19 games down, 19 more to go.
And bah gawd, what a slobberknocker of a half-season of Serie A football we’ve enjoyed.
We’ve watched Inter become serious title contenders under Antonio Conte. We’ve watched Ciro Immobile score a billion goals (that’s not even that much of an exaggeration). We’ve watched SPAL score zero goals (that’s not even that much of an exaggeration). Anddddd we’ve watched AC Milan and SSC Napoli collapse.
Full on collapse.
So, by using quotes from the Academy Award ‘Best Picture’ nominees, what can we ascertain from all of this nonsense?
Ciro Immobile Is the Best Player in Italy and it’s Not Even Close
Minutes per goal – 74.
That is six more goals and three more assists than CR7, while playing for a marginally worse team. Oh, and he’s also scored those six more goals with seven less shots.
This all suggests that Immobile is currently the best player on the peninsula. Better than Ronaldo, better than Romelu Lukaku, better than literally everyone else.
AC Milan Can’t Be Fixed
“When anybody says they’re a little concerned, they’re very concerned.” (The Irishman)
AC Milan, we’re not just a little concerned, we are very concerned. Very, very, very concerned.
They’ve thrown money at the problem by signing Leonardo Bonucci, Krzysztof Piatek and Mattia Caldara for a combined £90m. That didn’t work…Only one of those players still players for the club, and probably not for much longer.
They’ve had went through three managers in 2019. That didn’t work.
They pretended to implement a ‘youth first’ policy. That didn’t work.
Now, they’ve turned to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a 38-year-old forward who has most recently spent a year in the MLS.
That probably won’t work either.
Napoli are Entering the ‘Tottenham Zone’
“The dead part isn’t dead, it was just in a coma.” (Marriage Story)
SSC Napoli are currently 11th in Serie A. Yes, 11th. So yes, this season has been a disaster.
And it has been such a disaster because, well, everything has gone a bit stale at the Stadio San Paolo.
Kalidou Koulibaly can’t stay fit, Lorenzo Insigne can’t score a goal to save his life, Dries Mertens is now 32, and Jose Callejon is both 32 and unable to score a goal to save his life.
It’s clear that there is a need for a refresh at the heart of the squad, but like the situation at Tottenham, that’s easier said than done. And like Tottenham, instead of doing so when it was explicitly absolutely 100% needed, they’ve changed managers in the hope that these ‘star’ players can find form once again.
They haven’t, and they probably won’t anytime soon.
Andrea Belotti Is Back
“Let me tell you, that’s one sh*t-f*ck crazy weapon you do not want to be on the wrong side of. Boy, oh, boy. Now, I practiced with that dragon, uh, three hours a day for two weeks. Not just because I wanted to look good in the picture, but because I was sh*t scared of the damn thing, to be honest.” (Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood)
Andrea Belotti is, once again, the sh*t-f*ck crazy weapon that Serie A clubs do not want to be on the wrong side of.
After two seasons of underperformance (largely due to injury, to be fair), Belotti is back showing why Manchester United were once allegedly hellbent on spending
Sarriball Isn’t…But Who Cares?
“You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned.” (Parasite)
So…Maurizio Sarri hasn’t brought Sarriball to Juventus?
Juventus are still pretty terrible to watch?
Sarri has been pragmatic like Max Allegri rather than meticulous planning out every feasible part of the game like, well, Sarri?
But they’re still top of the league and Sarri has accumulated more points in his first season as Juve manager than any other manager in the club’s history?
Oh, right, Sarri is doing really well then.
Lautaro Martinez & Romelu Lukaku = The Best Partnership in Europe
“What I’m saying is you can’t buy a win, Lee. But maybe you could buy the guy who gets you a shot.” (Ford v Ferrari)
Romelu Lukaku is the guy that Inter bought to give them a shot at winning their first Scudetto since 2010, and he has. He’s been exceptional – scoring more goals than every player in Serie A bar Ronaldo and Immobile.
But, more important than his goals and individual performances, has been his ability to get the very best out of his diminutive strike partner Lautaro Martinez, who has been Serie A’s breakout star of the season.
Together, they have been pretty much unstoppable.
They are the most iconic duo since the Jenner sisters.
SPAL are Doomed
“There is only one way this war ends.” (1917)
SPAL’s Serie A record:
Goals scored: 12.
Goals conceded: 29.
Goal difference: -17.
Look SPAL, there is only one way this season ends: with you lot back in Serie B.
Atalanta Show No Signs of Slowing Down
“People are starting to notice.” (Joker)
Like last season, Gian Piero Gasperini’s team have been the most exciting team to watch in Serie A – scoring eight more goals than another team in the league – pushing for yet another top four finish.
But unlike last season, they’re doing so while also qualifying for the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds for the first time ever, AND while their stadium is being redeveloped into one of the very best on the peninsula. The Bergamo club are building something seriously special at the moment.
Atalanta are just getting better, and better, and better.
The Most Competitive League in Europe
“Pretty things should be enjoyed.” (Little Women)
Let’s on a positive note.
The main takeaway from the first half of the 2019/20 Serie A season is that the league is the most competitive it’s been since the Calciopoli scandal wayyyyyy back in 2006.
Serie A has the most enthralling title race in Europe, a slugfest between AS Roma, Atalanta and Lazio for the remaining Champions League berths, a battle between Cagliari, Torino, and Parma for Europa League qualification and a relegation battle between Genoa, Lecce and Brescia.
It’s all to play for.