Atalanta gave up two goals, but still had by far the most dominant performance of the weekend, thus taking home the shout-out.
They did not play last week and, before that, they had triumphed in two of the past three tilt, against Torino and Fiorentina, and tied with Genoa
Gian Piero Gasperini had to come up with a makeshift back-line with Rafael Toloi and Berat Djimsiti both on the shelf and opted to deploy Marten De Roon there, with Mario Pasalic taking his spot in the midfield and the standard configuration on offense. Continue reading →
Standings implications: sadly, a late decision by the League to postpone few matches that were scheduled to be played behind closed doors took the legs from underneath the second round in a row and now the table is poised to be full of asterisks for a while.
In the limited ones that were indeed played, Lazio took full advantage of Juventus-Inter not happening, got the job done versus Bologna and jumped on top of the standings. Atalanta dismantled Lecce, thus fending off Roma in the Champions League race, which survived Cagliari’s late rally. Continue reading →
SPAL-Juventus: Luigi Di Biagio devised a new system in his debut, arraying his men with a 4-3-3. While they failed to get the win, they attacked more than usual and Andrea Petagna bagged the ninth goal of his campaign. Federico Di Francesco has always been playing in very offensive role, but he is more comfortable out wide and the trident was completed by Mattia Valoti in that case, although Gabriel Strefezza will have his chances too. The duo gets a bump thanks to the coaching change, likewise Mirko Valdifiori, who resurfaced and can be a decent weapon on set pieces, as a matter of fact he picked up an assist with a corner kick. Simone Missiroli is back at box-to-box like earlier in his career, joining the sneaky Lucas Castro. On the downside, Arkadiusz Reca, and Mohamed Fares when he will be ready, will feature as fullback, so few meters behind what they were accustomed to doing. Scoring has been one of their main issues so far, as they have no reliable contributors behind Petagna. Continue reading →
Atalanta-Roma: the Goddess continue to add to their offensive arsenal, as Duvan Zapata is returning two his usual pre-injury numbers (two goals and three assists in the last four games) and Ruslan Malinovskyi came through last week. The Ukrainian attacker seems to have surpassed Luis Muriel as first option off the bench. Josip Ilicic did not score against Fiorentina, but still had a great performance and he has been en fuego for a while. The one small negative is that, with their front-line now featuring two quality scorers, Alejandro Gomez is back at looking more to feed them rather than finishing on his own: as a matter of fact he set up two goals last week and has not hit the net since in six weeks. Timothy Castagne came back and he is a bigger offensive weapon than the more diligent Hans Hateboer, but they will likely continue to alternate, while Robin Gosens on the opposite flank is slowing down a bit after a gorgeous January. Mario Pasalic fumbled away a pair of sitters in Florence. Rafael Toloi (one goal and six assists) has been their most intriguing defender. Continue reading →
Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading →
Sassuolo-Roma: an early red card took the Neroverdi out of the Sampdoria game pretty early, but they still came away with a decent point, even though they were understandably unable to do much on offense. In the previous round, Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga propelled them past Torino the previous week and they have an intriguing front-line when everybody is healthy and on his day, since they are quite moody, the concerns are more on the other end and the suspension of Federico Peluso adds to those. Francesco Caputo has not scored since mid-December after a fast start, while their duo of no.10s Hamed Traore and Filip Djuricic, who generally alternate, have been able to do a decent amount of damage. Manuel Locatelli and Pedro Obiang/Francesco Magnanelli rarely attack due to their defensive position, they have combined for just one goal, while Jeremy Toljan and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos are decent fullbacks, but the match-up is pretty hard. Continue reading →
Bartlomiej Dragowski(7 points): eight teams managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, which might be a League high this year, but no goalie fared better than Fiorentina’s youngster, who guessed right on a penalty by the previously perfect Domenico Criscito and stopped the opponents multiple times, in particular coming out beautifully in a one-on-one with Andrea Pinamonti late in the game.
Pawel Dawidowicz (9 points): Verona easily handled the pesky Lecce and Dawidowicz, who got a surprise start over Koray Gunter, literally soared in the air on a corner kick for his first goal of the season, paving the way to the W. Continue reading →
The round featured three convincing shut-out wins and strong displays by Verona and Parma against Lecce and Udinese, but obviously the shut-out goes to Atalanta, which had the best performance by any team this season in their 7-0 romp of Torino.
The Orobici were looking to atone from a surprising home loss against SPAL, while they had drawn against Inter the match the week before. Gian Piero Gasperini selected Berat Djimsiti over Mattia Caldara in the back, Hans Hateboer on the right since Timothy Castagne is out with an injury and their standard trident led by Duvan Zapata. Continue reading →
Standings implications: in a pretty surprising round, Napoli upset Juventus, Cagliari held Inter to a tie, while Roma and Lazio equalized. The Nerazzurri are now three points behind first place, the Biancocelesti potentially two. Atalanta return within one point from the Champions League zone after the complete annihilation of Torino. Cagliari surely got a positive result but they were caught in the standings by Milan, which nipped Brescia, and Parma, which instead outplayed Udinese and so there is now a three-way tie in sixth position. Verona are not far behind after torpedoing Lecce, Bologna instead prevailed in the Derby with SPAL. Sampdoria and Sassuolo shared the spoils in a snooze-fest and thus maintain a little cushion over the last three positions. Genoa were the only team to get a point in the relegation zone as they survived the meeting with Fiorentina. Continue reading →
Brescia-Milan: the Rondinelle will not have Mario Balotelli for a couple of matches, but Ernesto Torregrossa has actually carried the load scoring-wise recently and he and Alfredo Donnarumma formed a formidable partnership last season in Serie B, so they might be able to survive the blow. They have added two intriguing pieces in January in Birkir Bjarnason, who was very dangerous for a midfielder in his time in Pescara, and Simon Skrabb: they should both have their chances because Nikolas Spalek at no.10 has been pretty inconsistent. Sandro Tonali is coming off a two-assist performance and also Stefano Sabelli and Romulo have been decently proficient in a supporting role. Continue reading →