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Monday December 7 2015
Juventus start to close the gap

The Old Lady gained more ground on the title contenders, while Napoli drop points in a shock defeat writes Richard Hall.

The Stadio Olimpico hosted Juventus on Friday night as they came in search of their fifth straight win. Lazio Coach Stefano Pioli was reported to be in fear of losing his job due to a poor run of form and problems worsened when an own goal from Santiago Gentiletti, saw the hosts go a goal down after only seven minutes. The team from the capital did rally but all thoughts of a revival were dashed when Dybala flicked the ball up and volleyed it past Federico Marchetti from fully 25 yards. The win sees the Bianconeri move up to fifth, only six points adrift of first-placed Inter.

Knowing that Juventus had already claimed victory put Roberto Mancini’s men under more pressure for their clash with Genoa at San Siro on Saturday night. The Nerazzurri were intent on bouncing back after their defeat to Napoli in the previous round and this showed as they started the game at a furious pace. Despite having chances they took none of them and it was not until the 59th minute that a sweeping free kick from Adem Ljajic beat Mattia Perin who was expecting someone to get a connection on the ball in the box.

The pressure was now transferred to Napoli who were in confident mood heading to Bologna to face Roberto Donadoni’s side. What happened next was almost unbelievable as the Neapolitans’ strong defence was breached three times in 60 minutes thanks mostly to Mattia Destro. Gonzalo Higuain also grabbed a brace near the end but it was too little too late for the Partenopei, and they will certainly rue their missed opportunity.

Fiorentina thrashed Udinese at Stadio Artemio Franchi giving them hope of securing their first Serie A title since 1969. The 3-0 scoreline allowed Paolo Sousa’s men to climb to second in the table only one point off Inter in first. Roma are another team that had title ambitions seemingly have gone in to free fall. A draw at Bologna and a defeat against Atalanta was topped off with a dramatic draw against Torino on Saturday night. Despite Rudi Garcia’s side managing to take the lead late on, they could not hold it. A penalty given away in the 94th minute saw Maxi Lopez convert and heap more misery on the Giallorossi.

The game in Bergamo pitched an Atalanta team playing with fight, against a Palermo team that seems to have lost all sense of who they are. This was translated in the 3-0 victory for the home side, Marten De Roon completed the scoring only moments after his team had gone down to ten men. Atalanta are now up to seventh and looking like a side to be reckoned with.

Sassuolo are one place ahead of the team from Bergamo on sixth and have also been one the seasons surprise packages so far this term. Eusebio di Francesco’s side destroyed Sampdoria by 1-3, pouring more misery on Vincezo Montella. He has now lost his first three games in charge of the Blucerchiati and it is the teams fourth on the bounce. Montella’s men sit in 14th place only two points from the relegation zone.

Finally Milan were held to a draw by minnows Carpi, who in fairness could have stolen all three points. It certainly was a night for goalkeepers as the Rossoneri’s 16-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma made seven saves and Vid Belec in the Carpi goal was also in fine form. Gigi Del Neri’s Serie A debut on the Verona bench was a miserable one, as Empoli’s Andrea Costa scored the only goal of the game in the second half. This leaves Hellas in a terrible position as they sit rooted to the bottom of the Serie A table with only six points. Empoli however, have climbed to a very respectable 10th. The other team from Verona are picking up some healthy results this year and they did so again against Frosinone. Chievo did not make an easy job of it as they went down to ten men before scoring two late goals on the 89th and 92nd minute. This result sees them climb to 11th place, Frosinone sit in 18th place and are one point away from safety.

Have your say...
I think Juve are on a roll and you can see from the way they are performing in Europe that they are still a top side. I think they'll get to top spot early next year and stay there. At least their poor start should make things a bit more interesting this season.
on the 8th December, 2015 at 10:09pm
Juve had a run of easy games, that's why they're "closing the gap". Next week Juve is playing Fiorentina, while Napoli plays Roma. Inter meanwhile play Udinese to start a run of relatively easy games until the break.
on the 8th December, 2015 at 7:58pm
Its terribly panicking this term to be firm on any contender!!. So after a while i've come to a decision that all of these teams need reinforcement to a various degree. As juve needs ingine room supplement. Roma needs to think whats the difference between garcia's this roma side that to one that he guided in his first year(yes! Leader like benatia, strootman). Napoli needs two - one centreback & a veteran midfielder. Inter & fiorentina are two incomplete sides; so they need to increase in numbers. Hey! Italian football; rise & shine as this term you are the most exciting one to watch!
on the 8th December, 2015 at 4:10pm
@Philtrum

I am an economist. I am aware how how statistics work. I never really complained about the writters inputs. However, in this case, Donnadrumma did -very- little while Vid Belec was busy, not Donna. So no, there was little to enjoy around donnas performance expect the brilliant save on the shot.

I am aware that a chip from midfield ending up at goal is considered "shot at goal" or attempt, which is in my book misleading yet accurate.

Anyways, garbage performance of milan. sadla
on the 8th December, 2015 at 1:33pm
The league is a lot more interesting this year than the previous years. The gap between the top 6 teams is indicative of that. This might sound a bit premature but it could also explain why the Italian teams are doing a bit better (with the exception of Roma) in Europe. I am also glad Juve about having to earn their points the hard way. It seemed that they had taken their foot off the gas a bit and they paid for it. A good league is one where 5/6 teams fight for the title.
on the 8th December, 2015 at 12:11pm
I'm totally in support of that top 6.

we need strong teams in Europe to get us our fourth spot again.

it wont com easy though, but with the following we will get there:
1)Investing on a big and quality squad should be the priority like the English.

2)Bring the supporters back to the stadium so the clubs can get much needed revenue like the Germans.

3)Restructuring the league to attract much needed sponsors and TV rights like the English.
on the 8th December, 2015 at 9:57am
@Viktor

Viktor I've been reading this site for years and that mean I have also read your comment for years. On the top of my head I can't remember that you ever been positive to anything written (or happened either by the way). Calm down, enjoy Donnarumma's performance, no need to evaluate the quality of a shot in statistics, because then it is not objective anymore. As you said in your own post "possibly a second"

That is not how statistics work.
on the 8th December, 2015 at 8:25am
top 5's are...

Milan
juve
napoli
fiorentina
roma
on the 8th December, 2015 at 6:07am
ForzaJuve lol at you

Juve would be no 1 if... if... if... if... too many if lol.

Inter is no 1 now... and that is no if
on the 8th December, 2015 at 5:44am
Really hate to admit it but I expect Juve to win the title now. God damnit Roma
on the 8th December, 2015 at 2:11am
Juve would have been #1 had they didn't lose point on early matches, Juve will certainly win the scudetto this year if they play how they play now, team really solid than before
on the 7th December, 2015 at 10:43pm
top 6 this year looks like it'll be juve,inter, napoli, roma,milan, fiorentina in any order.

Hope so as these are the best 6 teams to go into europe to get as many coefficients pts.

look at england. the league is too competitive and teams like west ham, southhampton, stoke etc get a europa place via league cup or league and then get knocked out early in europa qualifying or group. That seriously harms the coefficient so hope the top 6 is the above as dont want another sampdoria, udinese mess
on the 7th December, 2015 at 7:58pm
I expect us to be top of the table by mid February as long as we don't have as many injuries as we have now.
on the 7th December, 2015 at 6:57pm
@editor

"it certainly was a night for goalkeepers as the Rossoneri’s 16-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma made seven saves "

He made ONE save that could have gone in rest was of their attempt was garbage (possible a second when they were going through but def not a attempt). So no, it wasn't a night for the goalkeepers.
on the 7th December, 2015 at 6:53pm

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