Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 16: Osimhen Back in Style

With the halfway point of the campaign looming ever closer, the scene on top of the table is becoming crystal clear, especially following the events of the weekend. After dropping two points in Genoa, Juventus are now lagging behind Inter by four points, while the league leaders are showing no signs of slowing down. At this point, we’re running out of superlatives to describe Simone Inzahgi’s band. But sadly for neutral Serie A fans, the actions of Round 16 left us wondering not if this going to be a tight race for the Scudetto, but whether or not we’re going to have a genuine race in the first place.

Regardless, this matchday still left us with a flurry of captivating moments and interesting battles, so let’s recap the action by identifying the Tops and Flops of the Calcio weekend.

Top (Player): Victor Osimhen

A lot was made of Victor Osimhen’s insistence on attending the ceremony that crowned him as the African Player of the Year – as you do in Italy.

Nevertheless, the Nigerian silenced his detractors with what surely was his most fabulous display of the season.

The striker nodded home the opener against Cagliari with a powerful shot that bounced off the post following Simone Scuffet’s attempted save.

However, his finest moment came when he assisted Kvhicha Kvaratskhelia’s winner by toying with the defenders who found themselves haplessly chasing the bomber all around the penalty box.

This isn’t something you see every day, especially not in Serie A.

Flop (Player): Martin Payero

Unfortunately for Udinese, they remain without a single Serie A win at home this season. While they seemed to be heading towards breaking the curse with a two-goal cushion against Sassuolo, Martin Payero’s stomp changed the whole narrative.

The Argentine left his teammates with a man down, setting the stage for an Emilian revival led by Domenico Berardi who scored twice from the spot, ending the match in a 2-2 draw.

In the end, Payero can count himself lucky that Sassuolo didn’t snatch the win, but the Zebrette are certainly blaming him for squandering this golden opportunity to register a home win.

Top (Coach): Thiago Motta

Thiago Motta doesn’t merely deserve to be recognized as the best coach of Round 16, but arguably the most brilliant tactician of the Serie A campaign, at least so far.

Bologna now find themselves sitting in fourth place following a well-earned victory over Roma.

If you rewatch Nicolo Moro’s opener, you will definitely notice the manager’s stamp in the breathtaking build-up and impeccable off-the-ball movement.

The fact that this win came at the expense of Motta’s former Inter manager José Mourinho is the cherry on top.

Flop (Coach): Raffaele Palladino

Last weekend, we praised Raffaele Palladino for his fabulous work conducted since taking charge at Monza. But this time around, he simply overplayed his hand by unleashing an ultra-attacking formation against Milan featuring Dany Mota and Lorenzo Colombo,

This is the type of risk that can crown a manager as a tactical genius upon success or identify him as the culprit if it backfires.

Sadly for the 39-year-old, it was the latter in his case, with the Rossoneri running will on Sunday’s early kickoff.

Only Palladino can tell whether he’d stick to his guns or not if he could replay this one.

Top (Team): Milan

Speaking of the Diavolo, this was exactly what the doctor had ordered following their recent struggles.

Stefano Pioli’s men started the Lombardian Derby with a splendid early goal from Tijjani Reijnders and it all went smoothly afterwards.

Will this positive week serve as the beginning of an uprise at Milanello? Or is it just another episode of what is panning out to be a rollercoaster campaign for Stefano Pioli’s men?

Only time will tell.

Flop (Team): Roma

If you take away Romelu Lukaku and Paulo Dybala from any team in the world, it would surely struggle to cope without them.

Yet, we still expected a more proactive display from the Giallorossi. But what we witnessed was a team lacking in ideas as well as desire, and was comfortably outplayed by Bologna who looked every bit of a Top-Four challenger compared to the hollow Romans.

Top (Goalkeeper): Pietro Terracciano

After a minute of play, Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano gave away a spot kick to Verona following a blunder. In hindsight, this seemed to be an ill omen for a tough afternoon at the office for the custodian.

However, it was the complete opposite.

The Viola shot-stopper saved Milan Djuric’s spot kick as well as the ensuing rebound. He also pulled off at least five stunning stops to keep the perplexed Tuscans in the game.

In the end, Lucas Beltran netted the valuable winner, but Fiorentina owe this victory first and foremost to Terracciano and his sensational display between the posts.

Flop (Goalkeeper): Stefano Turati

Stefano Turati has certainly made leaps and bounds this season, but he still commits occasional howlers that place some question over his evolution.

In Round 16, Frosinone needed the goalkeeper to be at his best against Lecce who have emerged as one of the Dark Horses of the Serie A campaign.

Yet, the 22-year-old gave away possession with a poor pass which directly led to a goal. Even worse, he was beaten at his near post, which is always a stain on a goalkeeper’s performance.

He also looked shaky on the second goal, albeit the deflection didn’t help his case.

Top (Moment): Jan-Carlo Simic Debut Goal

Football would be nothing without magical moments, and luckily, Round 16 gave us something to remember it by in the shape of a teenager scoring on his Serie A debut.

At this point, Pioli might be considering the services of exorcists amid the full-blown injury crisis at the back. In his desperation, the coach fielded Tommaso Pobega – a midfielder by trade – in the backline. But astonishingly, the latter joined the ever-growing list of injuries!

Therefore, the Milan coach had no choice but to introduce 18-year-old Jan-Carlo Simic.

But suddenly, the curse morphed into a blessing, with the young defender giving himself a debut to remember by latching onto the ball and scoring the second goal for Milan.

Whether he’ll one day fulfill his initial promise or fade into obscurity, only time will tell. But either way, Simic will cherish his special San Siro moment for the rest of his life

Flop (Moment): Renato Sanches On and Out

You have to feel for Renato Sanches. The Portuguese was once upon a time one of the most promising youngsters in the sport. But despite playing for some of the biggest clubs in Europe, his career has yet to reach the initially envisioned heights, partially due to injuries.

On Sunday, the former Bayern Munich man endured another torrid evening as Mourinho decided to bring him after the interval only to haul him off in the 64th minute, even though he wasn’t injured. This is less than 20 minutes of action.

The Special One labeled it a tactical decision, but this will hardly console his compatriot who could have done without this mental blow.

Top (Assist): Victor Osimhen

As we mentioned above, Osimhen had the entire Cagliari defense chasing him like headless chickens before setting up the Kvaratskhelia for the winner.

When these two Partenopei idols connect, the entire city of Naples comes to life.

Top (Goal): Luis Muriel

For the second weekend in a row, a Luis Muriel strike earns recognition for the best goal of the round.

Admittedly, this wasn’t as glorious as last week’s jaw-dropping backheel against Milan, but the lack of competition means that the Colombian’s half-volley against Salernitana is easily the most fascinating strike in Serie A Round 16.

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