Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 21: Lautaro Punishes Bewildered Pioli

Last weekend, the Derby della Madonnina dominated all the headlines in Calcio, and rightfully so. But truth to be told, this was far from being the most entertaining edition from the eternal clash of the cousins. Nevertheless, this extended matchday included some thrilling battles all around the Italian peninsula, with some providing unexpected results. So it’s time to wrap up the action from the weekend in our own way, by recognizing the Tops and Flops from Serie A Round 21.

Top (Player): Lautaro Martinez

This weekend, we witnessed several brilliant performances, especially from strikers. For instance, Victor Osimhen, Dusan Vlahovic and Manolo Gabbiadini all scored braces.

Nonetheless, Lautaro Martinez was operating on a whole different level, and could have grabbed a brace himself if it wasn’t for a marginal offside call from VAR. The Argentine was a man possessed against his team’s arch rivals.

Although his header was the lone difference between the two Milanese giants, Milan can count themselves lucky, as Lautaro would have inflicted more damage if it wasn’t for the heroics of Ciprian Tatarusanu (yes, That Tatarusanu).

Flop (Player): Luis Muriel

Admittedly, Joakim Maehle was the main culprit behind Atalanta’s surprising defeat at the Mapei Stadium. The Dane left his side in a numerical disadvantage in the first half following a reckless challenge on Sassuolo talisman Domenico Berardi.

However, Luis Muriel’s antics were significantly more perplexing. The vastly experienced Colombian should have known better than berating the referee in the final minutes while his team is trailing in the result and already a man down. His dismissal pretty much sealed the Emilians’ win over the nine-man Orobici.

Top (Manager): Ivan Juric

While this meeting was mostly overlooked amid a packed Serie A weekend, Torino-Udinese was in fact an important fixture in Round 21. At the end of the day, Yann Karamoh’s winner allowed the Granata to surpass the Zebrette and land in 7th place – a position which could potentially grant them access to Europe next season (in case Inter win the Coppa Italia).

So it’s now time to pay homage for Ivan Juric who has been sensational since taking the reins. The extremely long series of passes which preceded the goal is a great testament for the manager’s brilliant work.

Flop (Manager): Stefano Pioli

Well, Stefano Pioli finally heeded to the critics and opted to overhaul his tactical system, mirroring Inter’s 3-5-2 formation. Sadly for the under-fire coach (no pun intended), his maneuver proved to be both untimely and ill-advised.

Moreover, the 57-year-old left some his best ballers on the bench (Leao and Diaz), which remains an incredibly perplexing move from a coach who is, by all accounts, desperate for a reviving victory.

Of course this misadventure ended up backfiring, and by the time he tried to fixed it, his counterpart Simone Inzaghi was already a few steps ahead.

Top (Team): Juventus

This season, Juventus have been more on the Flop side than the Top, but it’s time to give credit where credit is due. The Bianconeri produced what was arguably their best away display of the season, finishing the job in Salerno with more than half an hour to spare.

This Round 21 victory saw Max Allegri’s men rising from 13th to 10th in the Serie A standings (delightful times in Turin!)

Flop (Team): Fiorentina

With Juventus hit by a severe point deduction, you’d expect Fiorentina to pounce on the situation and push for a European finish. However, the Tuscans have lost the plot in recent weeks, and their most recent disappointment came in the form of a home defeat at the hands of Bologna.

Even when Lukasz Skorupski gifted the Viola an equalizer with a rare blunder, Vincenzo Italiano’s men couldn’t finish the job. Instead, it was the brave Rossoblu who restored their lead to come away with three precious points.

Top (Set-Piece): Paulo Dybala

As if Roma didn’t already have a top-notch dead-ball specialist in Lorenzo Pellegrini, the Giallorossi are now reaping the rewards from their wise decision to bet on Paulo Dybala last summer.

Watching La Joya dribble past opponents is a jubilant sight, but the Argentine has a wide array of weapons in his fabulous arsenal, including dead-ball delivery, and the Empoli defenses can testify on the matter.

With two early corner kicks, Dybala provided a couple of assists for his Roma teammates, and he could have came away with more if it wasn’t for Guglielmo Vicario’s prowess.

Top (Goalkeeper): Guglielmo Vicario

Speaking of the devil, the Italian international has arguably cemented himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Serie A, if not the best.

Even after conceding two early goals, he still delivered a stupendous display to spare Empoli from an embarrassing defeat, including an astonishing triple save.

Top (Goal): Pedro

As the all-too cliché saying goes “class is permanent”. It’s hard to argue against this statement when you have an aging veteran like Pedro still producing spectacular goals at the of 35.

This round witnessed some lovely strikes, including Gabriel Stefezza’s wonderful goal for Lecce, but the Spaniard’s turn and curler must get the nod.

Top (Almost-Goal): Riccardo Saponara

Although Pedro scored the best goal from Serie A Round 21, it would have been a different story had Riccardo Saponara’s stunning effort been a few centimeters lower.

Instead, the Fiorentina man saw his shot crashing against the post, denying him from what would have been a contender for the goal of the season.

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