Top 5 Players in Italy's Serie A This Weekend
It was a wonderful weekend of action in Italy that saw major movement at the top and bottom of the table.
Palermo failed to hang onto a lead against Chievo, which proved costly. Genoa and Cagliari secured crucial victories at the foot of the table and both sides appear to be well down the road to safety.
Juventus faltered away to fierce rivals Roma and opened the door for Napoli to close the gap at the top to just two points, but the Partenopei were frustrated at home to Sampdoria.
Milan continued their march towards the Champions League places, temporarily claiming third after a 2-1 victory at home to Parma—although Lazio can jump back above the Rossoneri if they can avoid defeat against Siena on Monday.
The most significant result of the weekend, and by far the most impressive, came at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, where a rampant Fiorentina trounced a dreadful Inter Milan side.
Here are my five picks for the best players in Serie A this weekend.
5. Vasilis Torosidis, Roma
The Greek international was the beneficiary of new interim-manager Aurelio Andreazzoli, who switched the Giallorossi to a 3-4-3 formation—away from former manager Zdenek Zeman's 4-3-3.
Roma were terrific and thoroughly deserved their 1-0 victory against Juventus, thanks to a thunderbolt from Francesco Totti.
It was Vasilis Torosidis who set the tone for Roma on Saturday, charging up and down the right wing for the entirety of the game.
Torosidis was able to stop the Ghanaian train that is Kwadwo Asamoah, who has proved to be so destructive on the left wing for Juventus.
Not only did Torosidis contain the former Udinese star, but he was able to also cover Ivan Piris and combine well to manoeuvre the ball down the right for the Giallorossi.
4. Juan Cuadrado, Fiorentina
In truth, it was entirely possible that I could have filled my five picks for players of the weekend in Serie A with Fiorentina players.
The Viola were magnificent and put in the performance of the season by sweeping aside an Inter side that enters the Derby della Madonnina on the verge of crisis.
Special mentions for Alberto Aquilani's astonishing back-heeled assist for Stevan Jovetic's second goal and Adem Ljajic, who provided such fluidity to the Fiorentina attack in place of the more physical Luca Toni.
But Juan Cuadrado was almost the best player on the pitch (more of the best player later).
The Colombian was rampant down the right and turned Yuto Nagatomo inside out on countless occasions.
His dribbling was outstanding, and the 24-year-old's searing pace was a constant thorn in Inter's side all game.
3. Mario Balotelli, Milan
What an impact this man is having back in Serie A.
Mario Balotelli has hit the ground running, to put it lightly, inspiring the Rossoneri to a 2-1 victory over a stubborn Parma outfit.
Super Mario secured another crucial three points with a fine free kick that was whipped up and over the wall and past Nicola Pavarini.
M'Baye Niang was desperate to take over the free kick duties after a couple of disappointing efforts from the former City star, but Balotelli had one last opportunity and proved to be the match winner that Milan crave to support Stephan El Shaarawy.
Il Faraone missed Friday's game through injury and Milan struggled to find their rhythm throughout, but Balotelli's moment of magic pulled them through.
This is exactly why Balotelli deserves to make the list this week—when somebody is capable of being decisive with one moment of magic, that player can rise above everybody else on the pitch and rarely be stopped.
2. Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina
Jojo is back!
Stevan Jovetic inspired the Viola to a 4-1 victory on Sunday with a brace, including a stunning strike on the turn that flew past Samir Handanovic.
When arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world could not get anywhere near this strike, it shows how special the Montenegrin is.
Jovetic allowed his partner, Adem Ljajic, to drop deep and link with the midfield—a job that he tends to do most often.
This allowed Jovetic to wreak havoc between Juan Jesus and Andrea Ranocchia, causing panic amongst the Nerazzurri centre-backs and ultimately profiting with his second goal by constantly being on the move in and around the penalty area.
The only reason that Jovetic is not number one this week in Serie A is the fact that his performance was indicative of the way that Fiorentina played as a team, where more or less every player was excellent.
1. Francesco Totti, Roma
No Totti, no party!
"All hail the new pope" could be heard ringing around the Olimpico on Saturday as Roma triumphed against their fierce rivals Juventus.
Francesco Totti's blockbuster strike was decisive, and when you consider that this goal probably does not make the top-10 goals in his career, you realise what a special player he really is.
The Capitano's hit was as pure as you will see, and the quality of the shot was evident by the way that the ball travelled as straight as an arrow—a rare sight in the modern game when the ball tends to oscillate so much through the air when hit with power from distance.
Gianluigi Buffon barely moved and the Giallorossi faithful erupted in joy, capping off a special evening in Rome.
Totti's performance was outstanding in general though, often picking up the ball in midfield and caressing the ball into the path of Pablo Osvaldo to stretch the Bianconeri.
With paintbrushes for studs on his boots, Totti is a master at work—at 34 years old, he's still capable of being the best player in Serie A on his day.