Serie A Round 36

3 May

The big news from the last two rounds is the race for the title. Despite dropping just two points from the last 27 available, Juventus are still only one point clear of AC Milan. Things were looking good for Juve after a cracking 4-0 away win over 19th Placed Novara at the weekend. Coming into last night’s game at home to 18th placed Lecce, it looked odds on for 9 wins in a row – and Marchisio’s 9th league goal of the season (13.11) after just 8 minutes, looked odds on to open the flood gates, but an 85th minute equaliser from Bertolacci gave both AC Milan hope of the title, and Lecce hope of survival. They’re now three points behind 17th placed Genoa with two games to go.

He’s certainly earned a special Zlatan hug

Of course, to be just one point behind means that AC Milan won their last two games. In Round 35 they thrashed 10th placed Siena 4-1 away. Smack bang in the middle of the table meant one thing, Ibrahimovic goals. And the big Swede scored a brace of them to take his personal tally to a career best of 26 league goals (11.31). But on this occasion he wasn’t the big news story, that was the goal scored by Antonio Cassano, back after recovering from a stroke earlier in the season. With the recent death of Morosini, and the scare for Patrice Muamba, it was certainly a good news story to see the talented but sometimes troubled Cassano back on the scoresheet. Also in that match, Nocerino (11.20) grabbed his 10th league goal of an impressive debut season for Milan. The Rossoneri followed the weekend win up with a 2-0 victory over Atalanta, thanks to goals from Robinho and Muntari.

Where will the title go? Well Juve will be favourites due to having the one point lead, but crucially because AC Milan have the Milan derby this weekend against a somewhat rejuvenated 6th placed Inter. Milan have won 4, lost 4 of games against Top 6 opponents this season, making this one hard to call. Juve have the easier task with an away game at 14th place Cagliari, though the home game against Lecce was supposed to be a banker as well. The final day sees Milan at home to relegated Novara whilst Juve face 10th placed Atalanta at home. Although 10th is slightly misleading as Atalanta had 6 points docked, which would have put them in 7th – not quite as straightforward.

Frankie say go mental and take your shirt off

The race for 3rd has seen significant change since the last update. Lazio have well and truly ballsed it up after taking just 2 points from their last five games. Whilst defeats to AC Milan and Udinese aren’t exactly shocking, the defeat and two draws to Lecca (18th), Novara (19th) and Siena (13th) were hardly expected. Last night’s draw with Siena was interesting because Mattia Destro continued his recent good goalscoring form. The 21 year old Italian striker, on loan from Genoa, scored his 6th goal in seven games to take his total to 11. Of these, four have now been against Top 6 sides – certainly a player to watch for the future. So with Lazio imploding after the injury to Klose, that meant the final Champions League spot was up for grabs. It may surprise readers that Inter Milan are only 3 points off 3rd, but in 6th, it’s unlikely they’ll make it. Currently it’s Napoli who hold the spot – level with Udinese on 58 points. And it’s largely due to mid table bully – Edinson Cavani. The talented forward (not in the big games), has scored four goals in as many games as Napoli first beat Roma (7th – unlucky Cav) and then Palermo (14th) last night. The South American striker now has 23 league goals for the season, with only two against the elite.

In fact, it’s been a great couple of rounds for the Top Scorers. As well as the aforemtioned Ibrahimovic, Destro and Cavani goals, plenty of the other leading lights were hitting the back of the onion net. Di Natale may be the flat track bully with an average of 11.76, but he now has a decent 5 goals against Top 6 opponents after scoring in Udinese’s 2-0 win against Lazio in the last round. He’s now only slightly worse than Ibra, Cavani and Osvaldo. In between the flat track bully and the big game player, there were also goals fro Palacio (Genoa vs 13th placed Bologna), Denis (vs 16th placed Fiorentina) and Giovinco, who has fired Parma back up the table to 8th after hitting 4 goals in 5 games. The diminutive (another word for short – think Maradona, Zola, Alan Wright) forward has a decent average of 9.21 this season, though goals against strugglers Lecce and Novara will have wiped out the positive impact of last night’s goal against Inter Milan in a 3-1 win. The team have now won five straight games after just one win in the previous nine.

The Big Game Player is still Miccoli, who scored his 13th of the season against 8th placed Catania, to leave his average ranked opponent per goal at 6.31. With two games to go, he looks set to land the coveted (in my head) title of Big Game Player – and 9 goals against the Top 6 teams suggest his is well deserved.

At the uglier end of the table, Novara’s 2-2 draw against Fiorentina confirms their relegation to Serie B, along with Cesena. That leaves one spot that’s reallistically going to be a straight fight between Genoa and Lecce. Genoa in 17th managed to put a run of 13 games without a win behind them with a massive 2-1 win over Cagliari (15th) last night. Whilst they have a tricky game against Top 6 Udinese this weekend, Lecce face fellow strugglers Fiorentina. It should go down to the final day of the season.

Cheers,

Liam

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