Lecce: another losing effort caused by the nth defensive collapse, but the Giallorossi looked a tiny bit better offensively versus Sassuolo, as Diego Farias returned to the XI and was livelier than Filippo Falco and Riccardo Saponara and Khouma Babacar did a little bit more than usual. The goals came on corner kick and then through the usual penalty kick by Marco Mancosu and it is pretty crazy how many fouls they manage to draw in the box. Antonin Barak has yet to recapture is best form after an injury, but he remains their most appealing non-Mancosu midfielder.
Juventus: the Bianconeri are thriving offensively thanks to the great form of both Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala, who scored in three consecutive matches. Douglas Costa contributed off the bench versus Genoa and he can be a factor even if he rarely plays full matches because of his injury history. Juan Cuadrado picked up an assist in the past match and he has been effective despite the more defensive role. Rodrigo Bentancur is in outstanding form but is not very prone to picking up bonuses. Their run of clean sheets was interrupted by a consolation goal, but they will be facing a sputtering attack in this one. Continue reading →
Torino: the Granata had a nice reaction after falling in an early hole versus Cagliari, but an untimely penalty did them in. Andrea Belotti has found the target for two straight matches and has been excellent missed penalty aside. Simone Zaza is unlikely to be present, but Simone Verdi and especially Cristian Ansaldi, two of their most talented players, saw minutes in the past match and could be ready to start, unlocking few options up front, first of all the advancement of Alex Berenguer. Ansaldi had a positive impact after he subbed on, Verdi might need more time and had been struggling prior to the lockdown. Continue reading →
Gianluigi Donnarumma (7 points): goals galore in Serie A in the last round and just two goalkeepers kept a clean sheet, Milan’s one and Wojciech Szczesny. Neither was particularly challenged, but Donnarumma did it against an better opponents.
Matthijs De Ligt (9 points): the Dutch centre-back rounded out Juventus’ trashing of Lecce with an easy finish from close range, notching his third goal of the season. He was the top point-getter over the weekend. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus took care of business against Lecce, but Lazio came back late against Fiorentina, so the gap between the title contenders stays at four points. Inter came back to life late and rallied against Parma, so the top four teams were all successful. Atalanta needed an extra effort to down Udinese but kept cruising, enlarging the cushion over Roma, which were defeated by Roma, and staving off Napoli’s push. The Partenopei breezed past SPAL. A quality W for Milan, which built a little lead over Verona in Europa League race, as the Scaligeri were pipped at the post by Sassuolo. Two consecutive wins for Cagliari, which toppled Torino and are looking to re-join the rest of the bunch fighting for a continental berth. Bologna returned to winning ways by outlasting Sampdoria. Down low, Genoa could not fully expolit a favorable round and gained just a bit of separation over Lecce by tying with Brescia, but they are now on a par with Sampdoria, which lost again.
Juventus-Lecce: the Bianconeri are a very top-heavy team and further reaffirmed it against Bologna, where their two starts Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala both found the target. The surprise was Federico Bernardeschi showing signs of life after a long while and he will probably get the call again as Douglas Costa needs to work on his fitness. Aaron Ramsey could also see his minutes increase and he remains a wild factor fantasy-wise. Juan Cuadrado and Rodrigo Bentancur are okay choices out of their midfield given the inevitable workload. Lecce have the worst defence in the League, so it is a plum match-up.
Fiorentina-Brescia: the Viola will welcome back Franck Ribery, at least in limited fashion at first, and the coach is ready to tweak is system to accommodate him either in the hole or on the left wing, joining Dusan Vlahovic/Patrick Cutrone and obviously Federico Chiesa up front. In the meantime, it could be Gaetano Castrovilli taking on a bigger role. Alfred Duncanand Marco Benassi have some decent potential. It is an extremely appealing match-up considering Brescia’s defensive woes and absences: Vlahovic and Castrovilli in the particular were in great form before the lockdown. Continue reading →
Atalanta: Alejandro Gomez and José-Luis Palomino had some minor issues in the last week but they are expected to be fine, while Lennart Czyborra could miss the game with muscle fatigue. Tomas Sutalo recovered from a foot injury.
Cagliari: Joao Pedro is suspended, Radja Nainggolan is out with a calf strain that could cost him further matches. Christian Oliva is slated to be on the shelf for a while with an ankle sprain. Paolo Faragò underwent sports hernia surgery during the stoppage and he is unlikely to play in the remaining fixtures, same for Leonardo Pavoletti (ACL tear). Luca Ceppitelli has healed from planter fasciitis. Continue reading →
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 →