Results from round nine of the 2020/21 season:
Serie A table:
Inter’s redemption sends Sassuolo back to earth
Sassuolo’s impressive run stops, as Inter massively step up from Wednesday’s loss against Real Madrid. It was by many means the Nerazzurri’s best performance of the season, showing character, cynicism and organisation, stopping the then best attack of the league.
Despite 66% possession and several chances, the home side failed to challenge Inter, as the two teams are now tied on points. A heavy return to ground, but, as manager Roberto De Zerbi said: “It happens to lose if you want to become successful”.
Was it necessary for Cristiano Ronaldo to miss Benevento?
Benevento showed extreme tenacity and discipline to stop Juventus, with a great performance that was helped by the champions’poor brilliance on the pitch. Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldo had decided to give the Portuguese a pause, leaving him out of the game.
Was this necessary? At 35, it is obvious Ronaldo cannot play every game, but this team cannot afford to play without their star.
2020/21’s record without the number seven speaks clearly: one win, three draws and a loss with Barcelona, and that is against smaller opponents like Dynamo Kiev, Crotone, Verona and Benevento. Should Ronaldo not have missed the following Champions League game, as Juventus are already through to the next round?
This season Juventus cannot take such gambles, especially on the league.
How long until Hellas Verona are taken seriously?
Ironically, it was master v learner, Gian Piero Gasperini against Ivan Juric. It just had to be against the new reality of football, Atalanta, that Verona display another masterclass to move above la Dea. The Gialloblu have 15 points and are now a stable team in the top nine, having the best defence in the league.
Ever since taking over the newly promoted side last year, Juric is exceeding the expectations, with a tremendous defensive side that can also have a say offensively. Atalanta, meanwhile, remain a mystery. Just after winning at Anfield, they struggle again, having got five points only in their last six league games.
Where is Lazio’s problem?
Only once in 2020/21 have Lazio won two league games in a row. Hopes were high after beating Crotone, but Udinese were the better side at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, and deservedly got away with all three points.
Lazio do not seem to have a massive problem in important matches, managing not to lose with Juventus and Inter, plus being unbeaten in their Champions League group. Their issue comes from within: a lack of character and will to win the game. Simone Inzaghi took the blame, saying the team was “arrogant and failed to be humble enough”.
This could reflect why Lazio are struggling to get points out of every game, dropping to ninth, nine points below Milan.Embed from Getty Images
No Ibrahimovic, no problem
Milan move five points clear at the top, continuing their impressive unbeaten run. The Rossoneri win with a determined performance over Fiorentina, that was over before the half-hour mark. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic sidelined due to injury, Milan showed their team can cope, as their strong mentality gives them another win.
Next week they are away at Sampdoria, where they will try to show that the team is present, even without their superstar. Great performances by Hakan Calhanoglu, Franck Kessie and Gianluigi Donnarumma show they are not a one man team.
Is Crotone’s time already over?
The Pitagorics aren’t far off the survival zone, but sitting in last place with two points after nine matches is a sign of clear struggle. Crotone lost again, this time against Bologna, where they had a good occasion to score points.
Whilst it’s true that in 2016/17 they had just one point at the same stage of the season and ended up remaining in the league with a superb run at the end, they are showing no sign of that happening again.
Bologna had conceded a goal in their 41 last league games and, finally, kept a clean sheet. It had been 15 months since that had happened and, with Roberto Soriano on form, getting his eighth goal contribution of the season, they keep gaining places.
Welcome back, Leonardo Pavoletti
May 26, 2019, the last time Pavoletti had found the net. It was the last game of 2018/19 and the Cagliari striker could not imagine what he was going to go through. Two acl injuries hit him last season, where he was forced to sit out 36 games.
Pavoletti came back in September and got his chance on Sunday, as starting striker Giovanni Simeone was sidelined due to Covid-19. He did it in style, scoring with a back-heel finish that seemed to be the winner, until Spezia levelled in added time.
Let’s see if he can come back to where he left off, scoring 16 goals in 32 games on his last full season.Embed from Getty Images
Napoli win in memory of Diego Armando Maradona
After critics for not being able to find the net with consistency, Napoli put on a show in their first game after their greatest player ever passed away. Lorenzo Insigne and Matteo Politano scored beautiful goals that somewhat recall memories of Maradona’s class, as the partenopei thrash Roma 4-0.
It is a heavy defeat, as Paulo Fonseca’s side was one of the most in-form, but it just had to be yesterday. Maradona would have been proud.
How good of an addition was Antonio Candreva?
Sampdoria had to work hard to get a point against Torino, as the Granata played an aggressive game, only being denied by a good performance from goalkeeper Emil Audero. But it was the offensive threat posed by Antonio Candreva that made the difference, with the former Inter player scoring the first goal for his team and serving the assist to Fabio Quagliarella.
It was a signing that went under the radar, but Candreva was very good last season for Inter, and his experience and crosses on the wing is what Sampdoria need. The winger now has three assists to his tally (only Henrikh Mkhytarian and Federico Chiesa have more), and got his first goal for the Blucerchiati.
Shomurodov is the first Uzbek to score in Serie A
Eldor Shomurodov joined Genoa this summer from Rostov, as he became the first Uzbek to play in the Italian League.
Yesterday night he found the net for the first time, as only eight countries now have appearances in Serie A without scoring. Journalist Giuseppe Pastore reveals they are Estonia, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Kosovo, Monaco, Somalia, Cyprus and Bolivia.
Things, however, aren’t going well for Genoa, who lost for the fourth successive time, as Gervinho came back to scoring ways to rescue Parma and give them breathing space.Embed from Getty Images