Wojciech Szczesny: the Juventus back-line has not been super robust in the last few games, so they will be looking to course correct against Empoli, which have had troubles producing on the road.
Jens Larsen: Udinese could benefit from the new coach’s bump against Genoa, which is not a particularly productive side anyway, while the Zebrette posted okay numbers at home. The fullback has often been able to pick up bonus points at the Friuli stadium. Continue reading →
Juventus: Sami Khedira underwent a heart ablation with an arrhythmogenic atrial focus and will miss a minimum of one month. Emre Can is suspended. Douglas Costa remains questionable with the quad injury that has forced to skip the last few games.
Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne is disqualified, while Mario Ruihas slim chances to return from a thigh pull.
Inter: Mauro Icardi took some tests this week, which revealed no structural damage on his achy knee, but he is still poised to be unavailable this week amid the standoff with the managament. Balde Keitais having a hard time shaking off a thigh strain. Continue reading →
Lukas Skorupski (7 points): a limited amount of clean sheets in this round and the goalkeepers that who managed did not have particularly remarkable showings, so the nod goes to the one who did it in the most arduous match-up, even though he has to thank the imprecision of the opponents rather than his own ability.
Hans Hateboer (9 points): his header on a long cross solved a tricky game for Atalanta.
Kalidou Koulibaly (5 points): he heard the noise after the loss in Coppa Italia against Milan, where Krzysztof Piatek run circles around the Napoli back-line, but the Senegalese bounced back in a big way against Sampdoria, completely shutting down the opponents. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Napoli were finally able to cut into Juventus’ lead atop of the standings, since they bludgeoned Sampdoria at home, while the Bianconeri squandered a two-goal lead versus Parma at the Stadium. Roma and Milan tied in a key match-up for the Champions League race and they both got closer to Inter, which dropped the ball at home versus Bologna. However, Atalanta and Lazio both closed the gap with their narrow wins on Monday. SPAL and Torino shared the spoils in what was fittingly the games with most fouls this season, while Empoli and Chievo did the same early on Saturday on a result that does not really help anybody. Ties galore on Sunday, as Genoa-Sassuolo and Udinese-Fiorentina both finished 1-1, slowing down the road teams in their quest for a Europa League berth. 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 →
Roma-Torino: the Giallorossi are on the up and up with three wins in the last four games, over Genoa, Sassuolo and Parma and have re-entered the Champions League fray. The Granata continue to be a little uninspiring, they have prevailed just twice in their last seven games, but they are still undefeated on the road and have shared the spoils in the majority of away matches. Patrick Schickhas had a resurgence is the last month and the duel with Edin Dzeko is legitimate now. They have also recovered Lorenzo Pellegrini, who was having a great season before getting hurt and makes them very menacing up front, since Cengiz Under, Bryan Cristante, Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert have all been productive before the break and even Javier Pastore showed some life in Coppa Italia. Continue reading →
Standings implications: nothing changes in the upper echelon after the final game of 2018, as the top three teams did not look particularly impressive, but all came away with wins as Juventus and Napoli outlasted Sampdoria and Bologna and Inter beat Empoli on the road. Lazio and Torino shared the spoils in a very nervous games and this result allows Milan, who finally came through against SPAL, and Roma, which blitzed Parma, to close the gap for the fourth spot. In the Europa League race, Atalanta pummeled Sassuolo, while Fiorentina drew with Genoa. In the lower districts, Udinese outfaced Cagliari and Chievo finally earned their first win of the season by besting Frosinone in a battle of sad sacks. Continue reading →
Gianluigi Donnarumma: while Milan’s attack has been languishing lately, their back-line has been pretty robust, allowing just one goal in the last four fixtures, and the young stud contributed to that with some excellent saves. They will host SPAL, which have failed to find the target in the last three matches.
Raul Albiol: on paper, a great match-up for the Napoli’s defence, since Bologna have not hit the net in the previous three contests and did it just six times so far on the road. He will have to lead the department due to the suspension of Kalidou Koulibaly. He scored in the last home game. Continue reading →
Lazio-Cagliari: after four draws in a row, the Biancocelesti came a cropper in Bergamo, following another subpar performance. The Sardinians have been unable to win in the past six weeks and they caught on Sunday their first L at home versus Napoli. So both teams are reeling, one more of the other considering their seasonal targets. Simone Inzaghi is giving Sergej Milinkovic-Savic every opportunity to get off his schneid, but he keeps misfiring. Luis Alberto is showing some signs of life, but he is far away from last year’s level of brilliance. So Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa remain their only two productive fulcrums, with Marco Parolo at times able to chip in. Continue reading →
Juventus: Emre Can made the squad list, approximately two months after suffering the thyroid issue. Rodrigo Bentancur is dealing with a back problem, but he was called up. Alex Sandro (thigh) and Sami Khedira (ankle) have been ruled out, same for Andrea Barzagli, who is rumoured to have suffered a severe quad injury, and Moise Kean, who has some muscle fatigue.
Napoli: Simone Verdi will remain on the mend because of an ankle sprain, while Adam Ounas missed the last game with a minor muscular ailment. Alex Meret should be ready to start. Continue reading →