Once every while, a gigantic club is ought to endure a major fall from grace. But such is the dire situation of Italian football, that not one, but two major clubs are simply faltering in front of the eyes of their depressed supporters. Now surely there were many interesting events that ensued during the Calcio weekend, but this edition will inevitably address the elephant (or rather two) in the room. So let’s take a look at the best and worst performers from the first matchday of the second half of the season in our Tops and Flops from Serie A Round 20.
Top (Player): Domenico Berardi
In last week’s edition, we picked Domenico Berardi as the flop of the round while highlighting his shortcomings throughout the first half of the season.
But in a major turnaround, the Italian gets the nod as the best Serie A player in Round 20. He delivered the assists for Sassuolo’s first two goals in the 5-2 routing against Milan, before heading home the third.
So will this masterclass prove to be a turning point in the winger’s campaign, or was it simply a one-off showing against his all-time favorite victim?
We’ll find out in the coming weeks.
Flop (Player): Theo Hernandez
From one of the best left-backs in the world to a mere shadow of his former self. Theo Hernandez simply embodies Milan’s crisis since the turn of the new year.
The Frenchman seems uncapable of producing the simplest tasks at the moment, including closing in on his opponent and maintaining possession.
How long will it takes for the real Theo to return to action?
Top (Manager): Raffaele Palladino
Prior to this campaign, Raffaele Palladino was a mere afterthought for Juventus fans – a former player who couldn’t cut at in Turin.
However, the 38-year-old has now emerged one of the best up-and-coming managers in Italian football, and has now cemented himself as the Old Lady’s ultimate conqueror.
On Sunday, Monza didn’t just complete the double against the Bianconeri, but also displayed an inspiring brand of progressive football which left us all in awe.
So well done, Raffa!
Flop (Manager): Massimiliano Allegri
On the opposite dugout, Massimiliano Allegri had a nightmarish afternoon at the Allianz Stadium, with almost every decision made before or during match rapidly backfiring.
From Juve’s questionable starting lineup, to the premature changes which resulted in a numerical disadvantage (following Milik’s injury), the 55-year-old was the main author of his side’s downfall, as the Bianconeri succumbed to an embarrassing 0-2 defeat at the hands of Monza.
Top (Team): Sassuolo
Based on their own high standards, Sassuolo are having a largely disappointing season. Prior to Round 20, they were sitting in a chilling 17th spot in the Serie A table.
But when it comes to playing Milan at the San Siro, the Emilians’ status quo is never truly a considerable aspect. Because regardless of their league position, you can always count on the Neroverdi to produce a fabulous outing against their Rossoneri.
So with Stefano Pioli’s men already wounded, the massacre felt inevitable.
Flop (Team): Milan
Although Juventus gave their rivals a run for their money, it was always hard to unsettle Milan after conceding five goals to Sassuolo on their home turf.
We illustrated Theo’s problems above, but honestly, another four or five of his teammates could have been picked for the flop of the week, with each having his own solid case. It’s enough to mention the likes of Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu and the disastrous Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Top (Goalkeeper): Michele Di Gregorio
While Monza dominated the proceedings in the first half at the Allianz Stadium, the visitors resorted to Michele Di Gregorio in order to preserve their two-goal cushion after the interval, and the Italian once again proved why he’s one of the best revelations of the Serie A campaign.
The 25-year-old pulled off three marvelous saves against Manuel Locatelli, Arkadiusz Milik and Angel Di Maria to earn a well-deserved clean sheet.
Top (Goal): Victor Osimhen
In Round 20, Serie A fans were spoiled by a plethora of fabulous goals, including David Okereke’s stunner against Inter, Ademola Lookman’s brilliant solo work and even Divock Origi’s late consolation for Milan.
Nonetheless, none can rival Victor Osimhen’s three extraordinary touches – the chest control, the knee setup and the riffling strike – further consolidating his status as the one of the most terrifying strikers on the continent.
Top (Super-Sub): Giovanni Simeone
Despite it’s stunning beauty, Osimhen’s opener for Napoli was canceled out by Stephan El-Shaarawy’s deft flick who equalized for Roma in the Derby del Sole. However, the Nigerian’s replacement took the torch and proved to be worthy of the mission.
Giovanni Simeone is hardly receiving the minutes he deserves since joining Napoli. Yet, he has already earned the showering affection of the Partenopei supporters by scoring decisive goals, with the last being a late winner against the Giallorossi in what can be deemed as another major step towards the long-awaited Scudetto triumph.
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