SERIE A LEAGUE REVIEW- ROUND 20 – Jan 21, 2016
This round started with a match between Napoli and Sassuolo, a team that is proving they can compete against top teams this season, and even with less of ball possession in the 1st half, they were a threat to Napoli’s goal. In 3′ after a mistake from Raul Albiol, Sassuolo received a penalty kick and Diego Falcinelli showed his cool and scored a penalty. Napoli then started attacking and got their chance in 19′, when Jose Callejon passes to Lorenzo Insigne inside the box, that he scored with a header… In the dying moments of 1st half, Marek Hamsik passed to Gonzalo Higuain, who converted a chance into his 19th goal for Napoli this season and the Azzurri managed to turn the game around before half time. The 1st half then ended and it was what I could describe as entertaining football to watch with plenty of chances from both sided.
The second half started and Napoli seemed like they were hungry for more goals with plenty of chances, despite dominating the play Napoli just couldn’t extend their lead. In the dying moments of 2nd half, Sassuolo had their chance to level the match as Lorenzo Pellegrini’s header went just wide the post. And in the 3′ of added time Napoli finally got their goal by who else than Gonzalo Higuain who added to his 19th goal in the 1st half and is now with 20 goals this season, and has 5 doubles in the last 7 rounds. Higuain is currently a top scorer in Serie A with 9 goals lead from Juventus player Paulo Dybala. Sassuolo coach, Eusebio di Francesco was disappointed and stated his team did not deserve to lose 3:1 and it was a balanced game.
The same day Inter visited Atalanta and tried to erase their bad memories from last week sit back at home against Sassuolo. Atalanta was on 4 games losing streak, but coming into this match they were firing from all their canons, but just couldn’t convert any chances. Until 25′ when Jeison Murillo made a terrible mistake and deflected a shot from Atalanta into his own net. The same thing happened to Atalanta just 8′ after the 1st goal with an auto goal from Roberto Toloi. Atalanta seemed as they won’t put their foot off the acceleration and were pushing for a win, but sadly great performances by Sami Handanovic prevented them from getting all three points. Both of the teams had to be satisfied with only 1 point they got from this match, even though Atalanta arguably deserved more. The match ended in 1:1.
Another interesting match that took place in the 20th round of Serie A was AC Milan hosting Fiorentina on San Siro who has lost their 1st spot from the start of the season and are currently on the 4th spot. AC Milan needed a win, as they won only 1 match in last 5 league matchups, whereas Fiorentina needed a win after losing to Lazio, to stay at the top 3 spots in the league. The match sprung to life in the 4′ when Carlos Bacca scored his 9th goal this season after a pass from Giacomo Bonaventura. After the lead, AC Milan had the game in their hands, as Fiorentina just couldn’t cut it. The game then went on with both teams having their fair amount of chances to score a goal. In the last minutes of the game, Mario Balotelli finally stepped on the pitch after an Injury and replaced Carlos Bacca. In 88′ something happened that made all of AC Milan fans happy, Kevin Prince Boateng, a player that returned after being at Schalke for 2 seasons scored his 1st goal for AC Milan this season after 2 appearances and sealed the match for a win. This goal as his 1st in Serie A after March 2013. This loss was Fiorentina’s 4th ins 6 matches and a 1st loss against AC Milan in 5 seasons and the fans were surely disappointed by their team performance this Sunday. Fiorentina is slowly falling down the table, and if they do not show their performance from the start of the season they just might lose a spot in Europa leagues. With that win, AC Milan climbed to 6th place and is just 3 points behind 5th spot in the league. Ac Milan coach, Mihajlovic was happy but did not show his joy at the press conference, as is expected from him to be a down to earth person, who rarely shows his enthusiasm. But stated that he was pleased with his team performance, by risking very little but getting a lot.
Juventus in an attempt to climb back on top of the league visited Udinese, who struggle to beat Juventus at home ground, as they have managed to do so 5 times in altogether 44 matches these two faced off in their history of matchups. In 15′ Paulo Dyabala scored a fantastic goal from a free kick and it seemed as Udineve won’t be able to break the negative trend against Juventus. The superiority of Juventus was confirmed 3 minutes after when Sami Khedira scored a header and led Juventus to 2 goal lead in the first 20 minutes of the game. Juventus continued to dominate the game and were given a penalty kick after Danilo tripped Mandzukic and received a red card. The scorer of the first goal Paulo Dyabala stepped up to take the penalty and converted it into a goal. He is currently at 7 goals and 4 assists in the last 9 league match Paulo Dybala proved himself an important player in Juventus quest to get back o the top. If that was not enough for poor Udinese, Juventus scored another goal by Alex Sandro in 42′. The Udinese keeper, Orestis Karnezis had to show great performance to keep the Old Lady from getting a bigger lead before going into second half. The match then ended in 0:4, after some chances from both teams, but the domination from Juventus could be easily seen throughout the whole match.
In this week we saw the additional match from round 16 where Sassuolo should face Torino, but the match was postponed due to heavy fog. This match was then played on 20.1.2016, almost a month after it was first scheduled. Torino visited high flying Sassuolo, who are showing good performances this season. With 32 points Sassuolo has a good chance to battle for a spot in Europa league competition spot as they are only 3 points behind 5th placed Roma. Torino arrived from a win against Empoli, where they played well and got their deserved 3 points, now coming to Mapel Stadium they were hoping to snatch another 3 points. The game started with a few chances from both of the teams but nothing spectacular, as there were only a few exciting moments for fans to see. Sassuolo kept the ball at their feet and that is seen in their ball possession in the 1st half (63%), whereas Torino used counterattack strategy. After an inside pass from Marco Benassi, Andrea Belotti was alone in front of the goal and has scored for Torino lead in 22′. The game then proceed with Sassuolo trying to level the score and succeeded in 40′ after a free kick that sent the ball into the penalty box, Davie Biondini tried his chances and was denied by Torino goalkeeper, that blocked the shot, but luckily bounced right at the feet of Francesco Acerbi that scored an equalizer. The last 5 minutes of 1st half then went by without any important events taking place. The second half can be described as unattractive, neither of the teams had many chances, besides a few shots on goal. All in all the game was balanced and the scoreboard shows that the match ended in 1:1.
TORINO v FROSINONE ; 9′ Immobile (p) (1:0), 33′ Sammarco (1:1), 37′ Belotti (2:0), 41′ Belotti (3:0), 74′ Avelar (og) (3:2), 82′ Benassi (4:2)
GENOVA v PALERMO; 4′ Suso (1:0), 71′ Pavoletti (2:0), 75′ Rincon (3:0), 88′ Pavoletti (4:0)
CHIEVO v EMPOLI; 7′ Paloschi (1:0), 47′ Tonelli (1:1)
CARPI v SAMPDORIA; 27′ Lollo (1:0), 33′ Correa (1:1), 55′ Mbakogu (p) (2:1)
BOLOGNA v LAZIO; 2′ Giaccherini (1:0), 18′ Destro (2:0), 71′ Candreva (p) (2:1), 77′ Lulic (2:2)
AS ROMA v VERONA; 41′ Nainggolan (1:0), 61′ Pazzini (p) (1:1)
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