Cristian Ansaldi vs Florentina
Torino has vastly underperformed their expectations as they have failed to deliver and the way we expected them to. However, maybe expecting repeated success was unrealistic. Nonetheless, this team has struggled to be a top-10 team which is something they have consistently done over the last several years. Getting into Europe or being on the brink of that is not something they’re used to so maybe our expectations about them were realistic. However, their season finally got some momentum with a big victory against Florentina that took them back into the top 10. This Torino team did not seem to have the energy as a year ago and their defense has been suspect throughout. However, in a Big match against Florentina another team that has it been incredibly disappointing they got a massive three points in a 2-1 victory. Torino’s standout performer came out from a very unlikely source. Defensive midfielder Cristian Ansaldi. He helped get Torino in front orchestrating an assist to Zaza who gave Torino a 1-0 lead. It wasn’t just that the way he crowded the passing lanes and made it very difficult on the Florentina attack he was sensational. It was a really tough game for both teams as even with the lead it was never a comfortable outing for Torino. He came out through in multiple ways but eventually, after a really hard-fought match he came away supplying the knockout punch. With 18 minutes to go in the game, he found his moment connected putting the ball into the back of the net scoring a goal that killed off the game. Once again it was not a sexy performance from him he did the dirty work and on top of that scored and assisted being responsible for the only goals Torino scored in the game. it was a match that was ugly and gritty from both sides but despite that, he managed to put together a very productive display that takes his team into the top 10 where they belong. It was a remarkable performance from the defensive midfielder acting as an unlikely hero stealing the headlines as Torino takes all three points.
Filippo Falco vs Genoa
Lecce have done remarkably well considering what the expectations have been before the season. A large part of that is their ability to win games late and pick up points against their fellow relegation candidates. Against Genoa, they appeared to be dead in the water as they were down 2-0. They needed a hero to save themselves and try to get a point. This is something that Lecce have done this season even in games they have lost they have a fighting spirit to get back into it. One adjustment changed the entire complexion of the game when the Falco came on in the second half. He was one of the best performers of the week not because of his stats because of the way he delivered when his team needed him the most. Lecce has impressed this season as most people thought they would severely struggle. However, they are still in a relegation battle and need to get points against Bottom Feeders like Genoa matches like this are really important in the grand scheme of things especially late in the season. Falco gave them a performance to remember. The midfielder came on in the 51st minute as he tried to produce a comeback. Within 20 minutes the match was level again. Falco orchestrated the moment after having only been on the pitch for about 10 minutes he found the back of the net as he got one back for Lecce. The decision that to bring him on certainly appeared to be an excellent decision. Another 10 minutes passes this time he facilitates The Equalizer. He gets Lecce aback into the game and they’re able to settle for a 2-2 draw earning a point in a game that looked dead. It is a big point because Genoa is also fighting for their lives this season and points like this will be incredibly crucial. Falco’s performance wasn’t flashy wasn’t magical but when his team relied on him he came off the bench and delivered exactly what was asked of him. Without question one of the best performers of the week not because it was a world-class performance but because he delivered when his team needed him to.
Chris Smalling vs Inter Milan
Chris Smalling was without question one of the best performers in Italian football this week with a tremendous display against the mighty Inter Milan. Chris Smalling is on loan at Rome after Manchester United felt that he wasn’t going to get into the team. Since he has started playing regularly for Roma he has been one of the best center backs in all of Europe. The center-back partnership of Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini may be the best in the league this season. He was at his Peak over the last few games and has played incredibly well which is why Manchester United in all likelihood will not get him back next season. It was a battle between Manchester United teammates Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku. They both exited the Red Devils for greener pastures and have both been vital parts of their teams this season. This was a massive match for both teams as Inter Milan had recently gone to the top of Italian football. Meanwhile, Roma tried to enrich their Champions League campaign with a massive display against inter at the San Siro. Chris Smalling was the biggest X-Factor in this game romelu Lukaku had an early chance saved but outside of that, he provided absolutely nothing. The large majority of the match ended up in the pocket of Chris Smalling. The English Defender made him work for everything and there wasn’t much he could do to stop him. Chris Smalling got in front of him played physical with him and made things as difficult as he possibly could. This was the biggest matchup in the game largely because Martinez and Lukaku struggled to do much of anything against Roma’s defense as a unit performed admirably. However, Chris Smalling was the star of the show he allowed nothing to get past him he caused Romelu Lukaku to be visibly frustrated. Things have come very easy for the big Belgium Striker at home against a strong Roma team Chris Smalling made him miserable. Having gone up against him so many times in practice over the last 3 season Chris Smalling had the cheat code and used it against him. He made a massive difference in the match and was a large reason why they ended up getting a point at the San Siro. Chris Smalling has truly been one of the best signings of the season in Italy and one of the best defenders in the entire league against one of the best strikers he got the upper hand showing his unbelievable quality he was absolutely world-class against Inter Milan as a short-handed Roma get a huge point at the San Siro he was sensational.
DONKEY OF THE WEEK: Napoli (4)
The donkey of the week has not changed in quite a while. Napoli has just been that disappointing. Yet again they are my donkey of the week. This team is not getting into Europe despite their overwhelming quality they continue to lay eggs every single weekend. Napoli’s at the end of their rope with the talent they have throughout the team it has been utterly shambolic. Napoli has not won a game in their last nine matches. In this time Inter Milan is winning, Roma is winning, Caligari is winning even lowly AC Milan has managed to pick up points during this stretch. Napoli has not been able to put together a consistent performance in a long time. Carlo Ancelotti’s seat is getting even harder as the days go on. Napoli failed to beat Udinese A team near the very bottom of the table. That’s how bad Napoli seems to be over the last several weeks. This team is mentally broken they’re not playing with confidence and it shows. Carlo Ancelotti is just about done in Naples. This has gone on for far too long what Carlo Ancelotti has done in the past does not matter anymore. It’s about what he has done with this team lately. Even though it’s a big price to pay given how much money they would have to sacrifice to fire him it has to be done now. This is becoming a more dramatic situation by the day. For whatever reason, they can’t get it right and they continuously have let themselves down from the very start of the season. This entire team is low on confidence they need a burst of energy and as long as he’s in charge and the team is playing like this that’s not going to happen. It may be time to make a really tough decision because Napoli can’t even buy a win. Every week they continue to slide down which is why every week they continue to be the donkey of the week and until there’s some change in all likelihood they will continue to be exactly what they are which is an overhyped team that is not capable a playing in Europe. You may think I’m crazy but the European race this season is as difficult as ever there is not one team that is fighting for euope that fears Napoli this is a problem.