Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This Weekend in Serie A – Round 25

This weekend in Serie A was certainly exciting, as Round 25 began earlier than normal with the Lazio vs Verona match. The game was moved to Thursday to give the Rome-based outfit ample time to prepare for their Europa League match coming up on February 18 against Galatasaray.

Carpi hosted Roma on Friday and, in a wet and dismal first half, Roma opened up the scoring in the second half. They found the net three times to ensure three big points before their upcoming Champions League match with Real Madrid. Injury concerns near the end of the Carpi match might leave Roma concerned.

Three matches went down on Saturday and, entering the round, one of them was considered the match of the campaign. Napoli and Juventus met at Juventus Stadium that brought the top-two clubs in the Serie A table together.

Five more matches took place on Valentine’s Day, February 14, but we did not see much love on the pitch this weekend.

Let’s reveal the lines as the round started, and run through the results and events of the weekend match-by-match.

Club vs Club – 3-Way W – D – W Lines

February 11
Lazio 5:2 Hellas Verona 1.60 – 4.80 – 8.80

February 12
Carpi 1:3 AS Roma 4.85 – 3.60 – 2.03

February 13
Empoli 1 : 2 Frosinone – 1.65 – 4.25 – 6.70

Chievo 1 : 1 Sassuolo – 2.82 – 3.19 – 2.96

Juventus 1 : 0 Napoli 2.26- 3.45 – 3.80

February 14
AC Milan 2 : 1 Genoa 1.73 – 4.00 – 6.50

Palermo 1 : 3 Torino 3.18 – 3.37 – 2.53

Sampdoria 0 : 0 Atalanta 2.21 – 3.45 – 3.82

Udinese 0 : 1 Bologna 2.22 – 3.35 – 4.00

Fiorentina 2 : 1 Inter 2.35 – 3.43 – 3.55

Lazio 5 – 2 Hellas Verona – FT

65% Ball Possession 35%
18 Goal Attempts 8
7 Shots on Goal 4
7 Shots off Goal 4
4 Blocked Shots 0
8 Free Kicks 13
9 Corner Kicks 3
6 Offsides 3
2 Goalkeeper Saves 2
8 Fouls 8
1 Yellow Cards 0

So let’s start with the Thursday match at Stadio Olimpico between Lazio and Hellas Verona, and anyone watching this match must have thought that The Rainmaker was crazy for offering a play on the total to go over the 2.5 the way the first half went.

It took until the 45th minute to find the match’s opening goal, and it wasn’t exactly a shot that anyone would expect to make the nomination list for goal of the weekend in Serie A. A slow roller sent behind the Verona keeper barely traveled far enough to cross the line and find the back of the net, as Matri just got enough on the shot from just outside the six-yard box to make the score sheet.

So after a 1 – 0 first half, this Rainmaker guy once again left no reason to wonder why the total was given out as a play, because there were a combined six goals in the second half.

Lazio scored twice to make it 3 – 0 by the 69th minute although, in all honesty, I don’t think either goal should have counted, because Lazio was undoubtedly offsides while scoring both goals. The linesman’s flag never came up and the ref let the plays run out, and Lazio made it 3 – 0 and assumed control of the match. Or did they?

Verona has found new life lately, and the return of Luca Toni from injury certainly has aided that push. Toni indeed had an influence on this match and scored the goal that made it 3 – 2 in the 79th minute, but the first goal by Verona to make it 3 – 1 comes in as our first nomination for #GoaloftheWeekend in Serie A this weekend.

Take a look at the free kick from Leandro Greco….

This is what I like to call A RIPPA! Which is New York slang for a Ripper, but if you hear me say it in my NY accent, you would hear it as A RIPPA of a shot! I mean, that is how you take a set piece kids, and I suppose we can just call that “text book”, if you will.

Lazio eventually put the match away with two goals in the final eight minutes of the game, and the fourth Lazio goal was pretty nice as well.

A volley off the boot of Keita found the net using a splendid feed from Miroslav Klose, after a three-on-two breakaway led to the chance off the Verona push to level the match at 3 – 3.

A penalty kick for Lazio finished off the scoring for the evening to make it 5 – 2, and seven goals later, the weekend was still full of events to come.

