The irony of spending 240 million Euro in the Summer market, only to realize that the best breakouts in your season are two players raised within your youth team. The essence of Milan’s rollercoaster season is all in the goals that Patrick Cutrone and Davide Calabria put into Roma’s net, to push the Rossoneri further in their chase to Europe. Eusebio Di Francesco’s side fell from the third to the fifth position of Serie A within one week.
The main event of Serie A Round 26 takes place on Sunday night at the Stadio Olimpico, where Roma and Milan will stage a new act of a classic duel with much at stake. Inter may take advantage of that, as they play Benevento at home. The title battle between Napoli and Juventus continues, but the match not to be missed this week is Crotone-SPAL: Those who win, take a huge step towards their permanence in Serie A.
There is a thin line that separates great players from true outliers: It’s a fleeting border, not an easy one to cross. But beyond that border, you may sometimes happen to witness pure Genius manifesting itself. That is exactly what happened with Vincenzo Montella, when Fabio Capello’s Roma met Milan in Round 32 of Season 2000-2001 – the Giallorossi being very close to conquer the third Scudetto of their history.
While other major European competitions have already found a clear leader, Italian Serie A continues to offer a thrilling distance duel between Napoli and Juventus. As both Azzurri and Bianconeri passed their weekly test with a single goal, Roma stole the spotlight in Round 25 with a 0-2 win in Udine that enabled them to catch the third spot behind the leading duo. Inter left Genoa in tears, suffering a sounding setback and plummeting out of the Champions League zone.
The second round of this weekend’s city confrontation between Milano and Genova saw the Lombard side prevailing this time. Milan beat Sampdoria with a lone goal by Giacomo Bonaventura to reach them in the 6th spot of Serie A at 41 points. Gennaro Gattuso’s band caught their fifth win in the last six matches, whereas Marco Giampaolo’s Bluecerchiati were unexpectedly remissive, unable to pose any threat to the Rossoneri.
Odds look in favor of Napoli this weekend, with the Partenopei facing SPAL at home tomorrow, after “having relieved themselves” of the Europa League burden by losing 1-3 to RB Leipzig. On the other hand, the weekly Serie A task is much tougher for Juventus, as the Bianconeri must battle city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole – and these Granata are a different animal than the one they trashed a few months ago.
If you ask any Milan supporter which was the key moment in their victorious 1998-99 season, they will probably mention that goal propitiated by Maurizio Ganz in the 95th minute of a home match against Sampdoria. On May 2, 1999, Milan received the Blucerchiati on the path of their desperate chase to Serie A leader Lazio – which had a one-point margin over the Rossoneri, with four matches left to play.
Milan come back to Paolo Mazza Stadium for the first time in 37 years tomorrow to face SPAL. It was April 12, 1981, when the Rossoneri last visited what was then known as Stadio Comunale of Ferrara. That match went down to history as it featured one of the most traumatic events for the home Biancazzurri: The injury occurred to Franco Ogliari, consequence of a horrific tackle by Franco Baresi.
Milan’s chase to the top positions came to a halt in Udine yesterday, as the Rossoneri were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw by Massimo Oddo’s troops. An early masterpiece goal by Suso was not enough for Gennaro Gattuso to collect a fourth win in a row. Udinese took advantage of Davide Calabria’s expulsion and reached an equaliser when a shot by Kevin Lasagna was deflected by Gianluigi Donnarumma into his own goal.
There is no easy game in Serie A, and all top clubs should keep that in mind as they approach a Round 23 which does not feature any clear partita di cartello. Take Napoli, for instance: The will go to Benevento mindful of their 6-0 win from the first leg – but the Giallorossi have eight new players to choose from since then. Or Juventus, which will receive a hungry-for-points Sassuolo, and their brand new striker Khouma Babacar.
The first Serie A Round after the break showed that Inter and Roma can’t win anymore, whereas Napoli and Juventus took the maximum result with the minimum effort. The Serie A leading duo played two specular matches last week, taking an early lead and maintaining it until the end, offering few more emotions. Not exactly a showmanship of calcio-spettacolo, but an old Italian saying goes that those are the matches on which a Scudetto is built.
A lone goal by Patrick Cutrone during extra time pushed Milan past Coppa Italia Quarter Finals last night, as the Rossoneri beat city rivals Inter in an unusual post-Christmas Derby di Milano. Gennaro Gattuso caught the first significant success in his troubled tenure as Milan head coach, and will now face Lazio in the Italian national cup semifinal round, whereas Luciano Spalletti had to swallow the third defeat in a row.