In a somewhat mundane week of Italian football, the top five continued on their winning ways, Juventus further cementing themselves at the top of the table with two wins this week.
Higuain Stars for Juventus
Star striker and recent purchase Gonzalo Higuain scored three for Juventus this week, leading them to two wins against Crotone and Cagliari respectively as the Bianconeri made up the game they missed due to conflicts with the Supercoppa Italiana. The Bianconeri seem to have no intention of slowing down, extending their winning streak to ten league games, the last loss coming against Genoa. The Argentinian striker has been essential in their winning ways, and he is tied atop the top scorers list with Roma forward Edin Dzeko, scoring an impressive eighteen goals this season. El Pipita has been great for Juventus, and he continues to prove he was worth the massive fee they paid for him.
Milan Luck Out in Rome
Milan won their first encounter with Bologna earlier in the week after being reduced to “8 1/2 men” with a clinical late goal from Mario Pasalic. The game was rescheduled due to the Supercoppa Italiana, which they won in a penalty shootout against Juventus.
They then traveled to Rome to face Lazio who they had beaten 2-0 earlier in the season. With most of their defense out for suspensions/injuries, the odds weren’t looking good for the Rossoneri, and they were looking even worse after Lucas Biglia converted from the spot late in the first half. However, Milan returned, and they got the goal they were looking for after a great run from Suso who slotted the ball to the left of the keeper. It was a lucky result, perhaps not telling of the real match. Lazio fully dominated Milan until the last few minutes, getting off twenty-three shots, but Milan found a way to salvage a draw thanks to some heroics from wunderkind Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Pioli’s Men Impress
In an incredible turnaround from the first half of the season, Inter continued with the impressive form, defeating Empoli soundly thanks to goals from Eder and Antonio Candreva. Inter fans have to thank Stefano Pioli, who seems to have figured out his team and is getting the results that the Chinese were looking for when they dumped hundreds of millions of euros into the club. Pioli’s inclusion of some players, including Marcelo Brozovic, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Joao Mario, along with his more tactical switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation. He has also shown his versatility and willingness to change; Inter used a three-at-the-back formation against Empoli this week.
Torino Victorious in Goalfest
Torino have had a somewhat up and down season, but Andrea Belotti has been nothing but good news for the club. The Italian striker scored another two against Pescara leading his team to a 5-3 victory. The win was never really in doubt as Torino raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first sixty-one minutes thanks to goals from Iago Falque, Belotti, Ajeti, and Adem Ljajic. Pescara pulled back three in the last twenty minutes, Ajeti scoring an own-goal and Benali notching a brace as well, but the deficit was too large to overcome. It was an impressive offensive performance from Torino who could have probably increased their advantage had they not relaxed late on in the match.
It’s not all good news for Torino. They may lose their star striker to a club who is willing to pay the €100 million release clause. Many clubs are rumored to be interested in the “Gallo”, and rightfully so.
Roma, Napoli, Atalanta Ease Past Opponents
Following in typical Serie A format this season, all of the top five teams in the league emerged victorious. Neither of these teams are willing to slip up as it could cost them dearly when European qualification is finally decided.
Napoli moved up to second early in the week with goals from Zielinski and Giaccherini to lead them to a victory against Genoa. Sarri’s men have been performing well, Mertens doing his part to make up some of the goal scoring lost from the selling of Gonzalo Higuain.
Atalanta produced a dominating display at Palermo, winning by a scoreline of 3-1. They dominated for most of the game, having sixty-three possession during the match. Conti, Gomez, and Christante scored for Atalanta while Chochev produced the only goal for the hosts. Alejandro Gomez has been stellar for Atalanta, and many argue he is the main reason Atalanta now find themselves in fifth place, exceeding even the wildest expectations.
Roma were quick to reclaim second when they dispatched second-to-last Crotone comfortably. Nainggolan scored the first, and Dzeko and Salah combined for the second. Dzeko has rebounded from an underwhelming debut season, and he finds himself tied with Higuain atop the league scorers table. While Roma will have a difficult time catching up to Juventus, they can cement their Champions League position with a couple of wins in the next few games.
Viola Decimate Udinese
Fiorentina continued their impressive form with a win at home against Udinese. Valero, Babacar, and Bernardeschi provided the goals, and the Viola rebounded from a 4-0 loss at Roma last week. It will be interesting to see who will take home the points when they face A.C. Milan next week.
Sampdoria Earn Last-Gasp Win
Sampdoria won a thriller against Bologna. Dzemaili opened the scoring in the eighteenth minute. Largely against the flow of the game, Bologna were able to hold onto the lead for the majority of the time. It wasn’t until the eighty-second minute that the floodgates opened. Sampdoria was awarded a penalty after a handball in the area which Muriel converted calmly. Just a minute later, Schick doubled for the hosts, putting them. Things would only get worse for Bologna when Mbaye knocked the ball into his own net. Muriel once again proved why he belongs at a club better than Sampdoria.
Sassuolo Punished for Discipline Issues
Sassuolo were fortunate not to fall behind early when Letschert was shown a red and Chievo were given a penalty. Luckily for the hosts, Inglese hit the post with his attempt. Matri made sure the penalty miss was not for nothing when he scored in the twenty-fourth minute. However, Sassuolo eventually succumbed to Chievo’s pressure. Inglese made up for his penalty miss with a hat-trick, two of the goals coming on headers. It was another disappointing performance for Sassuolo who seem to be unable to replicate last year’s excellent performance in the league.
All Serie A Results, Week 24
Crotone 0-2 Juventus
Bologna 0-1 Milan
Napoli 2-0 Genoa
Fiorentina 3-0 Udinese
Crotone 0-2 Roma
Palermo 1-3 Udinese
Torino 5-3 Pescara
Sassuolo 1-3 Chievo
Inter 2-0 Empoli
Sampdoria 3-1 Bologna
Cagliari 0-2 Juventus
Lazio 1-1 Milan
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