5 Takeaways from Week 14 in Serie A
Serie A: 5 Takeaways from Week 14
A pair of matches still remain on the docket for Week 14 in Serie A as Fiorentina will take on Hellas Verona in Tuscany on Monday evening before Lazio and Napoli clash in the Italian capital later on, yet the weekend has already provided plenty to sort out following the first eight matches of the round.
Juventus have gone three points clear at the top of the table after a last-gasp win in Turin over Francesco Guidolin’s Udinese, taking advantage of Roma requiring a late strike from Kevin Strootman to eke out a fourth straight draw away to Atalanta earlier on Sunday.
Antonio Cassano scored his 100th Serie A goal in high style make sure honors were even between Parma and Bologna in the Derby dell’Emilia, whilst Mattia Perin continued a wonderful run of form in goal for Genoa to keep the Grifone within touching distance of Torino to bag a one-all draw at Marassi.
Milan at last returned to winning ways against Catania in the Italian top flight after going without a victory since Oct. 19, a run of five games, buoyed by goals from captain Riccardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli and resurgent fan-favorite Kaka.
Elsewhere Chievo climbed out of the drop zone with a second straight triumph in dispatching Livorno easily 3-0, with Cagliari and Sassuolo seeing honors even in a 2-2 shootout in Sardinia as Marco Sau beat Gianluca Pegolo in the 87th minute to ensure both sides came away with a point each.
Finally, new Inter owner Erick Thohir had his first match at San Siro spoiled late on in a 1-1 draw with Sampdoria.
The following are five takeaways from the weekend in Serie A ahead of Monday’s matches.
5. Roma Must Have Francesco Totti Back
The Giallorossi have now drawn four straight following a Serie A record 10 straight victories to open the season, having missed the legendary captain since he came off injured against Napoli on Oct. 18.
Roma haven’t scored more than one goal in any of six games since the evergreen 37-year-old landed on the treatment table, and will be keen to see him return to the fold as quickly as possible to reignite the side’s resolve in the long fight for the league title with Juventus.
4. Milan Require Best Balotelli to Succeed
Amidst chaos in the club hierarchy, the Rossoneri at last came away with three points on the back of Maro Balotelli’s free-kick winner in the 63rd minute.
The controversial Italy international hasn’t netted in Serie A since late September before Sunday’s strike as Milan struggled along. The San Siro outfit, dragged to a Champions League berth by his efforts last season, will need him in top form to continue the recovery from a rancid start to the term.
3. Inter Need Reinforcements
The Nerazzurri’s new owner looked on as Walter Mazzarri’s charges largely labored against Sampdoria at San Siro on Sunday, failing to hold on to a slim advantage as Renan’s late long-range effort spoiled the party for Thohir.
Having flown to Milan to discuss transfer targets amongst other matters, the Indonesian businessman will do right by his new club to bring in a creative force in January, as Inter lacked ideas at times and managed just two shots on goal throughout.
2. Sassuolo Becoming Serie A’s Entertainer
A terrible beginning to the Neroverdi’s maiden top flight adventure seemed to book their place for a quick return to Serie B early on, but Eusebio Di Francesco’s charges have bounced back to move clear of the drop zone and emerge as one of the most entertaining sides to watch in the peninsula.
With a front line highlighted by young stars Simone Zaza and Domenico Berardi, Sassuolo have made both conceding and scoring at a high rate their specialty, most lately evidenced by a thrilling 2-2 draw with Cagliari in which they were 2-0 up at half.
1. Llorente a Force for Juventus
The hulking Spaniard had a tough go of things to start in Italy, but has become a rock for the reigning Serie A champions as of late to silence rumors of an early departure in January.
Llorente has five goals in his last nine games in all competitions as he’s formed a deadly partnership with Carlos Tevez in attack for the Bianconeri. His most recent one was a crucial stoppage time winner against Udinese on Sunday evening.