We could be blessed with a Boxing Day boon of Premier League action on the UK shores, but calcio is at a standstill in Italy.
The scientifically unproven myth that footballers actually need a bit of a break from hitting the ground two or three times a week has been put to the test in Serie A, which means that a ball will no longer be kicked before the first weekend of the new. year.
This well-deserved break in the calendar also means that for the first time since 2009 both MIlan clubs occupy the top two places in the league over Christmas, while champions Juventus stutter deeply. sixth place.
So, after 14 match days and a lot of twists and turns, which teams are best placed to end Juventus’ monopoly on Italian football? 90 mins assesses the credentials of each team after a third of the season.
Current position in the league: 8th
We start with eighth place for SS Lazio, who, despite tremendous exploits in the Champions League, have yet to really string together decent form on the domestic stage.
Having a paper-thin squad contributed to their downfall in last year’s title race, and not adding depth to that squad has already started to take its toll. In Ciro Immobile, Lazio have one of Italy’s top scorers, but when he’s not quite in song the whole team suffers.
The Eagles will climb above the eighth, but a title challenge just isn’t on the cards this time around.
Title odds: 2/10
Current position in the league: 4th
Who had predicted that Sassuolo would crush the top four at the annual Christmas party? Roberto De Zerbi has built a brilliant, dynamic and offensive Neroverdi squad, and they are a lot of fun to watch.
This expansive system does not always work, however. And when it doesn’t, Sassuolo rarely has a side plan to fall back on. This naivety, combined with inexperience in fighting at the upper echelons of the table, could be their downfall.
It was a great race, but it feels like it has to end at some point.
Come on, Sassuolo, surprise me.
Title odds: 3/10
Current position in the league: 3rd
AS Roma have had a good start to the season and Giallorossi fans will be happy to welcome 2021 in third place. Paulo Fonseca’s mix of young defenders and savvy and savvy strikers has worked wonders so far, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan producing his best form since his days at Borussia Dortmund.
The bad news? This team suffers from serious stage fright. They can’t stand united against their direct rivals and haven’t beaten any of the current top nine teams this year.
Atalanta’s shocking collapse in a 4-1 loss will hurt the most, and will only reassure fans that despite their high position in the table, they lack the mentality to cross the line to key moments.
Title odds: 4/10
Current position in the league: 7th
Although Atalanta brought home his Christmas lasagna when he was seventh at the table, it’s hard to cancel a searing second half to propel them to the table.
Inconsistencies are emerging in the La Dea game that we haven’t seen in recent years – a stunning 4-1 win over AS Roma was followed by a two-goal slump in a draw against Bologna.
When this team gets going, it’s hard to stop them, however. Could they chain the title-winning form in the second half of the season? It would take a show of almighty strength and resilience, but you should never bet against Gian Piero Gasperini’s team.
Title odds: 5/10
Current position in the league: 5th
SSC Napoli are expected to be much higher than fifth in the New Year, but a possible nine point in the last three games has put out the fire in Napoli.
Much like Roma, the losses to Inter, Lazio, Milan and Sassuolo suggest that while I Partenopei can put the lower teams down, they can’t quite cross the line against their direct rivals.
Gennaro Gattuso’s men must cross the mental barrier that prevents them from throwing their name in the hat by producing one or two massacres. They still have Juventus coming twice too …
Title odds: 5/10
Current position in the league: 6th
Sixth at Christmas, Andrea Pirlo’s wine will not taste so sweet this year. The rookie manager always knew he had his work cut out for him when he took over from Maurizio Sarri, but maybe he didn’t expect it to happen. this wrong.
Six wins in 13 games speak of a Juventus side unable to come up with a result, especially when you factor in the five 1-1 draws they have slipped since the start of the new campaign.
But no matter who is in charge, or the state of the gaming staff, it’s impossible to rule out the old lady. Their status as champions is in grave danger, however, and if they don’t regain that ruthless advantage, they may relinquish their throne for the first time in a decade.
Title odds: 7/10
Current position in the league: 1st
2020 has been a horrible year for all of us – unless you’re a Milan supporter. I Rossoneri were the in-form team in Italy during the second half of last season, and they carried that winning mentality into the new campaign, even when they missed the spine on their side due to a wound.
There are goals, clean sheets and last-minute heroes throughout this squad, and their dramatic added-time winner against Lazio on Wednesday – which saw them end the year atop Serie A – n ‘ only confirmed their merit for this current position.
Milan continued to win without the Zlatan Ibrahimovic talisman, and with the Swede now on the mend, they will only get stronger. It’s a lot of pressure for such a young and developing team, but now is the time to take back power in Italy.
Title odds: 8/10
Current position in the league: 2nd
It was very “Inter” that they were seconds away from finishing first in the 2020 Serie A, only for their bitter rivals to outclass them with a last minute goal to overtake I Nerazzurri. But Antonio Conte will take a lot of heart to his team’s recent form, winning seven on the rebound to secure second place.
The Italian giants have once again struggled in Europe, but failing so dramatically could prove to be a long-term advantage. Their Champions League humiliation means they haven’t even qualified for the Europa League, and those extra midweek rests will come in handy when their rivals travel the continent.
A title race in Milan is on the cards, and until Inter suffer from their usual winter slump, they will imagine their chances of ending their long drought without a trophy in the league.
Title odds: 9/10