The last thing Sinisa Mihajlovic would want is to be commiserated. That’s exactly what the Bologna manager said during Saturday’s press conference where he announced he was diagnosed with leukemia. And so, rather than going along the line that the disease picked a tough one to mess with, we will make it evident by taking a look at his 30-year-spanning career.
It’s still summer football, but whoever decided the fixtures of these initial Serie A rounds knows how to capture people’s attention. The second campionato matchday sees Juventus facing a Lazio side shaken by some alleged tension between President Claudio Lotito and coach Simone Inzaghi, while Milan make their seasonal debut at Napoli.
The hype surrounding Serie A 2018-2019 has been unprecedented in the recent seasons of the Italian top flight, but not many fans will have the will to celebrate at a goal scored on a football pitch this weekend, as the whole of Italy is still shocked at the tragedy that struck the city of Genova, where last Monday a motorway bridge collapsed taking 41 lives.
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.
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.
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.