Serie A – Not So Lonely At the Top
Nobody likes a blowout. The best part of watching a match is the suspense. Being a fan is the most fun when the competition is close and fierce.
Unfortunately, in the last few years the Serie A has been a blowout. Inter has run away with the Scudetto and frankly the only competitions that mattered were for second to fourth place and the relegation battles.
This season, however, is shaping up a little differently. Inter looked to be running away with it again, but have stumbled lately. Milan is 6 points back with a game in hand. Only 5 points separates 3rd place Roma from 8th place Fiorentina. This year could provide a sprint to the finish that we haven’t seen in a while.
And with the race this tight, the weekend will provide two titanic matchups; Inter vs Milan and Roma vs Juventus.
Here are my thoughts on the two matches:
Last time around, Inter embarrassed a Milan team that was still adapting to life under Leonardo.
This time around, Milan are hotter than a Silvio Berlusconi mistress. Inter, on the other hand have looked shaky in their wins and have given points away to Atalanta and Bari in the last few weeks.
Milan’s keys to victory:
Marco Borriello needs to continue making the most of his chances. He has worked wonders with the service he has been given lately and he’ll need another timely strike or two to help Milan offensively. He isn’t much of a threat with the ball at his feet, but has been able to steer some danger towards the opposition goal with his head and a knack for volleying at just the right time.
Thiago Silva will also need to elevate his game. His speed and agility will be put to the test against Diego Milito and Goran Pandev, especially with Alessandro Nesta injured. If Silva can’t keep the box clear, it will be a long day for Milan.
Inter’s keys to victory:
This squad badly needs Douglas Maicon to find his form again. If he can surge forward in attack, he’ll force Ronaldinho to cover defensively and steal his focus from guiding the Milan attack. Maicon is also fully capable of negating Ronaldinho on the defensive end with a physical style of defense.
Inter may have found the Serie A signing of the summer in Wesley Sneijder. He has been the play-maker they hoped for and a huge threat on free kicks. If Milan allow Sneijder time on the ball or space to operate, Inter will score several times
Another story of two clubs currently going in opposite directions. Juventus and Roma met at the start of the Serie A season. The first matchup was a clear win for Juventus and appeared to mark Diego’s arrival as the next Serie A superstar.
Now, Juventus are in crisis, which seemed so unlikely after destroying Inter just a few weeks ago. Roma, on the other hand are surging up the table on a hot streak.
Juventus’ keys to victory:
The Old Lady signed Diego this offseason for a very specific reason. They needed someone to create chances for their offense and a strong stable of strikers. For Juventus to return to form, Diego needs to play grittier, refuse to be denied the ball and make defenders pay for marking him too close. He is a magician with the ball at his feet but needs to find his confidence again. Both Mexes and Juan are capable of being beaten on the break, Diego needs to exploit that.
Another disappointing player this season has been Amauri. He has looked lost out there for most of the season, despite being Juve’s best player last campaign. Amauri needs to stop worrying about whether he’s Brazilian or Italian and just perform on the pitch. If he doesn’t, he won’t be playing for either national team.
Roma’s keys to victory:
Luca Toni has looked fantastic so far in a few games with Roma. He provides a target up front and frees Francesco Totti to play in the hole, and Mirko Vucinic to terrorize the wing or drop off to link with midfield. If Toni can continue to provide the dangerous presence up front, it will provide much more space for his side’s creative players.
Danielle De Rossi is one of the premier tacklers in all of Serie A. His job on Sunday will be to disrupt Juve’s buildup through midfield and make life miserable for Diego. If he can frustrate the small Brazilian and make him work for touch of the ball, then Roma have a great chance to keep the Bianconeri’s offense stagnant.
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