AC Milan’s path to Champions League following huge win against Juventus

After a decade of failing to register a single point away at Juventus, Milan sent a strong signal to their rivals last night as they beat the Bianconeri 3-0. It was truly well-deserved and the Rossoneri are now one step closer to the Champions League, which would be huge for the club in many aspects. 

Stefano Pioli really outdid himself last night as the decision to start Brahim Diaz behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic was one of the winning factors. The Spaniard, who’s on loan from Real Madrid, scored the first goal with a beautifully curled effort and also won the penalty that Franck Kessie, unfortunately, failed to convert.  Continue reading

Juventus vs. AC Milan: Serie A Round 35 – Team news, stats and prediction

Later this evening, Juventus and Milan will take on each other in the 35th round of Serie A. Both are fighting for a top-four finish and tonight’s clash will be very important for the following three games, seeing as the team winning would get a nice boost confidence-wise and with regards to the standings. 

The Rossoneri managed to beat Benevento last time out by a scoreline of two goals to nil, despite missing several clear-cut chances. The important thing was getting back to winning ways, though, after the disappointing performances against Sassuolo and Lazio which saw them drop out of the top four.  Continue reading

Inter Milan are champions of Serie A for the first time in 11 years

Finally Juventus’ domination of the Serie A championship has ended and Inter are the new champions! It has been a deserved title and Antonio Conte’s team have been far the best side in the league especially since January. Before then they were neck and neck with Milan but they faded and Inter roared on to win their first scudetto since 2010.

The title officially became Inter’s on Sunday when 2nd placed Atalanta failed to beat Sassuolo with that game ending in a draw. This is Inter’s first title since the glory days of Jose Mourinho 11 years ago.

This is Inter’s 19th league title and in fairness to the other teams they were head and shoulders above them. Since March it became a question of when Inter would win the title and not if. In the end just minutes after securing the title Juventus who had won 9 in a row congratulated their rivals. It would have been painful for Juve not to make it 10 in a row but then again they have had time to contemplate that not happening this season since they were so far behind. The Old Lady may not qualify for next season’s Champions League, though they are in 3rd place now it is still very close.

Antonio Conte explained Inter’s philosophy in winning the title, “The team really developed in that sense, and in a season you must be able to take different approaches to be unpredictable. You cannot always just attack or always defend, it’s about knowing when to push. That’s where we improved, in reading the game and knowing those moments. A team cannot press for 90 minutes non-stop. The opponents in Italy study you and find ways to neutralise your strengths. If you are patient and wait for the right moment to strike, and have a team that is in good shape physically, you know that sooner or later the opposition will lose intensity.”

The player who is arguably Inter’s best of this title winning season Romelu Lukaku had this to say about winning the league. “I am so happy for all the Inter fans in the world, for the team, the staff, the President and everyone. It was a wonderful year for us, I am truly proud to play for Inter. I wanted to come out here and celebrate along with the people. I told my friend this was the best way to experience it, to be there with the fans. For me and many of my teammates, this is our first league title, so it’s a moment we wanted to share with them.”

Let’s take a look at the 3 key players who did that bit extra in ensuring Inter became champions of Italy.

-Milan Skriniar

Milan Skriniar hasn’t always got the plaudits this season but the defender has remained consistent and very solid throughout the title winning campaign. He has amassed an impressive 71 points and been part of a defence that has helped to keep 13 clean sheets. On top of that he has been dangerous at set-pieces and has scored 3 goals this season- all important ones that changed the game.

-Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi really came into his own in the middle of the season and the latter stages when it really mattered. Hakimi reminds one of Roberto Carlos in that his defending was swashbuckling and determined overlayered with intelligence but he wasn’t afraid to attack either to score goals and set them up. Hakimi has been one of the best defenders in Europe this season no doubt. He has contributed to an incredible 13 goals in Serie A alone, scoring seven of them.

-Romelu Lukaku

And of course there is Romelu Lukaku who has had a glittered career and yet this is his first league title with a club. Lukaku will be a legend now with Inter fans. His runs into the opponents half, his fantastic goals and his overall contribution will live long in the memory banks. Lukaku will probably finish as runner up to Cristiano Ronaldo in the goal scorers charts but he has still won the most important title for sure. Lukaku has scored 21 goals and assisted in another 10 in an incredible season for him and it is fitting that he has picked up 100 points in the fantasy rankings just as Inter have won the league title.

