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Serie A Mid-Season Review

Serie A is currently on its winter break. Conveniently, this falls at the halfway stage of the season, meaning it is time to analyse how each side has fared in the opening months.

Juventus – 9/10

Highs: The champions look set for another league title this year. Cristiano Ronaldo remains a goal machine, netting 14 times in the league already. The convincing 3-1 win at home to Napoli in September highlighted the dominance that Juventus hold over their nearest rivals at the moment.

Lows: There have been few. The main one has to be the side throwing away a leading position to lose at home to Manchester United in the Champions League. Coming second best to a Jose Mourinho side did not sit well with the Turin crowd.

Cristiano Ronaldo leads the goal-scoring charts with 14.

Cristiano Ronaldo leads the goal-scoring charts with 14.

Napoli – 6/10

Highs: The side are only four points worse off than they were after 19 games last season, and despite losing Jorginho and Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea in the summer, they are still the second best team in the league. A thrilling comeback win against AC Milan in August showed how devastating this Napoli side can be when they find their rhythm.

Lows: Despite a commendable effort, Napoli fell short of making the knockout stages of the Champions League. Drawn in a group with PSG and Liverpool, it was always going to be tough for Napoli to qualify, and they were ultimately eliminated at Anfield on the final matchday of the group stage.

Inter Milan – 5/10

Highs: Inter spent big over the summer so were expected to build on their fourth place finish from last season. It has been a mixed campaign for the side, though they have produced some fine performances, most notably away at Lazio where they dispatched the hosts 3-0.

Lows: Failing to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League was a bitter blow. Having looked in prime position to progress for much of the group stage, Inter blew their chance by drawing at home to PSV Eindhoven on the final day. Off the field, there were also issues for the club, with violence and racist chants marring the victory over Napoli last month. Inter will play their first two home games of 2019 behind closed doors.

Lazio – 5/10

Highs: Lazio are in the final Champions League spot at the halfway mark of the season, a position that they will be content with come May. There have been a lack of standout performances so far this season, although they did ease through their group to make the last 32 of the Europa League.

Lows: Individuals have not found their best form for large parts of the season thus far. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto lit up Serie A last year, but have since struggled to replicate that form. The team also appear to be missing Felipe Anderson, who made a regular impact off the bench last season, before moving to West Ham in the summer.

AC Milan – 4/10

Highs: Milan are still in the running for a Champions League place despite an indifferent first half of the campaign. A 4-1 thrashing of Sassuolo back in September gave a glimpse of what this side are capable of when everything clicks.

Lows: Injuries have been a major hindrance for Gennaro Gattuso’s team. Giacomo Bonaventura will miss the rest of the season following knee surgery, whilst Mattia Caldara and Lucas Biglia have hardly featured either. This cost the side in Europe, as a makeshift defence wilted in Athens and were dumped out of the Europa League.

Roma: 3/10

High: Although they have struggled badly at times, Roma did make it through to the knockout phase of the Champions League, and have received a favourable draw on paper, as they will face Porto for a place in the quarter-finals. A derby win over Lazio was also a moment to savour.

Lows: Like Milan, Roma have been struck with an injury curse; Daniele De Rossi and Edin Dzeko have both spent time on the sidelines. Eusebio Di Francesco has been clinging onto his job by his fingernails at times this season, with defeats against Bologna, SPAL and Udinese doing little to help his cause.

Sampdoria – 6/10

Highs: Fabio Quagliarella just gets better with age. He turns 36 at the end of this month, yet remains a key part of Sampdoria’s side, and scored in seven consecutive games heading into the winter break. Joachim Andersen has also stepped up, becoming a mainstay of the backline after being unable to establish himself last season.

Lows: Sampdoria play an open game, so are vulnerable to a heavy defeat from time to time. Successive 4-1 defeats against Torino and Roma in November exposed the defensive flaws that Sampdoria must eradicate if they are to push for a European place.

Fabio Quagliarella scored in every league game in December.

Fabio Quagliarella scored in every league game in December.

Atalanta – 5/10

Highs: There are not many more entertaining sides to watch than Atalanta. Their superb 4-1 victory over Inter was one of the performances of the season, whilst they also gave Juventus their toughest league game so far, picking up a well-earned point. They have won by four goal margins against Chievo and Sassuolo, to illustrate how they are difficult to stop when on form.

Lows: The team started the season dreadfully. They were knocked out of the Europa League prior to the group stage, and suffered league defeats at the hands of Cagliari and SPAL. Limiting these poor displays will be key for Atalanta as they seek another top seven finish.

Torino – 5/10

Highs: Having finished ninth last season, Torino find themselves in exactly the same spot now. A 4-1 hammering of Sampdoria was a clear high point for Walter Mazzarri’s men.

Lows: Too many draws has hindered Torino’s push for a European place. Nine of their 19 games have ended in stalemates, meaning that they have been unable to build momentum. Their longest win streak of the season stands at two games, a feat that they have achieved just once.

Fiorentina – 4/10

Highs: Not much to cheer in truth for Fiorentina. A 6-1 thumping of Chievo in their first game of the campaign offered hope to supporters that this would be a memorable year, whilst an away win against AC Milan in December signifies their best result on the road.

