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.
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.
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 Cult of Calcio correspondent and SPAL supporter Marco Natali was on the stands of Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara yesterday, to see his dearest Biancazzurri snatching a point out of the hands of Inter. This is his recap of the match, seen with the eyes of a supporter. In our new column “Stands by Me,” we will leave room to the fans and listen to their football stories as lived from the stadium stands.
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?
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.
Now that the worst has happened – to quote Federcalcio President Carlo Tavecchio, who a few weeks ago had prophetically cautioned that failing to qualify for the World Cup would be comparable to an apocalypse – it’s up to Serie A to alleviate the pain of a Country which suddenly woke up with the nightmare of having to make alternate plans for next Summer. Calcio lovers will have a rich program in Round 13 to drown their pain in.
The first third of Serie A 2017-18 ended with Juventus reducing the gap versus capolista Napoli, and surpassing Inter to catch the second position in the table. This looked like a simple round on paper for the three leading forces, yet both Napoli and Inter were forced to halt their march and settle for a draw. Juventus did get the three points, but suffered much more than expected against Benevento.
With no dangerous crossings between the main Scudetto contenders, the 12th Round of Serie A will feature the Derby della Lanterna (Lighthouse Derby) between Genoa and Sampdoria as main course in the menu. Rossoblu and Bluecerchiati will face each other on Saturday night to set their rule over the Italian port city, starting with opposite moods and perspectives.
In a weekend that saw all the leading teams making full score quite easily – including Juventus, which captured a convincing 0-2 away win in the big match against Milan – the most interesting exploits came from Crotone and Spal. Both teams cashed two very important victories to move away from the danger zone.