Carpi 1 – 3 AS Roma – FT

27% Ball Possession 73%
7 Goal Attempts 19
2 Shots on Goal 6
3 Shots off Goal 8
2 Blocked Shots 5
9 Free Kicks 16
4 Corner Kicks 6
2 Offsides 1
3 Goalkeeper Saves 1
14 Fouls 8
5 Yellow Cards 0

The Carpi vs Roma match also took some time to develop in to a match worth watching, because the first half had me wishing I painted a wall so I could watch it dry to entertain myself instead!

The only real opportunity that came in the first half was with about a minute left on the clock, as Salas rang a shot off the crossbar after beating Slovenian Carpi keeper Vid Belec. Salas broke in alone behind the defense and beat Belec clean, but the woodwork is certainly still a goalkeeper’s best friend.

The first goal of the match might have provided the #GoaloftheWeekend in Serie A, and the blast from Lucas Digne comes in as our second nominee for the honor.

Here is the shot, and this might have already sealed my favorite of the round because what a blast it was!

Lucas Digne Amazing Goal – Carpi vs AS Roma 1-0… by footy-goals
courtesy of Daily motion.

Right? Seriously a great shot, and if you caught it live, you saw the ball actually came up on him a bit as he connected with it, but man, ridiculous!

Carpi managed just two shots on goal, but one of them did indeed find the net. After a one-on-one steal which included a defensive lapse from Leandro Castán in his own end, Jerry Mbakogu created the turnover and broke in alone towards net. Kevin Lasagna no sooner came onto the pitch as the first Carpi substitute, connecting with Mbakogu to level the match at one, five minutes after the Roma goal.

Roma pulled away late with two goals in less than two minutes, as Edin Džeko and Mohamed Salah each found the net to secure three points for AS Roma in contribution to the 3 – 1 win.

Injury concerns at the end of the match for Roma manager Luciano Spalletti came late in the match, when both Salas and Kostas Manolas came up lame in extra time. Salas appeared to pull a hammy, and Manolas was walking gingerly and favoring his right hip, so be on the lookout for the Roma starting lineup in their next match.

Oh, that next match for Roma? It’s only against Real Madrid on February 17 in the round of 16 in Champions League. Nothing too big!! <<< In my best sarcastic tone.

The win for Roma put them in third place in the table at the time, but the Fiorentina win over Inter Milan to come on Sunday, will see Roma finish the 25th round in the 4th position with 47 points.

Carpi is still in trouble to remain in Serie A past this campaign. With three consecutive losses, they now have 19 points, which is only four points clear of last place Hellas Verona, and six points from Sampdoria who hold the final safety position.

Empoli 1 – 2 Frosinone – FT

69% Ball Possession 31%
30 Goal Attempts 10
6 Shots on Goal 2
12 Shots off Goal 8
12 Blocked Shots 0
29 Free Kicks 12
16 Corner Kicks 1
2 Offsides 4
0 Goalkeeper Saves 5
11 Fouls 25
2 Yellow Cards 6

The upset of round 25 was the match that kicked off the three-game Saturday slate, and at +550, anyone who was bold enough to place a bet on Frosinone 3-Way, definitely helped boost their ROI numbers with that play.

Did you actually read those stats? Empoli put 30 shots towards the frame, and took 29 free kicks, 16 corners and blocked 12 shots. I would assume that anyone who sees these stats probably thinks that I put the 2 in the wrong spot, because on paper, Empoli threw out a full assault on Frosinone, but yet lost as a result of a second=half penalty kick that decided the winner.

Another crazy stat to check is the 26 fouls, 6 yellow cards, and only two shots on goal in a 2 – 1 win, away from home to boot.

The Ciofani goal to start the scoring off for Frosione in the 17th minute, gets an honorable mention for goal of the weekend in Serie A. Taking a beautiful feed from Pavlovic, Ciofani redirected the ball straight down, and the ball took a big hop back up over the chasing paws of Empoli keeper Łukasz Skorupski.

It was the only shot on goal from the run of play from Frosinone, as their other only credited shot came on the penalty kick to eventually earn Frosinone three points.

With the win, Frosinone will enter next weekend’s round with 22 points in the final relegation position of the table, but they are now within five points of four clubs in their battle to remain in Serie A next year.

