By Edoardo Stella
Results from round 23 of the 2020/21 season:
Serie A table:
Fortunes on football change quickly
Fiorentina and Spezia proved how quickly football turns around. Spezia were coming off a major win against Milan, whilst Fiorentina had lost with Sampdoria.
At the Artemio Franchi of Florence, Dusan Vlahovic was once again the leader for Fiorentina, hitting a goal and getting an assist. Gateano Castrovilli was also the protagonist, assisting Vlahovic and scoring a goal of his own in what ended up being a clear 3-0 win.
Fiorentina now move back ahead of Spezia, who as a newly-promoted side keep struggling more against the bottom teams rather than the top teams.
The paradox of Cagliari’s coach
President Tommaso Giulini surprised many when he confirmed Eusebio Di Francesco as Cagliari coach after conquering 14 points in 19 games. He said everyone was to remain in Serie B should they be relegated and used it as a motivational message to urge his players.
However, they only got a point in the following four games, which means that Di Francesco’s position is seriously on the edge now. Cagliari are stuck in 16 games without a win and scored only three goals in 2021, all of them by Joao Pedro.
Giulini’s move to renew Di Francesco’s contract in the middle of a results crisis was arguably a major error. It’s true that it’s not always the manager’s fault and with players like Diego Godin and Radja Nainggolan on the team, they should really do better.
The hoax is even that they should pay Di Francesco for a further year should he now be sacked.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto: Lazio’s jewels
The midfield duo of Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic continues to shine and thrive for Lazio, who won their seventh game in eight. Even when Ciro Immobile isn’t at his best, the Biancocelesti can still count on the two of them.
The Spaniard scored off the Serbian’s assist to net his seventh of the season. Milinkovic-Savic was the protagonist of another man of the match performance, which adds continuity to his excellent season and proves that he now is a top player.
12 direct goal contributions in 20 games, plus complete performances all round may now attract big clubs, who have been looking for him for various reasons.Embed from Getty Images
Genoa and Hellas Verona add a point to their prolific tally
Davide Ballardini and Ivan Juric do each other no harm, even if Hellas Verona exit the game with the most regret. The Gialloblu were in front during stoppage time, before Milan Badelj equalised very late.
This is a lost opportunity for Verona, who could have moved up to eighth, only a few points behind European places. However, they can still be happy about getting a point against one of the most in-form teams: Genoa.
They are unbeaten in seven matches and it’s incredible to think they are the same team witnessed in the early part of the season.
Bologna resist in the Emilian Derby
Sassuolo were unable to get all three points against 10 man Bologna, who resisted for an hour after Scottish full-back Aaron Hickey was sent off.
The visitors went in front, as Andrea Consigli and Marlon gave the ball away whilst trying to play out from the back. Roberto Soriano scored his seventh of the season, but from then on it was just Sassuolo going forward. Francesco Caputo scored again, but it was the last goal of the match.
In the last three seasons, only Cristiano Ronaldo (70), Ciro Immobile (65) and Duvan Zapata (50) scored most goals than Caputo (47). Not bad for a striker who had eight consecutive Serie B seasons on his back.Embed from Getty Images
Double come-back for Udinese
The string of teams fighting for survival remains tightened up, as Udinese is among those including Genoa, Bologna, and Benevento who have all scored a point and are within one length of each other.
As striker Andreas Cornelius finally got his first goal of the season and Juraj Kucka doubled in what was a back-to-back goal, it appeared Parma finally could get back to winning ways. However, Udinese was having none of it and equalised with Stefano Okaka, who recently returned from injury and Bram Nuytinck.
This leaves Parma 11 points behind this group of teams going from 12th to 15th in the standings, as Torino’s win pushes the safety zone further away.
Milan is black and blue in the mark of the Lu-La
Inter conquer the Milan derby, moving four points clear at the top, with a 3-0 win over rivals AC Milan. The striking partnership between Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku was as strong as ever, dominating the Milan defence.
The Argentinian broke the deadlock a few minutes in after a run by his Belgian partner, then Inter had multiple chances to go 2-0 up. However, mentions go to Samir Handanovic, who was incredibly decisive for the course of the game, with three big saves in quick succession at the beginning of the second half.
After that, Milan were left stunned, as Inter scored twice. Martinez got on the end of a spectacular combination in which all of Inter’s quality showed up for a spectacular team goal and Lukaku wrote his name in the derby for the fifth consecutive time, with a solo goal that represented all his power.
Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata inflict damage on Napoli
The victory against Juventus last week seems so far away, as Thursday’s defeat against Granada in the Europa League was followed by another heavy defeat for Napoli.
Atalanta were led by the in-form Luis Muriel, whose numbers this season are incredible and Duvan Zapata, who isn’t as consistent as his compatriot, but when he is well, he makes sure he plays greatly.
The duo got a goal and an assist each, as Robin Gosens scored again and Cristian Romero netted the final 4-2.
Atalanta are beginning to enter the period where they are almost unplayable, that being the second part of the season, and Real Madrid are warned: with Luis Muriel on this kind of form, it won’t be easy in the Champions League.
90 minutes of Roma frustration
Benevento is the first team below the top nine to steal points off Roma, as they held the Giallorossi to a 0-0. Filippo Inzaghi set it up by defending very tightly and counter-attacking at times.
This paid off, as arguably Benevento had more dangerous chances than Roma. The visitors were never able to appear dangerous and Inzaghi’s plan was on the correct path until defensive leader Kamil Glik was sent off.
It was a major blow, but the nature of the game didn’t change much. There was only a big scare in stoppage time, as Daam Foulon’ s reckless challenge in the box gave away a last-minute penalty which was overturned due to offside.
Benevento are winless in seven, but with four draws in the period have extended their advantage on the relegation zone to 11 points. Roma, instead, remain goalless against a newly-promoted team for the first time since 2012.Embed from Getty Images
Juventus regaining form with Ronaldo and Mckennie
Juventus move up to third place with a game in hand thanks to a comfortable win over Crotone by 3-0. Weston McKennie produced another great performance, once again entering the scoresheet.
The American midfielder’s signing had probably gone under the radar with Juventus investing large sums for Dejan Kulusevski and Alvaro Morata, but the 22-year-old is proving to be an excellent player.
He became the American player with the most goals in the history of Serie A (four) and his addition in midfield is really saving Juventus from a poor season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, showed he isn’t finished after some inconsistent performances, getting back as Serie A top goalscorer after Lukaku had passed him on Sunday.
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