In Italian football, an “allenamento di rifinitura” is the final training session before a match. In the Cult of Calcio’s Rifinitura column, we take a look at what the weekly Serie A menu has to offer and in what condition the teams are in.
This Serie A weekend is sandwiched between the European competitions. Between the Champions League and the Europa League, games are coming thick and fast for the Italian teams, and we’ll see who can hold his breath the longest all the way to the finish line.
10 – Napoli have earned the joint-most points from trailing situations in away games in the top-5 European leagues current season (10) – They haven't earned a single point from trailing situations in home Serie A matches this term so far. Obstinacy.#BresciaNapoli pic.twitter.com/ruJFhflJkM
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 21, 2020
In light of welcoming Barcelona to the San Paolo Stadium this upcoming midweek, Napoli played their game on Friday night, to keep their chances alive of playing in Europe next year. Gennaro Gattuso’s men came back from behind against Brescia and beat the Rondinelle 1-2 at the Mario Rigamonti Stadium in Brescia. The second-half comeback was completed in the first 10 minutes; first inspired by captain Lorenzo Insigne, then culminated with a sublime signature curler by Fabian Ruiz. As for Brescia manager Diego Lopez, he is still searching for his first win at the club after having been appointed in early February.
Bologna lost the chance to register their fourth consecutive win in Serie A last week after losing at home to Genoa. Even though the Rossoblu have 15 more points than at this stage last season, manager Siniša Mihajlović will demand his team get back to winning ways this weekend against Udinese. The Bianconeri have failed to win any of their last five league matches, but they’ll hope that facing Bologna – against whom they’ve won the most in Serie A since 2014 – will earn them all three points.
Luigi Di Biagio’s appointment at SPAL didn’t stop the Ferraresi’s losing streak – which now stands at four. Bottom of the league and eight points away from safety, SPAL need a miracle to avoid relegation this season. They’ll be optimistic, though, that their opponents, Juventus, lost their last two away matches in Serie A. Will the Bianconeri fall for the trap and let go of their lead in the table?
“I want to see Fiorentina back at the top,” said Fiorentina President Rocco Commisso in an interview earlier this week.
In the latest episode of Inside Serie A Fiorentina Italian-American president Rocco Commisso shares his vision for the Viola's future!
— Strive Sport (@strivesport) February 21, 2020
La Viola’s journey so far this season under the new ownership has had its ups and downs. Unquestionably, one of their high moments of the season was when they came out victorious 1-3 from San Siro Stadium against Milan. Last week, the Fiorentini dispatched five goals past Sampdoria. They will hope to do the double this season over the Rossoneri when they host them on Saturday night. The Milan side will not go down without a fight as they are chasing a European place next year.
Before last week’s win at Bologna, Genoa’s last away win in the league stretched back to January 2019. After appointing Davide Nicola as head coach in late last December, the Grifone began stacking up points in the standings, as they are currently unbeaten in four, and sit one point away from safety. Lazio, on the other hand, are fighting a battle at the other end of the table. Biancocelesti striker Ciro Immobile needs one more goal to equal the record for most goals scored after 25 games in a campaign, a record which belongs to former Inter forward Antonio Angelillo in 1958-59.
For the first time in their history, Hellas Verona are unbeaten in their first eight matches in a calendar year. What’s even more impressing is that in 2020 so far, they’ve only conceded just four goals. Cagliari, instead, have still not woken up from their nightmare. Their winless streak now stretches to 10 matches after losing to Napoli last week. Surprisingly, Cagliari were on track for a European-qualifying place after their last away win against Atalanta last November. Now, things are looking much differently and this match carries little significance for the Sardinians.
Atalanta’s 2019-20 UCL:
Became the first team to advance to the KO stage after losing their first 3 group matches
Defeat Valencia 4-1 in their first-ever Champions League KO match
What a turnaround 🤯 pic.twitter.com/MzhpGSSQfO
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 19, 2020
All hail Italy’s pride in Europe, Atalanta! The Nerazzurri had a midweek to remember after thrashing Valencia 4-1 at the San Siro Stadium on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. Nonetheless, they will have to abbassare la cresta (or not get too full of themselves) when they welcome Sassuolo in Bergamo this weekend. This game carries special significance for Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli, who spent his youth career at Atalanta before moving to Milan, and eventually ending up at Sassuolo.
No team has performed worse in the second half of the season than Torino. Five losses from five, scoring twice and conceding 17. The appointment of Moreno Longo earlier in February didn’t change the status quo, and crisis mode at the Granata is still switched on. Their opponents, Parma, will want to exploit the Granata’s fragility, especially with striker Gervinho back in goalscoring form after netting the winner at Sassuolo last week.
Giallorossi against Giallorossi. Roma host Lecce in a match-up that revives painful memories for the Romanisti. In 1986, having already guaranteed to be relegated, Lecce won 2-3 at the Stadio Olimpico in a loss that cost Roma that season’s Scudetto. Fabio Liverani’s side are on a three-match winning streak, while Paulo Fonseca’s Roma have lost the last three, and are still to win at home in 2020.
Last week’s defeat at Lazio costed Antonio Conte’s Inter their place at the league summit, but despite being third, the Nerazzurri are still three points away from the top spot. Sampdoria’s battle is at the other end of the league table as they search for survival in Serie A. Undoubtedly, they’ll turn to their never-aging striker Fabio Quagliarella, who scored the winning goals in La Samp’s last two league wins against Inter.