The most significant game this week was the bout between Atalanta and Milan with the fourth spot on the line. The Goddess came into the fixture having won four of five, while the Rossoneri were coming off their most convincing win of the season, against Cagliari, and riding a six-match undefeated streak, where they had tied three times.
Both coaches confirmed the XIs they have been using consistently for few weeks: the only tweak by Gian Piero Gasperini was picking Berat Djimsiti to anchor the back-line and moving José-Luis Palomino to left centre-back, over Gianluca Mancini, while Gennaro Gattuso marshaled his usual 4-3-3. Continue reading →
Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschiand Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading →
Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): some outstanding goalkeeping in this round, in particular by Alban Lafont and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the spot goes to the Torino player, who saved a penalty.
Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): another terrific display but the veteran fullback, who notched his sixth goal in Serie A with a potent cross-shot at the end of a fast-break.
Ola Aina(9 points): the Chelsea loanee has been impressive thus far and decided the Udinese game with a header on the far post on a cross coming from the other wing back, a staple in Walter Mazzarri’s schemes. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus’ led atop of the table swelled up again as the Bianconeri routed Sassuolo, while Napoli could not break through in Florence and had to settle for a nil-nil tie. Inter returned to winning ways in Parma after three rounds. All the teams involved in the Champions League race won this week: Milan outfaced Cagliari, Roma did the same with Chievo on Friday, Atalanta successfully came back at home versus SPAL and Lazio squeezed past Empoli. Sampdoria lost steam in the Europa League zone with the second loss in a row, an appalling one to Frosinone in this case, while Torino are now eighth after nipping Udinese. Frosinone’s victory drags few more clubs into the mud: there are six teams in six points, with two going down. Bologna was the only other side that brought home a relatively positive result in those neighborhoods as they tied with Genoa. Continue reading →
Samir Handanovic: Inter are going through a pretty rough stretch offensively, but their defence has for the most part held up and they have not conceded a single goal in their last seven home fixtures. Bologna have been poor offensively thus far, however there is an element of unknown after the coaching change.
Joao Cancelo: he is coming off a phenomenal display in Rome, where he was deployed as right winger. While that he is unlikely to happen again, he has been a weapon also in his usual position and Juventus have the sturdiest back-line in the League, so one of their defenders can still be picked even despite Parma road prowess. He will be eager to redeem himself after a rare dud. Continue reading →
Every season there’s one team in Serie A that pushes above their weight and vies for European football among the league’s elite. With Lazio, Milan and Roma all fighting for top four this year, they all seem to have forgotten about Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta and Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria. Both sides have been in excellent form playing impressive football and have now entered the Champions League race without making too much of a fuss. Right now, the five teams are separated by a mere three points going into a crucial stage of the season.
Led by the eternal Fabio Quagliarella, who has now scored in 11 consecutive games equalling Gabriel Batistuta’s record in the process, Sampdoria find themselves just two points back behind fourth place Milan. Giampaolo has been able to get the most out of his men in his preferred ‘Christmas Tree’ formation (4-3-1-2) and has since attracted interest from the peninsula’s elite for his good work. Insisting on possession football and building patiently, the blucerchiati have dominated the opposition at times, and have proven to be a match for any team in the league.
While Quagliarella is the one bagging the goals, the impressive work done by midfield dynamos Dennis Praet and Karol Linetty should not go unnoticed. Juventus loanee Emil Audero has also manned the sticks wonderfully in his debut season in Serie A, especially with the veteran presence of Lorenzo Tonelli in front of him.
Atalanta, on the other hand, have played some explosive football this season and lead the league in scoring with 47 goals. In fact, gli Orobici have found the back of the net 16 times in their last four league games, three of which coming most recently in their comeback against Roma on the weekend. With Duvan Zapata flanked by Alejandro Gomez and Josip Ilicic, Gasperini’s side posses arguably one of the world’s most underrated front-lines. Zapata is currently on 15 goals on the season and has now scored in Atalanta’s last nine games in all competitions.
Chievo-Fiorentina was a little more bonkers, but Roma-Atalanta had a higher profile, so it is the pick for match of the week. Both teams came into the game in positive stretches, having won four times in the previous six fixtures, with just one loss, and firmly in the running for the fourth spot.
Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed last week’s XI featuring Berat Djimsitiand Timothy Castagne over usual starter José-Luis Palomino and Robin Gosens. With Cengiz Under injured and Alessandro Florenzi banged up, Eusebio Di Francesco moved Nicolò Zaniolo to the right flank, with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole and Ivan Marcano replacing Federico Fazio, who was under the weather. 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 →
Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading →
Serie A returned in full force with a gorgeous weekend of football. Here are the top performers.
Samir Handanovic (7 points): just five clean sheets in this round, by Inter, Sassuolo, Milan, Juventus and Atalanta. The veteran goalie had the best showing, denying two close range attempts by Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jeremie Boga to preserve the tie. Gianluca Donnarumma was not far behind.
Gianluca Mancini (9 points): he has already scored five goals thus far, which is more than most midfielders. He added a new wrinkle on Sunday, as he did not do damage on a set piece, but simply followed an offensive action by his side, then his teammates fed him with a solid cross. Continue reading →