Five things we learned from Serie A this weekend
Juventus are out in front, revamped Inter are coming up fast on the outside and there might still be life in the relegation dogfight.
Here are five things we learned from Serie A this weekend:
Juve will take some catching nowMassimiliano Allegri’s champions look to have taken a decisive step towards a record sixth straight Scudetto after closest rivals Roma and Napoli faltered. Juve now stand four points clear at the top with a game in hand, against lowly Crotone, that looks like a three-point banker. It is hard to see a battle-hardened squad of proven winners squandering that advantage.
Inter are form team
Inter Milan’s revival continues apace and Stefano Pioli’s squad might be the chasing pack’s best chance of preventing the run-in from turning into a Juve triumphal procession. Saturday’s 3-0 win over Pescara was Inter’s seventh straight league win and ninth in all competitions heading into next Sunday’s showdown with the champions in Turin. Inter were 12th when Pioli’s predecessor Frank De Boer was sacked in November.
Not rocket science
Inter defender Danilo D’Ambrosio puts the turnaround engineered by Pioli down to clarity in his instructions, particularly when it comes to defending from the front. “Everybody knows what their job is,” he said in comments that hardly amounted to a ringing endorsement of Dutch legend De Boer’s brief reign. D’Ambrosio also revealed that training has got tougher and more competitive under the new boss, helping make Inter sharper when it matters, on match days. Next Sunday’s trip to Juventus stadium will provide a measure of how sharp.
Crotone beat the team above them, Empoli, 4-1 and Palermo secured an unlikely point at Napoli: could some life yet be injected into the battle to avoid the drop? Unlikely but not impossible. Tiny Crotone have a game in hand and an eight-point deficit to make up to get out of the bottom three in their first Serie A season. Rock bottom Pescara look dead and buried while Palermo squandered the chance of three precious points at Napoli when Croatian goalkeeper Josip Posavec let a tame Dries Mertens shot slither through his legs: comedy goalkeeping does not help in survival fights.
Lazio fans unhappy
After a promising first half of the season, Lazio appear to be coming off the boil — unlike some of their furious fans. Minnows Chievo parked the bus at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday and came away with all three points thanks to Roberto Inglese’s 90th-minute strike. The home fans were not happy and club captain Lucas Biglia and Spanish-born striker Mamadou Tounkara both had to be restrained by stewards after “agricultural” insults were hurled in their direction post-match. Tounkara, a former Barcelona academy prodigy, later apologised for throwing a punch at a “tifoso” who had allegedly spat at Biglia and threatened the Argentine midfielder’s wife.
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