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 Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading
Gianluigi Donnarumma: after few jew-dropping saves in Rome, he will try to keep a clean sheet against Cagliari, which have failed to score in three of their last four games and are in dire straits.
Bartosz Bereszynski: Sampdoria have not allowed a goal in their last three home fixtures and will try to keep it going against Frosinone, even though the foes have at times caught opponents by surprise on the road.
Timothy Castagne: Atalanta have a solid back-line at home, especially when facing the minnows, and the fullbacks have always a big role in the offensive schemes of Gian Piero Gasperini. Continue reading
In a round full of ties, only Napoli and Bologna brought home the full loot and the Partenopei, which rag dolled a worthy opponent, were quite clearly the best team in this week-end. The Azzurri came into the game looking to wash out the bitter taste of an underwhelming two-game trip to San Siro against Milan, where they were held to a nil-nil tie in Serie A play and eliminated from Coppa Italia due to a paltry performance.
Carlo Ancelotti was a little more cautious versus Sampdoria and picked Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne up front, with José Callejon and Piotr Zielinski manning the flanks, rather than fielding his three strikers together. Elseid Hysaj and Alex Meret made their return to the starting XI, while Raul Albiol was spared due to a nagging ailment. Continue reading
Napoli-Sampdoria: the Partenopei had a disappointing two-game meeting with Milan, as they did not manage to beat them in the weekend and then got got in Coppa Italia. They are undefeated at home, where they have won four games in a row, often scoring multiple goals. The Blucerchiati are coming off a thumping against Udinese, their fourth W in the last six fixtures and they lost only to Juventus since the beginning of December. While Lorenzo Insigne is stuck in a prolonged drought, Arek Milik has done most of the damage for the Azzurri up front, with Dries Mertens chipping in from time to time and some contribution from José Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski, but not in a consistent way. 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.
Once again lots of goals in the Serie A weekend: here’s the best XI.
David Ospina (7 points): the Colombian goalkeeper drew a surprising start and helped his team with a fantastic save late on a close-range attempt by Mateo Musacchio.
Armando Izzo (9 points): the Torino back-line not only stonewalled Inter, but also two defenders combined for the game-winning goal. Izzo is not much of a goal scorer, he had just four in over 150 appearances, but one header was more than enough to bring home the full spoils on Sunday. Continue reading
Alban Lafont: Chievo can be an annoying opponent, especially lately, but they still have one of the least prolific attacks in the League, while Fiorentina have been able to keep three clean sheets in the past four road games. The young goalkeeper has been as good as advertised thus far.
Nicola Murru: Sampdoria have won three in a row at home, shutting down opponents twice, while Udinese have failed to score in their last three away fixtures. The ex Cagliari full-back has also been able to pick up some bonus points offensively here and there. Continue reading
Fiorentina and Sampdoria provided neutral supporters with an enthralling match at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Sunday. The lead had changed hands several times before the final whistle blew, the scores ending up level after Viola Captain German Pezzella fired in a last-minute equaliser. 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
No shortage of candidates this time out, as Roma-Torino was very entertaining and Napoli-Lazio had a very high technical profile, but the shout-out goes to Fiorentina-Sampdoria that was dramatic up until the final whistle.
Fiorentina came into the game having failed to win in the past two fixtures, losing to Parma at home and tying versus Genoa. Sampdoria were beaten by Juventus before the break, ending a positive streak. Stefano Pioli started the newcomer Luis Muriel right away, pairing him with Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa, kept Marco Benassi on the bench to deploy Edimilson Fernandes and Gerson in the midfield. Marco Giampaolo opted for Jakub Jankto, since both Edgar Barreto and Karol Linetty are hurt, then picked Gianluca Caprari and Gaston Ramirez up front. Continue reading