Serie A Weekend: Red Cards and Equalizers for All!
It was a Serie A weekend full of drama and controversy. There were seven red cards handed out across the league this weekend, on top of three stoppage-time equalisers. It was one of those weekends where the action was flying everywhere.
Juventus 1-0 Inter
By now, many of you have seen the result, a commanding and controlled Juventus victory. One player, that wasn’t Cristiano Ronaldo, particularly stood out. Giorgio Chiellini was at his absolute best on Friday night. Marshalling his defence, controlling the Inter attacks; he was always there to snuff out any danger.
He did an incredible job marking Inter superstar Mauro Icardi throughout the game. Icardi never got a real clear-cut chance on goal and that was down to the play of Chiellini. It helps that he has his favourite partner back in Leonardo Bonucci. These two are back to their absolute best and will anchor Juve throughout their season.
This was supposed to be Inter’s last real chance to stay in the title race. With the loss, it means they are now 14 points behind Juve with four games left before the break. hold an eight-point lead over Napoli, who whacked poor old Frosinone at the San Paolo on Saturday. It will take a real collapse for either of those sides to catch Juventus.
Cagliari 2-2 Roma
What is going on at Roma? Eusebio Di Francesco’s side have once again dropped points; this time to a nine-man Cagliari side. Roma have been abysmal lately; only two wins in Serie A since the derby in late September. They seem to be the side that has taken a step back with much Serie A taking steps forward over the last few seasons.
It was always going to be hard to replace the likes of Mo Salah, Radja Nainggolan and Alisson Becker but they’ve found a fine replacement for Alisson in Robin Olsen. It’s the players in midfield and attack that have really struggled. New signings like Steven N’Zonzi, Bryan Cristante, Javier Pastore and Justin Kluivert have been unable to make a mark.
It’s not just been their new signings, players like Edin Dzeko and Patrik Schick need to get going. The pair have combined for three Serie A goals in over 1400 minutes, just an awful total. Di Francesco will need to get them scoring if he is going to keep his job. Sitting in ninth place is not anywhere last season’s Champions League finalists expected to be.
Maybe he might need to consider dropping Schick and going with Diego Perotti in his old False Nine position. It’s something that has worked for Roma in the past under Luciano Spalletti. Whether or not Di Francesco will try it is another matter but he should be willing to try anything given the recent form of his side.
Lazio 2-2 Sampdoria
Let’s hope all the Lazio fans around the world didn’t rub it in too much with their neighboring Roma fans. They thought they were going to walk out of the Olimpico as 2-1 winners over Sampdoria. They had won a penalty in the 95th minute, that Ciro Immobile hammered into the net, but don’t tell that to Riccardo Saponara, who wouldn’t want to disappoint you.
Saponara, on as a sub, scored a flying side-footed volley that looped over the Lazio keeper and into the net. Saponara then sprinted into the corner with the Sampdoria fans ripping off literally all his clothes. While he was celebrating someone pulled down his underwear and exposed him but there’s little chance he cared after such a late equaliser.
Sassuolo 3-3 Fiorentina
This is not a low-scoring, defensively-strong Serie A; all of these teams can score plenty and give it all away just as fast. Take Sassuolo, for example. After this round of matches, they sit tenth but level on points with seventh-place Atalanta. They’ve scored 24 goals and conceded 22, a high-paced, mid-table side to say the least.
Their game against Fiorentina was just that. Fiore sit just below Sassuolo and struggle to score, so in the 80th minute, they found themselves 3-1 down to some lovely goals. Then Sassuolo had a man sent off and Fiorentina got their second. Fiore then had a man sent off but still managed to score their third. Sassuolo manager Roberto De Zerbi said it was down to inexperience when asked what happened.
That game capped off a crazy trifecta of late equalisers and red cards. Don’t worry, though, the art of defensive football is still alive and well. AC Milan and Torino played out an utterly eventless 0-0 draw to finish out the weekend, just so we keep the scales balanced.