At this point of the season, the heftiest points are often on the line in the bouts between relegation strugglers, although it rarely happens that one terminates with a 2-4 result like Empoli-SPAL.
The Azzurri were coming off a good point on the road in Bergamo, but they need wins to get out of the third-to-last spot, while the Estensi beat Juventus’ second/third stringers last week and had prevailed in four of their last five fixtures.
Aurelio Andreazzoli, who has to navigate through several absences, chose Cristiano Dell’Orco as left wing-back, Dimitrios Nikolao to shore up the Matias Silvestre-less back-line and preferred to advance Rade Krunic rather than using Dimitri Oberlin up front. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus outlasted Milan on Saturday and are now one point away from the title since Napoli were held to a draw by Genoa. Roma were the only ones to succeed among the teams gunning for a Champions League berth and have pulled closer to the Rossoneri and Atalanta, who have just more point. Inter kept the suitors at bay by drawing against the Orobici, while Lazio salvaged a point at the buzzer against Sassuolo. A slow round in the Europa League race too, as Torino could not find a way to perforate Parma and the Blucerchiati were bested at home by the Giallorossi. Fiorentina keep slipping and Stefano Pioli is on the hot seat after the loss to Frosinone. In the relegation zone, Udinese capped off a big week by topping Empoli and moving four points clear of Bologna, which responded and got out of the final three spots on Monday night by trashing Chievo. Cagliari are almost save after sinking SPAL, which stay in precarious position. Frosinone are trying to mount a late comeback that would be quite incredible: the two consecutive Ws put them five points behind Empoli.
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 Lazzariand the house of cards crumbled once the wing back was sidelined by an injury. Continue reading →
Juventus-Udinese: despite being under siege for the whole second half, the Bianconeri survived in Napoli and further broaden their lead atop of the standings. Despite the results in the domestic league, where they have won four in a row and seven in the last eight and are still undefeated, the squad seems to be trending down in the last couple of weeks. The Zebrette are coming off two massive wins over Chievo and Bologna, which allowed them to jump to the 15th position and move seven points clear of the final three spots. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are suspended and coach Massimiliano Allegri is expected to heavily rotate the squad ahead of the second leg with Atletico Madrid, but they are not particularly deep. Continue reading →
Lazio-Cagliari: after four draws in a row, the Biancocelesti came a cropper in Bergamo, following another subpar performance. The Sardinians have been unable to win in the past six weeks and they caught on Sunday their first L at home versus Napoli. So both teams are reeling, one more of the other considering their seasonal targets. Simone Inzaghi is giving Sergej Milinkovic-Savic every opportunity to get off his schneid, but he keeps misfiring. Luis Alberto is showing some signs of life, but he is far away from last year’s level of brilliance. So Ciro Immobile and Joaquin Correa remain their only two productive fulcrums, with Marco Parolo at times able to chip in.
The next round could be a little one-sided for the top clubs, but surprises are always around the corner in Serie A and there still a couple of juicy games on deck.
Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri prevailed in the always tense match-up with Milan, surviving a penalty but appearing pretty dominant overall. They have won in 11 of the first 12 games, setting a new Serie A-point record to start the season. SPAL looked a little better against Cagliari, but squandered a two-zip lead and had to settle for a tie. They had lost in six of the previous seven fixtures. Mario Mandzukicreturned to the starting XI with an immediate goal, then Cristiano Ronaldo bagged another one. Continue reading →
There were certainly some surprising results in the last round before another international break.
Standings implications: Juventus bested Milan in the last Sunday game, while Napoli prevailed in the soggy battle in Genoa and have re-assumed sole control of the second place since Inter came crashing down hard in Bergamo. Roma finally put together a brilliant performance against the wheezing Sampdoria. Atalanta leapfrogged few teams in the Europa League race since Fiorentina conceded late and was held to yet another 1-1 tie in Frosinone and Parma snatched a quality road win versus Torino. Continue reading →
Standings implications: the top three teams did not stutter in favourable match-ups. Inter and Napoli pummeled Genoa and Empoli, while Juventus had to dig deeper against Cagliari, but maintained their lead. Fiorentina and Roma shared the spoils in a result that helps neither. Lazio smoked SPAL, but Milan kept up with an improbable late goal in Udine. Torino looked very impressive again on the road as Sampdoria were their latest victims. Sassuolo tamed Chievo very easily despite being away. Atalanta keep climbing the standings and mounted a comeback against Bologna. Continue reading →
Serie A returns with a pretty decent slate capped off by the mouth-watering Milan derby on Sunday night.
Roma-Spal: the Giallorossi have solved some of their initial problems and have put together a three-game winning streak, defeating Frosinone, Lazio and Empoli. The Estensi are going in opposite direction, since have suffered four straight losses, to Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Sampdoria and Inter, after a hot start. Eusebio Di Francesco seems to have found the right scheme for his men, a 4-2-3-1 with Lorenzo Pellegriniin the hole. The youngster has been remarkable filling in for the injured Javier Pastore, to the point that there is a real competition here. Continue reading →
Standings implications: Juventus continue to dominate and notched their eighth straight victory in Udine, while Napoli topped Sassuolo at home. Roma and Inter extended their winning streaks in hard-fought matches against Empoli and SPAL. Lazio prevailed in the second-tier head-to-head game against Fiorentina. Sampdoria came away with a previous win from Bergamo, same for Parma, which staged a marvellous comeback against Genoa on the road. Torino and Cagliari nabbed two home Ws versus Frosinone and Bologna.
Confirmations: all the Serie A’s best striker did their thing this weekend. Krzysztof Piatekbroke the deadlock with a header in the lunch match. Cristiano Ronaldo rifled one home against Udinese, Ciro Immobile found a clinical goal versus Fiorentina. Continue reading →