Empoli has now gone six straight matches without a win, with 2 losses and four draws since their 1 – 0 win over Torino on January 10.

The second Saturday match of the three on the docket, came at high noon on the East coast as Chievo Verona played host to Sassuolo at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.

Chievo 1 – 1 Sassuolo – FT

40% Ball Possession 60%
11 Goal Attempts 16
4 Shots on Goal 2
5 Shots off Goal 8
2 Blocked Shots 6
14 Free Kicks 21
5 Corner Kicks 7
5 Offsides 1
1 Goalkeeper Saves 3
16 Fouls 14
3 Yellow Cards 2

Chievo Verona entered the weekend looking for their first back-to-back wins since the first two weekends of December, while Sassuolo were trying to snap a five-match skid without a win of their own.

Both sides walked away with a point from the 1 – 1 result, and the stats do tell the story here. It was a slow developing match, although the 18th and 20th minute did provide a chance for each side that could have provided a goal, but the finished product was simply not there.

The two goals came within a minute of each other, as Cheivo’s Valter Birsa started the scoring with a converted penalty kick chance to make it 1 – 0 for the home side. A poor tackle from Federico Peluso in the box led to the chance, and Birsa stepped to the spot and beat a diving goalkeeper guessing the wrong way.

The goal of the match, and this will be one of four nominees for #GoaloftheWeekend in Serie A, simply because of the majestic strike from NIcola Sansone from five yards outside the box.

Quite a blast, and I just couldn’t leave that off the board after watching it happen at the time thinking ‘okay, that looks like a nominee to me’ when I saw it.

Only one shot on goal was registered in the entire second half, although there were some good chances in the 15 shots that were taken. I did leave the match thinking that they both did deserve a point though, which is how it worked out.

Juventus 1 – 0 Napoli – FT

44% Ball Possession 56%
13 Goal Attempts 7
4 Shots on Goal 1
6 Shots off Goal 5
3 Blocked Shots 1
13 Free Kicks 13
4 Corner Kicks 3
3 Offsides 2
1 Goalkeeper Saves 3
10 Fouls 13
2 Yellow Cards 2

I will have to admit that I blew this call, because I expected both teams to score at least, being a big match that it was the most hyped game of not just the round, but the entire campaign, by some outlets.

It was boring. I honestly sat here in disbelief that Napoli really didn’t show me that they were hungry, although they did do one thing right. I was watching this match with my friend in Montana, and we counted about 5 times how often Napoli was completing 15- 18 passes per possession at times, but none of it mattered because there was no quality shot to back it up.

Time and again a Napoli drive just fell short, with a few shots over the net, and the one best chance we saw, didn’t even go down as a real chance.

GiGi Buffon had to make the one big save of the match late in the first half, but the play was called offsides, and it didn’t even go in the books as a scoring chance, or a shot on goal, or a save for Gigi, but it sure did seem like Napoli was getting closer at the time.

More possession did nothing for Napoli, and Juventus pulled off their famous 1 – 0 result with three points in the end.

The goal for substitute Simone Zaza is going to be our fourth nominee for Serie A #GoaloftheWeekend, because that was just a stunner of a shot from distance.

Here it comes kids, and sit back and enjoy the Zaza goal….

It has a similar feel to the goal that we just nominate from Sansone, but this one decided three points to give Juventus their first lead in the Serie A table this campaign.

The poor start that was well documented for Juventus?

That will put that talk to an end now, and Bayern Munich is now on deck for Juve in the Champions League round of 16.

Can’t miss that match for any reason whatsoever.

The win as mentioned put Juve atop the Serie A table with 57 points, and leaves Napoli just a point behind entering next weekend.

Sunday we had five matches taking place, as AC Milan hosted Genoa in the early match of the Holy Day to get us started.

AC Milan 2 – 1 Genoa – FT

56% Ball Possession 44%
14 Goal Attempts 7
6 Shots on Goal 2
6 Shots off Goal 2
2 Blocked Shots 3
18 Free Kicks 19
5 Corner Kicks 3
5 Offsides 3
1 Goalkeeper Saves 4
14 Fouls 15
1 Yellow Cards 1

This was a big week for some nice goals being scored around Serie A, because, amazingly, we could have a fifth nominee if we chose to coming form this match.

