Standings implications: nothing changes in the upper echelon after the final game of 2018, as the top three teams did not look particularly impressive, but all came away with wins as Juventus and Napoli outlasted Sampdoria and Bologna and Inter beat Empoli on the road. Lazio and Torino shared the spoils in a very nervous games and this result allows Milan, who finally came through against SPAL, and Roma, which blitzed Parma, to close the gap for the fourth spot. In the Europa League race, Atalanta pummeled Sassuolo, while Fiorentina drew with Genoa. In the lower districts, Udinese outfaced Cagliari and Chievo finally earned their first win of the season by besting Frosinone in a battle of sad sacks. Continue reading
The first ever Serie A boxing day will culminate in a tasty match-up between Inter and Napoli.
Frosinone-Milan: the Ciociari snatched a decent draw in Udinese in Marco Baroni’s first game, but they need some Ws as they have gotten just one so far and it dates back to October 28th. The window to reduce the gap is closing quickly. Milan are sputtering in the last period: they have prevailed just once in the last six fixtures, tying with Lazio, Torino and Bologna and losing to Juventus and Fiorentina. They have been unable to score in the past three games. With so little time to work with, the new coach did not change much, opting for a 3-5-2 and benching Joel Campbell to have one more midfielder, Francesco Cassata. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus edge past Roma and they are now officially Winter champions. Napoli are not in a prolific stretch, but they eked out another win, this time squeaking by SPAL. Inter was pipped at the post in Verona. Lazio returned to winning ways by squashing Cagliari, re-claiming the fourth spot, since Milan got beat at home by Fiorentina. Sampdoria soared past Empoli late, defending their sixth position and building some separation over Sassuolo and Torino, which shared the spoils. Genoa outlasted Atalanta, giving Cesare Prandelli his first win since coming back to Serie A. Marco Baroni salvaged a decent point in Udine in his debut. Parma and Bologna settled for a nil-nil tie. Continue reading
An extra-long Serie A round is main evented by the Derby della Mole on Saturday night.
Inter-Udinese: the Nerazzurri will be looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking elimination from Champions League, where they fumbled away a great opportunity, and the tough loss against Juventus, where they squandered their chances. The Zebrette were handed their first loss under Davide Nicola by Atalanta last week. Inter continue to be carried by Mauro Icardi and Matteo Politano, with Balde Keita capable of some impressive showings, but still lacking that consistent playing time necessary to be a fantasy stud, even though the real Ivan Perisic has not showed up in a while. Continue reading
Juventus: Emre Can made the squad list, approximately two months after suffering the thyroid issue. Rodrigo Bentancur is dealing with a back problem, but he was called up. Alex Sandro (thigh) and Sami Khedira (ankle) have been ruled out, same for Andrea Barzagli, who is rumoured to have suffered a severe quad injury, and Moise Kean, who has some muscle fatigue.
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi is expected to be called up after shaking off an adductor problem, while Alex Sandro subbed off in Champions League because of a thigh issue that has not been disclosed yet, so he is questionable for the Fiorentina game. Sami Khedira (ankle) and Emre Can remain out for this week.
Napoli: Raul Albiol suffered a mild ankle sprain against Red Star Belgrade and he is at risk for the Monday game. After picking up the same injury, Amin Younes should be at the coach’s disposal, while Simone Verdi is set to skip another one, and likely few more, because his was more severe. Continue reading
There was not a lot of juice in this week’s round, where the two most anticipated matches Lazio-Milan and Genoa-Sampdoria were hard-fought, but low scoring. The most entertaining fixture turned out to be a unforeseen one, Empoli-Atalanta.
The Azzurri came into the game looking to build on the win over Udinese in Giuseppe Iachini’s debut, while Atalanta were coming off four straight victories, including the brilliant one over Inter, where they had their best performance of the season.
Iachini switched from the 4-3-1-2 they have been using so far to a 3-5-2 he is more accustomed to, basically replacing Miha Zajc with a defender, Frederic Veseli, and picked Manuel Pasqual over Luca Antonelli on the left wing.
Standings implication: Juventus had an easy time against SPAL and Inter got back on track by spanking Frosinone,so they both gained ground on Napoli, which were astonishingly held to a tie at home against the lowly Chievo. Lazio equalized at the buzzer in the meeting with Milan. Roma against sputtered, this time in Udine. Genoa and Sampdoria shared the spoils in the Derby della Lanterna. Parma got a quality win over Sassuolo. Fiorentina did not found the deciding goal in Bologna and had to settle for a nil-nil draw. Empoli mounted a furious comeback to best Atalanta. Continue reading
Samir Handanovic: Inter have steamrolled opponents at San Siro recently and they have kept three clean sheets in a row. They no longer have the best statistical defense after giving up four goals against Atalanta, but they have allowed just four at home so far.
Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli too have conceded just four goals on their own turf so far and they have a favorable match-up coming up versus Chievo, which scored five times on their road, tied for second-worst in the League. Continue reading
There were a pair of dominant displays in the weekend, in particular by Roma and Atalanta, but since the score was the same, the Goddess gets the shout-out as they did it against a way more competitive team. They always seem to put up a good fight when facing Inter, but their performance on Sunday went beyond the rosiest expectation.
Gian Piero Gasperini mostly stuck with the XI that has been working lately, promoting Duvan Zapata after the deciding display against Bologna, with Alejandro Gomez in the hole and Josip Ilicic as second striker. Rafael Toloi was able to recover from an ankle roll and started, but bowed out before the end of the match. Continue reading