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.
Just two shut-out, but narrow wins in this round, by Brescia and Parma and there was not really any commanding display, as the teams that appeared on track for that ended up suffering a comeback. Therefore, the coveted award goes to club that garnered the best W of the weekend and therefore inevitably Lazio, which sunk Juventus for the first time this season.
The Biancocelesti had prevailed six times in a row entering the fixture and were looking to separate themselves from Roma, which had equalized the day before against Inter, and cement their third spot in the standings. Filippo Inzaghi trotted out his best XI, picking Luiz Felipe over Bastos in the back in the only duel. Continue reading
Standings implications: Inter did not manage to find a way around Roma’s defence, but actually gained a point on Juventus since the Bianconeri lost for the first time this season against Lazio. The Biancocelesti moved three points behind second place. Atalanta outlasted Verona and are breathing down La Lupa and also Cagliari’s neck. The Sardinians found a way to surive versus Sassuolo too. Napoli continue wheezing as they were held to a tie by Udinese. Torino downed Fiorentina for their second W in a row, same achievement for Milan, which took home the full spoils in the Bologna game, while Parma knocked down Sampdoria away. Lecce came back from down two-nothing to equalize against Genoa and Brescia toppled SPAL away in Eugenio Corin’s return in the relegation zone.
Nothing beats a late winner.
That’s what Lazio have learned lately, most recently when Felipe Caicedo swivelled his hips and fired a shot into the bottom corner to snatch victory at Sassuolo last weekend.
It was a crucial goal, one that saw the capital club pull two points clear of Roma and Cagliari in third place and continue their outstanding domestic form with a fifth consecutive Serie A victory.
But after the dust settled, there was another great positive to take from the game. Continue reading
Juventus-Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo came back midweek and now it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be load managed in Serie A player after the knee injury. Nevertheless, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have been excellent in relief and have been able to contribute also when coming off the bench in their standard configuration. Douglas Costa got hurt again, which takes away their most explosive option at no.10, so it will Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey running the show there for a while, but they both have not done damage in a while. Ramsey has the most upside in the duo. Khedira is fading and, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are serviceable contributors, they are not strong fantasy options. It could be instead the right kind of match-up for Miralem Pjanic to have a meaningful offensive role, while Juan Cuadrado has been a pretty good fullback for a while now. Continue reading
Samir Handanovic (7 points): just three clean sheets in this round and finally Inter managed to keep one, with the usual solid contribution from their captain, who somehow batted away tap-in in the first half that could have perhaps reopened the game.
Chris Smalling (11 points): Roma risked very little in the back against Brescia, but really shined on the other end, as he scored one on a corner kick and also assisted his defensive partner with a quality flick-on. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus and Inter continue to forge ahead at the same pace, as the Bianconeri successfully turned around late the demanding match-up against Atalanta, while the Beneamata had an easy time handling Torino. Lazio extended his winning streak to five matches in dramatic fashion, thus defending the third spot from the ambitions of Roma, which instead housed Brescia. Milan and Napoli shared the spoils in a predictably underwhelming contest. Verona’s strong season continued with a one-nil win over Fiorentina, while Bologna and Parma shared the spoils in a thrilling Derby. Sampdoria outlasted Udinese. Cagliari lost some ground since they threw away a two-nothing lead against Lecce. SPAL and Genoa drew in the Monday night game, which really left nobody satisfied. Continue reading
Atalanta: Josip Ilicic was handed a two-game suspension for kicking an opponent from behind. Duvan Zapata is not ready to come back from his thigh strain. Robin Gosens is dealing with sciatica. Ruslan Malinovskyi has a sore glute. Remo Freuler is bang up as well and the trio is legitimately questionable.
Bologna: Roberto Soriano has been ruled out due to a knee bruise, Federico Santander because of a calf one. Takehiro Tomiyasu (thigh), Mitchell Dijks (toe contusion) and Mattia Destro (knee soreness) stay on the shelf. Continue reading
Genoa-Milan: both offenses have looked very anaemic in recent matches, as the coaches, who are well-known for their proactive mentality, seem to have struggled to convey their ideas to the players. The Griffon have failed to score in the past two matches. Christian Kouame has led them with three goals so far and has been the only consistent contributor, while Andrea Pinamonti has been struck out since week one and ceded minutes to Antonio Sanabria and Andrea Favilli, who have not fared much better. They have yet to find a midfielder that can do some damage in the final third: Lasse Schone is too far away from the goal, but his aim on free kick is getting better, Ivan Radovanovic is shooting a lot but without precision and, like Lukas Lerager, he is more of a substance player than a quality one. Riccardo Saponara has not cracked the XI with enough continuity to be a fantasy factor. There is some appeal on the flanks, where Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac have been serviceable. Continue reading
Few shut-out wins and some dominant performances in this round: the only team that combined the two was Lazio, which therefore earned this week’s nod.
The Biancocelesti had played well last week against Inter, but could not find the equalizer despite creating few juicy chances and had to endure the second loss of the season after the ugly one to SPAL few weeks back. They also lost two points in the Derby. Continue reading