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Thursday September 21 2017
And then there were two

Napoli and Juventus continue to push each other, Inter fail to maintain their perfect start and Roma ease to victory, as Nick Valerio rounds up Week 5. 

Napoli’s Scudetto credentials were put to the test when they travelled to the Stadio Olimpico. Having demolished Milan last weekend, all eyes were on the Capital and what began as a captivating encounter turned in to a procession, as the Partenopei emerged 4-1 victors.

In a game of two halves, the spectacle was marred by defensive injuries to the integral pair of goalscorer Stefan de Vrij and Bastos. There were concerns about the lack of strength in depth at Lazio, especially after selling Wesley Hoedt, and those fears proved justified.

This shouldn’t take anything away from Maurizio Sarri’s great entertainers, though. While the three points was the main objective, what would have impressed Sarri further is how his swashbuckling side displayed something in their armoury which they rarely need to utilise: strength of character. In Marek Hamsik, Sarri has the perfect on-field general who leads by example and roused his teammates when they went a goal behind. Few teams will look forward to playing the continually improving Biancocelesti this year, making the result even more impressive.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Juventus eventually overcame a stubborn Fiorentina in a contest which had the added spice of Federico Bernardeschi making his first appearance against his former club. The Italian has featured sparingly in the campaign to date, but will have enjoyed his late cameo off the bench in a battle between two clubs who hold a fierce rivalry. Max Allegri rang the changes, and while his gamble may have paid off, his troops were certainly helped by the visitors’ rash decision-making.

In the early kick-off, Benevento welcomed Roma to the modest Stadio Ciro Vigorito and struggled to get to grips with the deadly movement of striker Edin Dzeko. The Lupi frontman was simply too much to handle, hitting the back of the net twice. Special mention should be reserved for Aleksandar Kolarov, who was a constant menace throughout. The Serbian’s wicked left foot is a real asset and his crosses at pace caused problems all evening. Encouragingly for Eusebio Di Francesco, his side have notched seven strikes without reply and are visibly growing in confidence with each match. There will be tougher tests ahead, but watch out for the Giallorossi, who have so far gone under the radar.

Vincenzo Montella’s Milan returned to winning ways with a comfortable success against promoted side SPAL in a welcome result for ‘L'Aeroplanino’. Judging by the team sheet each week, it’s clear the young tactician has yet to settle on his first choice XI, but it bodes well that his side are still winning, and just a single point behind bitter rivals Inter, who surrendered their flawless record.

In truth, Luciano Spalletti’s squad were lucky to leave Bologna with a share of the spoils and shouldn’t be disheartened, as the point could prove pivotal at the end of the season. The Nerazzurri also still have the best defensive record in the division.

In the bottom half of the table, Sassuolo Coach Cristian Bucchi picked up his maiden triumph in the league following his appointment in the summer. The morale-boosting win should settle some nerves and start their gradual ascent up the table, even if it did take Alessandro Matri two penalty attempts to finally convert.  

In a midweek where there were 26 goals scored, two matches which failed to deliver were Genoa-Chievo and Verona-Sampdoria. The Grifone are still seeking their first win of the season, but at least Hellas stopped the rot with an improbable clean sheet.

It’s never dull where Torino are concerned, and the Granata’s bright start to the 2017-18 season continued away at Udine, registering a satisfying victory that promised goals from the outset. Sinisa Mihajlovic’s bulls do tend to start each campaign confidently, and the ambition will be to continue this for the duration and not fade away. With Andrea Belotti proving he’s no one-season wonder, there’s no reason why this can’t happen – apart from their appalling defensive record, of course.

An emphatic Manita against Crotone ensured the feel-good factor remained sky high in Bergamo, following the comprehensive win against Everton in Europe. Atalanta’s goal difference took a mighty swing in to the positive in what was this week’s biggest victory in the division. 

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
And soon there will be just one and you guessed it,Juve.Sadly I fear the others will soon start to drop points and Juve are looking very strong.
on the 24th September, 2017 at 7:47pm
Hugely disappointed in Milan. Caring too much about this side will make you clinically depressed. This Milan team has no substance. Montella is not a world-class tactician. Just look at how well inter are doing under Spellati, despite having no top player but, Icardi. If we are lucky, we will finish sixth, fifth if we got REALLY LUCKY!

