Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 14: Inter Reign Supreme, Mourinho Delights

Following a captivating weekend of football, we were reminded that Italian football is never served as a single dish, but a full course meal. So while the action on the pitch was both thrilling and ecstatic, Calcio wouldn’t be the same without its colorful managers, directors and presidents who add a whole different layer with their bizarre, yet entertaining antics. So let’s recap the most interesting action on and off the pitch from the Italian weekend while listing its best and worst performers in the Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 14.

Top (Player): Adrien Rabiot

While several players were deserving of the spot (the likes of Riccardo Sottil, Duvan Zapata, Luka Jovic and several Inter stars), by the end of the season, perhaps we’ll look back on Adrien Rabiot’s grand display at the U-Power Stadium and consider it as one of the main turning points of the campaign.

The stand-in Juventus captain made sure the fans didn’t rue Dusan Vlahovic’s missed penalty kick for too long as he powered his header past Michele Di Gregorio on the ensuing corner kick.

Based on Massimilano Allegri’s request, the Frenchman fought valiantly in the middle of the park for the majority of the match, as the manager decided to raise the walls.

But after conceding a 92nd-minute equalizer, it was Rabiot who charged forward, stormed into the box and picked up Federico Gatti in front of goal for the winner.

Substantial as ever.

Flop (Player): Daniel Boloca

This season, Daniel Boloca is proving to be an excellent addition to a Sassuolo midfield that lost the services of Davide Frattesi in the summer.

However, the Romanian was the ultimate culprit at the Mapei Stadium in Round 14, as his dismissal left the Emilians with a man down against Roma who wouldn’t miss this golden chance to climb in the Serie A ranks.

So while the Neroverdi were leading before the red card, the capital side turned the result upside-down with back-to-back goals.

Top (Duo): Duvan Zapata & Nikola Vlasic

In the final fixture of the weekend, Atalanta were on the receiving end of a beatdown, suffering a shocking 0-3 defeat at the hands of Torino.

Interestingly, Atalanta-owned striker Duvan Zapata led the charge for the Granata by scoring a personal brace, while Nikola Vlasic provided the assists for both of the Colombian’s goals.

Top (Coach): Simone Inzaghi

Boasting the best players in the country doesn’t always suffice to guarantee a league title. Therefore, any club with Scudetto aspirations must complement a solid squad with a brilliant manager who possesses a winning mentality.

Luckily for Inter, they seem to have found the right formula.

To be fair, the thrilling first half between Napoli and the Nerazzurri could have gone either way, but a stunning strike from Hakan Calhanolgu gave the visitors a precious lead.

While most coaches would have felt the urge to drop back and defend a slim lead against the reigning champions away from home (we’re looking at you, Max Allegri), Simone Inzaghi chose otherwise.

Sensing that the defending champions are about to crack under the mounting pressure, the Inter manager instructed his players to press high which resulted in another two goals.

Slowly but surely, Inzaghi is earning his place among the elite.

Top (Coach): Stefano Pioli

Instead of naming a flop tactician, here’s the “Bonus” top coach of the week.

Not for the first time in his Milan career, Stefano Pioli is standing on thin ice. But it seems that every time the axe is hanging over his neck, the 58-year-old pulls a trick up his sleeve.

While a home win over Frosinone must never be considered a major achievement for the Serie A giants, the convincing performance witnessed in Round 14 despite the fully-blown injury crisis (which forced Theo Hernandez to slot in at centre-back) suggests that there’s still some life left in Pioli’s Milan.

Top (Team): Inter

We mentioned Inzaghi’s proficient display on the sideline above, but the truth is, this Inter side might be the strongest in every single department. Even a depleted defense was able to fend off Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and company.

As for the midfield trio of Nicolò Barella, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Hakan Calhanoglu, they’re just operating on a whole different level.

And we haven’t even mentioned Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram who have been unstoppable this season.

Flop (Team): Salernitana

After collecting their first Serie A win of the season at Lazio’s expense last weekend, Filippo Inzaghi’s Salernitana offered very little resistance to Fiorentina who ran riot at the Artemio Franchi in Round 14, resulting in a 3-0 humbling.

Kudos to the Viola for their superb display (which admittedly deserved a bit more recognition on our part). However, we kind of expected slightly more from the supposedly resurging Southerners.

With Boulaye Dia no longer producing the goods, this team is almost exclusively reliant on Antonio Candreva’s miracles.

Top (Goalkeeper): Yann Sommer

We already mentioned the brilliant coach and the fabulous squad, but it would have all gone to waste without a reliable presence between the posts.

In the big showdown at the Maradona Stadium, Yann Sommer had to produce a host of saves to deny Kvara and his Napoli teammates and make sure his side prevails in this vital fixture.

André Onana hasn’t been missed at all at the Appiano Gentile, especially in his current Man United form.

Top (Super-Sub): Lorenzo Lucca

A player who enters the pitch in the 7th minute might not be your typical super-sub, but after giving Udinese the lead on two different occasions against Verona, this was certainly a superb display from Lorenzo Lucca.

The giant striker will be gutted after seeing his side squander the lead in the last minute (we’ll get to that in a second), but the former Ajax man is gradually establishing himself as one of the most promising attackers in Serie A.

Flop (Not-so-Super-Sub): Sandi Lovric

While Lucca’s introduction paid dividends, Udinese coach Gabriele Cioffi will rue the moment he decided to introduce Sandi Lovric.

The Slovenian wasted a glorious three-on-two chance that could have secured the win for the Zebrette, before cheaply giving away possession in the dying moments, which allowed Verona to snatch the last-gasp winner.

Top (Match): Udinese vs Verona

Probably the easiest choice on the list. The contest between Udinese and Verona was a thrilling back-and-forth affair from start to finish, one that featured six goals, including a stunning overhead kick and a last-gasp equalizer.

This is why the bottom-of-the-table clashes are equally intriguing.

Top (Assist): Mike Maignan

For the third season in a row, Milan’s goalkeeper Mike Maignan has delivered an assist. The Frenchman picked up Christian Pulisic with a brilliant long ball that culminated in the second Rossoneri goal.

Even though the former Lille custodian isn’t enjoying his most prosperous run between the sticks, his elegant touch remains unquestionable.

Top (Goal): Cyril Ngonge

Round 14 left us spoiled for choice when it comes to picking the best Serie A goal of the weekend. But while the likes of Sottil, Calhanoglu and Ruslan Malinovskyi all deserve a shout-out, Verona’s Cyril Ngonge routed the competition with a jaw-dropping bicycle kick that left Marco Silvestri with no chance at all.

Top (Complainer): José Mourinho

When it comes to making a point or simply telling the world that he’s not in a happy mood in a rather entertaining matter, José Mourinho is on a whole different level.

Despite speaking Italian eloquently since his days at Inter, the Special One decided to conduct his post-match interviews in his native Portuguese tongue while relying on the services of a translator, leaving everyone else both baffled and amused.

Apparently, this was his way of telling the world that his previous comments about referees had been misunderstood, and he did so in the most creative way imaginable.

Roma had won the match in Sassuolo thanks to a late comeback, but whenever Mourinho’s around, the team’s results almost end up taking a back seat.

Flop (Complainer): Aurelio De Laurentiis

In a more traditional fashion, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis blamed the referees for his side’s dolorous defeat against Inter.

He just basically said that it was all the referee’s fault.


We can only hope that The Partenopei patron takes a page out of Mourinho’s book and comes up with a more alluring protest next time he attempts to justify a heavy defeat.

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