Serie A continued its claim as arguably the tightest title race amongst Europe’s top five leagues as matchday 14 saw a change at the top of table between spots 1 and 2. But, before we get into that, let us kick things off in ‘the Lombard derby’ between hosts Brescia and Atalanta.
Off the back of their first ever UEFA Champions League victory midweek over Dinamo Zagreb, Gian Piero Gasperini’s group visited their local rivals in hopes of returning to winning ways domestically. That goal was successfully achieved as La Dea sent La Leonessa into further trouble down at the bottom of the table with a commanding 3-0 win.
Slovenian Josip Ilicic picked up a goal and assist, while Chelsea loanee Mario Pasalic led through the midfield with a brace himself, an outcome that could ultimately send recently hired coach Fabio Grosso back on the unemployment line as rumors of the sack loom.
Meanwhile, Fiorentina’s struggles against newly promoted outfits continued as Andrea La Mantia delivered the loan goal to give Lecce the 1-0 victory. In three matches against the three Serie A newcomers (Lecce, Verona, Brescia), La Viola have picked up just one point, a statistic that certainly puts Vincenzo Montella’s job at risk here in December.
To Turin we got for Sunday’s opening fixture where league leaders Juventus welcomed Sassuolo to Allianz Stadium. Captain Leonardo Bonucci put the Bianconeri ahead in the 20th minute with a well struck ball just outside the box, but emerging young star Jeremie Boga responded moments later with a lovely chip of the keeper Wojciech Szczesny to level terms. After Italian Francesco Caputo broke the deadlock and gave Roberto De Zerbi’s Neroverdi the advantage minutes after the second half commenced, Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the spot at the 68th minute.
The Portuguese international, who returned to the starting XI for Maurizio Sarri after a brief injury spell that prevented him from making the visit last weekend to Bergamo, looked less than sharp and unable to impact the match in ways we are accustomed to seeing over the years. The match ended 2-2 between the two sides, inviting rivals Inter to claim sole possession of first place if they could handle matters at home against SPAL, a task they would surely fulfill.
Injuries to Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella have left Antonio Conte’s midfield depleted, yet that did not prevent the Italian general’s other soldiers from stepping in and serving honorably - including Matias Vecino, Roberto Gagliardini and Marcelo Brozovic.
However, it was ‘El Toro’ Lautaro Martinez who left the most noticeable marks on the bout, delivering in a massive way once again for the Nerazzurri with two first half goals to secure all three points in a 2-1 outcome at San Siro. The Argentine’s increased production has been paramount to the Milanese side title run, already eclipsing last season’s league total of 6 goals in 27 appearances and 1,337 minutes with his current 8 through 14 matches.
Speaking of impressive goalscoring displays, man on fire Ciro Immobile padded his account with two more goals in Lazio’s 3-0 beating of Udinese. The Azzurri hitman has now scored more league goals (17) than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues this season; yes, even more than Robert Lewandowski.
At this rate, Immobile could become Serie A’s new all-time single season goal-scoring leader, dethroning Gonzalo Higuain who bagged 36 goals in 2015/16 for Napoli.
Lazio’s rivals AS Roma strung together their second straight league win with a 3-1 result over a steady defensive side in Hellas Verona. Stealing the show in the victory for the Giallorossi were scorers Justin Kluivert, Diego Perotti and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as well as Roman playmaker Lorenzo Pellegrini whose assist and overall exhibition teases at a real impact heading into the second half of the season now that he is fit.
AC Milan visited Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini where Stefano Pioli’s side fired at will on Luigi Sepe’s net with 27 shots, of which only 8 tested the keeper. Despite proving plenty wasteful in the final third and failing to get Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek back on scoring form, the Rossoneri found a winner through fullback Theo Hernandez to pick up all three points in a 1-0 win.
Napoli, who split points last weekend in a draw with Milan, were stunned yet again at the Stadio San Paolo, this time by Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Bologna to the tune of a 2-1 result. Fernando Llorente opened the scoring in the 41st with a tap-in after Lorenzo Insigne’s initial shot created the chance, but Andreas Skov Olsen and match-winner Nicola Sansone would lead ‘Mihajlovic’s Army’ to an inspired away win.
After a select few Italian sides feature in the Coppa Italia midweek, Inter-Roma and Lazio-Juventus serve as the main courses of round 15 next weekend.