Wait a minute, whose rules are we going by, since no one voted in last weekend’s poll at the forum anyway?

My article, my rules, so the Honda goal to tie the match at 1 – 1 does indeed make the big board for goal of the weekend in Serie A.

Not only from distance, but we also need to factor in that Perin is among the best keepers in Serie A, so to make him look that bad from that far out is amazing too.

The win for Milan gives them a nine-match run without a loss, which included their two Coppa Italian outings to go along with seven Serie A rounds.

AC Milan will have Napoli on deck this coming weekend, as they try to keep pace with positions for Europe while currently two points back of Inter Milan who sit in fifth for now.

Genoa has now gone five straight without a win, and are only three points above the safety zone tied with Sampdoria on 25 points.

Udinese 0 – 1 Bologna – FT

54% Ball Possession 46%
10 Goal Attempts 11
2 Shots on Goal 2
7 Shots off Goal 3
1 Blocked Shots 6
12 Free Kicks 22
8 Corner Kicks 5
7 Offsides 0
1 Goalkeeper Saves 2
15 Fouls 11
0 Yellow Cards 1

Bologna provided the second biggest upset of the round, as they were listed at +300 at most sites at the time of kickoff, and came away with three points.

The €8.5 million man Mattia Destro provided the only scoring in the 1 – 0 result for Bologna, scoring his team-leading 8th goal of the campaign.

Each club put up one shot on goal in each half, and if I could erase 90 minutes of my life and get them back somehow, I would not have watched this match. If you are someone who takes the time to go back and watch all the Serie A matches as I do, do yourself a favor and skip this one. I mean there was just nothing to miss, and you know the result was 1 – 0 Bologna by now, so you should go do laundry or empty the dishwasher and clean the floor instead.

It is starting to become old hat now for Udinese, and that pertains to the lackluster efforts we are seeing since getting underway after the holiday break. That is seven straight matches now without a win for Udinese, and there is nothing intimidating about this club right now to speak of.

The loss for Udinese leaves them in the 14th position with 27 points, which is only five points clear of the 18th position held by Frosinone.

The win for Bologna has them smack dab in the middle of the table in 10th spot with 33 points.

Sampdoria 0 – 0 Atalanta – FT

56% Ball Possession 44%
10 Goal Attempts 9
2 Shots on Goal 2
6 Shots off Goal 4
2 Blocked Shots 3
20 Free Kicks 11
7 Corner Kicks 6
1 Offsides 2
2 Goalkeeper Saves 2
10 Fouls 15
2 Yellow Cards 4

We saw more yellow cards than shots on goal, and Atalanta is almost completely absent of on offense at the moment.

The two shots on goal for Sampdoria does not include the last chance of the match that came oh so close to the crossbar, which might have been the best chance of the entire match in all honesty. Yes, it took 95 minutes to find the best chance of the match.

Atalanta will be catching Fiorentina this coming weekend in Serie A, leaving the Viola with only two days off to prepare the match, as a result of Thursday’s outing with Tottenham in Europa League.

Will it help Atalanta is the question, because they have now gone 10 matches without a win, having five wins and five draws to account for their results since December 13.

Atalanta is now back in 13th position with 29 points, and the draw for Sampdoria leaves them with 25 points dancing on the edge of the relegation zone entering round 26.

Sampdoria have gone seven outings without a win, so there was really no surprise that these two didn’t provide much of a match for us this past weekend.

Palermo 1 – 3 Torino – FT

51% Ball Possession 49%
18 Goal Attempts 19
5 Shots on Goal 8
8 Shots off Goal 8
5 Blocked Shots 3
23 Free Kicks 16
9 Corner Kicks 3
4 Offsides 2
5 Goalkeeper Saves 4
12 Fouls 22
0 Yellow Cards 2

Usually Palermo can put up a fight at home, but not on this day.

Last year Palermo managed a 8 – 6 – 5 record at home, and it was basically what kept them afloat back in Serie A after just coming back to top flight again. This season, with a 4 – 2 – 7 record at home however, is not going to be good enough accounting for 14 of their overall 26 points.

It didn’t look like Palermo was going to struggle on this evening in Italy, as the first goal came less than two and half minutes into the match.

As is the case on plenty of scoring drives, the secondary assist gets lost in the numbers, but the release ball sent in from Franco Vázquez to Swiss defender Michel Morganella helped create the chance.

