Serie A Power Rankings: AC Milan and Napoli surge in the title race, Dusan Vlahovic shines in Juventus debut

Last weekend in Serie A told AC Milan announced to they world that they are still very much in the title race. Serie A leaders Inter Milan missed opportunity to put an end to the Rossoneri’s Scudetto dreams when in an exciting Derby della Madonnina, Stefano Pioli’s side came away with a statement victory. Elsewhere, Juventus won thanks to the team’s new duo of Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria. It was a result that majorly increased their chances of returning to the Champions League for the next season. Meanwhile, Atalanta lost at home against Cagliari. And now, onto the rankings. 

1 – Inter Milan (-)

Inter Milan’s loss totally changes the contours of the second of the Serie A season. Simone Inzaghi was hoping to all but end the title race as make Inter the prohibitive favorites to win second Scudetto in a row. Now the situation is totally different, and even if Inter Milan remain the favorites, their one point lead is deceptive since they also have a game in hand compared to Napoli and AC Milan who sit a point back. Saturday’s match against Napoli looms large now as it will tell us if their last match was just a little hiccup on the way to the title or if it was the beginning of a deeper crisis for this team.

2 – AC Milan (-)

AC Milan are now the team in the best form from a psychological point of view after their incredible come from behind win against Inter Milan. Olivier Giroud’s quick brace changed the whole picture of the league in under three minutes. It was an emotional match where Inter were actually the better team for more than seventy minutes, but then AC Milan’s comeback flipped not only the scoreboard but the underlying stats as well. By the final whistle it was, thanks to Giroud, AC Milan who had the higher expected goal (xG) tally, 1.05 to 1.02 demonstrating that even if they were slightly fortunate to take all three points, AC Milan certainly didn’t deserve to lose. Now it will be important to keep up the pace over the next few games, a relatively easy run against Lazio, Sampdoria and Salernitana and keep the pressure on.

3 – Napoli (-)

The big news for Luciano Spalletti’s is that Victor Osimhen back and in the goals, scoring for the first time after an injury kept him sidelined for three months. Quietly, Napoli are now second in the league, tied with AC Milan and on Saturday they will have the chance to go top when they play against Inter Milan at the Stadio Maradona. It’s a huge game.

4 – Juventus (+1)

Juventus are for the first time this season fourth in the league, meaning that they would currently qualify for next season’s Champions League. New signings Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria both scored in their debuts against Hellas Verona, and brought the kind of energy to the squad that was lacking over the first half of the season. The Bianconeri showed improvement in attack with Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala playing alongside Vlahovic. Now it will be crucial to maintain the same impact over the next few weeks.

5 – Atalanta BC (-1)

Atalanta lost against Cagliari at home, but even worse than just a bad result, Atalanta’s underlying performance was very poor. Despite having over 60% possession, their ten shots were worth only 0.63 xG whila Cagliari ran up 1.51 xG from only 7 shots. Duvan Zapata’s injury is also a bad news and he’s likely to miss the rest of the season. Atalanta now need to come from behind to snag a Champions League spot a job made all the harder by new look Juventus being the team that leapfrogged them in the table.

6 – Lazio (+1)

Maurizio Sarri’s side won a key game away to Fiorentina, making a statement against a rival for a position in the Europa League. Lazio finally seemd to play some traditional Sarri-ball, in a way that was not evident in the first part of the season. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored again, continuing a season has been dominant despite the ups and downs of his teammates. He now has eight goals and eight assists, good for second and first on the team respectively. 

7 – Roma (+1)

AS Roma’s draw against Genoa should not be too concering to the fans given how it happened. Jose Mourinho’s side looked like they had won thanks to an amazing last minute goal by Nicolò Zaniolo that was disallowed (with some doubts) by VAR. The Portuguese coach was furious at the final whistle as was Zaniolo, who was sent off and will miss the next Serie A match against Sassuolo. The suspension means that Roma are again facing the same issue, a lack of continuity both in personnel and results and this is what Mourinho has to work on.

