Best of Serie A Round 24
Serie A matchday 24 has come and gone and apparently nothing has changed in the Scudetto race. Napoli responded to Juventus 2-0 win against Fiorentina on Friday with a stunning second-half performance against Lazio. Sarri’s team remains leader with 63 points, one point above Juventus. Nothing has changed in the fight for a Champions League spot, but… everything has changed too. The three main contenders Inter, Lazio and Roma are in fact still very close to each other, but the Biancocelesti, after three consecutive defeats, have now plunged in 5th place (46 points), while Inter and Roma have both gained a position, as they sit in 3rd and 4th place respectively (with 48 and 47 points). In the Europa League-zone Milan seem to have gained momentum as they took a very convincing win away against SPAL. The Rossoneri are now in a six-matches unbeaten run and sit in 7th place, three points behind Giampaolo’s Sampdoria (2-0 against Hellas Verona).
Here are all the results of Matchday 24:
Fiorentina – Juventus 0-2
Spal – Milan 0-4
Crotone – Atalanta 1-1
Napoli – Lazio 4-1
Sassuolo – Cagliari 0-0
Chievo – Genoa 0-1
Inter – Bologna 2-1
Sampdoria – Hellas Verona 2-0
Torino – Udinese 2-0
Roma – Benevento 5-2
BEST GAME OF THE MATCHDAY
Napoli 4-1 Lazio
As predicted in our preview, Napoli vs Lazio proved to be the most entertaining match of round 24. Lazio scared Napoli in the first half, showing intensity and strength in the midfield expecially with the Serbian gem Milinkovic-Savic. The Biancocelesti took the lead with Dutch centre-back De Vrij, who deflected in the back of the net a nice cross from Immobile. After struggling to find some pace, Napoli managed to level the game in the dying minutes of the first half, with Callejon who collected a precise pass from Jorginho and put the ball behind Strakosha. In the second half Napoli returned to the pitch without his skipper Marek Hamsik, who left his place to Zielinski to a back injury. It was the Polish midfielder that changed the game for Napoli with his deep runs, quality passes and constant movement that created a lot of troubles to Lazio’s defence. Sarri’s team annihilated the Inzaghi’s side in the second half with their quick football, as showed by the 4-1 goal scored by Mertens: a trademark of Sarri’s philosophy.
BEST XI OF MATCHDAY 24
Here is the best squad of this round of Serie A action, with some familiar faces but also some pleasant surprises.
Gianluigi Buffon – Juventus defence looks more and more impenetrable, as the Bianconeri haven’t conceded any goals in the last five Serie A games. In the match against rival Fiorentina, Juventus captain pulled off some great reflexes to deny Thereau an equalizer from short range, while he was helped by the post on Gil Dias attempt in the first half.
Federico Fazio – After a slow start, Roma managed to get a very important 5-2 win against Benevento. Guilherme’s goal to make it 1-0 was equalized by a powerful header of the Argentian defender, who collected a precise assist from his teammate Kolarov. Unlike his centre-back partner Manolas, Fazio offered also a solid defensive performance throughout all game.
Nicolas N’Koulou – The Cameroonian defender have proved many doubters wrong since he joined Torino this summer, resulting in one of the most solid defender of the season so far. The opener against Udinese, his second goal of this campaign, cleared the way for Torino’s win against a contender for an Europa League spot and got him a place in the best XI of the matchday.
Giorgio Chiellini – Like Buffon, Chiellini has been one of the bricks forming Juventus defensive wall against Fiorentina. After having contained Simeone all game, the Italian international also put Higuain in front of goal with a laser through ball that the lethal Argentinian put behind Sportiello to make it 2-0.
Piotr Zielinski – The Polish midfielder had an immediate impact for Napoli on the game against Lazio, coming on the pitch at half-time for skipper Marek Hamsik. He first deflected Mario Rui’s attempt behind Lazio goalkeeper Strakosha and then made a perfect assist for wonderful Mertens’s 4-1 goal.
Lucas Biglia – After a disappointing first half of the season, the Argentinian international seemed to be one of the biggest flops for Milan. Before Gattuso’s arrival Biglia was struggling to find a spot in the starting eleven, but now is one of the most used players by the new Milan coach. He repaid the trust that Gattuso has had in him with a great performance against relegation candidates Spal, scoring a goal with a nicely-curled shot and making many precise passes in the midfield.
Federico Bernardeschi – In the pre-match press conference, Juventus coach Allegri seemed confident that Bernardeschi wouldn’t have felt the pressure of playing in his former stadium and Federico proved him right. Despite being booed all game, the Bianconeri winger scored a fundamental goal from a free-kick from the edge of the box that won the game for Juventus and the duel between the two Federico, him and Chiesa, for him.
Yann Karamoh – Inter needed some fresh air to stop their winless run and Spalletti found it in the French youngster. Quite unexpectedly, Karamoh took Candreva’s place on the right wing against Bologna, bringing in more skills and unpredictability to Inter’s offensive manoeuvre. The icing on the cake of his performance was the 2-1 goal that gave Inter the win they needed, scored with a curled left-foot shot from the edge of the box.
Cengiz Under – The “Turkish Dybala”, as he is considered in Turkey, seem to have finally adapted to Serie A life as he put on a show in Roma 5-2 win against Benevento. After scoring the winner last week against Hellas Verona, Under assisted Dzeko for the 2-1 with a nice right-footed cross and then he scored the other two goals himself: the first one with a precise shot from close range, while the second one in a Dybala-esque fashion with a curled left-footed shot just outside the box.
Patrick Cutrone – Who would have thought that a Cutrone would have been Milan top scorer, after that Rossoneri spent €60 million in the summer for strikers of the likes of André Silva and Kalinic? The Italian youngster impressed everyone once again on Saturday against Spal, scoring a brace of tap-ins and showing nuances of ex-Milan legend Inzaghi’s knack for finding the back of the net.
Fabio Quagliarella – Fabio Quagliarella is showing that what they sat about Italian wines is also true for some strikers: they get better with the age. At the age of 35, Sampdoria striker is having the season of his life as he scored his 17th goal of this campaign against Hellas Verona, showing great composure from the penalty spot.
GOAL OF THE DAY
Belotti vs Udinese
Before the game against Udinese Andrea Belotti was struggling to find his form back after a series of injuries who forced him to miss many games for Torino this season. He had also been not as prolific as many expected from him after last season, as he had scored 4 goals in 17 appearances. But the “Gallo” made all his critics and supporters stare in wonder as he scored the 2-0 with a surgical shot in the far bottom corner after an amazing solo run from his own half: a formidable mixture of speed, strength and precision.