At the end of every weekend, the Cult of Calcio provides you with a recap of the Serie A action while identifying the Tops and Flops, but we’ll have to slightly alter the theme on Round 17, just to adhere to the occasion.
On this magical night when the entire globe celebrates love and peace, we have decided to refrain ourselves from selecting any flops – despite witnessing an abundance of woeful displays over the past two days.
So let’s honor the best performers from the final Serie A weekend before Christmas.
Top (Player): Alfred Gudmundsson
Since the start of the season, Alfred Gudmundsson has cemented himself as one of the main revelations of the Serie A campaign. The 26-year-old might just be the best pure dribbler in the league, skipping past his marker almost at will.
On Saturday, the Icelandic star was the protagonist yet again when Genoa turned the result upside-down to earn a rare win on the road. Andrea Pinamonti had given Sassuolo an early lead but Gudmundsson rose to the occasion, first by equalizing from the spot and then providing a wonderful assist for Caleb Ekuban who pulled off the winner.
Albert is unlikely to dwell too long at the Luigi Ferraris, so the Grifone faithful should enjoy his delightful presence for as long as it lasts.
Top (Coach): Massimiliano Allegri
While beating Frosinone 2-1 can be hardly celebrated as a considerable achievement for Juventus, it was certainly a tricky test for the giants from Turin.
But kudos to Massimiliano Allegri for making the right options whether in the starting formation or with his second-half tweaks.
The Livorno native trusted 18-year-old Kenan Yildiz with a starting berth amidst Federico Chiesa’s absence. The teenager returned the favor by scoring a fabulous opener (more on that later).
But despite the Turk’s exploits, Max opted to haul him off in favor of Dusan Vlahovic after the interval as a response to Frosinone’s equalizer.
The Serbian striker was dropped out of the lineup following some uninspiring recent displays, but this proved to the be right recipe to evoke his hunger for goal, as he turned in the winner with a clinical header.
So all in all, Allegri pressed all the right buttons in yet another Corto Muso victory.
Top (Team): Bologna
In the space of seven days, Bologna have registered victories over Roma, Inter and more recently Atalanta.
Once this surreal fact sinks in, one can start to realize the magnitude of the work achieved by Thiago Motta over the past few years at the Renato Dall’Ara.
Truth be told, their performance against Atalanta wasn’t their best. Yet, they held firm at the back, weathered the early storm, maintained a clean sheet and snatched a late winner through Lewis Ferguson.
In other words, this is the type of display you’d expect from a top side that is battling for a Champions League, which is exactly where Bologna are placed at the moment.
Top (Goalkeeper): Ivan Provedel
On Friday, Lazio simply couldn’t afford a defeat against the struggling Empoli. The Biancocelesti did well to score twice through Mateo Guendouzi and and Mattia Zaccagni, but they still needed the prowess of Ivan Provedel to make sure they returned to the capital with three points to show from their Tuscan venture.
The Italian shot-stopper continues to solidify his place among the best custodians in Serie A.
Top (Defender): Yann Bisseck
Following an extremely busy summer transfer session for Inter, few paid heed to Yann Bisseck at the start of the season, with more renowned names stealing the limelight at Appiano Gentile.
Yet, we must applaud the young German who patiently waited in the shadows to get his chance in the sun.
Due to an injury crisis at the back, Simone Inzaghi has resorted to the 23-year-old who’s been evolving with every new outing.
Against Lecce, Bisseck struck the woodwork as an early warning before opening the scoring for the Nerazzurri with a well-taken header.
The Germany U21 defender also had the better of Lameck Banda who eventually received his marching orders at the end of a frustrating evening at San Siro.
Top (Veteran): Antonio Candreva
Although he’s only two months shy of his 37th birthday, Antonio Candreva continues to roll back the years with splendid displays, especially when coming up against the big boys.
When Fikayo Tomori gave Milan the lead, many feared Salernitana would collapse under the growing pressures, with relegation already looming.
But thankfully for the Granata, their ultimate hero came to the rescue once more.
The former Lazio and Inter star provided the assist for Federico Fazio with an exquisite corner kick, and then gave the home side a stunning lead, partially thanks to a rare Mike Maignan howler (but let’s not dwell on that little detail since it’s the Christmas edition).
Candreva’s goal didn’t prove to be the winner since Luka Jovic pulled off a late equalizer for the Rossoneri, but his memorable display suggests that there’s still hope for another thrilling escape from the drop zone for Salernitana.
Top (Debut): Kenan Yildiz
After several impressive cameos, Yildiz made his Juventus full debut on Saturday, and boy it was a good one. The teenager we’ll cherish this afternoon for the rest of his life.
We already mentioned his wonderful strike above, but aside from that moment of magic, the 18-year-old looked confident, composed, and most importantly, a true gem of a footballer. Almost every touch of his oozed class, as he repeatedly picked up his teammates with neat passes.
There would be riots on the streets of Turin if the club even consider selling this one.
Top (Luck): Ivan Ilic
While some are still debating Federico Dimarco’s outrageous goal, arguing over whether he meant to shoot or cross, we dare say Ivan Ilic’s equalizer against Udinese was plainly obvious in this regard.
We don’t even need to question the Torino midfielder to know for certain that he was aiming for a cross that somehow ended up sailing over the head of the puzzled Marco Silvestri and into the far corner.
Perhaps Santa noticed what a good boy Ivan had been all year.
Top (Assist): Marko Arnautovic
Unfortunately for Marko Arnautovic, he once again failed to open his account in Serie A despite getting a few glorious chances.
Nevertheless, the Austrian’s outing against Lecce didn’t entirely go to waste, mainly due to a brilliant backheel assist that left Inter fans in awe.
Nicolo Barella certainly owes him a gift.
Top (Goal): Kenan Yildiz
In truth, there was a lack of brilliant strikes this weekend, so Yildiz’s marvelous solo run wins the day.
|Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football