Friday, April 22 nd, 2016
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Top five: Juventus and Conte dominate. Roma shine and Berardi is the new star
Our selection at the halfway point: the Bianconeri won the 11th game in a row, a club’s record. Garcia’s team has the same points (44) as the champions one year ago. Sassuolo’s forward scored 11 goals so far on debut in Serie A
by Pasquale Notargiacomo
The 19th game  of Serie A corresponds to the halfway point of the league. Here are our top five so far:


JUVENTUS. If we should give a mark it would be 11, as the Bianconeri won (against Cagliari) the 11th game in a row. A record in the club’s history. The defending champions survived a difficult opening half hour and have goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to thank as they made a comeback to win 4-1 at Cagliari. Rossoblu’s forward Mauricio Pinilla scored and was later sent off for the Sardinians while Fernando Llorente scored twice for Juventus who have reached 52 points. The Bianconeri have only dropped five points this season.


ANTONIO CONTE. Juventus’ coach is the real key of Juve success. He was delighted after his team kept up their winning run against Cagliari. "It's an extraordinary achievement, given that in the history of Juventus, it had never been done before despite all the great teams we had," he told reporters. "The boys deserve an applause, as football can go so quickly that you barely have time to enjoy these moments. "Even in moments of difficulty, we held out well and forced Cagliari to use up their energy with a very strong opening hour" he added. It would have beeen the perfect season, without the Champions League elimination.


ROMA. Alessandro Florenzi's perfectly-executed bicycle kick inspired second-placed AS Roma to a 4-0 win over Genoa. Garcia’s team still has an 8 point gap from Juventus after they lost their unbeaten league record at Torino a week ago. "Today I saw the right response”, Roma coach said. We pushed well during the first half, and then Florenzi scored a great goal. I also want to single out the captain’s performance; he’s once again back to his usual top form”. Florenzi's opening 25th-minute goal was the day's highlight and not even the player seemed to believe it as he ran to the touchline with his hands on his head. Totti added the second on the half hour, Maicon finished off a counter-attack two minutes before the break for the third and defender Mehdi Benatia completed the scoring in the second half. Where will the Giallorossi be without Juventus? Try to look back. One year ago, after 19 games, Juventus led the table with 44 points: the same as Garcia’s team today.


DOMENICO BERARDI. Nineteen-year-old forward Domenico Berardi scored four  goals to give Sassuolo a 4-3 win over AC Milan. Since 1994/95 Berardi is the youngest player to have scored 4+ goals in a Serie A game (Opta). The Rossoneri who have won only five league games all season, seemed to be cruising after Robinho and Mario Balotelli put them two goals ahead after 13 minutes. Berardi began Sassuolo's fightback in the 15th minute when he scored from a narrow angle. He equalized in the 28th minute and completed his hat-trick just before the break. After the re-start, Berardi struck again to become the first player to score four goals against Milan in Serie A's 85-year history. “I won’t forget this night”, he said after the final whistle. And we believe him. However his overall season (the first in serie A) is memorable so far. He scored 11 goals (three less than the topscorer Pepito Rossi) and he could be also the right man for Italy coach Cesare Prandelli towards Brazil 2014.


NAPOLI. Third-placed Napoli close our top five. Rafa Benitez’s team won comfortably, beating Hellas Verona 3-0 away with goals from Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Blerim Dzemaili. The Azzurri reached 42 points. One year ago they had the same amount at the halfway point. It was worth expecting something more after 64 milions investments in summer transfers. Anyway – also changing important players (Cavani first of all) and Walter Mazzarri’s side - they confirmed as a “big” of Serie A. They stay in touch with Roma and suffered an absurd elimination from Champions League. Benitez looks for new players from January's transfer window. Then his team could still surprise in the second half of the league. 

Monday, January 13 th, 2014
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