Serie A Weekend: Honors Even in Genoa
It was Derby Della Lanterna weekend in Serie A and the Genoans were ready. It was the first derby since that awful incident of the bridge collapse, so one of the fiercest derbies in Italy was extra charged. On weekends like this, the rest of Serie A takes a backseat, but still, we had Juventus and Inter getting wins, not to mention Roma losing to Udinese and Napoli drawing at home
Derby Della Lanterna
The Derby Della Lanterna between Genoa and Sampdoria, the two clubs from Genoa, is always feisty. It’s certainly the game in Italy most known for its pyrotechnics and outstanding tifos. This game was at Genoa’s stadium, so the home fans brought out the smoke bombs and flashbangs whenever they felt necessary; a proper derby, this.
But this game was always going to be different. It is the first derby since the awful Ponte Morandi bridge tragedy which killed 43 people in August. A horrible tragedy without a doubt and one that the city of Genova has rallied around. The tifos of this game were absolutely beautiful and the tributes to those lost were even better.
The players left their tributes to be the show on the field and, boy, did they excel. It was a breathtaking, end-to-end game with chances for both teams at both ends and we got goals straight away when an outstanding cross from Gaston Ramirez was whipped to the back post where Fabio Quagliarella was holding off a Genoa defender and headed the ball into the net.
Quagliarella’s lovely header did not give Sampdoria the lead for long, however. Roughly ten minutes later, Genoa’s Polish international Krzysztof Piatek earned a penalty thanks to an outstanding ball around the back of the defence. Piatek did well to control and force Sampdoria keeper Emil Audero into a challenge and a penalty. He then easily slotted it home to give Genoa the equalizer.
The rest of the game went as any derby should. It was chaotic, it was frantic, there was complaining and there were nasty challenges. The Genoa coach was sent off and it finished with a 1-1 draw. The draw means both teams end their three-match losing streaks and after 13 rounds Sampdoria, sit 12th, one point above 13th-place Genoa.
Juventus and Inter Roll On
Juventus had a simple home match against 15th place SPAL on Saturday. With a Champions League game on Tuesday, Juve had a decent amount of rotation. Max Allegri tried out a 4-4-2 formation, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic up front. It worked great, with those two getting the goals and giving Juventus a 2-0 win.
Keeping pace with Juve were Inter, who had a similar game, a home matchup with 19th place Frosinone. They too have a Champions League game in midweek, so Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic were left on the bench. It didn’t matter, as new signings Keita Balde and Lautaro Martinez came in and got goals in Inter’s 3-0 win.
Napoli Draw at Home
Again a team with a Champions League game midweek, but this time not the same result. Napoli were hoping to keep pace with Juventus and Inter when they took on bottom side Chievo at the San Paolo. They put out a strong enough group, starting both usual centre-backs, plus Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon up front.
Napoli created plenty of chances, as they should with 70% possession and 21 shots. But they came up against another vintage performance from Stefano Sorrentino. You may be familiar with Sorrentino’s antics from the opening game against Juventus, where he saved nine shots. This time, however, it was only eight crucial saves as Chievo earned a massive point away to Napoli.
What’s Wrong With Roma?
Eusebio Di Francesco is certainly in trouble. Another defeat for Roma, this time away to Udinese, means they currently sit seventh in the table, with Parma going ahead of them. Di Francesco decided to do a bunch of rotating with the Champions League game against Real Madrid midweek, and it cost him.
His side have not seemed to find any chemistry when the players have been rotated, especially when Edin Dzeko is left out of the starting eleven. Patrik Schick started this weekend and was thoroughly awful. He was non-existent against Udinese and Roma paid the price for it. By the time Dzeko was brought on, he could do no damage and Roma limped to the loss.
It will be crisis time now for Di Francesco; any wrong result could cost him his job. Roma have top-four aspirations and, with all the changes over the summer, they expected some early season issues. But so far, Di Francesco has yet to show he is the man to get through those issues and time is running out.