This was a title much like Manchester City’s in the Premier League which was won in truth by the brilliant defence. Attack has been the key of course to each teams titles but the overriding factor has been how the defence has played. In the rankings for example just for Inter we can see that 5 from the top ranked 8 players are defenders and that doesn’t include goalkeeper Samir Handanovic who is currently the 3rd best ranked player in the team.

Congratulations then to Inter for a fantastic title. The season isn’t over yet though and the clubs next game will be at home to Sampdoria on Saturday.

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Inter race 11 points clear and can win Serie A title this weekend!

The 11 year wait for Inter is almost over as they are so close now to winning the Serie A title after a stagnant decade. Antonio Conte’s team have been far the best side in the league and with 79 points they are 11 points in front of Atalanta who themselves have had a fantastic campaign.

One of the stories emerging out of this Serie A season is that Milan or even Juventus could miss out on the Champions League next season. Milan’s poor form has seen them slip to 5th and Juventus are now in 4th place. Though 3rd placed Napoli are on the same points (66) as both Juventus and Milan so it is certainly going to be a close call and should go down to the wire.

For Inter it has been a nervous month of April with each game finishing with just one goal for Conte’s team. Last weekend Inter recorded their 24th win of the season with a very narrow 1-0 victory at home over 10th placed Verona. Verona came into the game having having lost their last 3 in a row and of course Inter were the huge odds on favourites being at home.

However as it transpired this game looked to be finishing in a 0-0 stalemate before Matteo Darmian settled scores with just 14 minutes remaining of the match to get all three points for Inter in a weekend in which Juventus drew and Milan lost.

Verona made life difficult for Inter and that’s what can happen when you have nothing to play for. Verona will  be safe this season but also won’t be able to qualify for European football for next season and they actually had more goal attempts than Inter with 12 in total. Although the difference in technical quality was still telling given that Verona managed just 1 shot on target compared to Inter’s four.

Achraf Hakimi who has been so consistent this season assisted in Darmian’s goal and the player finished well to send the team into fits of joy. True the league isn’t over yet, but you take a look at the expressions of the players and coach and you knew that they knew that it was.

Inter could win the title this weekend when they play Crotone away from home. Although if they win they would still need to wait for Sunday on May 2nd to see how Atalanta perform when they play Sassuolo away from home.

Such is the excitement though that Inter owner Steven Zhang has flown in from China to witness the title celebrations. Surely if it is not this weekend it will be the next?

The Super League fallout seems to have gone quiet and Inter were one of the 12 teams who signed up to the doomed competition. Even though respective FA’s and UEFA said that teams would be punished this hasn’t been the case yet and maybe the associations will now wait until the end of the season. One of the punishments could see Inter banned from Europe for one season which would be unfortunate for them, instead they will be hoping for just a fine.

Stay tuned next weekend as we could be celebrating an historic league title for Inter.

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Juventus Top Performers – Round 30 vs Genoa

The Bianconeri built a big enough lead in the first half to survive a ten-minute blackout after intermission, pulling away late and securing the second W in a row with a low-wattage performance against Genoa.

Dejan Kulusevki (3 points): it took him just a few minutes into the contest to get the monkey off his back scoring-wise, finding the target with a routine but very sharp lefty strike, which had become his trademark shot in Parma. He immediately rewarded the choice of the coach, who could have easily gone with the lineup that worked out great against Napoli and paved the way for the first commanding 45 minutes. Teammates looked for him more often than usual throughout the match, but he could have had a bigger day if he did not botch a counter-attack in the second half. He was not alone in that element and it is a trend that is becoming a little worrisome. Continue reading

Inter go 11 points clear of Milan with 9 games to go

Surely the Serie A title will be Inter’s now after they pulled 11 points clear at the top. Milan could only draw 1-1 at home to Sampdoria and Inter won at the weekend and then followed that up with their 22nd win of the season on Wednesday evening when they beat Sassuolo 2-1. Inter have won their last 10 games in a row and have simply been fantastic this season- and they will be deserved champions it seems.

