Atalanta-Genoa: the Bergamaschi keep soaring and bested Lazio in a seminal clash last week, garnering their third win a row and building a little lead over Roma in the race to get the fourth position. They have not been defeated since the beginning of March. The Griffon is coming off two 1-1 ties in a row, versus SPAL and Roma, squandering a massive late opportunity on Sunday. They are four points above the third-to-last position. Suspensions are piling up for Gian Piero Gasperini and he will not be able to count on two defensive centre-pieces, Gianluca Mancini and Andrea Masiello, and more importantly on Alejandro Gomez, which will also not allow him to rotate the squad much ahead of next week’s cup final. Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata will take on an even larger load than usual: the Slovenian genius has been slowed down by some nagging injuries, while the Colombian powerhouse continues to lay hurt on opponents. Continue reading
Just two shutout wins in this game, by Empoli and SPAL, but the Azzurri did not exactly dominate versus Fiorentina, while the Estensi did it against Chievo, which is easy pickings at this point. Therefore, the nod goes to the team that had the most impressive win, Atalanta, which ransacked Olimpico and pretty much eliminated Lazio from Champions League contention.
Gian Piero Gasperini was able to recuperate Josip Ilicic after last week’s absence, while Robin Gosens was not fit enough to be in the XI and thus Timothy Castagne started on the left flank. Berat Djimisiti was picked over Gianluca Mancini in the back. Continue reading
Cagliari-Inter: the Sardinians are coming off a 0-1 loss to Sampdoria, where they were offensively challenged, and have prevailed just once in the past seven games, where they have been beaten five times. Inter had a crazy one with Fiorentina last week, where they were pipped at the post due to a questionable penalty. They had defeated Parma and the Blucerchiati in the two previous fixtures and need point to stave off Milan and Roma’s comeback. The Rossoblù have found the net in just one of their last five games and only with one player, Leonardo Pavoletti. Continue reading
The most significant game this week was the bout between Atalanta and Milan with the fourth spot on the line. The Goddess came into the fixture having won four of five, while the Rossoneri were coming off their most convincing win of the season, against Cagliari, and riding a six-match undefeated streak, where they had tied three times.
Both coaches confirmed the XIs they have been using consistently for few weeks: the only tweak by Gian Piero Gasperini was picking Berat Djimsiti to anchor the back-line and moving José-Luis Palomino to left centre-back, over Gianluca Mancini, while Gennaro Gattuso marshaled his usual 4-3-3. Continue reading
Juventus: Mario Mandzukic is trying to come back from high strain, but it might be too early. Miralem Pjanic and Joao Cancelo are dealing with minor calf ailments, while Sami Khedira has a sore knee: they are unlikely to be available this week, but the fullback has a shot. Medhi Benatia (groin), Andrea Barzagli (thigh) and Juan Cuadrado (knee) remain out.
Napoli: Marek Hamsik will return from a thigh strain, while Allan is experiencing some back pain and has been ruled out.
The last round was a little meager in terms of scoring because few teams that were shut out. Here are the best performers.
Stefano Sorrentino (7 points): defenses bounced back after struggling in the match days prior to the break and nine teams managed to keep a clean sheet. None was more impressive than Chievo’s one at San Paolo, where their goalie made eight saves, including a pair of key and beautiful ones. Lukasz Skorupski and Alessio Cragno’s performances to stymie Fiorentina was also noteworthy.
William Troost-Ekong (5 points): a myriad of defenders got five points because their sides did not concede. The Udinese centre-back played a major role in stifling Roma on Saturday, blanketing first Patrik Schick and then Edin Dzeko. Continue reading
Standings implication: Juventus had an easy time against SPAL and Inter got back on track by spanking Frosinone,so they both gained ground on Napoli, which were astonishingly held to a tie at home against the lowly Chievo. Lazio equalized at the buzzer in the meeting with Milan. Roma against sputtered, this time in Udine. Genoa and Sampdoria shared the spoils in the Derby della Lanterna. Parma got a quality win over Sassuolo. Fiorentina did not found the deciding goal in Bologna and had to settle for a nil-nil draw. Empoli mounted a furious comeback to best Atalanta. Continue reading
Few other Italian league protagonists were eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16. Among those, the most recognizable one is Juan Cuadrado, who had a satisfying campaign in Russia. The winger is a mainstay in Colombia’s line-up and delivered with a pair of solid performances.
He was a victim of the circumstances against Japan, but then was very spry in the two wins over Poland and Senegal, which granted Los Cafeteros the qualification to the second stage. He punished his teammate Wojciech Szczesny keeping his aplomb in a one-on-one after a quick solo counter-attack. Continue reading
Let’s take a look at the most interesting games of the conclusive round.
Cagliari-Atalanta: the Sardinians are one point above Spal and Crotone and would be safe with a win, however Orobici are on the hunt for points that could allow them to leapfrog Milan and avoid the long Europa League playoff next summer. After some disappointing performances, Cagliari came to life in Florence with a key victory. The Goddess have not lost in their last seven matches. Continue reading
The most exhilarating game of the weekend was probably the back and forth between Genoa and Fiorentina, but since it was already thoroughly broken down by Chloe here, let’s dive into another pretty amusing one: Lazio-Atalanta, which was also one of the few fixtures where there was something at stake for both teams.
The two clubs arrived at this game in high spirits, riding three-game winning streaks. Simone Inzaghi had the task of replacing his injured star Ciro Immobile and picked the easiest fix, the backup Felipe Caicedo. After some gamesmanship in the pre-game presser, Gian Piero Gasperini fielded both Remo Freuler and Bryan Cristante, kept Josip Ilicic on the bench and chose José-Luis Palomino for the suspended Mattia Caldara. Continue reading