@The Master; regardless, I think it's sad to win against SPAL like this. We should be fielding the reserve team against these sides and still win comfortably.
on the 24th September, 2017 at 7:26pm
Milan just average team. don't hope too much this year
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 6:48pm
@master alright if you are going to make such ridiculous statements back it up with some proof. I can't take people opinions seriously unless they have some evident to back it up and to think we are all stupid enough to accept it because you keep repeating it is ridiculous. If it just comes down to opinion than it is the opinion of large amount of milan fans, the referee, the newspaper, spal fc, pundits, websites and yours truly that there were both legitimate penalties.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 6:45pm
@Ano

That's what I'm saying. The penalties were not clear but rather cleverly won. Gomis doesn't trip Kalinic or even worse hold his foot. He just barely touches him in his attempt to get the ball and Kalinic exploits this and dives.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 3:04pm
"You have zero logic in your argument"

Yeah dude whatever you say. I prove to you why it wasn't a penalty according to the rules and I am right. You are the one who uses relativistic stuff like "if no one complained then it MUST be a penalty!", which proves nothing, and keeps calling anyone who disagrees with him a troll. Just like a 12 year old Milan fanboy...
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 3:01pm
@The Master

You have zero logic in your argument.

Dont you think they would ask for for VAR to be implented IF they knew it wasnt a pent????


Stop trolling and accept that Milan is going for top 4.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 9:08am
@master you are missing the point it is only a handful of fans questioning the penalty calls. Notice that spal didn't come out and complain nor has any of the serious sports papers complained nor did the pundits. It is only your misguided opinion which backs up your assertion. In any case it was the spal players mistakes which created penalties call gomis reached out for a ball he had no chance of getting instead catching kalinic foot.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 8:30am
Kamil Glik is the best defender in the world, especially against Higuain ;-)
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 6:43am
@CG I hope that you are the only idiotic Juve fan around who doesn't want to win Serie A. My criticism against Higuain is how I feel him pulling the team down. As a Juve fan I want to see the team winning everything! But as long as the big game choker is playing, I don't see it happening. Any other team winning the league aside from Juve will make this league looks bad. The second best Napoli for all praises they are getting is nothing impressive.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 5:17am
Jesus Christ. Not every contact is a foul. Do you even watch football? With your logic, the penalty Inter was awarded was clear. Bologna player touches Eder's calf and Eder dives as if he was hit by a bullet.

If Kessie had the ball and was tackled then yes that would be an obvious penalty. What really happened thought? Spal player kicks the ball away and then Kessie dives in his legs. The ref didn't see that because of all the bodies in front of him, but if he had used VAR he wouldn't give it.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 1:57am
VAR wasn't even used. Had they used Milan wouldn't get those penalties.

"SPAL players didn't complain so it was a penalty". That proves nothing. Going with this logic, whenever someone complains he is right. Ref's decision could be wrong regardless of someone complaining about it. Plus, even if they did complain the ref wouldn't change his opinion and they knew it. They just accepted it.
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 1:50am
Too many Milan articles. Like Bonucci said "Milan have done nothing".
on the 22nd September, 2017 at 1:07am
Fellow Juve fans, your criticisms of Higuain are all 100% correct. The Juve management erred in outlaying that much for him, when more established Champions League stars could have been purchased. I hope Juve doesn't win the league. Will be bad for serie A if we do. Make serie A 16 teams, and you'll see proper competition in Europe. And my good old southern friends Napoli.....well, let's just hope you can continue blowing all this hot air for the rest od the season,and not choke as you always do
on the 21st September, 2017 at 10:42pm
Bonucci is the best defender in the world . Ba ha ha ha haaaaaaaaa!!! #lord leo hehehehe bkb hahaha back kick bonucci
on the 21st September, 2017 at 9:00pm
@master that opinion wasn't shared by the spal players who barely protested both penalty calls in fact barely anyone bar a few trolls have questioned what are obvious penalties. It encourages me that milan can play this poorly and grind out a result virtually controlled the game from start to finish. As for resorting to such methods you would have hard pushed to find a team in which diving wasn't a regular occurrence or influencing the referee it has sadly become commonplace in world football.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 8:30pm
Ricsag, it's great that you truly believe that Inter will fall, wait and see and be ready for a huge surprise. This will be a three horse race, your rubentus, Napoli and Inter until the end. That Inter vs giube will be the game to thrash your messi-wannabe
on the 21st September, 2017 at 8:15pm
@The Master

Ever heard of VAR??

