Serie A: Team of the Week
Serie A is back, and has already given us some real quality entertainment since the winter break.
Napoli beat Roma 4-1 in one of the matches of the season. Both sides left everything on the pitch and provided ambitious, refreshing attacking tactics to please the viewers.
Juventus were shocked at home by Sampdoria, despite the visitors playing with 10 men for the majority of the game. Inter and Fiorentina also lost, as many of the top of the league stumbled in the new year.
Milan, Lazio and Napoli, of course, were the beneficiaries, as the top of the table tightened up with nine points between Milan in seventh and Lazio in second place in a tumultuous battle for Champions League football.
Abdoulay Konko is really impressing at Lazio from right back, injecting energy and lung-busting runs from defence to thrust the Biancocelesti forward in attack. The former Genoa defender popped up with a vital equaliser against Cagliari, too.
Udinese were able to trump an Inter side that appears to be successfully transforming into a new side under Andrea Stramaccioni. Antonio Di Natale, as always, scored a brace to provide the Zebrette with an impressive 3-0 victory.
Toto scored a fine opener, struck low on the volley across Samir Handanovic into the bottom left corner, before a typical poacher's goal sealed the win.
Francesco Guidolin will be delighted by the relationship that his veteran striker has sparked with Luis Muriel, who scored the second goal. It was a solid defence that provided the key to victory. Danilo anchored the trademark back three, tracking the clever movement of Rodrigo Palacio superbly throughout the game.
Goran Pandev was able to influence the game in a positive way for Napoli after a couple quiet games for the Partenopei.
The Macedonian was inventive and intelligent in possession and moved well to complement his strike partner, Edinson Cavani.
El Matador was back to his best with a fine treble in the Derby del Sole against Roma, attracting even more attention as the envious eyes of Europe's biggest clubs took note.
Walter Mazzarri has a less heralded player who is nearly as vital to the cause in Valon Behrami. The Swiss star never stops running, putting out fires all over the pitch to stifle the Giallorossi pass masters in a team performance.
The Flying Donkeys secured a fine 1-0 win against Atalanta thanks to Isaac Cofie, who has never been known for his goalscoring exploits. The Ghanaian has provided great athleticism and work-rate to the Chievo midfield and is becoming a permanent fixture in Eugenio Corini's side.
Chievo always tend to survive despite the logic suggesting that their side is short in quality compared to their Serie A rivals, but it is smart pickups like the veteran Dario Dainelli that will see them home again.
Genoa did not want Dainelli, shipping him out to Chievo last season, but when fit, he has been superb for the side, reading the game and using his experience to rub off on his teammates.
Speaking of Genoa, Luca Antonelli was part of a back four that gave Luigi Delneri only his second clean sheet in 13 matches. The former Italy international, who can also play in midfield, managed to stifle the threat of the lively Cristian Pasquato and still provide support for Juan Manuel Vargas down the left.
Marco Borriello bagged himself a brace for the Grifone in a crucial relegation battle against Bologna. The subject of much transfer speculation, Borriello has stayed with the side despite some ill discipline that saw him left out of the squad for the match with Inter Milan before Christmas.
Genoa have strengthened their core and now have a solid enough base that Borriello can fire the goals that will ensure the Rossoblu survive.
After the flurry of goals on Sunday, there was a goalless affair on Saturday between Catania and Torino.
Jean-François Gillet was responsible for keeping Torino in the game. The Belgian pulled off a string of fine saves, including a powerful drive from Lucas Castro.
Let me know your thoughts on my team of the week in the comments section below and what you made of the first weekend back in Serie A.
4-2-4: Gillet; Konko, Dainelli, Danilo, Antonelli, Behrami, Cofie, Pandev, Borriello, Di Natale, Cavani.
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