By Edoardo Stella
Sub-edited by Tony Robertson
Results from round 17 of the 2020/21 season:
Serie A table:
It may not be too late for Atalanta
Another 4-1 win against an in-form Benevento shows Atalanta have all it takes to have a say in the Serie A title race. They have scored 18 goals in the last five games and really seem to be on the charge.
La Dea are nine points behind Milan with a game in hand and are set to play the Rossoneri on the 23rd. Duvan Zapata scored his fifth in the last five and Luis Muriel added another goal to his tally, averaging one every 45 minutes now.
It may not be too late for Atalanta to fight for the league, after a difficult start had hinted that putting them as one of the title favourites may have been too optimistic.
The “Ballardini medicine” helps Genoa
Since Davide Ballardini took charge of Genoa, only a few teams have scored more points than the Grifoni. Ballardini gets his second win in four games, defeating Bologna 2-0 and helping Genoa move out of the relegation zone.
It looks like the new manager has changed Genoa, who are beginning to pick up points with solid defending and good quality upfront.
Eldor Shomurodov and Mattia Destro seem to have found continuity, as the Italian striker scored five goals in the last six games. The same as he got in the previous 49.
Milan fly three points clear, as Ibrahimovic returns
The league leaders pick themselves up after the defeat with Juventus and move three points clear at the top.
The Rossoneri went 2-0 up within the first half to comfortably clear former-coach Marco Giampaolo’s Torino.
A further positive for Milan was Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return. The Swedish player got a taste of the pitch, featuring for about 10 minutes. With Milan decimated due to injuries, Ibrahimovic’s return may be very needed.
Roma still winless against the top teams
Antonio Conte and Paulo Fonseca take points off each other, as the draw between Inter and Roma probably leaves Milan as the happiest team of all.
Roma went 1-0 up with Lorenzo Pellegrini, but Inter’s strong start of the second half gave the Nerazzurri the lead, until a late equalizer from Gianluca Mancini.
Both teams are set to other tough games, with Roma playing city rivals Lazio and Inter facing arch-rivals Juventus next weekend. Roma showed they can play head to head with other title candidates, but are still to win against a team in the top nine (4D, 3 L).
Lazio’s win shortens the table
Goals from Felipe Caicedo and Luis Alberto give Lazio a needed win to further shorten the gap at the top.
With Milan three points in front of Inter, all teams from second to ninth are within 10 points. With 21 games to go, this can go in favour of Lazio, who haven’t had a brilliant start to the season, but don’t see a fully compromised situation.
Roberto D’Aversa’s first game in charge of Parma doesn’t have a happy ending, but despite a tough league situation, there can be some positives to take away.Embed from Getty Images
Bakayoko rescues Napoli at last gasp
Amir Rrahmani’s awful back-pass to Alex Meret had helped Udinese level thanks to Kevin Lasagna, but Napoli left it late, as Tiemoue Bakayoko’s first goal for the Azzurri gives them a vital three points.
Napoli remains in sight of the top four, but continue to suffer from the important absences upfront of Victor Osimhen and Dries Mertens.
Kalinic breaks his drought, as Dimarco scores another beauty
Hellas Verona clear Crotone to remain in the fight for European places. Finally, Nikola Kalinic scored, as the Croatian spent some tough opening months with an injury.
Federico Dimarco was once again involved in a beautiful bit of play, as the left-back found consecutive goals with a spectacular effort.
It’s difficult to determine how far this side can go, but for sure they have been a positive surprise in this first part of the season.
Can Jose Callejon redeem himself?
The new adventure with Fiorentina offered some tough moments to Jose Callejon, who has been penalised from lack of playing time and a formation that doesn’t suit his characteristics as a winger.
La Viola’s 3-5-2 doesn’t allow him to play at his best, but on Sunday his assist to the ever-more present Dusan Vlahovic gave Fiorentina a precious 1-0 win.
Played as a support striker given the absence of Frank Ribery, the 33-year-old Spaniard showed he can still make the difference.Embed from Getty Images
Juventus finding form, as Obiang cruelly betrays Sassuolo
A balanced first half left many wondering what could have happened had Pedro Obiang not committed a silly challenge on Federico Chiesa. The former West Ham United midfielder left Sassuolo with 10 men close to half-time.
Danilo opened the scoreline with a stunner, but Gregoire Defrel allowed Sassuolo to come-back and hope, until a late goal from Aaron Ramsey.
Juventus appear on form, ahead of a vital game against Inter, while Sassuolo are cruelly denied despite a superb performance from 20-year-old Hamed Junior Traore.
M’bala Nzola: Spezia’s unexpected leader
After making only two appearances in Spezia’s first five games, Nzola has emerged as Spezia’s leader, scoring nine goals in the last ten.
Affectionately called “Gianfranco Nzola”, given the association with the Italian legend, the 24-year-old Frenchman is almost scoring for fun, as Spezia are fighting to keep out of the relegation zone.
Nzola was the protagonist of Spezia’s promotion last season, but he had parted ways to return to Trapani in Serie C. With the team folding due to financial difficulties, Spezia took the opportunity to resign the striker and really seem to have got a bargain.Embed from Getty Images
For Edoardo’s previous Serie A column click here.
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