The Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 27: Napoli Soar, Milan Falter


On the final weekend before the international break, Serie A offered viewers a hefty feast. Now whether the Derby della Capitale and the Derby d’Italia lived up to expectations remains debatable, but the action and intensity all over the Italian peninsula surely didn’t disappoint. Once again, Napoli consolidated their superiority over the rest of the pool by brushing Torino aside away from home. Therefore, we must distinguish between Luciano Spalletti’s band of extraordinary stars and their mortal foes as we recognize the best and worst performers from Round 27 in our latest edition from Serie A Tops and Flops.

Top (Player): Victor Osimhen

At this point, we’re running out of superlatives to describe the majestic Victor Osimhen who might just be the best centre forward in world football this season.

The Nigerian put Torino to the sword with two towering headers, but his vast contributions go beyond his goals. For instance, it was his tenacious run that retrieved the ball for Napoli which directly culminated in the fourth goal.

It’s safe to say that the former Lille man will be crowned as Capocannoniere by the end of the campaign, but he also appears to be the frontrunner for the Serie A MVP award.

Top (Human Player): Manolo Gabbiadini

Having extraterrestrials like Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been preventing some of the other Serie A stars from appearing on the list, so we created a section for the mortals.

Manolo Gabbiadini has been one of the few bright spots in Sampdoria’s calamitous campaign, and he displayed his prowess once again by producing a brace that secured victory in a relegation dogfight against Verona.

Will this win resurrect the Blucerchiati’s campaign and offer a glimmer of hope? Unlikely, but kudos to Gabbiadini for refusing to raise the white flag.

Flop (Player): Roger Ibanez

Another Derby, another deadly blunder for Roger Ibanez. Last time around, the Brazilian committed a howler that led to Lazio’s winner. In this edition, he sustained a needless second booking in the first half, leaving Roma at a numerical disadvantage for the majority of the crucial showdown.

The former Atalanta man has all the potential to become a top-level defender, but being mistake-prone is a deadly characteristic for a centre-back.

Top (Manager): Massimiliano Allegri

The dugout battle between Simone Inzaghi and Massimiliano Allegri produced one obvious winner. The Juventus manager outplayed his colleague by luring Inter into his areas and offering them ball possession.

Yet, the barren Nerazzurri were never able to create anything noteworthy against the Old Lady’s well-organized defensive line, while the Bianconeri were happy to sit back and harry their Derby d’Italia foes on counter attack.

That’s how you win a crucial match when Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Federico Chiesa aren’t fit enough to start.

Flop (Manager): Ivan Juric

Kudos to Ivan Juric for being a man of principles. The Torino manager never changes his mentality, not even when hosting the most terrifying team on the continent.

The Croatian adopted his all-too-familiar tactical approach with three attacking players (Sanabria, Vlasic and Radonjic) all while instructing his men to engage in duels all over the pitch against the Partenopei stars.

Nonetheless, courage comes with a price, and this time in the form of four unanswered goals.

Top (Team): Napoli

Speaking of Napoli, the level that this team is displaying is just insane. Not even their European ambitions are slowing them down on the domestic scene, as they routed the Granata with a couple of goals in each half.

Just crown them already!

Top (Human Team): Udinese

In our human section, Udinese produced what was certainly their best display in 2023 – and by a large margin – as they stunned Milan at the Dacia Arena.

The Zebrette took a deserved early lead, and even when Zlatan Ibrahimovic equalized the scoring in a controversial fashion, they immediately replied by retaking the lead a minute later.

With two wins in a row, it seems that their mid-season crisis is now behind them.

Flop (Team): Milan

On the other hand, Milan’s hallow performance was simply inexplicable. Stefano Pioli’s men never found their rhythm nor their determination to score despite having an entire half to forge another equalizer.

In the end, it was Udinese who added a third goal, as doubts over the current project are beginning to resurface.

Top (Goalkeeper): Marco Carnesecchi

Sadly for Ivan Provedel, he had to forfeit from Italy’s squad due to an illness, opening the door for Marco Carnesecchi to earn his maiden senior call-up.

However, this didn’t come out of the blue, as the Atalanta-owned custodian has been catching the eye with a string of impressive displays for Cremonese, including his brilliant showing against Monza in Serie A Round 27.

The young goalkeeper eventually allowed Carlos Augusto’s unstoppable low drive, but not before making life difficult for Monza.

Top (Reaction): Adriano Galliani

Speaking of Monza’s goal. It was certainly a decent effort from Augusto, but not even the 25-year-old Brazilian could pull off a passionate, wild celebration like 78-year-old Adriano Galliani.

Some things never change.

Flop (Luck): Adolfo Gaich

Since joining Verona last January, Adolfo Gaich is yet to score a goal. Therefore, opening his account in a relegation showdown against Sampdoria would have been the ideal timing.

However, fate obviously has other plans for the Argentine striker who thought he had opened his Serie A account on two occasions, only to be later denied by VAR twice.

You’d think one blow would be cruel enough.

Top (Achievement): Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Finally, it’s time to pay homage to a true Calcio great who, at the age of 41, became the oldest goal-scorer in Serie A history by converting from the spot against Udinese in Round 27.

Obviously a retaken penalty kick in his team’s losing effort isn’t exactly a fairytale ambiance, however, this shouldn’t take anything away from Zlatan’s great achievement, especially when considering what he had to go through in the previous year just to be able to kick a ball again.

A Lion indeed.

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