8 – Fiorentina (-2)

Fiorentina’s bad defeat against Lazio at home is a bad sign. The farewell of Serbian striker Dusan Vlahović has probably left a mark on this club and lowered this season’s ambitions for the team, but Vincenzo Italiano has everything he needs to revive his team as soon as possible to be back on track.

9 – Torino (-)

Rolando Mandragora’s red card in extra time was one of the most costly events of the season. Something snapped in Ivan Juric’s team and they conceded two goals two Udinese right after the sending off. This defeat should not worry the team too much, the team is still sitting comfortably in midtable, but these are the kinds of moments this mentally tough squad has avoided this year. 

10 – Hellas Verona (-)

It would have taken a miracle for Igor Tudor’s team to defeat Juventus. The atmosphere around the Bianconeri was simply too positive and as if that wasn’t enough, Hellas Verona had to deal with the absence of Argentinian striker Giovanni Simeone, the top goal scorer of the club this season. This defeat, however, absolutely does not change what has been an incredibly season so far.

11 – Bologna (+1)

Bologna are now floating in the midtable area, and even an uninspiring draw against Empoli suggests they seem to have recovered after struggling through six losses in seven matches. Sinisa Mihajlovic now needs to build on the result and get this team moving in the right direction again over the rest of the season.

12 – Sassuolo (-1)

Sassuolo lost badly against Sampdoria away, in the first match won by Marco Giampaolo in his return to the sideline. Compared to last seasons, Dionisi’s side this year is a bit more inconsistent in terms of results, but they continue the tradition of playing nice football as they did before under Roberto De Zerbi, even if the pleasing approach doesn’t always lead to points. 

13 – Udinese (+1)

It was a huge win for Gabrielle Cioffi’s team against Torino. Two goals in extra time led the team to an important result that moves them above the danger zone of the table where teams are fighting to avoid relegation. Udinese can now breathe a little for the next few weeks after reinforcing their defense in the January transfer window.

14 – Empoli (-1)

A scoreless draw represents an important point for Aurelio Andreazzoli’s team and they’ve had enough of those that it doesn’t look like will be involved in the fight for relegation. At the same time, it will be important to keep their performance up over the next few months in order to avoid bad surprises. 

15 – Sampdoria (-)

Sampdoria were probably one of the best teams of the week, winning 4-0 against Sassuolo at home. New signing Stefano Sensi was the star of the game where he scored on his debut with his new club (he’s on loan from Inter Milan until the end of the season). A nice first victory for Marco Giampaolo and a glimmer of hope that perhaps this side can finish strong.

16 – Cagliari (+1)

An amazing win away against Atalanta brought Walter Mazzarri’s team above the relegation zone for the first time since he took charge. An impressive performance considering the suspension of Joao Pedro and the last minute injury of the other striker on the roster, Leonardo Pavoletti. Cagliari played with Gaston Pereiro as number nine but managed to win against one of the best teams of the league. Center-back Matteo Lovato was once again one of the best players of the team, winning the individual matchup against Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata.

17 – Spezia (-1)

A nice draw for Spezia, to not lose points against Salernitana, one of their rivals in the relegation battle. Thiago Motta’s side has been one of the most interesting teams in this first part of the year, but will still have to fight until the end to survive.

18 – Genoa (+1)

Genoa drew against Roma and earned a key point in their relegation fight. However, the job of coach Alexander Blessin is still in its early stages but the team’s new signings are promising and survival is still a possibility.

19 – Venezia (-1)

A complicated moment for the team of coach Paolo Zanetti, as the side is now back in the relegation zone after losing against Napoli this weekend and face a crucial month playing against Torino, Genoa and Hellas Verona. This month will tell us a lot about their chances to stay in the league next season.

20 – Salernitana (-)

Despite new signings and the incredible performance of Simone Verdi who managed to score a brace with two free-kicks, Salernitana drew against Spezia and are still at the bottom of the table. There are some good signs, but the chances of avoiding relegation are still very small.

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