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Sunday December 31 2017
Wk19: And then there were two

A set of freakish occurrences closed out 2017 and at the midway point Serie A is starting to look like a two-horse race, writes Susy Campanale.

The final round of 2017 was also the midway point of the season and for the first time really started to look like a two-horse race. Napoli have seemingly managed to ride out their difficult spell and clinch the title of Winter Champions, while Juventus rediscovered Paulo Dybala’s confidence to stick with the leaders and power into 2018. As for the rest, they’re stuck in 2017.

This was meant to be a far more competitive Serie A campaign with several clubs vying for the Scudetto, but already there’s a six-point gap opening up between the top two and chasing pack.

In truth, it might be less than six points, because Roma still have a game in hand against Sampdoria and winning that would put them in third place above Inter. That is, of course, assuming the Giallorossi still remember how to earn a victory, as they seem to have lost their way of late. Once Edin Dzeko stops scoring, they seem utterly toothless. It’s a predicament Inter can understand, as when Mauro Icardi doesn’t find the net, neither do the Nerazzurri.

Some suggested I was just waiting for Inter to fail. Not true. I was just waiting to see what would happen when they hit their first bump in the road. Was this a new, more mature team under Luciano Spalletti, or the same old Pazza Inter who spiral out of control? We got our answer: some things never change.

It is to Napoli’s genuine credit that they are able to ride through all the traditional pitfalls and emerge still on top. Grinding out results against relegation-threatened opposition like Crotone was something they tended to struggle with. They were completely reliant on their star centre-forward, yet Dries Mertens hasn’t found the net in eight Serie A games and nobody is panicking. Lorenzo Insigne was injured for a few games and the world did not end. Marek Hamsik pushed through the goal drought and now can’t stop his record-breaking run. This is not the usual Napoli.

This was a round of freak occurrences, the kind you get on a full moon, or when everyone was freaking out about the imminent Y2K crisis (ask your parents). Benevento won a match. Dybala scored not one, but two goals with his right foot. That’s as many as in his entire Serie A career up to now. For the first time this season, Milan came back from a goal down to earn a point. Above all, and this is truly a sign of the end times, Simone Padoin was on the scoresheet.

Udinese notched up their fifth consecutive victory and, with apt culinary precision, the winning goal in Bologna was scored by Kevin Lasagna. Write your own bad food puns, I’m done with 2017.

Have your say...
Agatha Christie would be a Juventina.......
No question about it!
on the 15th January, 2018 at 5:04pm
Yup have to agree. That hand ball by mertens in the box was a penalty and i do hope that nobody says otherwise as it was so obvious it is funny. Funny but also very sad. Anyway as giancrlos mom said its a good thing it will all count for nothing in the end as we know Napoli will eventually crumble as they have since.... forever
on the 2nd January, 2018 at 9:33pm
Crotone knows how lazio feels.
on the 1st January, 2018 at 8:03pm
Giancarlo C's mom.....Ditto on that and that's for sure.
on the 1st January, 2018 at 5:43pm
No mention of how Mertens was basically playing volleyball, or how the referee didn't even flinch once to use VAR.

It's funny, VAR has been used time and again against Juve but rarely, if at all, against Napoli... seriously, are you that desperate FIGC ?? Pathetic.

Anyway, come March all this nonsense hype about Napoli will be over, as these morons can't help tripping themselves up. Maybe next year, eh ??
on the 1st January, 2018 at 2:08pm
i really dont get the critcism written about Inter. The very first thing comes to my mind is the third place is already waiting for inter to be barbecued. And second thing is the othe two team doesn't seemed to having smooth rides either. The final thing is Inter facing this so called mental block twice in a row. So um predicting Spalletti's army IS WIL MUST going to kick this voodo out with a well smackkin judoo.
on the 1st January, 2018 at 12:51pm
ALL HAIL KING PADOIN !!!
on the 1st January, 2018 at 9:32am
ALL HAIL KING PADOIN !!!
on the 1st January, 2018 at 9:32am
Wk19: Napoli helped by referee. But, who cares? In this case, media only bark when Juve were involved. Congrats Napoli as the winter champions! It seems FIGC want you badly to win Serie A this year. However, you're slowing down and dull. Not enough gas in your tank? LOL

P.S: I have sympathy for Giaccherini. The lad was brilliant at Juve and Italy but he's treated badly in Napoli.
on the 31st December, 2017 at 8:55am
Please show some respect for Simone Padoin aka Young Bono.

And yes, if either Dzeko or icardi get injured, their respective teams will be screwed.
on the 31st December, 2017 at 8:50am
According to LIBERO that sort ball contact by Skriniar is a penalty and Inter would have lost.
I hope you think it should be a penalty for Lazio as you thought Inter should have got a penalty with a similar incident against Juve.
How does Roma especially Dzeko turn air swings and bad touches into goals?
on the 31st December, 2017 at 4:30am

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