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5 Outstanding Players from Serie A This Weekend

Jack Alexandros RathbornContributor IIIMarch 3, 2013

5 Outstanding Players from Serie A This Weekend

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    It was an extended weekend of calcio for a change, with Napoli and Juventus treating us to a game on Friday night to accommodate the Bianconeri's preparations for the Champions League against Celtic next week.

    Had the Lega Serie A foreseen the Old Lady bringing a 3-0 lead back to Turin, there would be absolutely no need for the extra rest and the rescheduled date.

    But it made for an electric atmosphere as the San Paolo was sold out for the Partenopei's last hurrah for the title.

    Giorgio Chiellini silenced the crowd early on with a fine header, before Gokhan Inler's deflected shot levelled the game.

    In a grand stand finish, Napoli threw everything at the Bianconeri, but it was not to be and the champions escaped with a point and probably one hand on the scudetto.

    Elsewhere we saw the race for the third Champions League place heat up, with Milan, Fiorentina, Inter and Roma all securing vital victories, meaning that Lazio's defeat at the Rossoneri was particularly damaging, especially after the controversial Andrea Candreva red card.

    With such a wealth of options at my disposal, I have tried to steer clear of the players that might have made headlines that transcended to even the most casual calcio fan.

    Giampaolo Pazzini was excellent for a rampant Milan side, but it was a team effort that allowed Pazzini to shine, rather than an exceptional individual effort.

    Please feel free to contribute your suggestions in the comments section below.

    Here are five players that impressed me most from the current round of fixtures.

Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus

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    Leonardo Bonucci has broken through this season as one of Europe's premier defenders.

    Even though Giorgio Chiellini's reputation might be greater, Bonucci is more crucial to Antonio Conte's system.

    The 25-year-old added another fine performance to his collection on Friday in the huge game against Napoli.

    Bonucci distributed exquisitely from the back with accuracy short and long, suggesting that he should now be considered the finest ball-playing centre-back in Europe.

    Now entering his prime, Bonucci is fast becoming a complete defender.

Rodrigo Palacio, Inter

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    Rodrigo Palacio was controversially left out of the Inter starting lineup due to concerns that he was burning out.

    The Nerazzurri almost left him too much work to do when he appeared as a substitute in the second half, trailing by two goals.

    But the former Boca Juniors star inspired Andrea Stramaccioni's side to a memorable victory that might trigger a strong finish, despite setbacks such as Diego Milito's injury and Antonio Cassano's bust-up with the manager.

    Firstly, Palacio ran the channels very well, stretching Catania and creating space for his team mates, something that led to the first goal of the comeback.

    Palacio pulled Alexis Rolin out wide and delivered a perfect cross for Ricardo Alvarez to head home.

    Palacio played the alternative role for the second, rising high to head in the equaliser, before a well-worked move involving Esteban Cambiasso claimed a famous three points in injury time.

    Inter have a chance to make third, but only if Palacio carries them there.

Alessio Romagnoli, Roma

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    Alessio Romagnoli calmed the nerves of Romanistas against Genoa on Sunday with a monstrous defensive display.

    Marquinhos was ruled out of the game and this created panic amongst the fans, as the Brazilian teenager has been arguably Roma's player of the season.

    The 18-year-old performed well beyond his years by reading the game beautifully, particularly when covering for Nicolas Burdisso's errors at times.

    The second goal that gave Roma the lead again was the icing on the cake for the Roma youth product who has an outstanding future ahead of him.

Alessandro Diamanti, Bologna

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    Alessandro Diamanti sparkled for Bologna this weekend and all but secured the side's safety from relegation for another season.

    An 11-point gap between themselves and the relegation zone means that Stefano Pioli has probably delivered on his objectives for the season, with Diamanti inspiring the team when they most needed it.

    Diamanti opened the scoring with a fine goal that is typical of his outrageous ability and vision, darting in from the right and curling a delightful shot from outside of the area into the top left corner.

    Diamanti, when confident, is one of the finest trequartistas in Serie A and could certainly step up to a club of greater stature this summer.

    The fancy flicks and trick, combined with a wonderful balance and willingness to dribble the ball make him the perfect candidate to build a side around.

Alberto Aquilani, Fiorentina

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    Alberto Aquilani is gradually finding the form that made him such a prized asset during his days with hometown club Roma.

    With such an abundance of creativity at the Viola, Aquilani has struggled to assert himself in Vincenzo Montella's side.

    But Aquilani has a great cutting edge in the final third, more so than any of the other creative players at Montella's disposal.

    The vision is exceptional and Aquilani proved it yet again on Sunday against Chievo, leading a counterattack that provided him the opportunity to have a clear shot on goal from the right side of the penalty area.

    Aquilani drew three defenders across to his side of the pitch, feigning to shoot, before dragging a pass back across to the other side of the area where Borja Valero had an even greater sight of goal.

    If Aquilani can continue like this, he might just inspire Fiorentina to an unlikely Champions League place.

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