Atalanta-Sassuolo: the Goddess survived Juventus’ second half push last week and returned from Turin with a precious point that allowed them to catch Inter and maintain a narrow lead over Milan. They have not lost since February 23rd and triumphed in eight of the following 12 rounds. Sassuolo are right in the middle of the pack but played spoiler last week by drawing with Roma. They have been defeated just once in the last eight matches, tying in five occasions. Josip Ilicic scored at the Stadium after being shut out for few weeks and also their rock Duvan Zapata and Alejandro Gomez will be popular picks since the Neroverdi are not the stingiest bunch. Neither are the Bergamaschi to be honest: the locals have spread the wealth in terms of scoring, but in general Domenico Berardi, Jeremie Boga and Stefano Sensi have been their best contributors in the final months. Hans Hateboer’s suspension makes it clear that Timothy Castagne and Robin Gosens will man the flanks: the former is more interesting since he is listed as a defender and in the midst of a prolific run. Continue reading
Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci has recovered from his ankle sprain, Daniele Rugani from hamstring soreness and even Mario Mandzukic was able to practice fully late in the week after dealing with a patellar tendon problem for a while. Moise Kean has shaken off the flu. Giorgio Chiellini has picked up yet another calf ailment, but he is available. Miralem Pjanic is fine after twisting his ankle last week.
Napoli: Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have good chances to return after skipping one with muscle fatigue. Nikola Maksimovic and Amadou Diawara are close to healing from their foot infractions. David Ospina is still in Colombia for personal reasons, while Adam Ounas remains questionable after missing one. Continue reading
Juan Musso: only a late consolation goal denied him a clean sheet against Frosinone, while in this round he and Udinese might be able to take advantage of the fact that SPAL have already clinched the permanence in Serie A.
Nicola Murru: Sampdoria are not a reliable away team, but they will square off against Chievo and their league-worst attack. The fullback, who has put together a strong season, might be able to pick up some bonus points at the other end too. He might miss the game, so his replacement Bartosz Bereszysnki could be a sound choice, even though not as convicing.
Lorenzo De Silvestri: he collected two assists in the last game against Sassuolo and he has a deadly connection with Andrea Belotti, so Il Gallo’s strong form has benefitted him too. Empoli are fighting for their lives, but their defensive numbers are pedestrian at best. Continue reading
Juventus: Paulo Dybala (calf), Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh), Emre Can (thigh) and Alex Sandro have resumed practicing fully and therefore should be available on Sunday, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Daniele Rugani (thigh) will not come back this week. Federico Bernardeschi is suspended. Moise Kean is out with the flu, Leonardo Bonucci with a bruised ankle.
Napoli: David Ospina is on personal leave to tend to a personal matter in Colombia. Nikola Maksimovic (toe) is slated to remain on the shelf, while Amadou Diawara (foot) got in a full practice after a long time, so he might be called up. Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Adam Ounas have been surprisingly ruled out due to small ailments.
Standings implications: Atalanta defeated Lazio and can the smell Champions League since Roma equalized against Genoa and Torino shared the spoils with Juventus. They are also one point away from Inter, who tied with Udinese. Milan outlasted Bologna and pulled even with the Giallorossi three points awai from the fourth place. The Biancocelesti dropped to minus seven, so barring something crazy they can only aim for Europa League. Napoli clinched the second position with a late comeback. Empoli bested Fiorentina and cut Udinese’s lead to two points and the Griffon’s one to four, thus rekindling their hopes. Frosinone have been mathematically relegated as Sassuolo completed the comeback late, while SPAL are officially safe after pummeling Chievo. Parma and Sampdoria drew in a meaningless but entertaining bout. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus and Inter shared the spoils in the Derby d’Italia, with the Nerazzurri now four points clear of the nearest team, while Napoli most likely put the final nail in Frosinone’s coffin. Torino bested Milan in the most meaningful match-up of the week and pulled even in the standings, while Roma dismantled Cagliari. It took them a while, but Atalanta lift the lid late against Udinese and thus seized sole control of the fourth place. Lazio sunk Sampdoria, which kissed the final European hopes goodbye, and are three points away from the crosstown rivals. The races to play continentally next season stay a big mess. Bologna delivered a big blow to Empoli with a three-one win on Saturday and also Parma, Genoa and SPAL were able to gain a little more separation from the Azzurri. Sassuolo topped Fiorentina. Continue reading
Salvatore Sirigu: he is having a brilliant season and Milan’s attack has sputtered quite a bit lately, failing to score more than once in five straight contests.
Aleksandar Kolarov: the Giallorossi will be down some offensive pieces on Saturday, so they might rely more than usual on the veteran left back, who has often popped up in the stat sheet. Cagliari also have the second-worst road offense in the League.
Gianluca Mancini: he is poised to have an even more significant role since Rafael Toloi went down with an ankle injury. Udinese have bagged just 12 goals in away games thus far and the Italian youngster has already done a lot of damage attacking on set pieces. Continue reading
SPAL-Roma: the Estensi are pretty much starving for points as they collected just one in their last five games, against Sassuolo, and were beaten by Atalanta, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Inter, further signaling their struggles against good competition. Their lead over the danger zone has been cut to just two points. The Giallorossi partially course corrected after a rough week with a narrow win over Empoli, where they did not look imposing and were lucky in the end, but also had to endure a host of absences. One of the main issues for the Biancazzurri has been the fact that they have not identified reliable offensive contributors other than Andrea Petagna, Jasmin Kurtic and Manuel Lazzari and the house of cards crumbled once the wing back was sidelined by an injury. Continue reading
Lukas Skorupski (7 points): just three clean sheets in this round and, out of the trio, the Polish goalkeeper had the best performance as he denied a point-blank Joao Pedro header with a miraculous save to protect his team’s lead.
Erick Pulgar (9 points): it has not been easy this season to beat Alessio Cragno from the penalty spot, but he did it with great aplomb in Sunday’s lunch match.
Cedric Soares (7 points): he finally started in Serie A and had a very solid showing motoring down the right flank and sending in multiple juicy crosses. He was credited for an assist to Gagliardini, but he really was trying to shoot there. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus further extended their lead after pummeling Udinese as Napoli equalized in Sassuolo. Both Milan and Inter were successful against minnows in this round, the Rossoneri beat Chievo, the Beneamata did the same with SPAL, and therefore head into next week’s Derby separated by just one point, with the Devil on top. Roma sweated it out by bested Empoli and remain in pursuit. Atalanta recorded a big win in the Europa League race by besting Sampdoria on the road, but Torino staged a comeback in Frosinone and the two remain hand-in-hand, while Lazio lost some ground as they were held to a one-one tie in Florence. Waiting to see what Empoli will do, only Bologna took home the W in the rear: they stay in the 18th spot, but have closed a little the gap with Empoli, SPAL and Udinese.