Let’s take a recap on Inter’s last 2 games in the league.

This past weekend Inter played Bologna away from home in what is never an easy game for any club in the league. Bologna are in 11th place but have always made it tricky for teams visiting and they did so once again for the champions elect. In the end it took a solo effort from Romelu Lukaku to settle the game just after the half hour mark. Lukaku.

Inter were technically the better side but Bologna had their chances although they did go quieter in the 2nd half. It was Lukaku’s goal that won the game in a 1-0 win and it was Lukaku’s 20th goal of the season as he tries to catch up with Cristiano Ronaldo. It was hardly a vintage performance from Inter, but it’s all about those 3 points and they were able to achieve that at the weekend.

In midweek Inter played Sassuolo this was a game that was originally scheduled a few weeks ago but a Covid outbreak in the Inter side put paid to that and so it had to be carried over. Inter won the game 2-1 through the usual suspects of Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.

Lukaku opened the scoring after just 10 minutes after a cross by Ashley Young, Lukaku sweetly headed the ball in. It was a first half in which Inter played good football and looked like the better team and they went in 1-0 up at half time.

Inter doubled their lead half way through the second half when Lukaku broke clear and played the ball to Martinez who made no mistake in scoring his 15th league goal of the season. However just before that break Sassuolo really should have been awarded a penalty. Indeed the away side got the better of Inter in the 2nd half and were much the better side and were unlucky to have not at least drawn the game in the end, even though they were able to pull a goal back with five minutes to go.

Inter coach Antonio Conte had this to say after Inter’s latest victory, “We had to become more determined, more focused in every situation, as well as more resilient. There are games like today where we can be up against teams with no pressure and if we are more clinical, we can score five or six goals. Sassuolo kept it open to the end, even if they scored only when Milan Skriniar was off the field. I congratulate Sassuolo, as they came here to play their game and this performance shows how much we’ve grown. With this attitude, we’d still be in the Champions League.”

This weekend Inter will play 18th placed Cagliari at home and will be the favourites to win that one, although the away side are battling relegation, though they haven’t won a game in over 5 weeks.

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Sarri edges closer to Roma head coach and best performers of the club so far

Former Chelsea and Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri has edged closer to becoming the new coach for Roma according to reports.

Of course Paulo Fonseca is still in charge of the Giallorossi but it is as clear as daylight that if the club do not qualify for the Champions League then Fonseca will lose his job.

Currently Roma are in 6th place and are 5 points behind 4th place Atalanta. All is not lost but it has become increasingly clear that the club are struggling of late and have lost 3 games from their last five, this includes losing their last two in a row. Apart from Atalanta the Giallorossi will also be battling with Napoli and the emerging Lazio for 4th.

It is thought that Sarri has conducted talks with Roma and that it is now in an advanced stage. With Sarri’s extensive experience this could be a great move for Roma. There are also rumours that Fonseca just can’t win given that he may be replaced even if the club end up in the top four. This is a story that could run for the next 2 months so watch this space.

Roma’s best performers so far in 2020/21

Domestic football has taken a two week break for internationals but the action returns this weekend. Roma will play Sassuolo away from home. Whilst Fonseca’s side will be the favourites to win that game looks tricky and could be very close.

With the break in place we haven’t seen any action for 14 days so we will take a look at the best performing players for the club so far.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan with 70 points is the best overall player for the club so far. He has scored 9 goals and assisted in another 8. He started the season in brilliant form although faded in the middle. Despite Roma’s recent woes he has played some good football and will be hoping to finish the season in style.

- Lorenzo Pellegrini is a superb player when he is on his game. The one worry is he hasn’t been consistent enough but he usually steps up for the big games. His value is worth 7m and he has been involved in 10 goals so far with 6 of those coming from assists.

- Special mention should go to Rick Karsdorp in defence because with 36 points he is ranked as the best Roma defender. His value is just 5m so he would have been a real bargain this season and he has assisted in 5 goals and even scored one. The important statistic for him though is always going to be clean sheets and he has managed 8 so far.

