Pierluigi Gollini: the young goalkeeper has been trustworthy since snatching the starting job away from Etrit Berisha and he could be able to bring in some points since Empoli are not as effective on the road.
Cristian Ansaldi: he is having a really strong season and Torino as a whole have been pretty outstanding defensively. They will tangle with Cagliari this week, which have the second-worst away attack in the League. He could have a pretty significant offensive role too since both Andrea Belotti and Iago Falque will be sidelined. Continue reading →
Juventus: Mario Mandzukic (flu), Paulo Dybala (calf) and Leonardo Spinazzola (knee) have recovered from their problems, while Cristiano is sitll out. Sami Khedira, Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado have ramped up their activity and are close to returning, but they will not be called up in this round. Martin Caceres will miss three weeks with a thigh strain.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is said to have almost recuperated from his thigh contracture and could be in the squad list in this round. David Ospina(head), Faouzi Ghoulam and Vlad Chiriches (thigh) should be in the squad in list, while Raul Albiol is not far away. Continue reading →
Samir Handanovic: the Inter defense has not been super stingy on the road, but this week they will tangle against Genoa that has scored just once in their last five fixtures. The veteran goalkeeper always gives his contribution.
Joao Cancelo: he could have a massive role on offense since Juventus will be down few attackers and they will also need a big performance out of their defense to topple Cagliari. Alex Sandro is in lesser form could be a good selection too.
Rogerio: Sassuolo are not very trustworthy defensively, but the date with Chievo is usually a good medicine for those problems. The young left back has sometimes done damage scurrying down the flank. Continue reading →
Juan Musso (7 points): a fairly good amount of clean sheets in this round, as seven teams managed to hold the opponent scoreless. Among the goalkeepers that succeeded, Musso had the finest performance, including a superhuman save on a point-blank header where he snatched the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
Francesco Vicari(9 points): his season has been up-and-down and he has often ridden the pine, but he came up big on Sunday, burying a pretty header by masterfully attacking the near post on a corner kick and gifting a very significant win to his side. Continue reading →
Standings implications: they did it in opposite fashion, but Juventus and Napoli both took home the full spoils in this round. Inter were bested by Lazio, Milan by Sampdoria and therefore the Biancocelesti and Atalanta moved closer to the fourth spot. The Orobici leapfrogged Roma, while Sampdoria now share the eight spot with Torino, which tied in Florence. Cagliari prevailed for the third time in the last four fixtures, this time versus Chievo, and are eight point clear of the 18th spot, which is now occupied by Empoli that have been overtaken by Bologna as result of a dramatic victory. Udinese and SPAL kept their slim lead with Ws against Genoa and Frosinone.
Confirmations: Duvan Zapata took advantage of few elite strikers being shut out to pull closer to the top of the scorers’ chart thanks to a brace. Continue reading →
Atalanta have been making steady progress since promotion back to Serie A in 2011 and this season could rival a couple of years ago where from astute buys and careful planning the team finished in 4th place.
The team which hail from Lombardy are currently in 7th place and have 45 points. Their objective will be to qualify for the Europa League where they are just one position and goal difference over Lazio from doing. Otherwise there is the dream of possible Champions League qualification, but they are 6 points behind AC Milan however with 10 games to go much is still possible.
Under Antonio Percassi and head coach Gian Piero Gasperini Atalanta have made great progress. Gasperini joined the team in 2016 and took the club straight into Europe and into the Europa League after a fantastic 4th place finish. Look at how the club were before the 61 year old joined. In their first season back in 2011/12 they finished 12th the next season it was 15th, which was followed up by 11th. The season after the club even flirted with the idea of relegation when they wound up the season in 17th place and then the season after that there was only minimal progress with a 13th place finish.
But it has been in the last 2 seasons where change has been afoot and the club are going in the right direction. Last summer the transfers rolled in and one of the clubs most important purchases was recognising that they needed a more youthful goalkeeper and in came Pierluigi Gollini from Aston Villa. Gollini at just 24 had spent a chunk of his time with Manchester United’s youth team but had only played 20 games in two seasons for the English championship side. Gollini has impressed for Atalanta this season after playing the same amount of games he had at Villa but in this season alone.
The real star for the side and best swoop as transfers go has to be for Colombian Duvan Zapata. The 27 year old is on loan from Sampdoria and cost 14m euros over a 2 year period. There is an option to buy him for a further 12m euros and right now he seems worth every penny. Zapata has scored 17 goals this season in Serie A and is 4th in the goal scorers chart, just 2 goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo and 4 behind leader Fabio Quagliarella. Indeed Zapata has really found his feet with the team and this is his best personal season of his career so far.
Atalanta may not be on everyone’s lips but take out the elite teams in Serie A and the club have proven to be the best of the rest so far. The last 3 seasons under the ownership of Percassi have been the best for the side in a generation. One wonders if the fans will get out the special flag, the Bandieru a massive flag which covers the whole of the Curva Nord, it comes out when the team are doing well, and we are sure to see it a few times before the end of an entertaining season for the team.
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There were a couple of head-to-head matches in secondary positions of the table and one of them, Sampdoria vs Atalanta, turned out to be quite entertaining.
The Blucerchiati approached the match riding a two-game winning streak, as their victories over Cagliari and SPAL had allowed them to re-enter the Europa League race. Atalanta had bounced back last week against Fiorentina from two straight losses that had made them lose their advantage over the other contenders.
Standings implications: Juventus further extended their lead after pummeling Udinese as Napoli equalized in Sassuolo. Both Milan and Inter were successful against minnows in this round, the Rossoneri beat Chievo, the Beneamata did the same with SPAL, and therefore head into next week’s Derby separated by just one point, with the Devil on top. Roma sweated it out by bested Empoli and remain in pursuit. Atalanta recorded a big win in the Europa League race by besting Sampdoria on the road, but Torino staged a comeback in Frosinone and the two remain hand-in-hand, while Lazio lost some ground as they were held to a one-one tie in Florence. Waiting to see what Empoli will do, only Bologna took home the W in the rear: they stay in the 18th spot, but have closed a little the gap with Empoli, SPAL and Udinese.
Cagliari-Inter: the Sardinians are coming off a 0-1 loss to Sampdoria, where they were offensively challenged, and have prevailed just once in the past seven games, where they have been beaten five times. Inter had a crazy one with Fiorentina last week, where they were pipped at the post due to a questionable penalty. They had defeated Parma and the Blucerchiati in the two previous fixtures and need point to stave off Milan and Roma’s comeback. The Rossoblù have found the net in just one of their last five games and only with one player, Leonardo Pavoletti. Continue reading →