This Serie A weekend will be remembered for Juventus all but securing another title, but everything took a backseat to a real-life matter; tributes to the late Davide Astori. The Fiorentina captain passed away this weekend a year ago and Serie A took to honour him. It was supposed to be 13 seconds of applause in the 13th minute, but it was much more than that.
Across the league, the applause lasted for the full minute. Fans stood, players stopped and everyone around them applauded. There were beautiful scenes at the Derbi Della Capitale between hated rivals Roma and Lazio clapping as one for Astori; the same too in Bergamo where his former side, Fiorentina, were playing Atalanta.
Serie A Weekend: Juventus Virtually Secure Title
Napoli 1-2 Juventus
In what was the final defence of the title, Napoli fell 2-1 at the hands of Juventus. The game seemed like a foregone conclusion at half-time. Juve were up 2-0 and a man to the good thanks to Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret taking down Cristiano Ronaldo. It was one of those fouls where Ronaldo jumped over the challenge but, if he had stayed grounded, would’ve been clattered. It was a red card tackle and thus Napoli were down two goals and a man.
Just after half-time, Miralem Pjanic was sent off for his second yellow card, a handball he could do nothing about. His sending off opened the door for Napoli to make a comeback and they took the first step 15 minutes later. Jose Callejon timed his run perfectly and got behind Giorgio Chiellini to tap in a lovely in-swinging cross from Lorenzo Insigne and, from there, the game was on.
Napoli had 30 minutes to try and find an equalizer, to try NS keep the title alive. They came at Juventus with everything they had. They forced great saves from Wojciech Szczesny and great blocks from Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. They even had Ronaldo back defending, making crucial headed clearances.
In the end, they could not crack one of the best defences in Europe. Juventus can still defend like the team they were five or six years ago and the last half hour against Napoli was just another example. It’s no wonder the anchor of this defence is on his way to his eighth consecutive Scudetto.
Lazio 3-0 Roma
The seat for Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco has gotten extremely hot after his side got thoroughly smacked by Lazio. This was a backs-against-the-wall game for the hosts; it felt like anything but three points would be the end to their European pursuits. So, fair play to them for playing well and getting a huge three points, but there are so many questions of Roma.
Their defence was, once again, all over the place. Without Kostas Manolas, you might as well give them bullfighters capes. Nor is the manager he getting the best out of the other talent brought to the club. Yes, Niccolo Zaniolo has been a revelation, but other new signings like Justin Kluivert, Ante Coric, Patrik Schick, Javier Pastore and Robin Olsen have struggled in Rome.
More Milan Madness
While various rumors were flying around about Mauro Icardi, his current side went out on Friday night and lost 2-1 to Cagliari. It can be tough to play while your former club captain is being linked with a move to Napoli, or in a swap for Paulo Dybala at Juventus. Subsequently, Inter have struggled in his absence, opening the door for their neighbors to go ahead of them.
On Saturday, AC Milan did just that with a 1-0 win over Sassuolo. The game was not great, judging by Milan winning by an own-goal, but for AC Milan, starving for Champions League football, there is nothing more vital than three points.
The win saw Gennaro Gattuso’s side through into third place in Serie A ahead of their rivals. With AC Milan playing well and Inter in such chaos its all set up for a fabulous derby game between them in just two weeks.