Friday, 16 November 2018

Serie A: October Review

Serie A continued to deliver throughout October with excellent goals, quality football and the managerial axe falling not once but twice. Juventus continue to dominate the league having won 9 of their 10 games and have a 6-point cushion on chasing Napoli and Inter while the red of Milan make up the top 4. Chievo continue to prop up the table and are joined by Frosinone and Empoli in the bottom 3.

Juventus are very much in charge of Serie A once again and you find it extremely difficult to see them not picking up an 8th consecutive league title. Max Allegri’s men are playing some excellent stuff and scoring quality goals. However, they’re only disappointment so far this campaign was losing their perfect league record against Genoa. Despite that blemish, Juventus are looking very good indeed and looking imperious. Napoli matched Juventus for points but firmly remain behind the Old Lady. Carlo Ancelotti’s men notched up 7 points from their 3 matches and overall have won 5 of their last 7 matches. Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Arduisz Milik are finding good form for the Naples club and they will hope their good form continues going into November. Inter are firmly enjoying their season right now after an impressive October of 3 straight wins which has seen them charge into 3rd place. Overall Inter have won 6 straight league games and Spalletti’s men show no sign of slowing their momentum down. Mauro Icardi continues to deliver while the hardworking Ivan Perisic, Matias Vecino, Radja Nainggolan and Marcelo Brozovic are proving a terrific combination in midfield. Spalletti knows Inter are making up for a slow start but they are making up for that and are showing their title credentials even if the gap to Juventus is quite big. The Champions League places are made up by AC Milan who are having their best run under Gennaro Gattuso. Despite the constant speculation about his job, Gattuso continues to work hard for Milan and the red half of the city have amassed 9 points from their 4 matches in October with a defeat to city rivals Inter being their only blemish on an excellent month. Defender Alessio Romagnoli is proving key at both ends of the pitch including winners against Sampdoria and Genoa at the end of the month while helping to solidify a consistent AC Milan defence. The takeover of AC Milan was important and the choice to stand by Gattuso is proving to be the correct decision.

Other sides who enjoyed October included Cagliari, Atalanta and Torino. It was a terrific month for Rolando Maran and his Cagliari side who collected 7 points from their 3 games. An unbeaten October saw victories over Chievo and Bologna as well as a draw at Fiorentina. Cagliari started October 17th, but a much-improved month has seen the Sardinian club end the month in 12th. Joao Pedro, Leonardo Pavoletti and Lucas Castro have been instrumental throughout October with goals and chances created. They have built excellent form and momentum and no doubt they will hope November continues in the same vain. It’s been a much better month for Atalanta after a very poor September. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side collected 6 points from their 3 matches including back to back wins to end the month. Goals are flowing nicely scoring 9 goals in their 2 wins including 6 past lowly Chievo. The disappointment of the early parts of the season seems to have vanished for Atalanta and things are looking up and the players are full of confidence, belief and goals. Torino had a very solid October collecting 5 points from their 3 matches. Walter Mazzarri’s side are regular mid-table finishers and so far, that is where they find themselves. They have lost just once in their last 9 games since their opening day defeat to Roma. Torino are a tough nut to crack and teams have struggled to score against them this campaign, but wins do alluded Mazzarri’s men winning just 3 of their 10 matches. A better month for Torino and they will hope November brings them the same results and confidence.

However, times are extremely tough for Chievo. The Verona club are rooted to the bottom of the table and ae yet to lose their negative points deficit. They have a new manager in the very experienced Gianpiero Ventura who replaces the sacked Lorenzo D’Anna. However, Ventura has lost both games so far with defeats to Atalanta and Cagliari. Ventura must sort their defence and fast with the team conceding far too many. While goals are extremely dry up the other end of the pitch. Confidence, moral and belief is low throughout the football club and this task is certainly the biggest of Ventura’s managerial career and saving Chievo will enhance his battered reputation after a terrible spell in charge of the Italian national team. Chievo are 9 points off safety but they must try to get closer to 19th placed Frosinone and build from there. Speaking of Frosinone, it has been a much better month for them despite being stuck in the bottom 3. They secured their first win of the season with an impressive 3-0 win at Spal and they are unbeaten in their last 2. Frosinone will hope that terrific win will ignite their survival charge. Moreno Longo knows some pressure has been taken off following their win but it heap back on him should Frosinone not continue to improve. Only rock bottom Chievo are on a longer winless run than 18th placed Empoli. Aurelio Andreazzoli’s side are winless since their opening day success over Cagliari. 6 defeats in 9 have seen Empoli slide down the Serie A table and they now find themselves in the bottom 3, two points off safety. The Empoli fans are unhappy and no doubt are demanding improvement intensifying the pressure on Andreazzoli and could he be the next manager to go? Only November’s performances and results will give us an idea.

Other sides enduring tough Octobers included Genoa, Bologna and Udinese. It was a bizarre decision by the Genoa board to part company with Davide Ballardini during October. Genoa had started the season well winning 4 of their first 7 and losing the other 3 matches. But following a 4th defeat of the season against Parma, Ballardini was gone and the club appointed Ivan Juric for a 3rd spell in charge and so far, he is yet to taste victory collecting just 2 points from his 3 games in charge. A strange decision to sack a manager who leaves the club in 7th place. They ended October in the bottom half. Juric must get the team going again after a strong start to the season. Meanwhile, life in Serie A management is proving tough for Spaniard Julio Velazquez. Udinese failed to win in October losing 2 of their 3 games and overall have lost 4 of their last 5 and won just once in their last 7. The good early form of Rodrigo De Paul has faded, and the pressure is on the Spaniard to get them going again. They have sunk to 16th and are just 2 points clear of the bottom 3.  Another side just 2 points clear of the bottom 3 is Bologna after a winless October. Filippo Inzaghi is struggling so far in just his 2nd Serie A job. 2 wins in their opening 10 league games isn’t good enough and Inzaghi knows the pressure is on to improve. While their goal scoring has improved slightly, they are not keeping them out at the other end damaging their chances of winning games. Both Velazquez and Inzaghi knows the pressure is on and both must get their teams going otherwise the managerial axe could fall.

October was brilliant, and no doubt November will deliver with some tasty matches to come including Fiorentina vs Roma, AC Milan vs Juventus, Atalanta vs Inter, Chievo vs Bologna, Empoli vs Udinese, Roma vs Sampdoria, Sassuolo vs Lazio, Lazio vs AC Milan, Napoli vs Chievo and the derby between Genoa and Sampdoria. November is always a crucial month in any season and is also prime time for managerial changes so the pressure on managers is only going to increase. Juventus are charging, and the hunting pack are chasing but can they stop Juventus’ charging to yet another title? November could offer us further answers.

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