Khvicha Faceless, Inzaghi Clueless: Five Takeaways from Serie A Round 17

Another exciting Serie A matchday is behind us, and it’s time to take a look at the five most noteworthy takeaways from Round 17. Though none of the title-bidding sides lost, not all of them managed to impress, with the same going for those fighting for survival.

#1 – Napoli Victorious, but Kvaratskhelia Losing His Touch

Napoli immediately returned to winning ways after a 1-0 defeat at Inter, as Victor Osimhen and Elif Elmas inspired Luciano Spalletti’s team to a 2-0 triumph against a ten-man Sampdoria. 

The runaway Serie A leaders dominated Dejan Stankovic’s relegation-threatened side through and through at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, yet one man failed to impress. 

Following a near-anonymous display at Giuseppe Meazza, sought-after winger Khicha Kvaratskhelia was expected to be a difference-maker in Genoa. However, the Georgia international’s performance flattered to deceive.

It took the 21-year-old virtually no time to adapt to Spalletti’s demands at Napoli as he had hit the ground running from day one in southern Italy. Unfortunately, his form has been on a downward spiral of late. 

Kvaratskhelia has only scored once in his last six Serie A appearances. As it appears, growing speculation linking him with a move to top European clubs has tempered his momentum. 

If the Partenopei are to maintain their lead at the top of the tree, the versatile forward must regain his touch soon.

#2 – Allegri – Mister Deja Vu

Not long ago, Massimiliano Allegri was on the verge of being relieved of his duties as Juventus manager, with fans demanding his head on a platter following the club’s poor season start.

It has taken him a while, but the former Milan coach has steadied the ship, re-establishing the record-time Italian champions as a force to be reckoned with in Serie A.

Since a 2-0 defeat away to the Rossoneri in early October, the Turin heavyweights have racked up a mightily impressive eight straight league victories without conceding. 

In doing so, Juventus have left defending champions Milan in the dust, moving up to second in the Serie A standings, only seven points adrift of pacesetters Napoli. 

Those in love with eye-catching, free-flowing football may despise Allegri’s style of play, but there’s no arguing that when he hits his stride, the Bianconeri win titles. 

It’s been almost three years now since Juventus last conquered Serie A, yet even when they were on a tear during Allegri’s first tenure, their successes were not always pleasant to watch. 

History repeats itself as the experienced manager looks to be guiding the fallen giants back to their glory days in his unique, ‘ugly’ way. 

You don’t have to look beyond Juventus’ hard-earned 1-0 home win over underperforming Udinese at the weekend to understand the point.

#3 – Title Holders Milan Shoot Themselves in the Foot

Milan’s hopes of defending the Serie A title took a massive blow as Roma fought back from a 2-0 down to hold the champions to an action-packed 2-2 draw at San Siro on Sunday. 

Despite carrying a comfortable-looking lead into the match finale, Stefano Pioli’s men conceded twice beyond the 87th minute to drop two vital points in a keenly-contested Scudetto race. 

It wasn’t the first time Milan failed to take all three points in games they were supposed to win without breaking a sweat. It’s unforgivable for a side gunning for the title to waste a two-goal cushion in less than ten minutes.

While Jose Mourinho’s lads deserve the credit for pushing until the end, the Rossoneri can only blame themselves for perhaps losing crucial ground on table-topping Napoli.

Though a seven-point gap looks bridgeable, given that we’re only at the halfway point of the season, this type of error was something Milan failed to commit last term when they halted a decade-long title wait. 

#4 – Inzaghi’s Mediocre Game Management Rules Inter Out of Title Race

Serie A debutants Monza hit back twice to hold last season’s runners-up Inter to an enthralling 2-2 draw at the UPower Stadium on Friday night, effectively ruling the Nerazzurri out of the Scudetto race. 

Inter had the lead twice, courtesy of Matteo Darmian and Lautaro Martinez’s goals. Yet Raffaele Palladino’s men pegged them back through Patrick Ciurria and Denzel Dumfries’ own-goal. 

Simone Inzaghi’s carried a 2-1 lead into halftime and held onto it until the 93rd minute when the Dutch right-back put the ball into his own net to help Napoli extend their lead at the top to a staggering ten points. 

However, if Inter fans are to point fingers at someone over their side’s underwhelming result at Monza, it should be non-other than Inzaghi. While it’s somewhat reasonable to defend a slender lead against the likes of Napoli, there’s no excuse for dropping your lines against sub-par rivals.

That’s what Inzaghi tried to do in Monza in the second half as he allowed Palladino’s team to assume control of the match, with Inter failing to attempt a single shot on target. The Italian’s clueless game management cost his team a massive two points, with Dumfries making him pay for his cowardice right at the death.

#5 – Battle for Serie A Survival Belongs to Verona

Darko Lazovic needed over 240 Serie A outings to notch his first brace, but he couldn’t have picked better timing. The Serb’s first-half double fired Hellas Verona to a mammoth 2-0 home win over fellow Serie A relegation rivals Cremonese on Monday. 

That result curtailed Verona’s humiliating 11-game winless top-flight streak and propelled them from the bottom. Marco Zaffaroni’s men are now six points below safety, but if Monday’s display was a sign of things to come, the Gialloblu fanbase should be pleased. 

In addition to posting only their second Serie A victory this season, Zaffaroni’s men have kept a clean sheet in the league for the first time since April 2022. But their top-flight credentials will face a stern test next weekend when they meet top-four hopefuls Inter at Meazza.

On the other hand, Cremonese may not be for Serie A long. As the only side in Italy’s top division yet to claim a single win this season, Massimiliano Alvini’s lads languish eight points adrift of 17th-placed Spezia and are already looking doomed. 

Unless they register a win in the next two rounds, they’ll become only the second side to go winless in the first half of the season since Serie A reintroduced its current format 20 years ago. 

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