Romelu Lukaku vs Napoli (4)
Romelu Lukaku continues to prove doubters wrong. The combination of Martinez and Lukaku at Inter Milan has been magnificent. I’m not going to walk away from my stance on this I still do believe Martinez is the best player on Inter Milan but Lukaku is showing some incredible stuff. It’s hard to even imagine that Romelu Lukaku is this good already in Italian football. Inter Milan are in a title race with Juventus and have a good chance of winning their first title since 2010 a large part of that is the signing of Romelu Lukaku. He is paired with Martinez who often creates space and opportunities for Lukaku to be successful as he has the attention on him because he is more of an explosive player. Nonetheless, Lukaku is just performing week in and week out and even some of the things they have struggled with in the past it’s starting to change he once again is one of my performers of the week because of his ability to perform regularly. The biggest criticism of Romelu Lukaku going into this season as he couldn’t deliver against the big teams. This is something that he struggled with not only at Inter Milan but a Manchester United and even at Everton. He has certainly had his moments he’s been able to deliver but over a large sample size, for the most part, he has failed to live up to the hype during those big games. Romelu Lukaku started to answer that Bell this weekend even though Napoli is not in their best moment they still have a strong team and it is still considered a big match considering the amount of quality that Napoli has. Romelu Lukaku has 16 goals this season which is already more but he had at Manchester United last year. I don’t care what anyone says he still has not proven to be a better player than Mauro Icardi. He did not replace him it is impossible to replace a player that scored 111 goals for a team. However, he may have just Justified his price tag. He scored twice against Napoli in a 3-1 victory for as they continue to put pressure on Juventus to perform. If you’re asking me today I think Inter Milan is going to win the scudetto. They have so much quality with the exception and after another Romelu Lukaku performance, they certainly have shown their ability to perform. On top of that Martinez scored another goal as the combination of Lukaku and Martinez has been the best in Europe together they have 30 goals Lukaku has 16 Martinez has 14. Lukaku’s criticism is less valid after a really strong performance against Napoli.
Josip Illic vs Parma
Josip ilicic for a long time has been one of the most underrated players in Italian football. He has shown qualities at Florentina Palmero and now at Atalanta. The issue has been a lack of consistency. He can put in some incredible performances but in the past, he has failed to justify it and it does it on a consistent basis. This season he’s playing at an unbelievable level. Without Duvan Zapata who has been injured for quite some time. Josip ilicic has really stepped up this season and shown his qualities on a more regular basis. He has been really consistent for a strong Atalanta team he already has nine goals this season he is on Pace for the best-ever scoring total of his career. Atalanta continues to be a strong team under the radar. He was very impressive in their 5-0 win over Parma to start the new year they are now only one point behind Roma for the final Champions League spot. This team is capable of a lot more than they have shown so far and he has been such a consistent part of their success this season. He scored twice against Parma as he continues to deliver week in and week out. It’s not only that he is good at supplying passes to his teammates and being effective in ways that don’t show up on the scoresheet. As long as he continues to play well and consistent Atalanta will have a good chance of making Europe and some aspect this season. Against Parma, he was special scoring twice but also coming close on a lot of other occasions that consistency he has seemed to lack the last few seasons he’s starting to show how good he can be.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Cagliari (3)
During the first half of the season, Cristiano Ronaldo struggled significantly. He has shown age this season as he is deteriorating slowly however he still has those moments that make you remember who he is. Italian football has been a rather difficult adjustment for Cristiano Ronaldo last season despite his stature and reputation he was not one of the best three players in the league. This season thus far he struggled, even more, there were games in which he made a little to no impact. Even though he has made a slow start he started showing form near the end of 2019. The criticism surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo has been Fair because he has not been up to standard. However, that has changed there were certainly moments in which he wasn’t even into consideration as one of the best players in the league. Cristiano Ronaldo has heard the criticism and quickly has started to respond. The last game he played prior to the break was against Sampdoria a match in which he had defied gravity. He has scored in consecutive matches to end 2019. In the first game of 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo put together his best ever performance in Italian football. At the beginning of this year and last year, he found things a little bit more difficult because of the defensive pressure that Italian football provides. however, despite not being at his best early he appears to start gathering momentum and confidence as we’re starting to recognize the Cristiano Ronaldo in front of us. He may not be the best player in the world and I don’t think that’s even a debate at the moment but he’s starting to heat up at exactly the right time. Juventus played Cagliari this week a team with European ambitions of their own. He once again displayed a performance that lands him as one of my performers of the week for the second consecutive week. He finally scored his first hat-trick in Italian football as we’re starting to see the world-class capabilities that we expect from a player like Cristiano Ronaldo. He is slowly but surely found his form this season. Even though one of the goals was a penalty he has played at a really high level scoring his first hat-trick in Italy. Juventus may not truly get back the money they spent on him. However, Cristiano Ronaldo is starting to show he was worth it. Another sensation display as Cristiano Ronaldo now has 13 League goals this season there are a quite a few of penalties in there but nonetheless, he is starting to play at his absolute best with the likes of Paulo Dybala who has been Juventus is best player of the season helping him reach these heights he’s capable of putting together something really special during the second half of the season a performance like that against a tough Cagliari team shows the world once again who he is.
DONKEY OF THE WEEK: Cagliari
The donkey of the week this week goes to Cagliari. This has been one of the most impressive Underdog stories of the season. They are one of the feel-good stories in Italian football so far this year. They will not end up being in this spot very often but this week it just was pathetic. Cagliari is a team that is capable of European Ambitions this season. They have shown that consistently but they seem to have hit a wall. They were in the Champions League spot for weeks before Roma eventually overtook them. They have fallen all the way down to 6th Place still enough to potentially get into Europe but it seems they’re starting to slip. A lot of people had questioned whether or not they could sustain their form throughout the season and it seems like it’s starting to deteriorate. I still expect them to finish in the top 10 and I think they will get a European place but they’ve just made it really difficult on themselves after some really bad performances. This weekend their first match 2020 they got a wake-up call they still got a lot of work to do. Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus absolutely crushed them in a 4-0 defeat. If Cagliari is a team that is serious about the European Ambitions they can’t go out like that. That’s not to say you can’t lose matches even against them inferior teams but the bottom line is against teams like Juventus at least have to show up and Cagliari did no such thing this is why they get donkey the week they probably will not get this very often but after that performance it was inevitable.