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
Standings implications: Juventus’ led atop of the table swelled up again as the Bianconeri routed Sassuolo, while Napoli could not break through in Florence and had to settle for a nil-nil tie. Inter returned to winning ways in Parma after three rounds. All the teams involved in the Champions League race won this week: Milan outfaced Cagliari, Roma did the same with Chievo on Friday, Atalanta successfully came back at home versus SPAL and Lazio squeezed past Empoli. Sampdoria lost steam in the Europa League zone with the second loss in a row, an appalling one to Frosinone in this case, while Torino are now eighth after nipping Udinese. Frosinone’s victory drags few more clubs into the mud: there are six teams in six points, with two going down. Bologna was the only other side that brought home a relatively positive result in those neighborhoods as they tied with Genoa. 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
Chievo-Fiorentina was a little more bonkers, but Roma-Atalanta had a higher profile, so it is the pick for match of the week. Both teams came into the game in positive stretches, having won four times in the previous six fixtures, with just one loss, and firmly in the running for the fourth spot.
Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed last week’s XI featuring Berat Djimsiti and Timothy Castagne over usual starter José-Luis Palomino and Robin Gosens. With Cengiz Under injured and Alessandro Florenzi banged up, Eusebio Di Francesco moved Nicolò Zaniolo to the right flank, with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole and Ivan Marcano replacing Federico Fazio, who was under the weather. Continue reading
Standings implications: Juventus surged past Lazio late and saw their lead swell because Milan and Napoli shared the spoils. The Rossoneri remain fourth due to some ties behind them. Torino torpedoed Inter at home and re-emerged in the Europa League race. It was a Sunday of comebacks, as Atalanta erased a three-nothing lead against Roma and SPAL proceeded to win the game after being down two-nothing in Parma. Fiorentina outlasted Chievo in a rollercoaster of a game. Sampdoria and Sassuolo easily took care of business in the early Saturday matches, smoking Udinese and Cagliari. Frosinone surprisingly pounded Bologna on the road, re-emerging in the relegation race and putting the Felsinei in real trouble. Continue reading
Sampdoria-Udinese: the Blucerchiati were pipped at the post in Florence last week, in a game that turned on its head a thousand times. They have won three straight at home. After three positive, or semi-positives, results Udinese took a tumble at home against Parma. They have managed to prevail just once on the road thus far. Fabio Quagliarella has found the target in ten straight appearances and is one shy of tying the record, so he is obviously a must-start, considering that the match-up is not that hard. Gaston Ramirez is suspended, so Riccardo Saponara will draw the start and could be worth a look. Even Jakub Jankto showed some life in the last game, but Karol Linetty might be able to return in the midfield. Continue reading
Standings implications: Napoli bested Lazio on Sunday night, as the Biancocelesti keep struggling against elite competition. However, Juventus answered versus Chievo, so the situation stays the same atop of the standings. Inter were unable to get the best of Sassuolo, actually the guests had more chances in that game. Roma allowed Torino to erase a 2-0 lead, but still came up victorious with another surge. Atalanta bodybagged Frosinone, while Fiorentina tied late versus Sampdoria. Milan overcame some absences to upend Genoa. Parma continue to pick up road wins and Udinese were their latest victim. SPAL and Bologna shared the spoils in the Emilian Derby, while Cagliari and SPAL did the same in two clashes relevant for the relegation race.
Just two teams were successful in both matches this week: Roma and Inter. The Beneamata did it by topping Napoli and Empoli with two 1-0 win, so the Giallorossi were certainly a little more impressive, despite conceding one late versus Sassuolo.
La Lupa so far have had all kinds of troubles, from chemistry and consistency problems to defensive leakiness, but at least they have solved the injury crisis, as Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore recovered from their ailments and three of them were able to get meaningful minutes. They should all be up and running after the break, giving Eusebio Di Francesco a vast array of weapons to choose from, considering that Cengiz Under, Nicolò Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert and even Patrik Schick have shown some flashes. 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
Juventus: Federico Bernardeschi has a thigh ailment and he is likely to miss the next two games. Juan Cuadrado will not undergo knee surgery, but his timetable is uncertain. Blaise Matuidi is under the weather and out for the Bergamo trip. Moise Kean has a hamstring ailment.
Napoli: Allan is set to return after missing one due to back pain. Mario Rui is back to the squad list.
Inter: Radja Nainggolan has been suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons. Joao Miranda is out again due to muscle fatigue.
Lazio: Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are fatigued and might sit initially. Luis Alberto subbed off against Cagliari, but just for cramps. Milan Badelj is iffy with a muscular problem. Valon Berisha and Riza Durmisi will not be available. Continue reading