Top 5 Stories from Serie A Round 19: Milan Crowned in Defeat

After 19 exhilarating rounds, Serie A has reached the halfway point of the season. Milan maintained the lead which they held since the start of the campaign despite a humbling loss against Atalanta. Their neighbors Inter had a golden chance to catch the Rossoneri, but they blew it in a cagey draw against Udinese.

Napoli surprisingly lost 3-1 at Verona, which means that the biggest winners of the week were Roma and Juventus who managed to win their matches. Here are our Top 5 stories from Serie A round 19.

Davide Nicola Already Fixed One Major Flaw in Torino

Marco Giampaolo’s Torino didn’t play a particularly bad football, nor did they suffer from numerous humiliating results. However, after finding his team laying in the relegation spots by January, club president Urbano Cairo – despite being fond of the former Milan tactician – had to let him go.

In his stead, came a man who is an expert in relegation dogfights, and had performed an incredible escape job at Crotone in the past. Davide Nicola is not the most prestigious name in Italian football, but he seems to be the right man during this extremely difficult moment.

While Giampaolo’s side main weakness was it’s inability to defend a lead – as we’ve seen them waste early advantages against Inter, Juventus and Lazio as well as weaker sides – it was refreshing to see the Granata mounting a comeback of their own for once. In Nicola’s first match in charge, Torino managed to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit in their Serie A round 19 encounter in Benevento, as Simone Zaza completed his brace with a last minute equalizer.

Although it’s still too early to judge Nicola’s Torino, but the first sign is an encouraging one.

Fonseca (Narrowly) Wins the Battle Against Dzeko

After a hellish week in the Trigoria training center following Roma’s humiliating loss to Lazio in the capital’s derby, the episodes that followed could have spelled the end of Paulo Fonseca’s tenure with the Giallorossi, with several names being already lined up to replace him.

After the Coppa Italia debacle in midweek, the Portuguese tactician reportedly clashed with his captain Edin Dzeko, and it seems that the Eternal City has become too small for both men.

The Bosnian striker missed Roma’s round 19 vital clash against Spezia – the same side that knocked them out the cup competition – with injury being the official pretext. Nonetheless, Borja Mayoral and Lorenzo Pellegrini, who took Dzeko’s position and armband respectively, ended up winning a match that turned out to be a real classic.

So does this result mean that Dzeko is leaving town? We’ll find out soon enough.

Worrying Signs for Milan After Sounding Loss to Atalanta

Thanks to Inter’s slip, Milan managed to finish the first half of the season on top of the Serie A table, thus being crowned Winter Champions – an honorary title given to whoever is on top after round 19.

The Rossoneri received their second league defeat in the season, this time at the hands of Atalanta, who completely dominated Stefano Pioli’s men in a 3-0 routing, with Duvan Zapata and Josip Ilicic running the show, as well as a masterful performance by the young Cristian Romero.

Although Milan’s first loss of the season came a few weeks ago against Juventus, this one was a bit more alarming for the leaders. Against the Bianconeri, the Diavalo’s loss could be rendered to tactical and technical reasons while playing with a decimated squad.

But against La Dea, Milan looked second best on the moral as well as the physical aspect of the match – even though it was Atalanta who had a midweek fixture against Udinese prior to the match – thus Pioli needs to re-energize his side on all levels, as another performance like this one would ruin the team’s confidence and momentum going forward.

Conte’s Outbursts Could Eventually Cost Inter

Inter wasted their chance of equaling their city rivals at the top of the Serie A table after a goalless away draw at Udine. However, the main highlight of the match was Antonio Conte’s angry outburst towards referee Fabio Maresca, which resulted in his dismissal.

Whilst the former Chelsea manager is often lauded for his strong character and the enthusiasm that he brings for the club, the former Juventus captain tends to cross the line at times, as his reactions towards the match official was completely unjustified.

This volcanic approach eventually ends up creating needless tensions for the eleven Nerazzurri players on the pitch, as one would wonder if those men would have been able to create the winning goal had they been provided a more serene atmosphere by their boss.

Lazio Are Back to the Serie A Mix

Although Lazio are enjoying a successful Champions League campaign so far which saw them reach the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition, their domestic season had been underwhelming to say the least.

Nonetheless, the Biancocelesti are having a stellar start to the new year, and after crushing their arch-rivals Roma 3-0 last week, they earned their 4th straight Serie A win with a come-from-behind victory against Sassuolo in Round 19.

With their latest win, Simone Inzaghi’s men now find themselves in the 7th place in the standings, with only two points away from the Champions League spots.

And although it was fun to see the Neroverdi among the top sides in the league, their latest loss saw them slip into the 9th position, as the usual suspects have naturally cemented themselves in the Top 7 spots.