By Eduardo Stella
Results from round 16 of the 2020/21 season:
Serie A table:
Radja Nainggolan is back home
After featuring only five times for Inter since September, Nainggolan moved to Cagliari on loan on the first day of January.
The Belgian midfielder spent six seasons in Sardinia, including the 2019/20 season, in which he was named Player of the Month of November. His desire of proving the critics wrong was evident, as he got off to a positive start against Benevento, despite Cagliari losing 2-1.
Benevento now move up to 21 points, curiously the same amount they had after their first full season in Serie A back in 2017/18.Embed from Getty Images
Atalanta, a team with multiple leaders
Following Atalanta’s 3-0 with Parma, it’s difficult to mention a single stand-out player in the team.
Wing-back Robin Gosens scored again, now becoming the defender with the most goal contributions since his Serie A debut, with 18 goals and 14 assists. Josip Ilicic was spectacular, giving an assist to Luis Muriel, who got his ninth league goal of the season. The Colombian now has scored one every 48 minutes.
Duvan Zapata was also on the scoresheet, coming on for Muriel and soon finding the net, giving the impression that they can still go far without their captain Papu Gomez.
Another draw for Bologna
Bologna and Udinese do themselves no harm, drawing 2-2 with the hosts getting the equalizer in added-time.
This was probably the correct score, given how both teams performed. Curiously, this is Bologna’s fifth consecutive draw and it’s the first time since March 2016 that the team is unbeaten for such a long spell of games.
One point at the time may not be much, but Bologna currently sit comfortably in 12th.
Roma close in on top with Mkhitaryan and Mayoral
Borja Mayoral proved to be a perfect replacement for the absent Edin Dzeko, with a brace against Crotone that included a spectacular effort from outside the box.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the other goal that helped Roma win 3-1, as he also got an assist. This adds up his tally of direct goal contributions to 15, with only Cristiano Ronaldo doing better in the Serie A.
Roma have won four of their last five games and look to finish the first half of the season on a high.
Fiorentina relying on Vlahovic
Lazio won 2-1 against Fiorentina, who keep struggling offensively and now have to deal with an injured Franck Ribery.
With the fourth-worst attack in the league and the 3-0 win at Juventus being the only match in which they scored more than a goal since October, Fiorentina are heavily relying on Dusan Vlahovic.
The Serbian hit his fourth goal in the last five games, including three penalties, but the contribution from others is missing. Ribery’s contribution is indisputable, but the Frenchman hasn’t scored yet, with Christian Kouame and Patrick Cutrone both on their way out in January after some difficult months in Florence.Embed from Getty Images
Former players come back to haunt Inter
Inter wasted the chance to go top of the table, as their winning run brutally comes to an end against Sampdoria.
Alexis Sanchez missed the eighth penalty of his career (out of 12 taken) in the opening minutes, as former Inter players Antonio Candreva and Keita Balde found the net.
Stefan De Vrij’s header wasn’t enough for the Nerazzurri, who lost precious points ahead of tough games against Roma and Juventus.
Sassuolo keep featuring in the top places
Sassuolo’s strength this season is the ability to pick themselves up after playing a top team, which is allowing them to score points even after heavy defeats.
The Neroverdi’s win against Genoa after Sunday’s heavy defeat with Atalanta allows them to stay in the top places.
However, despite appearing inferior to some of the teams around, they keep in a strong position, setting some club records along the way.
Have Torino finally found shape and dimension?
Verona’s second successive game in which they found a potential goal of the season, isn’t enough to give them three points.
Federico Dimarco’s beautiful volley was matched by Gleison Bremer’s late goal. Moreover, this is only Dimarco’s second goal in Serie A, which is another beauty that follows his 30-yard strike against Inter two years ago.
Torino are now unbeaten for four games and after dropping so many points from winning positions, they are starting to collect results.
Spezia shock Napoli
It wasn’t their best performance, but Spezia made up some of the points they had dropped in the last few games, against nothing less than Napoli.
Napoli dominated the game, failing to score in the first half, but breaking the deadlock with Andrea Petagna’s fourth goal as a substitute. M’bala Nzola got the visitors back with a penalty before his teammate Adrian Ismajli was sent off.
It was just a matter of time before Napoli got in front again, but instead, it was Spezia to capitalise on a defensive mistake and get home with three points.
Juventus make a statement
With Inter, Milan and Napoli losing their respective games, Juventus made a statement: never rule them out. The Bianconeri conquered San Siro on Wednesday night, beating league leaders Milan.
Both teams had relevant absences, even if Milan were arguably more decimated. In a game where Ronaldo wasn’t decisive, it was Federico Chiesa to prove the man of the match, with the aid of Paulo Dybala’s superb assists.
The Italian scored two goals, ending Milan’s unbeaten run that had lasted since March. The Champions are seven points away (with one game less) and with another decisive game coming up against Inter, can show they are still favourites to win?
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