SPAL-Juventus: Luigi Di Biagio devised a new system in his debut, arraying his men with a 4-3-3. While they failed to get the win, they attacked more than usual and Andrea Petagna bagged the ninth goal of his campaign. Federico Di Francesco has always been playing in very offensive role, but he is more comfortable out wide and the trident was completed by Mattia Valoti in that case, although Gabriel Strefezza will have his chances too. The duo gets a bump thanks to the coaching change, likewise Mirko Valdifiori, who resurfaced and can be a decent weapon on set pieces, as a matter of fact he picked up an assist with a corner kick. Simone Missiroli is back at box-to-box like earlier in his career, joining the sneaky Lucas Castro. On the downside, Arkadiusz Reca, and Mohamed Fares when he will be ready, will feature as fullback, so few meters behind what they were accustomed to doing. Scoring has been one of their main issues so far, as they have no reliable contributors behind Petagna. Continue reading
Standings implications: Lazio emerged victorious in the crunch game with Inter, thus surpassing the Nerazzurri in second position and staying one point behind Juventus, which did their job versus Brescia. Roma put up a fight in Bergamo, but Atalanta still rallied back and took home a monumental victory in the Champions League race as they have built a six-point lead over the direct rival.
Parma re-entered the conversation for the sixth spot by railroading Sassuolo and caught Verona in the standings, then Milan answered on Monday night. The Scaligeri and Udinese did not get in the way of the respective targets with a nil-nil tie, but it will not be long before the Zebrette will have to resume watching underneath them. Genoa and Lecce continue streaking by toppling Bologna and SPAL, putting all the other relegation zone competitors in high alert, especially Sampdoria, which were trounced by Fiorentina and are now in 17th position, so sandwiched between the two.
Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading
Lazio-Sampdoria: despite a fairly muted performance, the Biancocelesti came out on top versus Napoli last week, for the second week in a row propelled by a late Ciro Immobile goal. The capocannoniere keeps producing and has already reached the 20-goal threshold. He has scored their last three goals. Joaquin Correa will be limited, so Felipe Caicedo might get another chance to start and he has posted three goals and two assists in limited action in the last five appearances. Luis Alberto will be looking to pad his assist numbers (12), while Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has reverted back to his less efficient self after a hot stretch. Senad Lulic will be suspended, so Jony is set to play on the left wing and he is a willing crosser. The Eagles have been airtight at home. Continue reading
Fiorentina announced Saturday morning that they have relieved Vincenzo Montella from his duties as head coach following the Friday night’s 1-4 romp against Roma. La Viola have not won since October 30th and have accumulated five losses and two draws in the past seven rounds. They are currently 14th in the standings, four points above the last three places and 11 away from the Europa League zone. On Monday, the club announced to have reached agreement with Giuseppe Iachini on a 18-month contract, which reportedly includes an out clause at the end of the season.
A reduced pool this week with Juventus-Sampdoria taking place on Wednesday and Lazio and Verona not playing due to Sunday’s Supercoppa Italiana.
Salvatore Sirigu: SPAL broke out of their road drought and have found the target in the past three matches, but they remain one of the most anaemic offenses in Europe, with only Watford having scored less than them in the top five leagues. The veteran goalie has been as reliable as they come despite being behind an imperfect back-line.
Stefan De Vrij: Inter have re-started keeping clean sheets, two in the past four games, and the Dutch defender offers the most upside on the other end. Genoa have failed to hit the net in three of their past five matches. Continue reading
Fiorentina-Roma: with Federico Chiesa and Gaetano Castrovilli at half service due to physical problems, Dusan Vlahovic stepped up and saved the day against Inter. The Serbian prospect had gotten some decent run before but without doing much with it and instead delivered off the bench. Chiesa and Castrovilli are considered day-to-day and they are their two most best contributors, so their level of competitiveness will hinge on their recoveries. Kevin-Prince Boateng got the start after a while and had only minor chances, but they might have to rely him a lot in this one and he is listed as a midfielder, which makes him a bit intriguing depending on their injury situation. The other okay elements like Marco Benassi and Erick Pulgar have been silent for a long while. Dalbert has outplayed Pol Lirola as far as fullbacks are concerned. Continue reading
Gianluca Pegolo (7 points): the 38-year-old unseated the youngster Stefano Turati throughout the week and frustrated Milan time and time again with great saves on clear-cut attempts.
Jhon Chancellor (8 points): his goal could not have been any easier as he tucked it home with his knee from basically the goal-line and he was pretty good in the back as well against Lecce. Continue reading
Standings implications: Inter and Juventus are now tied atop of the table as the Nerazzurri suffered a late equalizer at the hands of Fiorentina, while the Old Lady breezed past Udinese. Lazio stay in the close proximity as they did to Cagliari what the Sardinians had done to other teams and mounted a late comeback. Roma got the job done at home over SPAL despite a poor first half. Napoli’s woes were not immediately solved by the coaching change since Parma toppled them late at home and the Ducali are right below the European zone, especially because an undermanned Atalanta team was torpedoed by Bologna away.
Torino and Verona shared the spoils in a super fun game, while Milan-Sassuolo ended in a nil-nil drew despite few chances for both sides. In the lower districts, second W in a row for Brescia, which creamed Lecce, while Sampdoria came out on top in the Derby della Lanterna.
Napoli-Parma: there is great curiosity to see what immediate changes Gennaro Gattuso will bring to the table. In his introductory presser, he hinted that he is going to use 4-3-3, which would lead to few duels up front. The first order of business will have to be reviving Lorenzo Insigne, who has not fared well in a long time, while Dries Mertens is in a domestic slump but has done some damage in Europe. Arkadiusz Milik came back midweek and he looked like a million bucks and he was en fuego before getting injured. He should be front and center in the new project. The new tactic would see José Callejon and Hirving Lozano alternate and the Mexican winger has abated after a decent stretch. It would give Piotr Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz more freedom and the Polish midfielder finally broke through last week. Giovanni Di Lorenzo is trending back up after a period of lull.