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.
This weekend wasn’t a great one for the pack of sides chasing down Juventus. The chase for the Italian title doesn’t seem that open, following a few days which went almost perfectly for the reigning champions. That’s going to lead to big reactions elsewhere, including potential signings down the line.
Once again it was an incredibly high scoring weekend in Italy, with a string of seven games which all finished without a clean sheet. The league is quickly becoming a fixture of both teams to score bets. With 30 goals across 10 games, there’s plenty to pack into our review of the big weekend results, which included the biggest game in Italy – the Derby d’Italia.
Derby Delight for Juventus
However, it wasn’t a perfect Juventus display. They were measured, doing enough to edge a real challenge. The big thing for Juve of late is how they deal with the emerging threats, as this season has more tricky domestic ties than any of their recent title winning campaigns. Max Allegri knows that his side have raised the bar, but that’s inspired challengers. With that, the top sides are only likely to get stronger.
This week has seen huge transfer speculation in Milan, with Inter linked to Mesut Ozil following his struggles at Arsenal. His mammoth pay-packet would be a problem, but we’ve recently seen Juve take a hit for a marquee man. Ozil may not be on Cristiano Ronaldo’s level, but the German plays in a historic position for Inter – the number 10 role. Recent years their biggest issue has been trying to find a way to fill that spot. Given the slower pace of Italian football, Ozil could really add to the Nerazzurri.
One issue on Friday was that poacher Mauro Icardi had to drop deep too often, thanks to Inter’s flat midfield three. Their middle men tried to be everything but failed to really be anything. While Ozil has his critics, his ability is undoubted, and the Juve defeat shows how Inter need that presence and creativity.
Cruise for Napoli
We’ve already talked about how Napoli seem to be moving forward this term. This victory was yet another example of the progress at the San Paolo. Carlo Ancelotti assured the media after the game that he was going for an attacking approach in their big Champions League tie with Liverpool this week, where they have the opportunity to build on last season’s European failure.
Roma Shocked by Nine-men
Eusebio Di Francesco saw his side 2-0 up at half-time, and it seemed like the job was done. A nervy final six minutes came after Artur Ionita pulled one back, but the Giallorossi were on their way to victory. That looked certain when Cagliari had Darijo Srna and Luca Ceppitelli sent off in the 93rd minute, but Marco Sau found the net in the fifth minute of injury time to deny Roma all three points. While the club insist that Di Francesco’s job is safe, there have to be questions given the nature of that result.
Weekend of Late Drama
Sampdoria had Bartosz Bereszynski sent off in the 92nd minute, before Ciro Immobile converted a penalty kick in the 96th. That looked like enough for Lazio until Ricardo Saponara hit a 99th-minute equaliser to round off a dramatic Saturday of action. As it turned out, Sunday wasn’t half bad either.
Meanwhile, Empoli had an 80th-minute winner over Bologna to boost their survival hopes. The arrival of Giuseppe Iachini has been huge for the Azzurri, who have kicked off an excellent run of form. They are up to 14th with their latish win, which has put Pippo Inzaghi’s Bologna into the bottom three and left his future in doubt.
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