Milan-Udinese: the Rossoneri slowed down just as things were starting to get really interesting, as they were defeated by Inter and Sampdoria after they had managed to surpass the Nerazzurri riding a five-game winning streak. They also have to look behind at the onrushing Atalanta and Lazio. Udinese came out on top in Igor Tudor’s second debut, besting Genoa after two losses to Juventus and Napoli, although their home numbers were solid also before the firing of Davide Nicola. Milan have had troubles feeding Krzysztof Piatek in the last two matches and they do not really have a second reliable scoring option because Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu are more creators and have not had much feeling with the goal recently. Samu Castillejo did not deliver in Genoa despite the opportunity to start. Lucas Paquetà and Franck Kessie were benched after international duties, but they should be back in the XI here and could provide a decent boost. The Brazilian starlet might play closer to the guy and Patrick Cutrone could get to start over Suso in a different scheme. Continue reading
With their chances of securing European qualification via the league looking increasingly unlikely, Fiorentina travel to Cagliari on Friday night desperately needing a win. The Viola currently sit tenth in Serie A, four places and seven points behind the Europa League berths, but a victory in Sardinia might put pressure on those above them.
Italian football are no strangers to their misunderstood and controversial superstars. Before Mario Balotelli emerged on the scene, there was Antonio Cassano. And before them came Roma’s iconic bad-boy Francesco Totti. While calcio’s latest exploit, Federico Chiesa, has done nowhere near enough to steal the headlines alongside these players, the Fiorentina winger is attracting attention for all the wrong reasons at the moment.
Since emerging through the ranks at Fiorentina, Chiesa has established himself as one of Italy’s elite talents and will undoubtedly become a cornerstone of Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri setup moving forward. Comfortable with playing on either wing, the 21-year-old has arguably developed into la Viola’s most important player in the final third, and has even added end product to his game this season.
Deploying him alongside Giovanni Simeone, and Luis Muriel, Fiorentina boss Stefano Pioli has been able to get the most out of his talented winger. Currently, Chiesa has scored five goals and registered three assists in league play, all-while propelling Fiorentina into a race for the Europa League and deep into the Coppa Italia – a competition in which, alone, he’s got six goals.
Outside of his ability to find the back of the net, Chiesa has also been effective at feeding his teammates. At the moment, the Italian international is averaging 1.8 key passes per game and has been a constant menace on the counter attack with his impressive turn of pace.
Despite his recent exploits, the press surrounding Chiesa has never been worse. While the 21-year-old is capable of the extravagant on the ball, he’s also developed a reputation for diving, and manipulating the referees. If it were a one-off occurrence, it wouldn’t be an issue. However, just this season alone Chiesa’s antics have infuriated the masses, and he’s been labelled as enemy number one from rival fan-bases.
Most recently, Chiesa undeservedly earned Fiorentina another penalty shot, this time coming in their Coppa Italia clash against Atalanta. It would inevitably prove to be the difference as La Viola earned a 3-3 draw going into the second leg. Earlier this season, the Fiorentina winger Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini had some select words for Chiesa after the game.
“Chiesa? The penalty was a farce. It’s an episode that hurts the player’s reputation more than anything,” said Gasperini to Quotidiano.net.
With a number of suitors, both abroad and within Italy, heavily after Chiesa including Roma and Tottenham Hotspur among others, the young winger will have to curb this bad habit. Otherwise, it may prevent him from reaching the very top.
There’s no denying Chiesa’s talent and versatility in the final third, however, clubs will think twice before making him their marquee signing if his diving antics persist. As Chiesa is about to enter a crucial stage in his career – a point where many Italian talents in the past have tailed off – it’s time for Chiesa to put the theatrics behind him once and for all and put his footballing development first. If not, calcio fans may be witnessing Domenico Berardi 2.0; a scary prospect indeed.
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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
The most anticipated game in a pretty weak round turned out to be the most dramatic, even excessively so. Fiorentina came into the fixture having won just two of their last six matches, but never losing in that stretch, while Inter were coming off two wins in a row, which allowed them to get out of sticky patch.
Looking ahead at the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final on Wednesday, Stefano Pioli initially rested both Nikola Milenkovic, who was also a little under the weather, and especially Luis Muriel, trotting out both Vincent Laurini and Federico Ceccherini in the back and Giovanni Simeone up front. Continue reading
Having earned another vital win last week, Fiorentina’s young side face a tough test this weekend as they welcome Inter to the Stadio Artemio Franchi. The Viola are undefeated since a 1-0 loss against Parma on December 26, recording four draws and four wins – over Torino, Chievo, AS Roma and SPAL – in the eight games since that date. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus tacked on two more points to their lead, as they walloped Frosinone, while Napoli could not come up with a goal versus Torino. Inter seem fully back as they showed some fight against Sampdoria, winning their second in a row. Milan prevailed in the key clash with Atalanta, remaining in control of the Champions League race. Lazio got beat in the final minutes by Genoa. Roma kept up with the Rossoneri by edging Bologna. Fiorentina leapfrogged Torino and Sampdoria thanks to the drubbing they handed to SPAL. Empoli jumped out of the relegation zone with a commanding victory over Sassuolo, closing the gap with the Estensi, but also Udinese and Cagliari snatched the full loot despite much tribulation, against Chievo and Parma. Continue reading
The next Serie A round will start very early, on Thursday, and stretch throughout the weekend.
Lazio-Empoli: it was not necessarily pretty, but the Biancocelesti returned to winning ways against Frosinone after three unsatisfactory results and now are in the fifth spot, tied with Roma and Atalanta, one point away from Champions League. The Azzurri came back against Chievo, collecting the second draw in the last three fixtures after a slew of losses, but behind them Bologna have gotten closer. The Biancocelesti are really banged up and, considering the minuscule turnaround, there is growing pessimism about the presence of Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto, who got hurt on Monday. Joaquin Correa should be able to play and in this scenario he and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic become very attractive fantasy assets and Felipe Caicedo could be a cheap plug considering he has scored in the last round. Valon Berisah and Riza Durmisi might be unlikely protagonists. Continue reading
Italian international Manolo Gabbiadini is on the verge of a return to Serie A, after falling down the pecking order at Premier League side Southampton.
Gabbiadini played for Atalanta between 2009-2012, followed by spells at Bologna, Sampdoria and Napoli, before eventually making the move to England in 2016.
However he has never really recaptured his Serie A form with The Saints, and now a queue is forming to bring him back to his native country – with AC Milan and Fiorentina both reportedly keen.
One win, one loss, one draw. The busy Christmas period was certainly a mixed bag for Fiorentina. It began on December 22 with an excellent 1-0 win over AC Milan at San Siro, a victory that was incredibly their first of the season away from home. The home side may have been suffering from a decimated midfield through a mixture of injury and suspension, but this was a momentous win nonetheless. Continue reading