Vazquez caught a streaking Morganella down the right side of the pitch, who used one touch to bring the ball into the 18-yard box. Morganella found a streaking Alberto Gilardino crashing the front of the net, with Gilardino smashing the shot home past Torino keeper Daniele Padelli.

That was the last time we saw the Palermo offense do anything convincing, as Torino scored three unanswered goals to steal three road points in round 25.

Torino entered the round with a 2 – 3 – 6 away record in this year’s domestic campaign, and entered round 25 with one win from their last 11 away outings combining Serie A and the Coppa Italia.

Torino has allowed at least one goal in 18 of their last 19 away matches to their home opponents, and ironically had not won but one of their last 11 overall contests, home and away.

The win brings Torino to the 11th position in the table, tied with Chievo Verona with 31 points.

The loss leaves Palermo looking to pick up the pieces from their 13th defeat of the campaign, as only Carpi and Frosinone have more losses in Serie A this year.

Fiorentina 2 – 1 Inter Milan – FT

62% Ball Possession 38%
13 Goal Attempts 6
8 Shots on Goal 1
3 Shots off Goal 4
2 Blocked Shots 1
19 Free Kicks 16
7 Corner Kicks 4
3 Offsides 6
0 Goalkeeper Saves 6
13 Fouls 14
1 Red Cards 2
2 Yellow Cards 6

This match had everything you hoped to see in a football match on a Sunday evening in Italy.

Three red cards, eight yellow cards, three goals, 27 fouls, and plenty of decent chances provided the Artemio Franchi crowd all the excitement they could stand, with three points as justice for a crazy ending to the match.

Before we get to the ending though, the first goal for Inter Milan was pretty nice, being a transition goal that basically only needed four passes to make it 1 – 0 in favor of the road side.

Marcelo Brozović was left alone just outside the six-yard box, and Rodrigo Palacio provided the cross to the interior boot that completed the drive with a ball in the back of the net.

One good thing for Inter? They had a 1 – 0 lead 26 minutes into the match, and needed to stay solid and at least escape with a result.

That did not happen, and Fiorentina scored on the hour mark to make it 1 – 1, and then the match was turned up a notch to chase the other two points available for a win.

The Valero goal for the Viola to make it 1 – 1 was a nice play too, as Valero had to adjust his sights as a defender got a touch on a cross to the far post, but Valero adjusted nicely in the air, and slammed home the header opportunity.

As the fourth official flashed that there would be three minutes of added time, the match was settled not 25 second later.

Fiorentina’s Zarate just put a shot on goal to create some havoc, while a mass of humanity settled in the box to create a scoring chance for the Viola. Fiorentina, who had just gone up a man after Inter Milan’s Alex Telles picked up a second yellow five minutes before time, took advantage of the extra player and pushed everyone up to get the result they hoped for, and Babacar provided the final touch that sent the Fiorentina crowd in to an absolute frenzy.

I think I can still hear the echoes of the Viola crowd losing their marbles, as a 2 – 1 game winner was found in the 9oth minute for the home side.

It was quite a weekend around Serie A, and be on the lookout for the players that will be suspended from the Inter / Fiorentina match, because there were three reds and two costly yellows as well.


So let’s wrap up the five contestants/nominees for Serie A #GoaloftheWeekend

And the link to vote for your favorite is right here >>> CLICK TO VOTE

1st Nomination

Leandro Greco from Hellas Verona to make it 3 – 1 vs Lazio

2nd Nomination

Lucas Signe from AS Roma to make it 1 – 0 vs Carpi

3rd Nomination

Nicola Sansone from Sassuolo to make it 1 – 1 vs Chievo Verona

4th Nomination

Simone Zaza from Juventus to give Juventus the 1 – 0 win vs Napoli

5th Nomination

Keisuke Honda from AC Milan to make it 1 – 1 vs Genoa

About EJ the Rainmaker

EJ Garr has been a freelance sports writer and handicapper for more than 20 years. He appeared as a featured writer in Beckett's Magazine for the 2014 World Cup. An experienced radio host, he also lends his voice to the radio shows on the Sports Palooza Radio Network, which includes a weekly segment dedicated to the NY Cosmos.

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