After 11 winless round, Cagliari’s management took for the usual route to try to stop the bleeding, a coaching change, as they axed coach Rolando Maran, despite the incredible start that had put them in contention for a Europa League in the first half of the season, and hired Walter Zenga. The Sardinians have now slipped to the 11th position, seven points away the 6-th placed Napoli, ten above the relegation zone.
After staying undefeated for 13 consecutive rounds from mid-September to early-December, racking up eight wins, the Rossoblù lost to Lazio, Udinese, Juventus, Milan, Genoa, Napoli and Roma and collected few ties. Even if they clawed back multiple times versus the Giallorossi, that was the final straw for Maran’s tenure, who finished 15th last season. Continue reading →
Fewer matches but still plenty of action in Serie A and Cagliari-Roma was clearly the most balanced match-up of the slate, as the home teams kept clawing back but still came up short.
The Sardinian approached the match having failed to win in the past 11 rounds, lastly versus Napoli and Genoa. The guests instead were coming off a slump-busting win over Lecce, which allowed them to bounce back from a three-game losing streak. Continue reading →
Standings implications: sadly, a late decision by the League to postpone few matches that were scheduled to be played behind closed doors took the legs from underneath the second round in a row and now the table is poised to be full of asterisks for a while.
In the limited ones that were indeed played, Lazio took full advantage of Juventus-Inter not happening, got the job done versus Bologna and jumped on top of the standings. Atalanta dismantled Lecce, thus fending off Roma in the Champions League race, which survived Cagliari’s late rally. Continue reading →
Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading →
Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading →
Standings implications: the top three teams were all successful in this round with multi-goals win, as Juventus and Inter tamed Fiorentina and Udinese, while Lazio annihilated SPAL. Atalanta only partially took advantage of Roma’s tumble in Sassuolo (2-4) as they could not get past Genoa at home (2-2), so they now share the fourth place. A slow round also in the race to an Europa League berth: Cagliari and Parma shared the spoils in a head-to-head match on Saturday and Milan and Verona did the same on Sunday. In this case there is a three-way tie, with the Scaligeri two points behind, alongside Bologna, which instead nipped Brescia. Lecce destroyed Torino and was the only team to prevail in the relegation zone: they are three points clear of the last three positions. It was not necessarily pretty, but Napoli followed up the Juventus win by defeating Sampdoria, closing in on European zone.
Brescia-Milan: the Rondinelle will not have Mario Balotelli for a couple of matches, but Ernesto Torregrossa has actually carried the load scoring-wise recently and he and Alfredo Donnarumma formed a formidable partnership last season in Serie B, so they might be able to survive the blow. They have added two intriguing pieces in January in Birkir Bjarnason, who was very dangerous for a midfielder in his time in Pescara, and Simon Skrabb: they should both have their chances because Nikolas Spalek at no.10 has been pretty inconsistent. Sandro Tonali is coming off a two-assist performance and also Stefano Sabelli and Romulo have been decently proficient in a supporting role. Continue reading →
Bartlomiej Dragowski (7 points): quite amazingly, there was only just one clean sheet in this round and it belonged to Fiorentina, who were stout defensively against Napoli, which are in a tough sledding still have weapons and talent up front. La Viola are finally tightening it up in the back, showcasing the solidity of their young goalie.
Pol Lirola (7 points): he outpaced his fellow teammates, who all racked up five points, since he fed Dusan Vlahovic prior to the second goal, although most of the credit goes to the teammate for that missile. He has been a non-factor so far this season, perhaps the assists will get him going. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus gained a couple of points on Inter as they eked out a W over Parma, while the Nerazzurri were held to a tie by Lecce. Lazio romped their way to their 11th win in a row against Sampdoria. Roma bounced back with a pretty decisive success in Genoa put three points between them and Atalanta, which were stunned at home by SPAL. Milan outlasted Udinese to move closer to the top six and Fiorentina’s turnaround is starting to feel real after a fairly impressive display in Naples, with the Partenopei instead still in the doldrums. Cagliari at least got a point out of the trip to Brescia, while Bologna and Verona shared the spoils. Sassuolo came back to life by upending Torino.
Thomas Strakosha: the Biancocelesti held up against Napoli’s attack, confirming their solidity at home, and the goalie answered the bell when he was required. It is not a particularly great round for defences on paper, so it is better to stick with safe picks.
Matthijs De Ligt: the injury of Merih Demiral will allow him to return to the XI on a consistent basis and he did look good against Roma and in Coppa Italia. Juventus have allowed nine goals at home (second-best in Serie A), so their defenders can be deployed even though Parma are the quintessential sneaky team. Continue reading →