soccer

Week 29 Recap — Italian Serie A

As they have done during the past seven years, Juventus clung to the top of the table and is now only a few matches away from mathematical domination. Not having lost a lead just once this season, the club will most likely close out the season as winners, given that they’ve been winning the remainder of their matches without their Portuguese precious asset — Cristiano Ronaldo. During this weekend they made another convincing statement about their domination by having 19-year-old Moise Kean score for them, instead of utilizing their more dangerous services of Mario Mandžukić and Paulo Dybala.

Moise Kean celebrating with teammates after Juventus’s win against Empoli thanks to his goal on Saturday (indianexpress.com)

Although he hasn’t been utilized, Ronaldo is in recovery after pulling his right hamstring during Portugal’s Euro qualifier against Serbia. He will be ready on time for Ajax, when the Champions League rolls around. With Juventus leading the table by 15 points, Napoli stands second in the league, saving their Champions League spot for next year’s season. With Europa League’s quarterfinals in mind, they have been keeping Inter’s attempts in check by staying in a double digit difference from them (currently a 10 point differential). By losing at home against Lazio, Inter not only lost footing in their chase for the second place, but have now given Milan a chance of catching up.

Sergej Milinković-Savić scoring a header for Lazio which gave them the win against Inter (thehansindia.com)

Despite their loss against Sampdoria on Saturday, Milan have had a resurgent period with a streak of games thanks to Krzysztof Piątek, now placing the club only two points behind their rivals of the Milano derby. Meanwhile, hopeful teams of Lazio and Atalanta have been contesting the fifth and sixth places, reaching in not only for a Europa League seeding, but even a Champions League one, considering that they sit five points away from Milan’s position. Lazio’s Sunday 0-1 win against Inter inches them closer to a better finish than last year’s fifth placement. With similar contentions, on the same day, Atalanta made sure they get their win against Parma, winning with a dominant 1-3.

Digging deeper into the league’s table, Roma leads a string of teams that hope for a Europa League placing. Even though the Yellow-reds came from last season as unexpected Champions League semifinalists, they have seeped down lower and lower into the gutters of the domestic league this year, losing match after match and failing to show any light of hope for better results. Although their acquisition of 19-year-old Nicolò Zaniolo spoke differently for a short period, they have been a disappointing side that will for sure not repeat last year’s run anytime soon.

The most impressive aspect for this season has to be Fabio Quagliarella’s explosive return to stardom. With a scoring spree that started at the beginning of the season (September), Quagliarella capitalized for Sampdoria by scoring at least once in eleven consecutive Serie A matches, tying Gabriel Batistuta’s 1994-’95 record which nicknamed him ‘Batigol’.

While in recent seasons Fabio Quagliarella has still made the list as one of the best scorers of the year, he has been overlooked due to either the results of the teams he has been playing for, or due to media coverage which has preferred younger, better prospective players.

Fabio Quagliarella celebrating another goal on his tally of 21 (gazzetta.it)

However, this season’s results have propelled him not only to the top of the year’s goalscorers with a tally of 21, but moved him up the history books to place him 28th in the list of the best goalscorers of Serie A’s history, with a total of 143 goals scored. This placement moved him past Christian Vieri and Marco Di Vaio, whose mark in history continues to impress. He sits five goals away from passing Argentine legend Omar Sívori to move up a list that will keep him forever respected in Italian football history.

Sampdoria currently sits ninth in the league, with their next match contested on Wednesday in Turin, where they face Quagliarella’s former club of Torino to settle a 45-point tie in the rankings.

Serie A returns on Tuesday, when Week 30’s matches like Milan-Udinese and Cagliari-Juventus will precede next week’s Champions League quarterfinals.


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Cover photo: si.com

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