Serie A Round 32

12 Apr

Maverick

He may be 37, he’s may be playing the last football games of his career and his legs may have gone. But you don’t need to run much to take a good free kick. And Alessandro Del Piero knows how to take a good free kick. If Andrea Pirlo is standing aside to let someone else take a free kick, then they must be half decent. Del Piero’s latest set piece special came in a big game in all senses. Firstly, due to AC Milan’s away win at Chievo on Tuesday night – thanks to Inter Milan’s Sulley Muntari – Juventus found themselves trailing the Rossoneri by a point. Secondly, they were facing 3rd placed Lazio, who were fresh from beating fellow Top 6ers Napoli at the weekend. The pressure was most definitely on. All seemed to be going well at first as Pepe (8.83) put Juve 1-0 up after 30 minutes. However, Lazio’s in form Stefano Mauri clearly hadn’t read the script and equalised on the stroke of half time with his 3rd of the season (against Roma, Napoli and Juve = big game player). And it was looking to stay that way until substitue Del Piero came on with 17 minutes to spare and decided the game in the 84th minute. I’m not sure if they have Roy of the Rovers in Italy, but he fits the bill (Alessandro of the Old Lady?).

In truth, a draw would have flattered Lazio as Juve had 26 shots and 71% possesion – but it’s the large number of draws that mean they haven’t already tied up the title. This site is all about trying to identify the big game players, and although he’s featured sparingly this season, he’s still able to pull it out on the big occasion. Juve have now won five games in a row, and are on the verge of going the season unbeaten. Even with that epic run, the title could still go either way, and it’ll take a brave man to put his neck on the line to predict the winner. I am not a brave man.


Whilst Lazio dropped points against Juventus, they weren’t made to suffer too much, due to a large favour by city Rivals AS Roma. Luis Enrique is trying instill a new philosophy on the club, but at the moment they’re consistently inconsistent – their last 12 matches have seen 6 wins and 6 draws. However, they have been excellent at home, with only AC Milan and Juventus picking up more points. On this occasion, they hosted 4th placed Udinese in the battle of Top 6 teams. Udinese’s recent poor form and Roma’s excellent home record meant that the 3-1 win for the hosts was expected – albeit with the help of two goals in the last 5 minutes. One notable scorer was Francesco Totti, hitting just his 5th league goal of the season. Whilst Del Piero has only 2 league goals, he also has 2 goals in the cup – leaving his 4 domestic goals this season against AC Milan, Inter Milan, Lazio and Roma. Compare that to Totti’s 5 goals against an average opposition of 16th, and it’s easy to see who’s winning the battle of the ageing number 10s.

Also in the Top 6, Napoli continued their terrible run with a 3-1 home defeat by Atalanta. You know you’re in trouble when Inter Milan are level on points with you. And level they are – as Diego Milito’s brace made it 7 points from 9 for new manager Stramaccioni as they beat 13th place Siena 2-1.

And Milito’s double takes him onto 20 league goals for the season –  at an average of 10.55. The fact that he only has 2 goals against the Top 6 opposition is slightly offset by only scoring 2 against bottom 6 teams. He’s not a Big Game Player, and he’s not a Flat Track Bully – so where does that leave him? Useful I guess? On the subject of Flat Track Bullies, Osvaldo’s goal against Udinese not only added another Top 6 opponent to his list, but it also improved his average opponent to 11.45 (just below Ibrahimovic), meaning that the Flat Track Bully tag is back on Di Natale with 12.20.

Miccoli still looks untouchable on the Big Game Player tracker with the best average and most goals against the Top 6, whilst there’s a welcome return for Sebastien Giovinco who was back on the scoresheet for Parma in a 6 pointer at the bottom against Novara (19th). Lecce’s Di Michele also helped increase his team’s chances of staying up in a 2-1 win away at 8th placed Catania. This also increased his average to a decent 8.73.

Elsewhere at the bottom, 17th placed Genoa could only draw 1-1 with bottom team Cesena courtesy of goals by Rossi and Mutu. Whilst looking at it from an average opposition point of view wouldn’t really impress much, there’s a different pressure applied to relegation dog fights, and these games are all big games at this stage of the season.

That’s all for this Italian round up, but please remember to check out the Player Comparison section, and send me a message/comment if there’s a head to head you’d like to see given the average opposition treatment.

Thanks,

Liam

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