Ciarán Murphy is here with a round-up of some of the biggest results from Serie A week 15 as well as the rumours that Fernando Torres could already be on his way out of Milan, having only joined the San Siro outfit during the summer.
1. Mancini’s first win
Inter Milan stopped high flying Chievo’s great run of form on Monday night. Coming into the game Chievo were unbeaten in five while Inter are experiencing their worst start since the 1994-95 season. Roberto Mancini was still without Jonathan and Hernanes while the hosts were without Zukanovic and Nicolas Frey.
Inter started brighter with Mateo Kovacic and Rodrigo Palacio firing shots at goal early on but Chievo missed a clear-cut opportunity after ten minutes. Alberto Paloschi made the most of some loose Inter defending before Samir Handanovic made an important stop.
Inter seemed to get a wake-up call from the Handanovic save and when Alessandro Gamberini failed to deal with a Auto Nagatomo cross Kovacic pounced to score his first goal since September.
Check out Kovacic’s goal here:
Chievo pushed hard for the equaliser and came close through a spectacular effort from Riccardo Meggoirini, only to be denied by Handanovic once again.
Inter sealed the impressive win in the 55th minute when Andrea Ronocchia hit a volley into the back of the net from close range. This rounded off a great night’s work from Mancini’s men at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodl and leaves them in 11th place in the league and only six points off 3rd.
Chievo 0-2 Inter Milan
2. Juve’s winning streak comes to an end
Fourth placed Sampdorai travelled to the Juventus Stadium on Sunday hoping that they could be the first team to leave with nay ponts in the last 25 games. Juventus had Stephan Lichtsteiner back from suspension, but Giorgio Chiellini was banned and also missing through injury were Marco Storari, Kwadwo Asamoah, Martin Caceres, Andrea Barzagli and Luca Marrone.
Meanwhile, Sampdoria also had their fair share of absentees, including Lorenzo De Silvestri who was suspended while Matias Silvestre, Gianluca Sansone and Pawel Wszolek were injured. Another talking point arising from the team selections came when Manolo Gabbiadini was not named in the starting team for Samp as rumours he is leaving for Napoli grow stronger.
Carlos Tevez looked dangerous early on and tested the reflexes of Samp goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Juve’s early pressure took its toll as a corner was swung in from Claudio Marchisio was met by the head of Patrice Evra. The French full-back was renowned at Old Trafford for scoring headed goals and no one picked him up to try stop him from scoring his first in Serie A.
Gabbiadini came on for the second half and made an immediate difference. Samp hadn’t looked too threatening all afternoon but when their chance fell, there was no better man than Gabbiadini to finish-off with a trademark left foot finish.
Juve looked shocked after the equaliser and struggled to make any more clear chances. Gabbiadini nearly stole all three points with another left foot curler, only to be denied by the evergreen Buffon.
A great away point for Sampdoria leaves them in third, ten points behind leaders Juventus.
Juventus 1-1 Sampdoria
3. Milan get the job done
Jeremy Menez’s good run of form continued as he was on target for Milan as they put aside Napoli 2-0 at the San Siro.
After five minutes Milan were already ahead. Menez latched on to a through-ball, showed real pace to pass by the defenders and then great composure to shoot past Rafael into the far bottom corner. Menez has now scored eight goals in the league this season, setting a new record for his best season so far at the club.
Napoli responded well to going a goal behind and Diego Lopez made a smart double save from David Lopez and a Jose Callejon follow-up. Ricardo Montolivo’s return has gone from strength to strength and against Napoli, in midfield looked closer to getting back to the great form he showed last season.
After the break, as Napoli poured more men forward in search of an equaliser, more gaps appeared at the back. In the 52nd minute Giacomo Bonaventura was found totally un-marked six yards out and he couldn’t miss, making in 2-0.
Milan should have made it 3-0 with Menez and Montolivo missing chances, but this result leaves Inzaghi’s team in joint-sixth position, just two off Genoa, Sampdoria and Lazio in third.
AC Milan 2-0 Napoli
4. Roma close in on Juventus
Coming into the game on Sunday afternoon, Genoa had not been beaten in over two months. Meanwhile, last time out Roma had to come from two down to draw 2-2 with Sussuolo.
Roma were without the suspended Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Castan, Frederico Balzaretti and Lukasz Skorupski were all injured. Genoa had to do without Juraj Kucka but Nicolas Burdisso returned. Roma do not tend to enjoy their trips to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris. They had lost five of their last six visits and none of their fans were allowed to attend this time.
Roma had an early chance when Gervinho broke down the wing, before pulling it back to Adem Ljajic, but his attempt was weak and was easily saved. Gervinho then had a double chance of his own, but was denied twice by the Genoa stopper Mattia Perin.
Midway through the first half the game seemed to have swung in Roma’s favour. Radja Nainggolan broke into the Genoa box and was taken down by Perin, a red card and a penalty resulted. This meant that 25-year-old Eugenio Lamana came on for his league debut. He guessed right and managed to save Ljajic’s penalty with his first touch in Serie A.
Roma eventually took the lead when Maicon broke down the right wing before sending over a cross, which was met on the volley by Nainggolan for a sensational finish.
In the second half Roma had chances to close out the game, the best falling to Ljajic but he could not get on the score sheet. Genoa brought on striker Mauricio Panilla late on to try and snatch an equaliser but Morgan De Sanctis just about kept his clean sheet. Deep into stoppage time Rincon headed a Genoa corner past De Sanctis, but he had been caught offside.
Roma now move to within a point of Juventus and the tittle race is in full swing.
Genoa 0-1 Roma
5. Is Torres’ time in Milan up already?
When Fernando Torres moved from Chelsea to Milan in the summer it really felt as if it was a good move. For the past two years it was clear for everyone to see that Torres’ time in the Premier League was over.
His pace, which once made him the most feared striker was gone and without pace in the Premier League strikers find it very difficult. Torres may well have the ability to score goals without relying on speed but his confidence had hit such plummeting depts we never found out.
Moving to Serie A seemed like a logical decision. The pace of both football and life in Italy is vastly different to that of the hustle and bustle of London. Fernando could relax, read Gazzetta dello Sport and get back to scoring goals. This is what we all thought could happen but it has turned out to be the exact opposite.
In some aspects Torres has looked even worse since he has been at the San Siro. Without being too harsh, he has offered nothing, floating through games as if he doesn’t really care. In ten total appearances since joining the Diavolo, Torres has just one goal, coming against Empoli. Apart from his solitary goal, his performances have left Inzaghi with no choice but to try and win games without him.
Inzaghi himself has gone from publicly stating he believes Torres will come good to completely leaving him out of the squad. At the age of 30, Torres should be in his prime, or at least at the tail end of his prime, instead he can’t break into the starting eleven of the worst Milan team in decades.
This week Marca carried the headline “Milan-Torres divorce on the cards” with rumours that he is heading back to Spain. Some English papers are also stating that he is thinking about a return to Liverpool. Wherever he ends up, it looks increasingly possible that Torres will never actually, be ‘back’.
Ciarán Murphy, Pundit Arena
Featured image By Nahuel from Milano, Italy (Stadio San Siro – Milano) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons