Little time left in the window and the clubs are putting the finishing touches on the rosters and getting rid of surplus players. The biggest move of the week was once again made by Inter, which signed Alexis Sanchez on loan from Manchester United and also acquired Cristiano Biraghi from Fiorentina in a swap with Dalbert. The Red Devils sent also Chris Smalling to Roma, who temporarily leaves Old Trafford after eight seasons and was regular in the last three. His experience will give him an edge over the younger options, but it would not particularly surprising to see Federico Fazio lose the starting job at some point. Continue reading
Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Continue reading
Roma-Inter always tends to be amusing and the latest edition lived up to the tradition. The draw likely leaves the reeling home team a little more satisfied than the guests. The Giallorossi came into the game having won just one of their previous five fixtures and were coming off a bad loss in Udine. Inter dropped points in only one of their past nine matches in Serie A, but were beaten by Tottenham midweek.
Eusebio Di Francesco is dealing with a host of injuries, more notably the ones to Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy, while Javier Pastore and Diego Perotti were available for a limited stint. Continue reading
Napoli tried their best to win the coveted award of team of the week and were a little more dazzling that Inter, but the goal by Francesco Caputo did them in and the Nerazzurri managed to match the number of goal scored, therefore running away with the trophy.
The Milan-based club approached the game riding a six-game winning streak, which allowed them to reach the second position in the standings alongside the Partenopei. With the seminal Barcelona clash coming up, Luciano Spalletti opted for a deep rotation and started Danilo D’Ambrosio, Dalbert, Roberto Gagliardini, Joao Mario and Lautaro Martinez, revolutionizing his usual XI and giving a breather to Sime Vrsaljko, Matias Vecino and Mauro Icardi, while Radja Nainggolan made his return to the bench after missing time with a sprained ankle. Continue reading
Samir Handanovic (7 points): five clean sheets in the weekend, by Inter, Milan, Frosinone, Parma and Sassuolo, but there was no particularly superb performance by any goalie, so Handanovic gets the nod by default because he has earned the most points so far in the season and he is also the most owned in the bunch.
Alessio Romagnoli (8 points): it is hard to believe that a centre-back could be involved in late goals in two games in a row, but this was the case for the Milan captain. The one versus Genoa was more impromptu, while in Udine he followed a fast-break and punished an howler by the back-line with a powerful strike from inside the box. Continue reading
Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna. Continue reading
Just a pair of juicy match-ups on deck this week, while the top teams will try to take advantage of cozy fixtures on paper.
Napoli-Empoli: the Partenopei were not super sharp versus Roma, they salvaged a draw but could have probably done more if they did not put themselves in the predicament of having to come back. It was the first time they dropped points at home. Empoli have not won since the first game, but they certainly put up a fight against Juventus before Cristiano Ronaldo decided to win it. Continue reading
Frosinone were pipped at the post as far as the award goes: their showing in Ferrara was as impressive as surprising, even though there were some positive signs lately and the pesky trident composed by Joel Campbell, Daniele Ciofani and Camillo Ciano gives them a puncher’s chance in the relegation race. However, Inter beat Lazio three-nothing at the Olimpico and therefore they deservedly get the shout-out.
The game was in doubt until the late afternoon because of inclement weather, but, aside for a quick downpour, it was generally not ruined by the rain. Continue reading
As Portugal head into their final group game against Iran, a date with one of their own in a winner-take-all scenario is probably something they could do without.
Before taking the Iran coach’s job, Carlos Queiroz was in charge of the Portugal side he will be hoping to dump out of the competition.