After last week’s Oscar winning matchday of Serie A action, we were treated to a round full of scrappy, unpleasant results for many of the Italian powerhouses.
Juventus and Inter both opened the round with late penalties to secure victories over Torino and Udinese respectively. The Old Lady in particular were able to keep their unbeaten start to the Serie A campaign alive by knocking off their stubborn cross-town rivals. Roma looked set to continue their poor start to the Serie A campaign but were able to muster up an important win, not only for their European credentials, but for manager Eusebio Di Francesco who will be in the hot-seat for at least another week. For Lazio it was a fifth straight domestic game without a win while Napoli left it late to defeat Cagliari on the road. However, the problems have continued for Milan as they once again had a scoreless draw, this time with Bologna, to see out the round.
Juventus survive almighty scare in subpar Turin Derby
This game was never going to be easy for the undefeated Juve.
Even against a side they have historically had the wood over – Torino were coming to play and showed enough to take something from this Derby. It wasn’t the most exciting Turin Derby that we have seen in recent times but Torino showed a lot against the clear Scudetto favourites.
A clear miscommunication at the back from Simone Zaza and substitute goal-keeper, Salvador Ichazo saw the Old Lady rewarded with a spot-kick which was easily dispatched by Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Juventus were far from the better side with I Granata having chances to take the game early which ultimately came back to bite them, as they still find themselves lodged firmly in the logjam for a European place.
Juventus on the other hand will not complain too much about the result but Max Allegri will be concerned about the overall performance. Once again, I Bianconeri find a way to get the job done and continue their dominance at the top of the Serie A table.
Di Francesco lives for another day
After Oscar Hiljemark gave Genoa the lead inside the opening thirty-five minutes – the alarm bells must have been ringing inside the Stadio Olimpico.
Genoa had come to play and Roma were staring down the barrel of a loss which would have sent them outside the top-half of the table. Eusebio Di Francesco’s position as Roma coach was also looking quite perilous. However, the Roma players, to their credit were able to fight back, as Justin Kluivert and Bryan Cristante rescued a much-needed victory for the Roman side as they stay in touch with the European places.
This result is still not a turn-around in form nor is it a result the team should hang their hat on, as they continue to play sub-par football – way below what this side is capable of. Their defence has shown major signs of fragility and without Edin Dzeko – a consistent, solid performer for the past few seasons – they lack a pure number nine.
A real statement would be going to Turin next week and taking something from the game which would more than give Di Francesco a minor reprieve as the manager of Roma. For Genoa, they are showing small signs of improvement under former Azzurri manager, Cesare Prandelli as they look to steer clear of the drop-zone.
Wastefulness, not VAR costs Lazio a point on the road
The VAR came into play once again to steal a point from a struggling Lazio outfit against Atalanta who continue to surge up the table.
Duvan Zapata was able to open the scoring inside the opening minute to gift the home-side the perfect start, but once again Lazio failed to convert their dominance as they missed numerous chances to get back in the game. The quality this side has in their spine would make most sides around the country envious, however its failure to capitalise has led to a seventh consecutive game without a win in all competitions. To make matters even worse, they have now taken their tally to 83 shots with a return of only four goals in their last five games – showing that they are clearly lacking polish in front of goal.
Francesco Acerbi’s late equaliser was correctly ruled offside by the VAR, but even the most optimistic of Biancocolesti fan would know that there are still no excuses for not converting their chances in front of goal. The pressure is on Simone Inzaghi to turn things around for Lazio but their saving grace is the poor form from the sides around them which has kept them only two points off fourth.
Amazing how a side can not win in seven but still be just two points shy of a Champions League place.
What a strange old season in Serie A it is shaping up to be, hey?
Napoli & Inter bounce back after European disappointment
It was the week of the late winner as both Napoli and Inter left it late to rescue a much-needed victory.
Both sides were bundled out of the Champions League midweek and needed to rescue some form in the league. Napoli were met by a stubborn Cagliari outfit who have continued their mini resurgence with some strong showings against some of Italy’s finest outfits. However, Napoli made the bold move to bench Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon who are all key attacking fixtures in Carlo Ancelotti’s attacking third which almost came back to bite them. If it wasn’t for Arkadiusz Milik slamming home a winner in the dying moments – the Scudetto race would all but be over.
For Inter it was a case of failing to convert their dominance into goals as another resilient Udinese performance pushed the Nerrazzuri to their limits. Mauro Icardi was able to bail them out with a late penalty and score a much-needed win for Luciano Spalletti’s charges but the win was far from satisfactory. Inter are looking to avoid another slump throughout winter which plagued their prior campaigns, and gutsy wins like these will help their cause to continue their push towards a Champions League position.
Napoli will face SPAL at home next week while Inter travel to Verona to take on Chievo in games which both sides are expected to win with relative ease.
Boring stalemate in Bologna heaps more problems on Gattuso
A game where Milan had to bounce back after Europa League disappointment, but fell extremely flat.
When I mean flat, I mean the players looked like they had run a marathon through the Sahara Desert the day before. It was an uninspiring, boring and extremely demoralising performance from Milan, who never looked like they were going to be able to pick out a killer pass nor test a Bologna side who sought to frustrate from the first-whistle. What made matters worse is the fall-out from this game.
The Rossoneri are already decimated with injuries and their creative midfield stocks are already depleted with both Lucas Biglia and Giacomo Bonaventura on the sidelines for an extended period. In-form Chelsea loanee, Tiemou Bakayoko was sent off while Franck Kessie has now accumulated the required number of yellow cards to enforce a suspension meaning they will both miss this weekend’s game against Fiorentina.
Gennaro Gattuso looks devoid of ideas as his side are continuously showing signs of regression as the season ticks over the halfway point. After what was looking to be a positive run post defeating Parma, the season is slowly starting to turn its ugly head on Milan who are extremely lucky to still find themselves in fourth place.
With games against La Viola, Frosinone and SPAL to finish the calendar year – Gattuso needs to start to accumulate some points from somewhere otherwise his time in the Fashion Capital may come to a premature end.