Lows: The team went over two months without a win between late September and mid-December. This run included five straight draws, leaving the side in the middle of the pack. In the top half, only Torino have scored fewer goals than Fiorentina.

Sassuolo – 5/10

Highs: Sassuolo started the season impressively, as their best performance of the campaign arguably came on the opening day against Inter Milan. Their swift counter-attacks caused all sorts of problems, and they ran out worthy 1-0 winners.

Lows: Whilst being exciting to watch going forwards, Sassuolo are far from watertight at the back. They have conceded three or more goals on five occasions already this season, with 4-1 and 6-2 defeats at home to Milan and Atalanta respectively demonstrating that they are still looking for the right balance between attack and defence.

Parma – 7/10

Highs: The best of the promoted clubs by some distance. Following three consecutive promotions, Parma are well on the way to securing a second season in Serie A already. Away victories over Inter and Fiorentina have been impressive, whilst Gervinho was named Serie A Player of the Month in November after a string of fine displays.

Lows: Gervinho had fitness issues in the closing stages of 2018, which coincided with Parma looking less threatening on the counter-attack. Parma must find another way to attack effectively if he is unavailable for games after the winter break.

Cagliari – 5/10

Highs: Under new manager, Rolando Maran, Cagliari have shown promising signs at times. An away victory over Atalanta displayed the disciplined side to Cagliari’s game, and the late fightback at home to Roma where the team came from two goals down to draw showed the grit and determination that is likely to see Cagliari stay clear of the relegation zone.

Lows: There have been too many games where Cagliari have lacked a threat in the final third. Failing to score against Empoli, Parma and Udinese, all matches which ended in 2-0 losses, is a major reason for why the side remain comfortably inside the bottom half.

Genoa – 4/10

Highs: Krzysztof Piatek has been a revelation, scoring 13 goals in 19 league appearances. Having made his mark in Serie A already, he is the subject of much interest from high-profile clubs, with Real Madrid, Napoli, and Milan reportedly eyeing the Pole.

Lows: Piatek’s exploits have somewhat papered over the cracks at the club. Cesare Prandelli became Genoa’s third manager of the season in early December, as the side have failed to produce on a consistent basis throughout the campaign. If Piatek were to leave, Genoa could find themselves in trouble.

Piatek looks set for a big move after a stunning start to life at Genoa.

Piatek looks set for a big move after a stunning start to life at Genoa.

Udinese – 4/10

Highs: A 1-0 win at home to Roma in November was a rare high for the team, who are having another poor campaign. Udinese also claimed victory in their final game of 2018 to open up a five point gap between themselves and the bottom three.

Lows: Julio Velazquez only made it to November in his first season in charge before he was sacked. Four wins all season mean that Udinese will be looking over their shoulder during the second half of the campaign.

SPAL – 5/10

Highs: SPAL narrowly avoided relegation last year, and look set to be involved in another battle for survival this season. Triumphs over Atalanta and Roma have ensured that they are just above the drop zone as things stand.

Lows: Only Frosinone and Chievo have scored fewer goals this season. SPAL are the only team to lose to Frosinone, suffering a 3-0 loss in October. The side from Ferrara have failed to win since.

Empoli – 5/10

Highs: In their first season back in the top-flight, Empoli have fought admirably to stay clear of the bottom three. Crucial victories over fellow strugglers Udinese and Bologna suggest that Empoli may have just enough to stay up.

Lows: The club lost patience with Aurelio Andreazzoli in November, the man who led them to promotion last season. Drubbings at the hands of Napoli and Torino have done little to help the side’s goal difference either.

Bologna – 3/10

Highs: There are not many to pick from for this side, who have won just two games, none since September. They secured two wins in a week against Roma and Udinese, and will need to re-find that kind of form if they are to stay in Serie A.

Lows: Bologna have failed to score in 10 of their 19 games. Filippo Inzaghi’s team often lack a cutting edge, leaving them three points from safety and in real danger of dropping down to Serie B.

Plenty for Filippo Inzaghi to ponder as he tries to keep Bologna in Serie A. nella foto: Filippo Inzaghi

Plenty for Filippo Inzaghi to ponder as he tries to keep Bologna in Serie A.

Frosinone – 3/10

Highs: Many expected Frosinone to struggle, and they have. Their only win was an emphatic one, 3-0 away at SPAL, but other than that there has been little for the fans to cheer about.

Lows: Frosinone have lost the most games, conceded the most goals and scored the least in the league. They have lost by four or more goals on four occasions, meaning that they are six points adrift of safety, and look set to go straight back down.

Chievo – 2/10

Highs: The team finished 2018 on a positive note, beating Frosinone 1-0 in a vital relegation battle. Indeed, under Domenico Di Carlo, they have lost just one of their seven league games, a considerable improvement on their form prior to his arrival.

Lows: Chievo are on their third manager of the season, with Lorenzo D’Anna and Gian Piero Ventura both parting ways with the club after short stints at the helm. The side were also deducted three points for false accounting back in September, making their task of staying up even harder.

S.B.

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