Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 36: Lautaro Strikes, Leao Creates

Whoever dares claim that Serie A is still a boring league filled with cagey encounters could have paid some attention to the action from the past weekend. What a crazy round of football that was! Come-from-behind wins was the main theme of the weekend, as even the two leaders had to overturn the result in their must-win contests. So let’s recap the overwhelming action in our tops and flops from Serie A round 36.

Top (Player): Lautaro Martinez

When Empoli scored the second goal of the match, you could hear a pin drop at the Giuseppe Meazza with the stunned crowds in attendance witnessing Inter’s title hopes shatter in front of their eyes.

Luckily for the Beneamata, hope was resurrected thanks to an own goal, but afterwards, it was the Lautaro Martinez show.

The Argentine levelled the scoring before halftime with an exquisite finish, before putting his side upfront after the break in an equally-fabulous fashion.

The reigning champions are still standing in the Scudetto race, and they owe it to their deadly number 10.

Top (Player): Rafael Leao

While Martinez scored twice to overturn the result in Inter’s favor, Rafael Leao pulled off two sublime assists to lead Milan’s come-from-behind win at Verona, and finally break the Bentegodi curse.

Although it was Sandro Tonali who put his name on the scoresheet, it was the Portuguese striker’s superb runs, fabulous dribbles and exquisite passes that were first and foremost behind the Italian’s brace.

Flop (Manager): Massimiliano Allegri

With a Coppa Italia final looming in the horizon, perhaps Massimiliano Allegri just wanted to leave the Luigi Ferraris Stadium with the least possible damage.

However, one would think that the Juventus manager would be willing to ease it up a little and allow his players to enjoy themselves after securing their spot in next season’s champions League.

Nevertheless, the Livorno native came out empty-handed on both accounts. His side produced another forgettable display, while Genoa managed to mount a stunning comeback sealed with a last-gasp spot kick from Domenico Criscito.

Top (Manager): Sinisa Mihajlovic

Perhaps for the first time, the top manager from the weekend had actually lost his match. But in the large picture, Sinisa Mihajlovic will always be a big winner.

Despite being in the midst of a second bout against Leukemia, the Bologna manager insisted on being present at the dugout beside his men who were taking on Venezia in round 36.

Although the Rossoblu suffered a late setback in what was an epic back-and-forth battle, the best Serie A manager in April made all the right moves from a tactical standpoint, especially when he introduced Riccardo Orsolini who helped the team overturning the result from 0-2 to 3-2.

But at the end of the day, a particularly soft penalty kick turned the tide in the Venetians’ favor.

Flop (Clubs): Mid-table Bunch

We spoke about the collapse of Empoli, Verona and Bologna above. Three mid-table teams with little to play for who couldn’t hold on to the lead against more enthusiastic opposition. We can also add Juventus to the same wave after securing a Top four spot.

So once again, football proves to be a game of grit and determination beyond anything else, and on the majority of occasions, it’s the team that comes out with the win is simply the one that wants it more, regardless of tactical and technical capabilities.

Top (Clubs): Relegation Threatened Sides

Let’s give some props for the four bottom of the table sides who are ferociously fighting to avoid relegation. Aside from a major surprise that would see either Spezia or Sampdoria drown on the final day, only one of Cagliari, Salernitana, Genoa and Venezia will achieve survival.

But for the first time in a while, not a single Serie A side succumbed to the notion of relegation before the end of the campaign. Prior to round 36, most observers believed that Genoa were already doomed, but the Ligurians staged an epic comeback against Juventus. Even Venezia still believe in their chances, as witnessed from their dramatic battle versus Bologna.

As for Salernitana and Cagliari, they went head-to-head in a nervous affair that ended in a 99th minute equalizer for the Isolani who salvaged their chances.

It’s refreshing to see how no one is willing to bid Serie A football farewell without putting a proper fight.