Standings implications: Juventus dropped their first game in Genoa, while Napoli tamed Udinese and so the lead yo-yoes back to 15 points. Inter resurrected at the most opportune time and torpedoed Milan in the Derby della Madonnina, reclaiming the third spot. Roma did not take advantage as they had a poor showing in Ferrara. It was a good week for Lazio, as they demolished Parma, while Atalanta got stymied by Chievo and Torino came up empty-handed against Bologna. In the lower districts, mammoth wins for the Felsinei, SPAL and Empoli, who sunk Frosinone in the head-to-head bout. Udinese fell back in the mud, as they are now just two points above the Felsinei. Cagliari kept the opponents at bay with a precious W against Fiorentina.
Salvatore Sirigu: his record run of clean sheets came to end in Frosinone, but he could be a good pick again as Torino have not conceded in five straight at home and they will tangle with Bologna, which are not particularly prolific and will be without their leading scorer Federico Santander.
Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli are tied for the best statistical home defense in the League, while Udinese have the third worst road attack and had not found the target in five consecutive games before the previous in Turin. The Senegalese powerhouse will also get to rest midweek as he is suspended in Europa League. Continue reading
There were a couple of head-to-head matches in secondary positions of the table and one of them, Sampdoria vs Atalanta, turned out to be quite entertaining.
The Blucerchiati approached the match riding a two-game winning streak, as their victories over Cagliari and SPAL had allowed them to re-enter the Europa League race. Atalanta had bounced back last week against Fiorentina from two straight losses that had made them lose their advantage over the other contenders.
Standings implications: Juventus most likely inflicted the final blow to the title race with a 1-2 win over Napoli in a crazy game. Milan leapfrogged Inter in the third spot as they eked out a win against Sassuolo, while the Nerazzurri were blitzed by Cagliari back on Friday. Roma stayed behind as they got battered by Lazio, which re-entered the fray for the fourth spot, as they have six fewer points than the Beneamata, but have to recover one game. Atalanta and Torino remain in hot pursuit of an Europa League berth with their convincing victories over Fiorentina and Chievo. Massive points for the Sardinians and for Udinese in the relegation zone: the Friulani moved seven points clear of Bologna after besting them on Sunday afternoon. Frosinone and Empoli treaded waters down there with their gritty ties against Genoa and Parma. Continue reading
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
Robin Olsen: Roma do not have the most airtight defense this year, but they will square off against Frosinone in this round, which have failed to score in four straights home fixtures. Olsen is coming off a superlative performance against Bologna.
Nicola Murru: Sampdoria are slumping, but in this weekend they will face Cagliari, which will be offensively challenged with few of their attackers on the sidelines and also have failed to hit the net in three straight road games. Murru has the most upside out of the Blucerchiati defenders, but the other regulars Bartosz Bereszynski and Joachim Andersen would be fine choices too. Continue reading
The most significant game this week was the bout between Atalanta and Milan with the fourth spot on the line. The Goddess came into the fixture having won four of five, while the Rossoneri were coming off their most convincing win of the season, against Cagliari, and riding a six-match undefeated streak, where they had tied three times.
Both coaches confirmed the XIs they have been using consistently for few weeks: the only tweak by Gian Piero Gasperini was picking Berat Djimsiti to anchor the back-line and moving José-Luis Palomino to left centre-back, over Gianluca Mancini, while Gennaro Gattuso marshaled his usual 4-3-3. Continue reading
Juventus-Frosinone: the Bianconeri quickly bounced back in Sassuolo after the 3-3 draw with Parma and have won four times in the last five fixtures, fortifying their lead in the standings. The Ciociari have been pesky recently and they are coming off a surprise win over Sampdoria, their second in a row on the road, and they are now within striking distance from the 17th spot. With Champions League just around the corner, Cristiano Ronaldo might be rested for the second time in Serie A, which would mean more scoring opportunities for Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi and Paulo Dybala, or whoever will compose the front-line. Continue reading
Salvatore Sirigu (7 points): some outstanding goalkeeping in this round, in particular by Alban Lafont and Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the spot goes to the Torino player, who saved a penalty.
Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): another terrific display but the veteran fullback, who notched his sixth goal in Serie A with a potent cross-shot at the end of a fast-break.
Ola Aina (9 points): the Chelsea loanee has been impressive thus far and decided the Udinese game with a header on the far post on a cross coming from the other wing back, a staple in Walter Mazzarri’s schemes. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus’ led atop of the table swelled up again as the Bianconeri routed Sassuolo, while Napoli could not break through in Florence and had to settle for a nil-nil tie. Inter returned to winning ways in Parma after three rounds. All the teams involved in the Champions League race won this week: Milan outfaced Cagliari, Roma did the same with Chievo on Friday, Atalanta successfully came back at home versus SPAL and Lazio squeezed past Empoli. Sampdoria lost steam in the Europa League zone with the second loss in a row, an appalling one to Frosinone in this case, while Torino are now eighth after nipping Udinese. Frosinone’s victory drags few more clubs into the mud: there are six teams in six points, with two going down. Bologna was the only other side that brought home a relatively positive result in those neighborhoods as they tied with Genoa. Continue reading