Stop trolling lol the spal player didnt even complained as it was so evident. They were diving?????

"there was contact but it wasnt a foul"... lol thats an interesting theory.

go away troll
on the 21st September, 2017 at 6:57pm
As if anyone expected Milan fans to admit they beat Spal with nonexistent penalties. Yes, there is contact but these are not fouls. Kalinic and Kessie are just diving and they manage to fool the ref. I would be worried if my team had to resort to such methods to win against a newly promoted side. Remember what happened last you faced a strong team? You were thrashed.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 4:59pm
Arek Milik should live Napoli, the sooner the better for his future.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 4:56pm
Absolutely loving Biglia so far. He has been our most important buy, he controls the midfield and is a player we've needed for years. I was absolutely over the moon when we signed him, obviously Bonucci grabbed the headlines but Biglia has been superb so far.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 3:08pm
Some players adapt quicker than others. Like Rodriguez he has settled into serie a perfectly. Calhanoglu on the other hand has not. It's there to see how good a player he is in the europa league. He's had really good games. In serie a however he's been quiet. Once adjusted to this league he will be great. Give him some time
on the 21st September, 2017 at 2:41pm
@Rosario

He was great in europea league victory to as a trequarista..

@annonymous

I agree but I read they were going to play but suso and hakan which to me would be interesting and hakan was the one to fall back when playing D

I'm not interested in Bilgia, not the slightest and im stoked that montilivo is out for a week or two..
on the 21st September, 2017 at 2:12pm
Atleast Ibra scores majority when he was playing. Higuain is just a bystander. He was brought in for the UCL and aside from the semi he was utterly invisible. No one could be that stupid to think we need him to win the league. We had 90m to spend, Belotti went for just 7.5m and is a top striker. We had plenty of options and we went for one of the most controversial decision to bring in a 29yo big game choker.The only thing that can convince me why he is here is if he brings us the UCL.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 2:10pm
@Bb.totaly agree. He was a waste of 90 when we bought him, he was a political buy because we were feeling a little weak with pogba going after tevez vidal pirlo. We should have sold to Chelsea for the 70 they offered. Morrata coming back would have been good. The problem is that Dybala is showing how good he can be, Messi did it to ibra at Barca,
on the 21st September, 2017 at 12:56pm
@critter obviously they are in serie a for reason it is just when you compare the resources both teams have that their disposal milan have a clear advantage. It was a sloppy performance from milan too many attacking plays broken down too many long distance shots.

@vicktor i wouldn't put all on hakan for me there wasn't nearly enough movement along the flanks plus they weren't switching play around that often.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 12:17pm
@viktor. Calhanoglu's tackling ability is surprisingly rather good. He tends to win most of the tackles, when he goes to ground. Given that he has been woeful in an advanced role, I actually think he could be deployed as a deep lying playmaker. Push Biglia a little more into central midfield, allowing him to press more and win more balls. Calhanoglu seems to have no composure in the final third. He was milan's most wasteful player with the ball.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 11:50am
@Anonymous

I agree, however im not convinced to pick hakan before suso.. when suso came on, they look a lot faster.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 11:36am
@Anonymous

BAHHAHAHAHHA SOFT PENT FOR ACM?!?!? THey didnt even have to use VAR own ours, HOW IS THAT SOFT THEN YOU FOOL.

Keep hide under anonymous tag you troll.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 11:34am
@Anonymous. Did you see Gomis or Felipe even raising the slightest complaint with the referee? No. They were clear penalties. Had they not been clear, Gomis, Felipe and their teammates would've complained enough to get VAR deployed. But they didn't.
on the 21st September, 2017 at 11:03am

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