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Guest Article – Serie A Review Week 28

Another guest article now and Filippo Festuccia returns with an extensive review of all the action in Week 28 of Serie A. You can follow Filippo on Twitter here @FilippoFest. Over to you Filippo

The big question coming to this 28th week of Serie A football was, “which team believes its own hype?” We had some convincing answers, and possibly the first verdicts across the board. We have a rough idea of what teams will at least make it to the Europa League (and what teams won’t), we know the confines of the relegation battle and we have a few more certainties for the last ten games of the season.

Roma-Fiorentina was the big match for the weekend, but Fiorentina did not show up at all. Roma approached the game with high intensity, pressing aggressively and passing into open spaces on the sides. The unpredictable trio of Salah, Perotti and El Shaarawy was well supported by a strong midfield, while Fiorentina looked almost frightened and was unable to develop their usual passing game. Roma is now set to conquer third place (which means Champions League football next year) and will be ready to pressure Juventus and Napoli should they lose points. Meanwhile, Fiorentina will be more likely to battle Inter for a spot in the Europa League group stage. It may look like there was no big improvement from Montella’s tenure in the past years, but Paulo Sousa produced a huge shift forward and made Fiorentina look like a title contender for over half a season. Key stat: Roma created 10 chances from open play and 9 inside the box, coming mostly from counter-attacks on the sides while also relying on 4 dangerous set pieces.

Napoli-Chievo saw a rather disconcerting imbalance between two teams in the top 10. Napoli dominated the match, despite an initial scare that saw Chievo gain an early lead – quickly overturned by the usual Higuain goal. Chievo does not have the best approach right now, seeing as they’re practically safe from relegation, but Napoli showed that the difference in quality between the top teams and the rest of the table is very deep. Key stat: Napoli had three times the attempts as Chievo – 24 to 8. Utter dominance.

Atalanta-Juventus is further proof of this imbalance. Juventus does not play a very attractive style of football, but they’re able to win week after week because they have a winning mentality and way more quality across the field than 16 other teams in Serie A. Juventus defended hard against Atalanta, with Dybala, Mandzukic and Pereyra falling deep to help the midfield and to receive the sporadic pass. Key stat: the bianconeri needed true grit to overcome the challenge, and they proved themselves as the ultimate cynical team. 5 of 9 shots were on target (55%), with two goals as the end product, while Atalanta shot at a mere 23%, with 3 of 13 on target.

Inter-Palermo and Sassuolo-AC Milan told very different stories, as the two Milan teams keep fighting to stay close to Roma and Fiorentina. Inter was able to easily dispose of Palermo – a saddening sight of a team, with physical and technical issues that could spell relegation – while Milan lost to eternal fairytale Sassuolo, as the black-and-green led by Di Francesco established themselves as credible midtable regulars. For AC Milan, this game was a significant step backwards: the defensive instability that plagued the team in the first months reappeared as the back four tried to contain Sassuolo’s brilliant offense. Inter, meanwhile, gained new confidence after an impressive mid-week Coppa Italia showing against Juventus, and Palermo played the victim.

This renewed the spark in the relegation fight: Palermo now sits just one point above 18th place, as Frosinone won a crucial match against 16th-placed Udinese. Verona has almost no hope left, having lost 3-0 at home to Sampdoria – Montella seems to have found a way to keep the team afloat – and Carpi needs to do more than a series of draws (yesterday they had another, against Bologna), with a five point gap from Palermo and eight points from Udinese and Atalanta. Genoa and Sampdoria won and launched a solid effort to rescue their season, while Torino and Lazio had an uninspired midtable draw at lunchtime on Sunday.

Thanks Filippo, make sure to keep an eye out for his preview for Week 29 later this week and subsequent articles between now and the end of the season.

If you would like to have any content posted on here then please feel free to contact me at realfootballmanwordpress@gmail.com and hopefully we can get something of yours up as well.


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