Lessons Learned from Giornata 26
As Serie A takes a quick breather for a World Cup friendly this week versus Cameroon, this past weekend once again saw changes in the standings as well as a tightening championship race. Before we look ahead and begin debating which players deserve to make the national team, let’s take a look back at a fascinating week in Serie A.
It was the best and worst of times for AC Milan
Alexandre Pato was the star of the match for Milan, netting two first half goals for the club on their way to an easy 3-1 victory over Atalanta. But the story coming out of this match was a thigh strain for Pato, who was carried off near the end of the match. The severity is currently unknown, but it looks like he could miss the crucial away game versus Manchester United next week. Milan is a talented club, but Pato has fourteen goals in 24 Serie A and Champions League matches this season and thus will be missed if he is out for the match.
The positive Juventus momentum grinds to a halt
This past week, Juventus beat Ajax in aggregate to move into the round of 16 in the Europa League. They had also moved back into fourth place in Serie A and looked to be in control of their Champions League destiny. Alas, their momentum came to a screeching halt with a 2-0 loss to Palermo, who replaces them in that coveted fourth place in the standings. Juve had their chances, but only put one shot on goal in the contest. This was their first loss under new manager Alberto Zaccheroni.
Roma and Napoli both end streaks
A Marek Hamsik goal in extra time sealed an impressive Napoli comeback and secured their first points in their last six matches. That same goal also ended Roma’s winning streak at seven matches and, with Milan’s two victories in four days, dropped them into third in the standings three points behind Milan and seven behind Inter. Mirko Vucinic continued to play well netting a goal in the 65th minute, but it was Roma’s defense that let Napoli back into the contest. This bitter defeat ended a bad week for Roma – still without Toni and Totti, they had been eliminated from the Europa League on Thursday.
Lazio survives to play another day
In a match setting that ESPN described as “ghostly”, Lazio held on to a 1-1 draw against Fiorentina to pick up one point and remain three points away from relegation. The Lazio faithful held a protest of the club’s ownership, resulting in an estimated crown of 10,000 quietly watching the match in the Stadio Olympico. Lazio seized an early lead on a goal in the seventh minute, and their third-string keeper didn’t concede an equalizer until extra time in the second half. It was at the same time a missed opportunity and favorable match for the home club.
Bari continues its free-fall
For a club that was considered a dark horse for a Euopra League spot, Bari has played miserably the past few weeks. Last week, they barely put up a fight against visiting AC Milan. This week, the gave up four goals to a Catania club that is fighting to stay up in Serie A. Bari played well but failed to put any points on the board despite some good opportunities. This is their fourth straight loss and they have failed to scored for the third time in those matches.