Juventus-Sassuolo: Cristiano Ronaldo came back midweek and now it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be load managed in Serie A player after the knee injury. Nevertheless, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala have been excellent in relief and have been able to contribute also when coming off the bench in their standard configuration. Douglas Costa got hurt again, which takes away their most explosive option at no.10, so it will Federico Bernardeschi and Aaron Ramsey running the show there for a while, but they both have not done damage in a while. Ramsey has the most upside in the duo. Khedira is fading and, while Rodrigo Bentancur and Blaise Matuidi are serviceable contributors, they are not strong fantasy options. It could be instead the right kind of match-up for Miralem Pjanic to have a meaningful offensive role, while Juan Cuadrado has been a pretty good fullback for a while now. Continue reading
SPAL-Juventus: after winning three games in a row, against Roma, Frosinone and Lazio, SPAL were bested by Cagliari, but their recent streak gave them a little breathing room over the last three positions. Juventus toppled Milan last week, winning for the eighth time in the last nine matches and they are one point away from clinching the title. For the Estensi, Andrea Petagna has been a rock all year long, showing to be a much more prolific striker compared to his time at Atalanta. Manuel Lazzari is their main playmaker off the right flank and has picked up eight assists thus far. Jasmin Kurtic is also occasionally able to collect some bonus points, while they have not got much out of the second-striker role, as Mirco Antenucci, Andrea Paloschi and Sergio Floccari have combined for just six goals. 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
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
Mattia Perin (7 points): several clean sheets in this round and among the goalkeepers that managed to do so, the Juventus one had the most impactful performance, denying a strike by Nicola Sansone with an eye-popping save.
Armando Izzo (9 points): Torino once again stymied their opponents with a great collective effort and, on top of that, the centre-back broke the deadlock pouncing on a loose ball in the box.
Elseid Hysaj (7 points): he is generally not particularly flashy on offence, but he delivered on Sunday with a terrific touch with the outside of his foot to spring Piotr Zielinski free. Continue reading
Milan and Napoli were the most impressive teams in this round and the Partenopei, who scored more goals and did it on the road against a better opponent, get the coveted weekly award.
The Azzurri had very uncharacteristically failed to score in three of the previous four games, all ending in a nil-nil tie, so their offence had something to prove on Sunday and they certainly succeeded there as the Parma match was never in doubt and they bagged four goals. Continue reading
Standings implications: the top two teams, Juventus and Napoli, both prevailed, albeit in opposite fashion, against the Emilian teams Bologna and Parma, and so the gap remains untouched going into their clash. Milan and Roma stayed hot: the Rossoneri smoked Empoli, while the Giallorossi won it at the buzzer in Frosinone and they are now both within striking distance from Inter, who tied in a crazy one in Florence. Torino upended Atalanta and are now tied at the sixth position in the ever-changing Europa League race, where Sampdoria return in the picture thanks to a narrow victory over Cagliari. SPAL gained a point over the relegation strugglers in the Derby with Sassuolo and Genoa and Chievo shared the spoils too. Continue reading
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
In a round full of ties, only Napoli and Bologna brought home the full loot and the Partenopei, which rag dolled a worthy opponent, were quite clearly the best team in this week-end. The Azzurri came into the game looking to wash out the bitter taste of an underwhelming two-game trip to San Siro against Milan, where they were held to a nil-nil tie in Serie A play and eliminated from Coppa Italia due to a paltry performance.
Carlo Ancelotti was a little more cautious versus Sampdoria and picked Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne up front, with José Callejon and Piotr Zielinski manning the flanks, rather than fielding his three strikers together. Elseid Hysaj and Alex Meret made their return to the starting XI, while Raul Albiol was spared due to a nagging ailment. Continue reading
Napoli-Sampdoria: the Partenopei had a disappointing two-game meeting with Milan, as they did not manage to beat them in the weekend and then got got in Coppa Italia. They are undefeated at home, where they have won four games in a row, often scoring multiple goals. The Blucerchiati are coming off a thumping against Udinese, their fourth W in the last six fixtures and they lost only to Juventus since the beginning of December. While Lorenzo Insigne is stuck in a prolonged drought, Arek Milik has done most of the damage for the Azzurri up front, with Dries Mertens chipping in from time to time and some contribution from José Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Piotr Zielinski, but not in a consistent way. Continue reading