures. Genoa drew in Cesare Prandelli’s debut versus SPAL and have not won since September 30th.
Eusebio Di Francesco, who has been on the hot seat for a while, made the bold move of benching Patrik Schick after two wasteful outings and opted for a three-man defense and a light front-line composed by Cengiz Under, Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert. Genoa were without the suspended Domenico Criscito, replaced here by Ervin Zukanovic, but pretty much stuck with their usual XI, with Romulo and Darko Lazovic wide and Sandro anchoring the midfield. Continue reading →