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Serie A Review: Juventus Keep Cool as Higuain Blows Top
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
November 12, 2018
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Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

Serie A wrapped up for the international break with some big wins, shock results and a slew of managerial moves. There was entertainment across the division, with the famously defensive league seeing 19 of the 20 sides score. That shows the new trend for Italian football, which is moving away from their catenaccio style of old.

The phrase catenaccio translates as door-bolt, and this weekend the door was open throughout. In fact, a couple of managers could be kicked out through it, while one is desperately trying to walk away while the President clings on. After a thrilling few days in Italy, here is all the best of the action.

CR7 Inspires Number 11

Juventus won the big game of the weekend, and unsurprisingly they were the only Italian side to keep a clean sheet this weekend. They won 2-0 away to AC Milan, a defeat which left the Rossoneri out of the top four. Their recent surge up the standings has been knocked back, while Juve showed that they are a cut above the rest once again.

Cristiano Ronaldo was obviously centre of attention in this clash, despite being little more than an onlooker as Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring at San Siro. The Portuguese became more involved, as he hammered home the winning goal and looked like the game’s stand-out player. The champions were able to keep their cool and secure the points, with an 11th win in 12 games keeping them six points clear at the top. However, Milan weren’t quite as composed.

The biggest incident of the game saw Gonzalo Higuain foul Medhi Benatia – a potential new teammate at Milan – before he let rip at the referee. The Argentine was obviously frustrated by his lack of impact against his former side, and he took out that frustration at the official. A red card swiftly followed, ending any hope for Milan getting back into this one. That left Gennaro Gattuso’s team out of the top four once again, cranking up the pressure on the Rossoneri boss. However, he’s not the only manager in danger.

Replace Ventura

Sunday brought a huge milestone for Chievo, as they finally hit the big zero point mark. The Gialloblu secured a 2-2 draw at home to Bologna, with their third draw of the season cancelling out their three point deduction. The club remain in huge danger, but that result seemed like something for the club to build on. The first step in a potential chase for survival.

Then, their manager resigned in the dressing room at full time. Gian Piero Ventura took a sledgehammer to his already rock bottom reputation in Italy, by trying to leave the club after a four game spell in charge. We say trying, because Chievo don’t want to let him go. The manager said his goodbyes to the players, while he claimed that he didn’t enjoy the environment at the club, and he thought he couldn’t save them from the drop. Despite that, the club President is determined to hang onto Ventura.

This is a dramatic twist, but one laced in irony that Italians won’t enjoy. Ventura refused to resign when he failed to take Italy to the 2018 World Cup. He tried to pass the blame, and waited for the Italian FA to pay him off despite his colossal failure. Ventura was already unpopular after that shambles, and this episode has done him no favours. Chievo are trying to avoid getting a third manager of the season in November, but it’s hard to see Ventura inspiring much confidence if he were to stay.

More Managerial Meltdowns

It seems like Empoli have started a trend, with their move to bring in Giuseppe Iachini paying off at the weekend. The more defensively minded coach guided Empoli to a 2-1 win over Udinese in his first game. His record of saving sides from the drop is well known, and the Azzurri must be glad that they snapped him up first.

That defeat for Udinese has led to more change, with Julio Velazquez reportedly told to get on his bike. He’s set to be replaced by Davide Nicola, the man who promised to cycle to Turin if he kept Crotone in the top flight. He did inspire a turnaround for the Calabrians, and the manager made good on his 1300km promise. He’s now set to try and turn around Udinese’s fortunes, with the Zebrette pipping Genoa to secure the manager’s signature.

That’s because Genoa were beaten again at the weekend, losing 2-1 at home to Napoli. The Grifone made the bizarre choice to replace the successful Davide Ballardini with Ivan Juric, who Genoa have already sacked twice. There’s been no third time lucky here, as after five games without a win, Juric is on the brink. There are conflicting reports of whether he will make it through the break, with the big derby clash against Sampdoria next up for Genoa.

Dea Defy Inter

Napoli continued the pressure on Juventus with their win, but Inter Milan failed to keep the pace. Sunday brought an end to Inter’s brilliant Serie A run, as they were hammered away at Atalanta. The Nerazzurri had won seven league games on the bounce to move into second, but a crushing 4-1 defeat to la Dea has left Luciano Spalletti facing questions once more.

They went into the game on the back of a draw with Barcelona, having hit their stride in the league. The club’s excellent strength in depth pointed to a strong run, and then out of the blue they were hammered by an underperforming Atalanta side. The Bergamo outfit were excellent on the day, and Inter were lucky to get away having only conceded four.

The Nerazzurri return from the international break with a huge run of games. They face two decisive Champions League outings and trips to Roma and Juventus in their next five. We’ve seen how bad they can be when confidence is low, so Spalletti has to boost their morale to get a response to this defeat.

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