Serie A Spotlight: Inter Unbeatable, Koopmeiners Stuns Turin & More

Napoli’s woes in the ever-competitive Serie A landscape continued as they had to settle for a draw against Torino. Meanwhile, Inter strengthened their grip on the league with another triumph while Milan narrowly edged past Empoli.
Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners stole the spotlight in Turin as we look at the most telling stories of Serie A Matchday 28.

Troubled Serie A Champions Suffer Another Setback

Just as it looked like Napoli could turn the corner under new manager Francesco Calzona, the downtrodden reigning Serie A champions returned to old habits. Buoyed by a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Juventus, Partenopei headed into Friday’s home encounter against Torino as pre-match favorites.

Widely expected to beat Bianconeri’s crosstown rivals, Napoli failed to make three league wins in a row as Ivan Juric’s side eked out a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia opened the scoring just after the hour mark to put the hosts in front, but their celebrations barely lasted three minutes.

Antonio Sanabria scored only three minutes after the Georgian’s deadlock-breaker, condemning Napoli to a third draw in their last five Serie A outings. As a result, they find themselves seven points adrift of fourth-placed Bologna with ten games to go, casting further doubt on their faint hopes of securing Champions League football.

Can Anyone Stop Serie A Juggernauts?

In contrast to Napoli’s disastrous title-defending campaign, Inter are going from strength to strength. A long-awaited 20th Serie A title is now a mere formality after Simone Inzaghi’s high-flying squad squeaked past Bologna 1-0 to extend their lead at the table’s summit to a whopping 17 points.

With a crunch Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid waiting in the wings, Inzaghi left his talismanic striker Lautaro Martinez on the bench. But Inter showed they could do it without their free-scoring captain. Yet, no one expected a defender would be Nerazzurri’s hero at Renato Dall’Ara. 

The critical moment took place in the 37th minute when Alessandro Bastoni whipped in a delightful cross to the back post. Yann Bisseck stormed into the box, and unmarked from point-blank range, he slotted home a thumping header to seal the deal for Inter.

Saturday’s triumph in Emilia-Romagna extended Inter’s outrageous start to the new calendar year. Runaway Serie A leaders have won all 13 competitive matches in 2024, setting themselves up perfectly for the upcoming trip to Spain.

The question is – can anyone beat this unstoppable Inter side?

Milan Unconvincing but Victorious

Perhaps plagued by fatigue following a 4-2 win against Slavia Praha in midweek Europa League action, Milan stuttered at home against Serie A minnows Empoli. Stefano Pioli’s team lacked standout winger Rafael Leao due to suspension, but that was hardly an excuse for an uneventful showing. 

Luka Jovic returned to the starting lineup after his ban expired, yet he was a near-anonymous figure. Leao’s understudy, Noah Okafor, looked lively on the left but often struggled for the end product. As such, Milan turned to their unsung hero, Christian Pulisic, to save the day. 

The USMNT forward pounced on Okafor’s cutback on the edge of the box to break the deadlock in the 40th minute and ultimately inspire Milan to their second consecutive Serie A win. Though the linesman’s flag was up, referee Juan Luca Sacchi overturned his decision after consulting with VAR.

It’s worth noting that Milan only had five shots on target, generating a dismal 0.89 xG against the division’s sixth-worse defense. Pioli can’t be proud of his team’s performance, but they’ll hope to improve on Thursday when they take on Slavia in the return leg of their last-16 tie.

Koopmeiners Shows Juventus Why They Must Buy Him

Juventus have emerged as one of the leading candidates to sign Atalanta stalwart Teun Koopmeiners this summer. If anyone at the Allianz Stadium had any doubt, Sunday’s showdown in Turin confirmed the Dutchman’s class. 

He opened the scoring after a wonderfully-taken set-piece as Juventus bought a free-kick play straight out of the training ground. Expecting a shot, they let Koopmeiners slip their mark, with the left-footed midfielder striking home a devastating first-time finish to give Atalanta a halftime lead.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side recovered in the second half. Weston McKennie registered two assists in four minutes to inspire Juventus’ turnaround. Andrea Cambiaso and Arkadiusz Milik were on the scoresheet as the Turin heavyweights turned the game on its head in a blitz.

However, Koopmeiners left the Allianz faithful on the brink of despair, beating Wojciech Szczesny one-on-one to sink Juve’s title chances and remind the club’s powerbrokers of his qualities. Maybe now they’ll study his profile more seriously.

Roma Rob Fiorentina Of Two Points

With all due respect to Roma’s renaissance under Daniele De Rossi, they didn’t deserve to leave Tuscany with a point. Yet, football is not always fair. Vincenzo Italiano’s Fiorentina went above and beyond to become only the second side to beat Giallorossi under their new manager, only to be pegged back with the last kick of the game.

Luca Rainieri’s 18th-minute header gave La Viola a halftime lead. But Roma replied early in the second half through Houssem Aouar. It took Fiorentina only 11 minutes to bounce back and reclaim the lead as Rolando Mandragora took advantage of Aouar’s slow reaction inside the box to beat Mile Svilar.

When Leandro Paredes brought Andrea Belotti down inside the box in the 80th minute, it looked like Roma’s purple patch would come to an end. But Svilar had other plans. The Serbian goalkeeper read Cristiano Biraghi’s intention perfectly, as he thwarted his spot-kick effort to hand the visitors a fighting chance at the match’s tail-end.

They were more than happy to seize the opportunity, with Diego Llorente scoring a thumping stoppage-time volley to give Roma a 2-2 draw. They might have underperformed tonight, but sometimes you need luck to achieve your dreams. And their dream of securing Champions League football is still alive and kicking.

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