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Roma fall 5 points from Champions League qualification with back to back defeats

Roma already knew the league was over for some time but still held out hope for a top 4 place finish and entry into next seasons Champions League but that now looks in doubt after the Giallorossi lost their 8th game of the season.

Eight games just seems like too many to lose by this stage of the season if you have dreams of playing in Europe’s most elite competition but this is where Paolo Fonseca’s team stand.

Roma lost 2-0 at home to Napoli to record their 3rd defeat in 5 games and to make it back to back losses for the Giallorossi.

Dries Mertens was the thorn in Roma’s side as the player scored two goals within three first half minutes. The first was a sublime free kick and the second was from his head. That was Mertens sixth and seventh goals of the campaign and with 58 points so far the midfielder has the most of any Napoli player.

After the game Roma coach Paulo Fonseca was puzzled by the clubs slow start but saw encouraging signs in the second half, he said: “ This is not the way we wanted to play. We didn’t do anything in the first half because the team was lacking courage. We are all responsible, because when we are afraid of playing and afraid of losing, it becomes too difficult. The fact we saw the second half being completely different, that means it is a psychological issue and we could only really get going once we’d fallen behind. If the team was bad all the way through, I’d say we were incapable. If the team was bad in every game, I’d say that was an issue. The fact we had a totally different attitude in the second half means it is the mentality that was at fault.”

The worry for Fonseca is that his job could be on the line if the club do not at least finish in 4th place. The favourite person to step in if Fonseca is sacked looks to be Massimiliano Allegri who has taken some time away from the game and could be the perfect candidate.

To summarise Roma have 50 points and are 3 behind 5th place Napoli and 5 points adrift of Atalanta who now occupy the final Champions League spot. Five points isn’t the end of the world given that there are still 30 left to play for but Roma will be mindful that Napoli, who leap frogged them with this win also have a game in hand which just complicates matters further still.

Roma’s next game is after the international break where they will play 8th placed Sassuolo away from home. Whilst they are 11 points behind Roma they also have a game in hand and last season they beat Roma 4-2 in this very fixture. Indeed Roma have only beaten Sassuolo once in the league from the last four matches played.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of form but Roma’s best player

It’s clear as daylight that Henrikh Mkhitaryan looks like the shadow of the player that graced Serie A at the start of the season and one has to wonder if the midfielder is fatigued? Still he is the best player Roma have according to the fantasy Serie A points and he currently has 70 so far.

The Giallorossi will need his form to turn around if they have any hopes of finishing in the top 4. Mkhitaryan has been good value for money for the fantasy teams with his value at 7.5m and he has scored 9 goals which is very impressive from his position.

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Inter head towards Serie A title without kicking a ball as Juventus stall

Inter did not play at the weekend as their game with Sassuolo had to be called off because of a recent outbreak of Covid-19 within the Inter squad. After tests on Monday it was revealed that Inter now has a clean bill of health but the game had to be postponed as a measure of safety.

There would be good news and bad news for Antonio Conte’s side this week. With no game they could sit back and watch how Milan and Juventus fared, the only two clubs now who could take the Serie A title away from them.

Milan looked like they were going to draw away to Fiorentina but they won 3-2 in a thrilling game and that was the disappointing news of the weekend as Milan are now just six points behind. However of course Inter has an extra game to play. But the great news from Inter’s perspective was that Juventus lost.

It was the Old Lady’s 4th loss of the season and it was a shock as it came at home to Benevento in a game that finished 1-0. Juve had 23 goal attempts and Benevento only had 1 shot on target for the goal the whole game. Media in Italy have said that’s it for Juventus and their title chances and the club has now fallen 10 points behind Inter and played the same games.

The postponement of the Sassuolo game means that Inter will have had a 3 week break until their next game which is against Bologna away from home. Although all of Inter’s players will be involved in the up and coming international matches over the next 10 days or so.

Best performing players for Inter

Let’s take a look at the best performing players for Inter so far as they try to win an historic league title. We will look at the best positions.

Goalkeeper: Samir Handanovic 51 pts

Samir Handanovic has been the regular goal keeper and has started 27 games keeping 10 clean sheets. He has managed to keep clean sheets on 37% of his appearances so far. He is currently the number 1 ranked goalkeeper in Italy and overall ranks in at number 9 over Europe’s major leagues. Three from his last five games has seen the shot stopper keep clean sheets.

