Dave Taylor picks his best XI from an exciting first weekend of Serie A football in the New Year.
Francesco Bardi [Livorno]
Was tested on several occasions but always came up trumps, especially from Giuseppe Rossi and Juan Cuadrado twice. However, the U-21 star could do nothing about Gonzalo Rodriguez’s sharp header. Alert.
Gonzalo Rodriguez [Fiorentina]
The 29-year-old Argentinean was Man of the Match in a game of attrition between the two Tuscan cities. His goal came from a corner when he rose majestically above the Livorno defence to head home forcefully. Convincing.
Giorgio Chiellini [Juventus]
Like a massive iceberg floating around the back-line he sunk everyone who came into contact with him. He was absolutely unbreakable and had the Roma forwards under his thumb and heel as he won all his aerial duels. Impenetrable.
Alessandro Lucarelli [Parma]
Made himself so big the Torino strikers needed GPS to get around him. Always alert, he led the line superbly and scored with a magnificent back-heel flick at the edge of the six-yard box from a corner. Outstanding.
Bryan Cristante [Milan]
The Rossoneri may just have unearthed a gem as the 18-year-old celebrated his first start with a powerful drive that skimmed in off the post. Tried things, some came off, some didn’t, but he did not lack inspiration or determination. Encouraging.
Dries Mertens [Napoli]
Moving into a more central role, the Belgian was a real pain in Samp’s backside throughout, scoring a beautiful brace. His first a precise low shot following Gonzolo Higuain’s delightful ball, while his second came via a perfect free kick. Consummate.
The Brazilian was in sparkling form and scored a brace. The first, following a swift counter-attack, saw him slot home from a tight angle. For his second, his alertness saw him pounce on a loose ball to score from close range. Supreme.
Francesco Lodi [Catania]
The prodigal son returns and the Elefanti record their first win for two months with the always elegant playmaker setting up the first and converting a penalty for the second. Also hit the post with an almost perfect set piece. Unparalleled.
Arturo Vidal [Juventus]
Breathtakingly determined throughout, he broke the deadlock with his eighth goal of the season. Collecting a superb pass from Carlos Tevez he finished it off with the quality it deserved. Thoroughly warranted his standing ovation, when subbed. Matchless.
Carlos Tevez [Juventus]
A true leader and put one of the Serie A’s best defenders Mehdi Benatia firmly in his place with his aggression, pace and ability. Set up the opener but came off after an hour with an injury. Incomparable.
Luca Toni [Verona]
Toni is the big bustling centre forward that every side needs but still showed his subtlety with two left-footed goals. His first unerringly found the bottom left corner, the second saw him slip the ball past the ‘keeper. Peerless.
Special mentions: Rafael [Napoli], Romulo [Verona], Raphael Martinho [Verona], Amauri [Parma], Leonardo Bonucci [Juventus], Andrea Pirlo [Juventus], Luca Siligardi [Livorno], Davide Astori [Cagliari].
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