MILAN (Reuters) – Talking points from the weekend in Serie A where Juventus remained eight points clear at the top of the standings after beating Inter Milan 1-0 in the Derby d’Italia, while second-placed Napoli thumped Frosinone 4-0.
Although Juventus have moved 14 points clear of third-place Inter Milan, there was little to choose between the two sides and Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said that Juventus were simply more streetwise.
“Juve are cunning and we are naive,” he said, and nobody exemplified that more than Juve captain and central defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The 34-year-old gave another defensive masterclass, blocking shots, anticipating runs and dealing with everything which came near him in the air. Inter forward Mauro Icardi was neutralised and the Argentine did not have a single shot on goal.
In his customary fashion, Chiellini also pressured the referee, wasted time whenever possible and celebrated every key interception and tackle as if he had scored a goal.
AS Roma’s chaotic season continued when they squandered a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against a Cagliari side who finished with nine players.
The team were immediately ordered into a training camp amid speculation over the future of coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
“You have to put games to bed. Put the ball where you need to put it without trying anything daring or risky, as we did today,” said a furious Di Francesco, whose side are eighth.
“We’ve often shown character flaws in games like these. After we conceded the first you could see we were frightened of keeping the ball up front.”
If was a familiar story for Roma, who threw away a two-goal lead at home to bottom club Chievo and were held 2-2, conceded a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Napoli and were beaten by a late goal at AC Milan.
They have also lost three times to teams in the bottom five — SPAL, Udinese and Bologna.
TWELVETEAMSBUNCHEDTOGETHER IN MIDTABLE
Although Juventus are threatening to run away with the title again, it is a different story further down the table where only 10 points separate AC Milan in fourth from Genoa in 15th.
Of the 12 teams in that pack, 10 were involved in draws at the weekend including Milan and Torino (0-0), Cagliari and AS Roma (2-2), Lazio and Sampdoria (2-2), and Sassuolo and Fiorentina (3-3).
Cagliari’s draw was their eighth in 15 games this season, followed by Fiorentina and Torino with seven apiece.
“It’s a really open championship, I can’t remember the last time the standings were so tight,” Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini said.
AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso is tired of hearing talk over who the club may bring in during the winter transfer window.
“I’ve been a player and know how it feels when you hear the coach talking about the transfer market or other players who can come in,” he said.
“You’ll have to ask the directors, I’m just thinking about coaching the players who are available. We have a squad with so many injuries but we have a squad which is alive and doing well.”
Bologna coach Filippo Inzaghi’s position is increasingly precarious, according to Italian media, who say that the next match, at home to his former club AC Milan, could be decisive.
His side are stuck in the relegation zone after a run of eight league matches without a win and lost 2-1 at fellow strugglers Empoli on Sunday.
“I’ll talk to the club and they’ll make their own decisions. But the lads are fighting and I firmly believe that staying in Serie A is possible. I’d be the first to take a step back if that wasn’t the case,” he said.
Inzaghi spent 11 seasons of his playing career at Milan and coached them in the 2014-15 season.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O’Brien)