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.
Despite failing to earn a shutout win due to a schoolboy error, Lazio had by far the most dominating performance in the round and vanquished Parma with a magnificent first half.
They came into the game looking to redeem themselves after a slightly disappointing tie in Florence, where they could have easily won the game with more precision and more intensity, especially in the second half, while they squashed Roma in the Derby two weeks ago. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus dropped their first game in Genoa, while Napoli tamed Udinese and so the lead yo-yoes back to 15 points. Inter resurrected at the most opportune time and torpedoed Milan in the Derby della Madonnina, reclaiming the third spot. Roma did not take advantage as they had a poor showing in Ferrara. It was a good week for Lazio, as they demolished Parma, while Atalanta got stymied by Chievo and Torino came up empty-handed against Bologna. In the lower districts, mammoth wins for the Felsinei, SPAL and Empoli, who sunk Frosinone in the head-to-head bout. Udinese fell back in the mud, as they are now just two points above the Felsinei. Cagliari kept the opponents at bay with a precious W against Fiorentina.
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
Juventus-Sampdoria: after a string of close wins over fierce enemies, the Bianconeri draw against Atalanta, in a game where they came back in ten men. It is just their second tie in Serie A. The Blucerchiati are in a marvelous moment, as they have not lost in the last six games and have won in four of their last five. The offensive production remained the same for Juventus in the last four matches, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic were the only one to hit the net. Paulo Dybala is stuck in a playmaking role, while Douglas Costa has always been more of an assist man. They are awaiting for some goals out of the midfield and Emre Can and Sami Khedira have some potential there, while Rodrigo Bentancur will be suspended in this one. On the other hand, Sampdoria’s attack is humming as Fabio Quagliarella has scored for eight matches in a row and Gaston Ramirez, Gianluca Caprari and Riccardo Saponara have all found the target recently and even Karol Linetty and Dennis Praet have done some damage. The only one not playing well is Gregoire Defrel, but this could be a decent match-up for his skillset, should he be given the start. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus were pretty lucky to grab a tie against Atalanta, however Napoli got beat by Inter and therefore the Bianconeri’s lead widened, while the Nerrazzuri and the Partenopei are now separated by five points. Both Roman teams looked pretty good in the midweek round as Lazio’s win in Bologna was never in doubt and the Giallorossi routed Sassuolo. Milan were held to a tie in Frosinone, so Sampdoria, which were the first to defeat Domenico Di Carlo’s Chievo, now lead the Europa League race. Torino remain in the mix after they handed a drubbing to Empoli, while Fiorentina laid an egg against Parma. SPAL and Udinese did not hurt each other, while Cagliari returned to winning ways against Genoa.
Alex Meret (7 points): five clean sheets this week, with some fine goalkeeping too. Napoli had to sweat against SPAL, but the youngster answered the bell with two solid saves to protect the result late.
Raul Albiol (9 points): the Azzurri attack came up shot on Saturday, but the Spanish defender steered the game in their direction with a wicked header that turned out to be the game-winner.
Mattia De Sciglio (7 points): Juventus’ back-line did not crack under pressure versus Roma and the fullback played a major role in the deciding goal with a sharp cross to set up Mario Mandzukic. Continue reading
Lazio were denied the clean sheet, and therefore a great fantasy haul, in the final minutes, but they still had by far the most commanding display of any team on Saturday. They had failed to win in five straight games, drawing with Sassuolo, Milan, Chievo and Sampdoria and tumbling against Atalanta.
Coming into the match, there were rumours Simone Inzaghi would do away with his usual 3-5-1-1 to field his three creative midfielders together. He indeed deployed Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa from the start, but did it by keeping out both Milan Badelj and Lucas Leiva and using Marco Parolo as metronome in a very aggressive formation. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus edge past Roma and they are now officially Winter champions. Napoli are not in a prolific stretch, but they eked out another win, this time squeaking by SPAL. Inter was pipped at the post in Verona. Lazio returned to winning ways by squashing Cagliari, re-claiming the fourth spot, since Milan got beat at home by Fiorentina. Sampdoria soared past Empoli late, defending their sixth position and building some separation over Sassuolo and Torino, which shared the spoils. Genoa outlasted Atalanta, giving Cesare Prandelli his first win since coming back to Serie A. Marco Baroni salvaged a decent point in Udine in his debut. Parma and Bologna settled for a nil-nil tie. Continue reading
Even though it is just the first match day, teams are already dealing with a number of injuries.
Juventus: Leonardo Spinazzola tore his ACL in Spring and will be out until October at best. Mattia De Sciglio is dealing with a minor muscular problem.
Napoli: Alex Meret fractured a finger a couple of weeks ago and will miss at least the first game. Faouzi Ghoulam is expected to resume practicing in a month after a follow-up procedure on his broken kneecap. Amin Younes tore his Achilles tendon right before the summer and it is unclear how long he will be out for. Continue reading