Top 5 Stories of Serie A Round 13: Pirlo’s Mona Lisa

Whilst the holidays break is fast approaching, Calcio fans are currently being treated to some non-stop action to fill up their appetites before the end of the year. This weekend, Milan, Inter and Juventus cemented their positions as the leading trio with victories over Sassuolo, Spezia and Parma respectively, while Atalanta turned the table on Roma during a spectator second half.

So here are our Top 5 stories for Serie A round 13, which includes a record-breaking event.

Rafael Leão Goal Shatters Serie A History and Stereotypes 

We’ve all heard the old saying before, nothing interesting ever happens during the first minutes of an Italian football match, because it is believed that the opening period of a Calcio encounter is reserved for testing waters.

Enter Rafael Leão

Milan’s encounter with Sassuolo in Round 13 witnessed a Serie A record, when the young Portuguese – accompanied by Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Brahim Díaz – decided to have a go straight at the Neroverdi goal as soon as the referee blew his initial whistle, and ended up scoring the fastest goal in Serie A history, with just over 6 seconds on the clock.

Milan’s quick attacking approach sent a stern signal to their adversaries, as they took home an important away victory after back-to-back draws against Parma and Genoa, but above all taught us all a good lesson – Make sure you’re in your seat BEFORE kickoff.

Atalanta Are Still the Most Entertaining Team in Serie A 

It has been an awkward season in Bergamo. Atalanta have successfully qualified to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the second season in a row after overcoming Ajax, however they suffered from inconsistent results domestically, and above all a civil war erupted within the club’s walls between coach Gian Piero Gasperini and captain Alejandro Gómez.

Nonetheless, after earning a hard-fought point away from home against Juventus in midweek, La Dea managed to beat Roma in round 13 of Serie A after a second half routing led by substitute Josip Iličić.

Atalanta definitely won’t win the league this season, and even qualifying for next year’s Champions League won’t be an easy task either, but one thing is for sure, the Orobici are still Italy’s Must-see side, as you can never quite guess what they’ll have in store for you – as Paulo Fonseca and Roma would witness.

Andrea Pirlo is the Master of Tactical incertitude 

Juventus fans are now accustomed to having the same debate prior to every match – which is about guessing their team’s actual tactical lineup. Reminiscent to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, every fan will read the formation in his own way. Some would claim it’s a 4-4-2 lineup – as the club’s official social media would suggest – while others would swear it’s 3-4-1-2, or just anything in between.

The young tactician usually plays with two natural center-backs like Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs De Ligt, who would be accompanied in the back by Danilo who’s originally a full-back. The two wing-backs who are deployed on either side usually have different characteristics, one is able to turn into a 4th defender like Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado, while the other is a much more attacking winger – mainly Federico Chiesa or Dejan Kulusevski.

But this whole incertitude that surrounds the lineup might just be an intentional tactical ploy. The Bianconeri formation has proven to be multi-dimensional, and it can cause some confusion in the opposition camp, as witnessed on Saturday against Parma who had no answer for Pirlo’s manoeuvers. The Juventus faithfuls will be hoping that their side replicates this type of display more often.

Which Serie A Managers Won’t Eat the Panettone

The Panettone is a traditional Italian dessert that is usually offered by the boss to his employees during Christmas. So whenever the end of year approaches, Calcio fans begin to wonder which coach won’t last in his job until the holiday period.

It must be noted that usually by this team of the year, five or six coaches would have been sacked already, but this season, and after round 13, only one Serie A manager has been axed by his club, and that is Fiorentina’s Guiseppe Iachini. Speaking of La Viola, they might be actually doing worse since the return of Cesare Prandelli, so would a defeat to Juventus on Tuesday spell the end of his second spell in Florence?

Another man who is sitting in the hot season during the cold season is Genoa’s Rolando Maran with his team placed at 19th after their latest defeat to Benevento. Reports are already suggesting that Davide Ballardini could soon make his return to the Marassi. Marco Giampaolo’s Torino is just one position ahead of Genoa, but club president Urbano Cairo must really be fond of the former Milan tactician, as he used to sack coaches with much better results.

Is It a Three-Horse Race Already?

On Sunday, Roma and Napoli – who had a strong start to the Serie A season – lost their round 13 encounters to Atalanta an Lazio respectively. Whilst Roma were never considered as Scudetto contenders due to their limited squad, Napoli lost yet another encounter against a direct opponent, as they were toothless in the absence of their main attacking force of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Victor Osimhen.

On the other hand, the leading trio of Milan, Inter and Juventus all won their matches and extended the gap with the rest of the pack. So will this round spell the official beginning of a historical three-horse race between Italy’s biggest three clubs?