Italian football has had it’s a fair share of footballing families, including the Maldini, the Baresi, the Cannavaro, and the Inzaghi. All of the above-mentioned made a name for themselves, but only the latter made history by becoming the first two coaching brothers – Simone at Lazio and Filippo at Benevento – to sit atop both the Serie A and B concurrently.
The good news for Milan and Gennaro Gattuso is that they will never have to face Benevento again. The spell cast by Roberto De Zerbi’s Witches over the Rossoneri in the first leg continued to have effect, as the Giallorossi earned a stunning 0-1 win in San Siro last night, thanks to a lone goal by Pietro Iemmello. Benevento continued to fight against mathematics, and pushed relegation a few more hours away.
For six minutes, Serie A 2017-2018 virtually ended in the hands of Juventus last Wednesday, as Massimiliano Allegri’s band were all set to increase their gap versus pursuing Napoli to nine points. But then, the unexpected happened in Round 33, with the Bianconeri conceding a shocking equaliser at Crotone, and Maurizio Sarri’s Azzurri managing to come from behind with Udinese.
The saddest of Serie A rounds, the one cancelled one month ago after the shocking passing of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, was recovered between Tuesday and Wednesday. Seven matches out of ten still needed to be played. The program featured a long-awaited Derby di Milano, but the stracittadina didn’t live up to expectations and ended with no goals. Therefore, the stage was stolen by Andrea Belotti and his three goals, which came at the end of a tormented season.
The Serie A amusement park reopened, and saw Juventus promptly jumping back to +4 over Napoli, as the Neapolitans were held to a tie by Sassuolo. The Bianconeri, on the other hand, overcame Milan 3-1 in the partitissima of the weekend. The thrilling battle for the top scorer title between Ciro Immobile and Mauro Icardi continued, with both bombers scoring twice to lead respectively Lazio and Inter to winning their games, and reducing their distance versus third-placed Roma.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What a weekend of Calcio! On Friday night, Napoli and Juventus played the partitissima of the week. Man of the Match was Gonzalo Higuain, and the three points went to Juventus. Inter took full advantage of their chance to get to the first position by hammering Chievo Verona 5-0. But this weekend, the most difficult of tests is waiting for them: Will they be able to defeat Juventus at their home ground Allianz Stadium?
When Benevento began their season, Alberto Brignoli was not even their starting goalkeeper. But from today, he will be remembered as the one who gave his club their first point ever in the top division. His incredible late goal during extra time allowed the Streghe to equalise Milan’s lead, and capture and unexpected 2-2 tie. Gennaro Gattuso was surely hoping for a different outcome for his debut as Diavoli’s coach.