Five Things First: Top Stories From Serie A Round 32

Round 32 of Serie A saw Juventus coming pretty close to losing their second game in a row before Cristiano Ronaldo sorted things out from the penalty spot to deny Atalanta a joy.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s boys thus failed their assault to the second spot in the table, which was rather conquered by Inter as the Nerazzurri beat Torino in the last round fixture on Monday night.

Lazio’s loss to Sassuolo – the fourth out of six and third in a row for the Biancocelesti – is not a piece of news anymore, whereas at the bottom end of the table Genoa saw off SPAL to move one point ahead of the drop zone.

Here’s our selection of the top moments to remember from the Serie A round that just closed:

That Penalty to Juventus…

It took two penalties for Juventus to snatch a 2-2 tie from Atalanta after being put to the ropes by the Bergamaschi. If little can be said about the second one – as Luis Muriel’s handball was evident – the first decision appeared controversial to say the least as Marten De Roon’s arm was very close to his body.

Referee Piero Giacomelli, however, judged the Dutchman’s arm to be far enough from his body to increase his overall “body volume” when he blocked Paulo Dybala’s cross. A very strict interpretation of the penalty rules.

Atalanta’s coach Gian Piero Gasperini did not agree, of course, and was sarcastic in his post-match remarks to press: “These are the rules. In Italy, at least. What should we do, should we cut players’ arms? (…) Have you seen the same interpretation in any other league in the world? No, you didn’t. If this is not the same anywhere else, why should we invent a different interpretation in Italy?”

Giacomelli’s reading was consistent with other referees’ decisions taken in Serie A this season so far. But such a strict application of the handball rules indeed seems to be very specific to the Italian league, as pointed out by Gasperini.

Marten De Roon’s arm was very close to his body when Paulo Dybala’s cross hit it, but stretched enough for referee Piero Giacomelli to deem it a penalty foul

Napoli Fan Provokes Gasperini, Atalanta Staff Answers with Racist Insult

Juventus-Atalanta was also the stage for another controversial incident which we would rather not have to report.

Before the game, as he exited the team bus, Gian Piero Gasperini was approached by a Napoli supporter. The fan recorded him as he asked him in provocation: “Coach…After 10 years, will you finally play with Juventus for real or just give away the game as usual? Forza Napoli!”

Gasperini did not answer, but Atalanta team manager Mirco Moioli snapped back inviting the supporter to “shut up” and calling him a “f***ing terrone.” Terrone – roughly translatable as “peasant” – is a derisive term mostly used by Northern Italians to offend the Southerners, especially those who used to migrate from the South to the North looking for a job during the ’50s and ’60s.

Moioli later apologized and gave his version of the incident: “I’m sorry for the expression I used to define this pseudo-supporter. I’m sorry for having not managed to remain calm in the face of this gentleman’s dishonoring accusations.”

The Napoli fan was reportedly invited to visit Atalanta’s training center as a compensation, though it remains to be seen whether he will accept the invite.

The funny thing is, Atalanta did not give away the game at all

Zaniolo Strikes Back as Roma Catch Second Win in a Row

Nicolò Zaniolo may be the only player in the world of football who gladly welcomed the postponing of the Euro 2020 to next year. Six months ago, the Roma and Azzurri young talent suffered a hideous injury which was going to force him to miss the continental championship. Then, we all know what happened.

But Zaniolo ultimately put his injury on his back as he scored the third goal in Roma’s 3-0 win in Brescia – the second victory in a row for the Giallorossi who seem to have overcome their post-COVID crisis. The 21-year-old is thus set to be a star in the upcoming European Championship (knock on wood…)

Roma consolidated their fifth place in the table, taking advantage of the tie between Napoli and Milan, which can give them direct access to next season’s Europa League. Brescia, on the other hand, continued their descent towards relegation to Serie B alongside SPAL (the Ferraresi also lost their Round 32 match).

Welcome back, Nicolò! 21-year-old Zaniolo scored his first goal for Roma on Saturday since recovering from a 6-month knee injury

Genoa Grab Three Points In Direct Relegation Battle

SPAL lost their game, we said. The Ferraresi fell 0-2 to Genoa, confirming that they have pretty much given up their hopes of remaining in the Serie A (they probably did it when they failed to beat Milan despite taking a double lead). Losing to a direct contender on Sunday really put a formal stamp on their demise.

By overcoming the Biancazzurri with goals by Goran Pandev and Lasse Schone, Genoa gave themselves a big boost in the battle for survival, passing over Lecce who couldn’t get more than a nil-nil draw in Cagliari.

Next Sunday’s battle between Davide Nicola’s Rossoblu and Fabio Liverani’s Giallorossi will likely decide which of the two will follow the steps of Brescia and SPAL…

Goran Pandev, 36 years and still going strong. The North Macedonian scored a key goal to help Genoa beat SPAL and continue fighting to avoid relegation (Photo: Paolo Rattini/Getty Images)

Inter Stagger, Then Shake Off Fear to Beat Torino

When Samir Handanovic gift-wrapped a goal to Andrea Belotti to put Torino ahead of Inter, Antonio Conte must have thought about all the things that went wrong in the past few weeks. Even my captain is failing me.

Luckily enough for him and his black-and-blue boys, the game was still in its early stages so the Nerazzurri had enough time to steer the game in their direction and break a two-game non-winning streak.

By beating the Granata 3-1 and taking advantage of Lazio’s fourth loss in six games at the same time, Inter moved to the second place in the Serie A table – eight points behind first-placed Juventus.

Inter creating any trouble to Juventus on the way to their ninth Scudetto in a row is a pretty unlikely scenario, but at least the Nerazzurri have managed to invert a negative trend which was becoming pretty concerning…