My ‘fearless’ predictions for the remainder of the Serie A season
By Frank Risorto
In a pointless exercise yet something to keep me busily typing away on a rainy day I decided to attempt a few predictions for the remainder of the Serie A season.
There’s nothing ‘fearless’ about making predictions but then again is anything ever predictable in football, in particular in Italy?
I do need to issue a disclaimer — for your point and mine — the predictions you are about to read are highly unpredictable and I come with zero experience in any form of predictions or tips.
So, with that out of the way and Inter looking to end their barren Scudetto spell, some already calling both the title and relegation race as done and dusted.
I’m in the camp of nothing is locked in and there’s still a long way to go for both the title and relegation race.
Whilst we’re at it, why’s it called a relegation ‘race’, is there a ‘race’ to get relegated that I’m unaware of? Anyway, let’s go!
Udinese are the ‘best of the rest’
Currently sitting in tenth position and 13 points behind seventh place Lazio, Le Zebrette have hit a fine patch of form in their last 9 matches losing only once to Roma.
Led by their Argentinean talisman Rodrigo de Paul (six goals and six assists) and his sidekick and compatriot Roberto Pereyra (five goals/three assists) Luca Gotti’s side have quietly moved up the table since starting the season with one win in their first six matches.
With a tough run home that includes the likes of Inter, Napoli, Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio it won’t be an easy feat for the side from Udine to climb the table as the season progresses.
However, with Fernando Llorente’s rejuvenation up front, and the above-mentioned Argentineans continuing their attacking form, Udinese have gone about their business with defensive solidarity and a counter-attacking style that can see them aim for the stars finishing ahead of the likes of Hellas Verona, Sassuolo and Fiorentina.
Inter hit the 90-point mark
Sitting on 65 points with 27 matches played Inter’s run home, aside from tough matches with Roma (at home) Juventus (away) and Napoli (away), are all against less-fancied opponents.
As always, the only roadblock to Inter achieving Scudetto success and the magical 90-point-mark are Inter themselves.
There’s also the small problem of the Turin-based monster trying to run the Milan side down and manager Antonio Conte is doing all he can to prevent the monster he helped create win a tenth consecutive Scudetto.
Whether it’s Juventus inconsistency on the domestic front, Suning’s financial uncertainty, the potential COVID-19 issues, the thought of an injury to either of their most important players Romelu Lukaku or midfielder Nicola Barella and manager Antonio Conte always on the brink of a press conference meltdown, Inter should march their way to a season ending 90 points and Scudetto glory but with then again with Inter we can never be sure of anything
Roma win the Europa League
Drawn against Ajax for the Europa League quarter finals, and Granada or Manchester United for a potential semi-final opponent, Roma will be looking to add to their European trophy cabinet for the first time since their 1960–61 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Having never won a major European trophy this potentially could be Roma’s best shot at European glory and access to next seasons Champions League.
Sitting in sixth position, four-points ahead of Lazio and equal with Napoli, manager Paulo Fonseca can’t afford to drop his sides Serie A form and will be under pressure from fans and the club alike to ensure they finish ahead of their city rivals come seasons end.
Meanwhile quarter final opponents Ajax, who top the Eredivisie eight-points ahead of second place PSV, can afford to prioritise their ties against Roma.
With Fonseca’s side the only remaining Italian side left in European competition I’m predicting the capital city side can start planning a parade and making space in their trophy cabinet as Europa League Champions.
Benevento are relegated
Not the most fearless of predicitions I know but with the newly-promoted side carrying momentum from their Serie B triumph Gli Stregoni (The Sorcerers) started the 2020–21 Serie A season strongly.
Of late Benevento are starting to come unravelled at the week in, week out rigmaroles of a Serie A season and suddenly find themselves only four points ahead of the relegation places.
Manager Filippo Inzaghi’s side haven’t won since Matchday 14 (January 6, 2021) when they defeated Cagliari 2–1 and their season has turned rather sour rather quickly.
Individually there’s been some standout performances across the team — Gianluca Lapdula, Gaetano Letizia, Lorenzo Montipo and Gianluca Caprari — all having moments of brilliance, however collectively the side has struggled for goals and creativity, not to mention struggled defensively conceding 52 goals, the third worst record in the league.
Coming up for Inzaghi’s side are a run of tough away games against Juventus, Atalanta, Lazio, AC Milan and home fixtures against relegation rivals Torino, Cagliari, Parma and Crotone so points will be at a premium yet with their struggling form it’s hard not to see Benevento returning back to Serie B next season.
Simy will hit 20
Leading the line for I Pitagorici (The Pythagoreans) the 28-year-old Nigerian Simy (Full name: Simeon Tochukwu Nwankwo) has been a revelation for Crotone in his third season in the Serie A.
In his first Serie A season (2016–17) Simy struck 3 goals in 21 games, his second season (2017–18) 7 goals in 23 games however this season under Giovanni Stroppa, and now Serse Cosmi, the Nigerian has hit 12 goals in 27 games and leads the line brilliantly for the side from Calabria.
On the verge of his 150th game for Crotone the Nigerian has spent the past four seasons in Italy since joining from Gil Vincente in Portugal’s Liga 1 in 2015–16.
If Crotone are to be relegated, looking very highly likely at this stage, and sides higher up on the ladder are looking for a threat up front, albeit as squad depth (e.g. Roma, Atalanta) or as a regular starter (e.g. Bologna, Torino) they could do a lot worse than enquire about the Nigerian’s availability.
Simy can look forward to games against the likes of Benevento, Spezia, Sampdoria and Parma on the run home and is it unrealistic to see the striker score 8 goals in 11 games, probably.
With the striker involved in almost half of Crotone’s goals this season Simy (71 games, 22 goals) will finish the season on 20 goals and overtake Obafemi Martins (88 games, 28 goals) to become the highest Nigerian goal scorer in Serie A history.
De Zerbi leaves Sassuolo
Manger Roberto De Zerbi currently has his Sassuolo side sitting in eighth position yet this’s disappointing for some.
Perhaps given pre-season expectations finishing in eighth place would be unacceptable yet with his side struggling to recapture last season’s form ( in particular Jeremie Boga, Mert Muldur, Gregoire Defrel) and simply for the fact that Sassuolo are still punching above their weight in all areas across Serie A, on-and-off the field, De Zerbi will be on the radar for some of Italy’s biggest clubs.
Since losing to Serie B side SPAL in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 at home 2–0 in mid January De Zerbi’s side has only won twice in ten matches, against Crotone (2–1) and Hellas Verona (3–2).
With the added pressure of De Zerbi being off-contract at seasons end, the club looking to cash in on star midfielder Manuel Locatelli and the lure of his old club Napoli, perhaps looking for a new manager if it all goes pear-shaped with Gennaro Gattuso, De Zerbi will realise he’s taken the side from Emilia-Romagna as far as he can.