By Edoardo Stella.
Sub-edited by Tony Robertson.
Results from round 20 of the 2020/21 season:
Serie A table:
Nine-men Fiorentina resist against Torino
There were emotions on Friday night between Fiorentina and Torino, as the Granata failed to make use of their two-man advantage.
Both Dusan Vlahovic and Simone Zaza hit the post in the first half, but the turnaround came at the beginning of the second-half, with Gaetano Castrovilli receiving a red card.
With Andrea Belotti also coming very close in the subsequent free-kick, it had to take a piece of magic between Giacomo Bonaventura and Franck Ribery to break the deadlock.
The Frenchman’s goal was equalised very late by Belotti, after Nikola Milenkovic had also received a red card. 10 further minutes weren’t enough for Torino to find a second, collecting another disappointing result.
Penalty galore for Milan
It was again two penalties helping Milan to clear Bologna and remain at the top. The Rossoneri’s total now adds up to a whopping 14 penalties in 20 games, although they were both very evident fouls.
They are the team with the most penalties awarded in the top five leagues, even if Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed the first spot-kick, with Ante Rebic scoring off the rebound.
He has now missed four out of seven this season in all competitions, with penalty-taker Franck Kessie scoring six out of seven instead.
Juventus marching on
Four games without conceding and eight wins in the nine games following the disappointing 3-0 defeat with Fiorentina. Juventus finally look to have picked up form and now look irresistible.
The two Coppa Italia legs against Inter are approaching and will tell if the Bianconeri are really favourites to win, or can succumb against a direct title rival.
Meanwhile, they are just seven points adrift the top of the table with a game in hand, but their form compared to Milan’s hints they will at the very least be giving a shot until the end.
Christian Eriksen and his unexpected second chance
Scoring a 97th-minute winner against Milan in the Coppa Italia may mark the beginning of Christian Eriksen’s “second” spell with Inter. Having played only 83 league minutes from the start of November to the end of last week, Eriksen stood up when called in the last minutes of the derby to score.
Antonio Conte is trying to develop him as a low playmaker, after failed experiments as an attacking midfielder or as a mezzala. In this position he featured in the Coppa Italia rounds of 16 against Fiorentina for a full 120’ and on Saturday night against Benevento, hitting a crossbar and causing Riccardo Improta’s own goal.
Can he redeem himself after an extremely disappointing year with Inter?Embed from Getty Images
Are Udinese past their worst?
Udinese give continuity to last week’s performance against Inter to beat Spezia 1-0 and find their first win in 50 days.
The Bianconeri are a tough team to break apart, with only 28 goals conceded, but at the same time, they struggle to score. They have only found 21 goals, being the fourth team with the most big chances missed (34).
They lack a strong attacking presence, with captain Rodrigo De Paul finding the most goals with five. Ignacio Pussetto and Stefano Okaka follow with three and two, but they are both injured right now.
Gerard Deulofeu is still goalless, while Kevin Lasagna has departed for Hellas Verona. Can they find a solution to their attacking issues?
Joao Pedro dependence for Cagliari
Cagliari are living a tough period and once again fail to win, as Joao Pedro’s goal is cancelled in stoppage time by Sassuolo’s Jeremie Boga.
The Sardinians at least pick up points after six straight defeats and finally find a goal, after failing to do so in the last three games. However, they are heavily relying on Joao Pedro, who has scored all of the last four, which means no other Cagliari player has scored in 2021.
Giovanni Simeone, who had started the season with five goals and six assists in the first seven games, has disappeared from the scoresheet after catching Covid-19 in late November.
Leonardo Pavoletti has also only scored a single goal this season, which means that Joao Pedro’s 11 goals count up to 46% of all goals for the team this campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Mattia Destro is truly reborn
Since the 15th of December, no other player has scored more goals than Mattia Destro in the Serie A: eight.
It’s a very surprising number if we consider that prior to this campaign, Destro had found only six goals between the start of 2018 and August 2020.
Genoa are on the charge, now climbing up in a tied 13th place with Udinese and are beginning to look like a serious team. The advantage over the relegation zone is of six points and Davide Ballardini deserves huge credit for it.
Lazio get revenge on Atalanta
Lazio and Atalanta always offer entertaining games. From the 2019 Coppa Italia final, won by Simone Inzaghi’s men, to goalscoring performances from both teams.
Just on Wednesday, 10-men Atalanta knocked out Lazio from the cup, but in the league, it was a different story. Lazio showed up with greater humility, playing a very composed game that allowed them to catch their fifth straight league win and move up to sixth in the table.
The top seven is grouped in 10 points, so winning these head to head games is what can make the difference. Mentions go to Adam Marusic for a superb opening strike, and Mario Pasalic for finding a goal straight after returning from injury.
Napoli clear Parma with minimal effort
At the moment, Napoli are lacking the consistency to be at the top, but there are times where the team appears dominant. A comfortable 2-0 win over Parma helps them overcome last week’s struggle against Hellas Verona.
The oncoming cup semifinal against Atalanta, plus the important game against Juventus in two-weeks time will reveal a lot about Napoli’s ambitions.
Parma, instead, keep struggling to find goals. Having scored just 14, that being at least seven less than any other team. With such difficulties, it’s evident they are struggling to collect results.Embed from Getty Images
Rollercoaster of emotions for Roma
Life must not be easy for Paulo Fonseca as Roma manager. One day he’s on the verge of leaving and one day he’s a hero leading his team in the title challenge.
Roma offered a convincing performance, beating Hellas Verona 3-1 with three goals in nine minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Borja Mayoral were the usual protagonists, but it was an overall complete team performance.
Beating Hellas Verona is never easy and doing so in such a convincing manner, with only a six points deficit to Milan in the table, means there is no reason not to be happy.
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