Maurizio Sarri kept his cards close to the vest regarding the XI in the presser ahead of the Coppa Italia tilt against Roma: “I expect a very difficult game, you just need to look at Roma’s results on the road to have proof of that. They conceded little and score as much as at home. They are a quality team. We would lose sight of reality if we thought we are not going to have some challenging moments against them.” Continue reading
Bartlomiej Dragowski (7 points): quite amazingly, there was only just one clean sheet in this round and it belonged to Fiorentina, who were stout defensively against Napoli, which are in a tough sledding still have weapons and talent up front. La Viola are finally tightening it up in the back, showcasing the solidity of their young goalie.
Pol Lirola (7 points): he outpaced his fellow teammates, who all racked up five points, since he fed Dusan Vlahovic prior to the second goal, although most of the credit goes to the teammate for that missile. He has been a non-factor so far this season, perhaps the assists will get him going. Continue reading
The most dramatic match of the round was quite decisively Milan-Udinese, which was back and forth throughout the ninety minutes and was decided in the final moments.
The Rossoneri came into the game looking to build onto a convincing win over Cagliari last week and to get closer to the top six, while the Zebrette had won three in a row, putting the relegation zone in the rear-view mirror. Continue reading
Lazio had a field day against Sampdoria and took home the coveted award despite giving up a consolation goal, as they pushed their winning streak to 11 in commanding fashion.
Simone Inzaghi had Joaquin Correa available this week, but he kept him initially on the bench coming off a calf injury, so Felipe Caicedo partnered Ciro Immobile up front, while Jony replaced the suspended Senad Lulic on the left wing. Claudio Ranieri kept the slightly banged up Fabio Quagliarella on the bench, which pretty much tipped how things were going to unfold. Continue reading
Despite conceding two goals, AC Milan managed to beat Udinese in front of a big crowd at the San Siro, thus claiming their third consecutive win in all competitions. The performance perhaps wasn’t top-notch, but the Rossoneri will be happy with the three points nevertheless, especially considering how the game was decided. Continue reading
Juventus did not offer the cleanest nor the most inspiring performance versus Parma, but managed to take home three vital points once again propelled by Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring prowess.
Matthijs De Ligt: another game, another key block for the Dutch starlet, who got in the way of a sure-fire attempt by Mattia Sprocati that Wojciech Szczesny probably would not have not been able to save. He also trucked and outjumped few opponents, as per usual. The Bianconeri gave up an avoidable goal, this time on a corner kick, so not only the defenders were at fault and also a lot of the credit goes to Andreas Cornelius’ gorgeous header. The goalkeeper responded well when challenged, especially on long-range attempts. Danilo entered the game with a purpose after Alex Sandro subbed off and had a flashy performance, hitting the post on an offensive incursion. More of the same understated brilliance instead out of Leonardo Bonucci. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus gained a couple of points on Inter as they eked out a W over Parma, while the Nerazzurri were held to a tie by Lecce. Lazio romped their way to their 11th win in a row against Sampdoria. Roma bounced back with a pretty decisive success in Genoa put three points between them and Atalanta, which were stunned at home by SPAL. Milan outlasted Udinese to move closer to the top six and Fiorentina’s turnaround is starting to feel real after a fairly impressive display in Naples, with the Partenopei instead still in the doldrums. Cagliari at least got a point out of the trip to Brescia, while Bologna and Verona shared the spoils. Sassuolo came back to life by upending Torino.
AC Milan claimed three important points at the San Siro earlier this afternoon, beating Udinese by three goals to two. The scoreline reflected the game quite well and thankfully the Rossoneri got the final word, putting more pressure on the teams above them in the standings.
The Champions League zone is now just seven points away for Pioli’s men, although Atalanta and Roma have a game in hand. In any case, the Milan fans can at least look at the upcoming games with a bit of hope, as certainly wasn’t the case at the start of the season. Continue reading
Going into the new season, much was expected from Napoli under Carlo Ancelotti. Having added Kostas Manolas, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Hirving Lozano among others, the partenopei were expected to make a Scudetto push after consecutive seasons as runners-up. However, nothing of the sort has taken place and Napoli are currently languishing below mid-table and have replaced Ancelotti with Gennaro Gattuso. Here are three things Napoli should consider to get back on track.
1) Squad revolution: Sell, sell, sell!
Most of the current Napoli side have been with the club for the greater part of the decade, and have experienced incredible highs and lows. For example: Winning 1-0 in a title decider against Juventus away from home, only to lose the following game to Fiorentina and squander their lead at the top. This undoubtedly remains in the psyche of most of their players.
After a rough start to the season, the club’s veterans turned against Ancelotti and demanded change from the upper hierarchy. Moreover, many of their ageing stars on expiring deals are asking for pay-rises due to their past exploits with the club. Exploits they probably won’t be able to recreate, if we’re being honest. Football works in cycles and one thing is clear: This cycle is over for Napoli and it’s time for a rebuild. Sell Insigne, Mertens, Hysaj and anyone in between. Out with the old and in with the new. That sounds equally exciting as it sounds scary.
2) Stick with Gattuso
This may seem like a stretch especially after the rough start to his tenure, losing four of his first five games, but Napoli would be wise to stay with Gattuso. With a full pre-season under his belt and an entire summer to sign players he wants, the former Milan tactician will have the weapons he needs to make a push for the title next season. In addition, most of his current players appear to have their heads elsewhere and could use a move away and start fresh.
While this season won’t amount to much, it will be a good opportunity for Gattuso to acclimate himself to his new surroundings and establish players he can count on. This will undoubtedly come in handy moving into the new season. In his final season at Milan, the World Cup winner almost got the rossoneri into the Champions League with a far worse roster. Given time and a roster upheaval, Gattuso will prove to be a good fit for Napoli.
3) Establish your core.
Speaking of finding players to count on, Napoli’s top brass should use the rest of the season and evaluate their squad. Who is sellable and who is untouchable? After this year’s shocking performances, you can argue only Meret, Koulibaly, Di Lorenzo and the newcomers are off-limits. The rest should and arguably will be on the market for the right price. Fabian Ruiz, for example, has shown signs of brilliance but doesn’t look as implicated as he could be for the Napoli cause. Reports suggest Barcelona and Real Madrid are keeping tabs on the Spanish international and could present a bid upwards of 50M for the midfielder.
Another player’s future to consider is Lorenzo Insigne. While the diminutive playmaker is one of the last true bandiere in Italy, it may be time for a move away. After all, he did lead the mutiny against Ancelotti and hasn’t exactly performed on the pitch. As a result, the list of sellable players should far exceed the “untouchables.” In any case, Napoli’s season does present a silver lining: A unique opportunity to reboot and start a new cycle. Hopefully, for them, this one will be filled with silverware and that elusive Scudetto.
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After the important away win at Cagliari, AC Milan managed to grab yet another win on Wednesday evening as they took on SPAL in the Coppa Italia. Once again, the Rossoneri looked very confident and won the game without too many issues, putting three goals past the goalkeeper.
In other words, after the attacking struggles at the start of the season, Pioli’s men have now scored five goals in their last two games. This certainly is a sign of improvement and they have the results to show for it. On Sunday afternoon, they will have the opportunity to make it three in a row. Continue reading