Two big matches, not a lot of goals during the league weekend, but definitely a very high level of tension. The two big showdowns were Napoli-Lazio and Roma-Juventus, and the real surprise came from the match between Luciano Spalletti’s boys and Lazio. Let’s check out what happened from last weekend’s Serie A…
MATCH OF THE WEEK – FIORENTINA VS AC MILAN
The most anticipated matches were others, but the game that provided the most spectacle over the league weekend was the one between Fiorentina and Milan.
Surprisingly, Vincenzo Italiano’s boys won, producing the best performance of the season in Serie A. Milan seemed to be on the launching pad for a great finish of the season, but a bad misstep came in Florence.
It is not the end of the world, that is obvious, but the worst thing about the defeat was the performance. Italiano’s team was superior from the first minute until the last, despite the wonder goal scored by Theo Hernandez, putting in more intensity, character and quality than their opponents.
Many shots, many plays, many chances for both teams. For Fiorentina, first Nico Gonzalez scored from a penalty kick (glacial, Míke Maignan couldn’t do anything about it) and then Luka Jovic, who crowned a beautiful action with a header. Conference League confidence boost for Fiorentina, while reflections to come for Stefano Pioli’s Milan ahead of Tottenham.
SURPRISE OF THE WEEK – LAZIO DEFEAT NAPOLI
Here, nobody really expected this one. And not because Lazio is not a good team and is not having a great season (as the standings tell us), but because Napoli, until Friday night, had been on an almost perfect run both in the league and in Europe.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and his teammates managed the feat of not only not losing, but were even able to win at the home of the future champions of Italy (yes, fans’ superstition aside, the points in the standings between them and Inter are still 15, a huge amount for any chaser). The decisive goal was scored neither by Ciro Immobile, nor by Mattia Zaccagni, nor by Luis Alberto, but by one of the most unexpected: Matìas Vecino, the former Inter midfielder, who with a shot from long distance drew the wild card worth three points and third place in the standings.
Solid performance, more defensive than anything else, but at home to Napoli it is definitely acceptable. And what counts, as always, are the three more points in the standings. Disappointing performances by Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but credit must be given to Maurizio Sarri’s boys for defending with great care and concentration, overturning all odds.
INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK – CYRIEL DESSERS & SIMONE PERILLI
Two unusual names for the best performances of the Serie A weekend. The first is Cyriel Dessers, Cremonese’s striker, last year’s top scorer in the Europa Conference League (lost in the final to José Mourinho’s Roma), who has finally begun to shine in the shirt of the Lombard team as well.
The match against Sassuolo ended in defeat, 3-2 to the hosts thanks to Emir Bajrami’s 92nd minute winner, but the Belgian-born striker scored two goals, finally showing what he is really capable of. Until now he had been unlucky and inaccurate, but maybe this great performance can mark the beginning of a different season for him.
Also among the stars of the weekend, another surprise, the name of Simone Perilli, Hellas Verona’s backup goalkeeper, stood out. Against Spezia, Marco Zaffaroni had to do without Lorenzo Montipò, the starting goalkeeper and pillar of the team, so the choice fell on the Roman, born in 1995, in his first match in Serie A.
It was an important game, potentially decisive for the position of the two teams in the standings, and Perilli’s response on the field was decidedly promising. The best save was the one from Emmanuel Gyasi’s shot, destined for inside the post: a great save by the Verona goalkeeper, who secured the result at 0-0, thus managing to keep alive the hopes of avoiding relegation to Serie B.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK – GIANLUCA MANCINI
In a weekend full of surprises, it also stands out that Roma-Juventus, a match featuring Paulo Dybala, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Angel Di Maria, Dusan Vlahovic and other stars, was decided by a goal scored by Gianluca Mancini. That’s right, the central defender.
After a great defensive performance, effectively nullifying Vlahovic (who almost failed to touch a ball for 90 minutes), he found the way to goal with a deadly shot, as if he were a great striker, a number 9 used to scoring a mountain of goals every season.
After the strike flew in he stopped, he couldn’t believe what he’d done and it was exactly the same for his teammates and every single supporter at the Olimpico Stadium.
Great goal, three incredibly heavy points for his team, now back in the race for a place in the next year’s Champions League. A few minutes before the end of the game he also forced the red card for Moise Kean, who, frustrated and angry with the result, was sent off less than a minute after entering the field.
Mancini is the defender who has grown the most for Roma this season, after having received more than 15 yellow cards last year, and it is definitely thanks to Jose Mourinho.