It was all about Milan in Serie A this weekend. Juventus may have been preparing for the Champions League and Napoli may have been laying an egg against Torino, but both clubs from Milan provided enough drama and quality for plenty to talk about this weekend in Serie A.
Serie A Weekend: Milan Sides Provide Drama
It was an absolutely wild week in Milan with both sides having plenty of chaos. We have to start with Inter as they desperately needed a result. After a rough 1-0 win last weekend, the Nerazzurri woke up Wednesday with the news that Mauro Icardi had been stripped of the captaincy. The Argentine had failed to show up after being called into the squad for the midweek Europa League game.
The situation with Mauro Icardi has become increasingly toxic. The 25-year-old had been in negotiations over a new contract with the club. Those negotiations have not been going well, with some believing a summer move is on the cards. The latest developments only enhance that belief.
Without Icardi, Inter Milan ground out a 1-0 win on the road in Vienna against Rapid Wien. It was an ugly performance, but after Icardi failed to show up, they needed it a win. It helped propel them into another grind-it-out type performance on Sunday against Sampdoria.
Inter Milan 2-1 Sampdoria
To be fair to Sampdoria, it was a pretty even contest at the San Siro on Sunday. They out-possessed the home team and created plenty of chances, but most of those chances didn’t come until after they were 2-1 down. In truth, Inter Milan created more opportunities and forced keeper Emil Audero into multiple important saves.
However, Inter got an absolutely massive deciding goal from Radja Naingollan. The Belgian has had a bad first season in Milan, not helped by the rising star in Niccolo Zaniolo, but the Ninja came up big on Sunday with a lovely strike that gave Inter three crucial points; especially because with them, they went four points ahead of their neighbours.
Atalanta 1-3 AC Milan
Those neighbours travelled to the north of Italy to take on Serie A’s highest-scoring side, Atalanta, but AC Milan outplayed Atalanta in Bergamo for a massive 3-1 win. For Milan, there is nothing they liked seeing more than yet another stellar performance from their January signings. Leandro can only be pleased with the play of Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek.
The Polish striker bagged two more goals in this game taking him to six in four starts since his move to Milan. His technique on the first goal, hitting a cross on the volley across his body, was outstanding. It was the type of goal we weren’t sure he could score, but he has continued to prove any doubters wrong all season.
More important was the performances of Lucas Paqueta, Franck Kessie and Tiemoue Bakayoko. The three of them have taken control of the Milan midfield and made what was a weakness, a strength. Paqueta’s creativity has perfectly augmented the strengths of Bakayoko and Kessie.
Napoli 0-0 Torino
Frankly, the less said about this game the better, but when the second place side in Serie A drops points at home, it deserves recognition. Napoli have now had back-to-back scoreless Serie A games and that is a problem. One more bad result and they might reopen the race for second place to Inter Milan.
In their final preparation match before their Champions League bout with Atletico Madrid, Juve smashed poor Frosinone 3-0 at home. The biggest stories from that game were the screamer by Paulo Dybala, his subsequent celebration with new best friend Cristiano Ronaldo, and the lack of attendance.
The average ticket was reported at around €150 and that is far too much for a Friday night against the 19th-placed side. Those that did show up got to see a world class finish from Paulo Dybala. That, plus goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonardo Bonucci gave Juventus the perfect warmup for the Champions League.