Another exciting weekend of Serie A action has come to an end with the results having major permutations on the table as we close in on the halfway point of this year’s campaign.
Juventus’ two goal win over SPAL saw their top of the table advantage increase to eight as Napoli were held by bottom placed, Chievo at home.
Roma fell to their fourth defeat of the season at the hands of struggling Udinese which has heaped the pressure on Eusebio Di Francesco.
While late drama at the Olimpico saw Milan and Lazio being unable to be separated at the final whistle.
Finally, in one of the more hotly anticipated games on the Serie A calendar saw the Derby della Lanterna end in a draw in front of a raucous Massari.
Juventus continue to increase the divide atop Serie A
It is almost becoming routine for the Bianconeri.
Sleep, eat, conquer, repeat.
The Scudetto is now looking set to return to Turin for the eighth successive season after their gap on top Serie A extended to eight on the back of their twelfth win in the league this season. Cristiano Ronaldo continued his brilliant start to his Juventus career banging in his ninth Serie A goal while stand-in captain, Mario Mandzukic sealed the result in the second half.
It wasn’t a flashy result, nor was it Juventus’ best but in reality, it didn’t have to be.
They had the luxury of being able to rest key players in order to prepare for an important Champions League fixture against Valencia. At the same time, they were still be able to dispose of their opponents with relative ease even with the likes of Paulo Dybala, Wojciech Szczesny, Giorgio Chiellini, Blaise Matuidi and Joao Cancelo all starting from the bench.
The gap between Juventus and their competition continues to increase with their quality in depth being a big part of their dominance in Italy.
A dominance which doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.
Pressure hits boiling point for Di Francesco after another defeat
Roma are in a pit at the moment. Simple.
After last season’s highs of a Champions League semi-final, they now find themselves in seventh and on the outside looking in behind their Italian opponents who continue to make ground. In a game where they remarkably didn’t score one goal from their 25 shots against an Udinese outfit who brilliantly suckered in Roma and take advantage of their limited chances to take the lead early in the second half.
The new manager of Udinese, Davide Nicola parked the bus and frustrated Di Francesco’s charges from the outset who lacked significant spark in the final third.
This lack of form may come back to plague their season as we get closer and closer to Christmas.
Roma had a total of seven losses last season in the league and have four before the winter break which spells an evident spiral in form from last season.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t helped Di Francesco that Roma have lost a significant amount of talent around the ground including the departures of Alisson, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman who all played a part in Roma’s dream run last season.
However, the cutthroat business of football has a short-term memory and may have its new victim in the coming weeks as Di Francesco faces two very important clashes against Real Madrid and Inter in the next week which may play a large part in his future in the capital.
Chievo finally reach the positives while Napoli fall even further in title race
It has been a tough season for Chievo who have faced significant adversities to start their Serie A campaign.
Now into their third different manager this season after the ill-fated run of Gianpiero Ventura, new coach, Domenico Di Carlo faces the almost impossible task of keeping the Verona outfit in the top flight. However, the signs were much more promising this past weekend with a gutsy scoreless draw on the road against second-placed, Napoli has finally put Chievo into the positives.
Similar to that of Udinese, I Gialloblu parked the bus and sought to frustrate Napoli which worked to a tee and now has raised questions about I Partenopei’s title credentials. In a game which was pencilled in as a sure victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s charges, their flashy attack was unable to break down a stringent and well disciplined Chievo defensive setup which stifled the impact of both Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne who were unable to beat Stefano Sorrentino between the sticks.
For Napoli, it is back to the drawing board as they look to play catch-up in the league and focus on qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League in weeks to come. However, for Chievo things can only go up from here as they look to miraculously close their eleven-point gap inside the bottom three.
Gattuso’s lack of rotation costs Milan in Rome
“So close, no matter how far”.
The famous song lyrics in Metallica’s hit ‘Nothing Else Matters’ sums up yesterday’s clash between Milan and Lazio.
With a seemingly insurmountable injury list which saw them line-up with only one natural centre-back, Gennaro Gattuso’s charges were gutsy and took the game right to their Roman opponents. Defensively they faced a storm of chances and brilliant attacking work from the likes of Luis Alberto and Stefan Milinkovic-Savic who mazed their way through Milan’s stop-gap defence.
However, their early and puzzling substitutions changed the game entirely as Gianluigi Donnarumma who played his best game for Milan in quite some time kept Lazio at bay.
This allowed for the Rossoneri to take full advantage and take their chances going back the other way with Franck Kessie’s deflected outfit gifting Milan the lead.
In saying that, for all of Gattuso’s plaudits with a beaten-up squad, he made the mistake of not making any substitutes which saw many of his players withdrawn of energy by Simone Inzaghi’s well rested and rotated troops who were able to grind out a late equaliser.
Gattuso had the like of Diego Laxalt, Samu Castillejo and Riccardo Montolivo on the bench to bring on and add some fresh legs but refused for no apparent reason.
This indecision has come back to cost Milan a spot in the top four for the time being and instead of looking at the result with a glass-half-full attitude where they were able to grind out a point on the road with a gargantuan injury list.
Instead it is the opposite with many wondering what could have been.
Derby della Lanterna ends in stalemate with both Genovese sides left wondering
One of the games of the Serie A calendar which never fails to excite came from the Massari as the Derby della Lanterna wrote a new chapter.
A chapter involving a flashy Pole who continues to defy with his scoring feats reaching double digits, another game and another goal for Fabio Quagliarella and a game where Genoa will be wondering where their missed opportunities went.
Genoa had the better of the opportunities and fought back brilliantly from a goal down on the back of Krzysztof Piatek’s tenth goal this season and the link up of Romulu and his attacking partner Christian Kouame who ran rings around the Sampdoria defence.
Doria have seen a major slump in the past five games seeing them drop to twelfth after a strong start to the Serie A season while Genoa are still looking for their first win since September 30 as their fast start has also petered out.
Both sides need to start to find wins soon as both managers will want to avoid the ever-changing managerial cycle in Serie A as both Ivan Juric and Marco Giampaolo will be desperate for their respective sides to start gaining some much needed wins.