Defender: Achraf Hakimi 63pts

Hakimi is 8 points ahead of the next Inter defender Milan Skriniar. Hakimi reminds one of an all round player much like the Real Madrid great and indeed former Inter player Roberto Carlos in that he isn’t afraid to come forward and score goals. His stats are fantastic and Hakimi has been involved in 10 goals in the league so far scoring six times. His value is just 7m and he has been one of the best players in Serie A this season.

Midfielder: Nicolo Barella 38pts

For all of Inter’s greatness this season it has to be said that their midfield talent at least for obtaining points has not been their strongest. Still Nicolo Barella has had great moments this season. He isn’t ahead on the most assists but he has still set up 5 goals and he has also scored a further three. His value is 7m.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku 88pts

Some people will claim that Romelu Lukaku has stiff competition as Inter’s best striker from Lautaro Martinez but that simply isn’t true. While Martinez is a brilliant striker and will get even better at this moment Lukaku is Inter’s number 1 and there can’t be any doubts about that. Lukaku is currently 23 points ahead of Martinez and has scored 5 goals more and has 19 currently. He has also assisted in a further 8 goals and is simply having his best season as a professional player. Lukaku ranks 2nd in Italy behind Cristiano Ronaldo and overall ranks in at 4th. His value is 10.5m.

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Inter take huge step to the title after Martinez heroics and Milan loss

It was game where Inter were clearly the superior side at the weekend, but it was game against Torino away from home that looked destined to finish 0-0. However in the second half the duel opened up and Inter ran out 2-1 winners to record their 9th win in a row and 20th overall this season.

For this game Conte switched to a 3-5-2 packing out the midfield and happy to advance Achraf Hakimi. The usual two were up front in Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez and they would once again repay their coaches’ faith.

The first half ended goalless but was still an entertaining affair and the home side were really forcing the game and controlling the pace. Indeed Inter the champions elect had zero  with 8 shots on target altogether, 4 from each side. Whilst the game was very exciting it did have a feel about it that this wasn’t going to be Inter’s day. The threat was that it could all become quite tense and a match that Inter are very capable of winning could have ended the wrong way. Torino simply were going for the win.

But in the second half everything changed dramatically and Inter were awarded a penalty. Lukaku stepped up to take it and put Inter in the lead but it was a lead that would be short-lived. Antonio Sanabria equalised for the home team just 8 minutes later and looked to have salvaged something from the game with 20 minutes left given of course that Torino are battling relegation this season.

However there would be a final sting in the tail and joy for Inter when Alexis Sanchez who has found form in the past month set up Lautaro Martinez to score what would be the winning goal of the game.

The good news continued for Antonio Conte’s side as 2nd placed Milan lost 1-0 at home to Napoli and so the gap is now 9 points. The threat is seemingly coming from Juventus who are in 3rd place and have 55 points, but a game extra over Inter, win that and they would be 7 points behind.

Fabio Capello predicts the league winners

Italian legend Fabio Capello has predicted who will win Serie A this season and he has chosen Inter. Capello said: “I have been saying it for weeks that Inter have won the championship. I have been saying this since Milan lost against Spezia and I reconfirm it today.”

All at Inter will be keeping quiet about such talk but Capello has spoken, and he is rarely wrong.

Lukaku v Ronaldo

The top goalscorer in Serie A has come down to 2 players now. The boots are off and it is Cristiano Ronaldo v Romelu Lukaku. Ronaldo has finished as top goalscorer in the Premier League and La Liga and he would love to complete a unique treble. Ronaldo was denied last season by Ciro Immobile but the Juventus forward is in the driving seat this season and at the weekend he scored a hat-trick.

Ronaldo has 23 goals so far and Lukaku is 4 behind on 19. Any one of the two really can finish as the top scorer. If Inter win the Scudetto knowing Ronaldo he would take some heart by finishing as top scorer, but with the way Inter score goals who knows who will finish on top? This is how the bookmakers see it.

Cristiano Ronaldo 1/4

Romelu Lukaku 5/2

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