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
This round was a little light in terms of big matches, but the most anticipated one, Fiorentina-Napoli, delivered from an entertainment standpoint even though it ended with no goals.
The Viola came into the game having tied in three of the previous four games and looking for a big result that could boost them in the Europa League race, while the Partenopei squashed Sampdoria last week, but had dropped points in the two previous road fixtures against the Milan teams. Continue reading
Heading into the round, it looked like Napoli could have an easy time against Bologna, which had not scored in the previous three games and had never won on the road, however it turned out to be a very entertaining game and the Azzurri had to resort to more late-game heroics to come away with the W.
The Campania side came into the game looking to avenge Wednesday’s tough loss against Inter, where they were pipped due to a Lautaro Martinez goal after Kwadwo Asamoah had a goal-line clearance on Piotr Zielinski. The Felsinei have not won in ages, since September 30th, but salvaged some draws here and there. Continue reading
The first ever Serie A boxing day will culminate in a tasty match-up between Inter and Napoli.
Frosinone-Milan: the Ciociari snatched a decent draw in Udinese in Marco Baroni’s first game, but they need some Ws as they have gotten just one so far and it dates back to October 28th. The window to reduce the gap is closing quickly. Milan are sputtering in the last period: they have prevailed just once in the last six fixtures, tying with Lazio, Torino and Bologna and losing to Juventus and Fiorentina. They have been unable to score in the past three games. With so little time to work with, the new coach did not change much, opting for a 3-5-2 and benching Joel Campbell to have one more midfielder, Francesco Cassata. 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. Continue reading
Gianluigi Donnarumma: fresh off an impressive display against Torino, the teenager will try to keep another clean sheet as Milan pay a visit to Bologna, one of the least explosive teams in Serie A.
Giorgio Chiellini: he was spared midweek and so he will be ready to rumble in one of his preferred match-ups, the Derby della Mole, as he always shows up when the ante is upped. Joao Cancelo is probably an even better pick considering his recent run, but there are some doubts about his availability. Continue reading
An extra-long Serie A round is main evented by the Derby della Mole on Saturday night.
Inter-Udinese: the Nerazzurri will be looking to bounce back after a heartbreaking elimination from Champions League, where they fumbled away a great opportunity, and the tough loss against Juventus, where they squandered their chances. The Zebrette were handed their first loss under Davide Nicola by Atalanta last week. Inter continue to be carried by Mauro Icardi and Matteo Politano, with Balde Keita capable of some impressive showings, but still lacking that consistent playing time necessary to be a fantasy stud, even though the real Ivan Perisic has not showed up in a while. Continue reading
An easy call for club of the week this time around, as Napoli quickly disposed of Frosinone on Saturday. As he often does, Carlo Ancelotti looked ahead, at the decisive Champions League clash with Liverpool coming on Tuesday, and spared some of his best men: Raul Albiol, José Callejon, Fabian Ruiz and Dries Mertens. Sebastiano Luperto, Adam Ounas and Arkadiusz Milik drew the start.
It was an evening of debuts and returns, as Alex Meret was between the sticks for the first time after being sidelined by an early forearm fracture, Faouzi Ghoulam got the first start in over a year and Amin Younes played his first minutes with the Azzurri after recovering from an Achilles tear. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus sank Inter in the most anticipated game of the round, while Napoli wiped out Frosinone, maintaining the distance from the top spot and gaining ground on the Nerazzurri. Both Roman teams were incredibly pipped at the post against Cagliari and Sampdoria and Fiorentina tied the game late versus Sassuolo. Milan and Torino shared the spoils, so the only team prospering in the Europa League zone was Atalanta, which upended Udinese on the road. Among the relegation strugglers, Empoli keep soaring with the third win in the last month, this time over Bologna. Genoa showed grit in the one-one tie with SPAL in Cesare Prandelli’s debut. Continue reading
The golden rule on the stock market is to buy low and sell high- that is the tried and true way to make money on commodities. We can apply this principle to Serie A players as well- this works if you play fantasy football or if you just want to sound smart while discussing Calcio.
This season we have seen some previous blue chip stocks take a substantial loss, these players used to be among the highest rated at their respective position prior to losing value because of poor performances or injuries. Let’s see who has the best chance to re establish his value during rest of the season:
Of all the players listed, he may have the best excuse but also the most nebulous future at his current club. Perisic was brilliant during the World Cup and was instrumental in Croatia making it to the final, so a slow start was to be somewhat expected although his teammate Brozovic has brought the positive momentum from the tournament in Russia to Serie A.
So far this season Perisic has been simply unrecognizable. He only has two goals and two assists to his name & to make matters worse we have yet to see his all around game which also features a strong defensive presence. In the meantime Matteo Politano has exceeded expectations and has become a borderline starter for Spalletti, while Keita Balde has been sensational in his last few matches after a very slow start.
If that weren’t enough, Yann Karamoh is making the most out of his loan spell at Bordeaux and looks like a legitimate piece of Inter’s plans for future while Lautaro Martinez is itching to play more upfront with Icardi. Maybe Perisic is onto something when he tells the media he would like to play in the Premier League someday.
Sergej Milinkovic Savic
Definitely not a good sign when the highlight of his season so far is the picture he took with Diletta Leotta during Monday’s Gran Gala’ del Calcio. There have been many theories put forth as to why The Sergeant has looked like a shell of his former self. Some say he became too cocky, others mention the possibility his heart isn’t into Lazio after expecting a transfer to a bigger club in the summer despite getting a significant raise with his recent extension; in addition, there’s also the possibility this is a case of Serie A managers figuring out how to stop him.
There have been some (minor) positive signs in recent weeks since Simone Inzaghi said he’s satisfied with Milinkovic Savic’s performances because he’s playing a more defensive role this season, something we also previously saw at Lazio with Felipe Anderson. At least in the last few matches he has been adequate rather than a liability to his team. Maybe now that Lazio is on a week long retreat we’ll start seeing SMS spreading Milinkocrazia again.
Piotr Zielinski/ Amadou Diawara
Last season the Polish international was being compared to Kevin De Bruyne and he was rumored to join Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, but now his stock has taken a hit since Fabian Ruiz has become the talk of the town in Napoli’s midfield. Zielinski has in fact played more under Carlo Ancelotti when compared to the same time period last season, yet he has failed to live up to the hype on top of failing to leave his mark at the recent World Cup. Napoli however is trying to extend his deal in part to remove or increase his exit clause.
While last season Zielinski’s stock saw a substantial rise, the same cannot be said for Amadou Diawara. The former Bologna midfielder had become Jorginho’s backup, which is a nice way of saying he barely played since Sarri didn’t like to rotate in general and even more so with his key players. While Ancelotti has given him 5 starts this season, we have yet to see him dominate a match in the way he did at the Santiago Bernabeu against Real Madrid last season.
Unless you are a Serie A news junkie, last summer the only thing you heard about Fiorentina was all the excitement surrounding the young offensive trio featuring Chiesa/Pjaca and Diego Simeone’s son. But just like the previous hyped trio of Gomez/Rossi and Cuadrado who only ended up playing 161 minutes together for the Viola, the results have been rather underwhelming.
Simeone in particular has taken a massive step back from last season, he has only scored two goals and has missed numerous chances in recent weeks. On the bright side, manager Stefano Pioli has really no other options at the central striker role so Simeone should have plenty of opportunities to play himself back into good form.