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.
Crotone-SPAL, a fundamental match in the battle to avoid relegation, started as expected with Walter Zenga lining up his Sharks with a 4-3-3 formation, and a trident composed by Andrea Nalini, Igor Budimir, and Federico Ricci. SPAL’s Leonardo Semplici answered with a 3-5-2 featuring captain Mirco Antenucci together with Alberto Paloschi on the attacking line, and deploying Pasquale Schiattarella as playmaker.
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?
The last round of Serie A didn’t offer any big match. However, it did tell us many things, and underlined once again the supremacy of the bigger teams over the weaker sides. Napoli, Inter, and Juventus all won their games. But the question of the day is: What was Daniele De Rossi thinking when he decided to slap Gianluca Lapadula, earning a red card, conceding a penalty to Genoa and leaving his mates outnumbered?
Round 14 of Serie A will not feature any big match. Yet, top ranking Inter and Napoli should better not underestimate their away games in Cagliari and Udine. A recent coach change did bring some benefits to the Islanders, whereas Udinese will see their new trainer Massimo Oddo debut tomorrow. Juventus have good chances of reducing their gap with the lead as they face Crotone at home.