Another cracking week of football in Italy brought us some new storyline, concerns about Juventus’ throne, and even a sack. So, let’s begin!
Sampdoria and Juventus started off the week as the Bianconeri traveled to the Luigi Ferraris Stadium to meet the Blucerchiati. Once again, Paulo Dybala kicked things off for Juventus as he scored the opening goal of the match, making it the Argentinian’s 5th in Serie A this season. It didn’t take long however for Gianluca Caprari to tie the game in the 35th minute.
And then, Cristiano Ronaldo decided to fly.
Alex Sandro put in a cross and Ronaldo jumped at 2.56 meters into the air to wrap the visitors’ second goal with a header. A feat that stunned the home side, which were unable to recover for the remainder of the match, even though they created a couple of opportunities. The clash ended in a 2-1 win for the Old Lady, which leaves Sampdoria in the mud as they’re closing in on the relegation spots. Claudio Ranieri must act quickly to change things up even more.
In a postponed match from Round 7, Sassuolo surprised Brescia by beating them 2-0, thus ending Brescia’s two-match win streak and keeping them in the relegation zone. Junior Traore scored his third goal this season, showing he’s more than your average 19-year-old talent.
Friday saw Fiorentina host Paulo Fonseca’s firing squad as Roma were undefeated in the last four games, having won three of them. Vincenzo Montella and the Viola couldn’t cope however, with the Giallorossi getting a comfortable 4-1 win with goals from four different players. This defeat also meant the end of Montella as Fiorentina’s head coach, as he was sacked the following day – just as we predicted in our last week’s recap.
When it rains, it pours! On Saturday, Cagliari suffered their fourth defeat of the season and second in a row as they lost to an underwhelming Udinese side. Rodrigo de Paul gave the Friulani the lead, only to see Joao Pedro tying the match in the 84th minute. But then, it took less than a minute for Seko Fofana to hit the match-winner after some sloppy defending from Rolando Maran’s men.
Later in the day, Inter dominantly burst through Thiago Motta’s Genoa in a 4-0, and the Rossoblu might be looking for a new manager come the New Year. The key moment of the match was when Inter got a penalty in the 64th minute. It was Romelu Lukaku’s turn to shoot – as he and Lautaro Martinez take penalty kicks on a rotational basis. However, the Big Rom decided to give the chance to Sebastiano Esposito, for the the 17-year-old to convert it and score his first-ever goal for Inter.
Reports from inside the club describe Lukaku and Esposito’s relationship as a brotherly one, and this just confirms the positive influence that the Belgian has been having in Inter’s dressing room.
Torino can’t catch a break as they lost to SPAL at home – another defeat that will likely affect their potential Europe spots hopes very negatively. SPAL’s best player Andrea Petagna scored the winning goal and looks like their only hope of survival, given that he has hit the mark six times so far – by far the most in his team.
Sunday brought us the biggest match of the weekend…at least on paper. Atalanta hosted Milan in what turned out to be a symbolic end of the decade for the Rossoneri, which lost 5-0 to Gian Pero Gasperini’s men! What made it worse for Stefano Pioli’s side is that nobody even seemed that surprised by the result. The Champions League knockout stages participant against a slightly above average Serie A side, that’s just the reality on the red-and-black side of San Siro these days.
Such a defeat puts Stefano Pioli’s solid start as a manager at Milan in the shadows, as managers Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini are now in the spotlight for all their bad moves in this and the previous year.
There was no time to rest and contemplate however, with Lecce and Bologna providing us with a great show as Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men dug out a 3-2 win. It wasn’t all that simple for the Rossoblu anyway: Bologna had a 3-0 lead, but then Khouma Babacar scored for Lecce. In the 91st minute, Diego Farias gorgeously got rid of his markers before shooting a stunner to make it 2-3. Unfortunately for the hosts, it was the closest they got to a draw.
However, one bad episode overshadowed all the good stuff for Bologna. As the first-half ended, Gary Medel got into his typical fury mode. His manager Mihajlovic tried calming him down, but the Costarican Medel went off, and started getting into it with his own manager. The two weren’t easily separated, and the whole issue left a bad taste for the Bologna side.
Parma hosted relegation-battling Brescia, and guess who the hero was? Yes, that’s right – the incredible Dejan Kulusevski. His team was down 1-0 via Mario Balotelli’s goal until almost the end of the match when he took the ball on the right side, and crossed it with a stunning curler to find Alberto Grassi’s conversion which gave Parma one point. The Kulusevski-led side are now just a spot behind Europe, as they trail Cagliari by four. As for Brescia, they will go out with a feeling they could’ve made full score, especially with Balotelli’s second goal (rightfully) ruled out due to an offside call.
The week ended with Gennaro Gattuso’s inaugural win as the Napoli manager saw his team getting the clutch win after Sassuolo’s Pedro Obiang scored an own-goal. An encouraging factor was a solid performance from Lorenzo Insigne, who looks much more comfortable back in a 4-3-3 formation.
While Serie A was in full force during the weekend, Juventus and Lazio faced off in Saudi Arabia on Sunday evening for the Italian Supercup. Juve wanted to get their revenge for the 3-1 defeat suffered to Lazio just 15 days ago. What they received instead was another footballing lesson.
Just like a couple of years ago, Captain Senad Lulic was Lazio’s hero once again! The Bosnian international scored for Lazio to take a 2-1 lead, which they managed to hold onto until the 94th minute. Then, just to finalize the humiliation, Danilo Cataldi scored with a stunning free-kick, completely drown the Bianconeri and sent the Eagles into raptures.
Juventus, on the other hand, will have to fight their own demons. Just as a bonus to an awful night, Rodrigo Bentancur received a three-match ban after confronting the fourth referee, with club managers Pavel Nedved and Fabio Paratici were both fined 10000 euro for verbally assaulting the match official.
Read more from Nedim Maric on www.whatafinish.com