The Serie A dept. of useless information — The winter break edition.
By Frank Risorto
All stats are courtesy of FBRef.com and updated until 9th November.
Siamo tornati tutti!
It’s been a long hiatus for many reasons, real life be damned, however the folks at the Serie A department of useless information have kindly welcomed me back for one more rodeo.
Thank you as always for reading and returning for more Calcio absurdity.
So, without further ado, andiamo.
Let’s talk closers, no not Mariano Rivera, John Franco or even Rollie Fingers, Calcio closers, or ‘finishers’ as English national team coach Eddie Jones refers to them.
Maurizio Sarri has taken quite the shine to one ‘finisher’ in particular, and it’s not who you think.
In the mould of the mercurial Jones, Sarri has taken the idea and turned it on its head.
When sides are in front and trying to protect their lead, a situation Lazio have found themselves in quite often this season, Sarri has gone down the non-traditional unit of bringing on a forward and ladies and gentlemen it’s Matteo Cancellieri’s time to shine.
The forward has made 11 appearances off the bench this season with seven of the 11 appearances for 12 minutes or less.
So, the next time your sides manager calls for defensive reinforcements with less than 10 minutes to go let’s hope they go down the ‘finisher’ route to close out the game with a curveball.
Speaking of curves, Salernitana’s Pasquale Mazzocchi has lit up the Stadio Arechi with his performances, winning plaudits and a call up to Roberto Mancini’s national team set up in the process.
Mazzocchi has been on corner duty — as a sidenote, did anyone else as a child win or participate in gala days where the result was decided by who won the most corners? — for I Granata for two seasons now and has yet to hit one inswinging corner.
28 corners, 28 outswingers.
If you’re reading this and you happen to find yourself defending one of his corners, you can safely bet you know what’s coming.
Whilst we’re in Salerno let’s play a mystery game.
11 Matches, 1 Goal, 40 Clearances, 59% success rate aerial duels, 65 recoveries and 29 combined tackles and interceptions.
9 Matches, 1 Goal, 42 Clearances, 77% success rate aerial duels, 58 recoveries and 31 combined tackles and interceptions.
Any guesses on who’s who?
Player A is Juventus’s Brazilian defender and reigning Serie A most valuable defender Bremer.
Player B is Federico Fazio.
Don’t sleep on Captain Caveman!
Fiorentina’s Lucas Martinez Quarta is another who seems to be leading the way in defensive statistical categories despite his sides poor defensive start to the season.
The Argentinean leads the league in interceptions, tackles, successful aerial duels and has 11 shot creating actions and three goal creating actions in his first 13 starts.
Quarta’s on track to surpass every individual milestone he put up during his first two seasons in Italy.
If Fiorentina’s season is to improve post the winter break, it’ll most likely be aided by the 26-year-old continuing his strong individual start to 2022.
Sampdoria haven’t had much to celebrate this season but here at Useless Info HQ we do love Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Caputo.
Since Matchday Two of the 2021–2022 season the forward has committed 31 fouls and has failed to pick up a single yellow card, more than any other player in the league.
Prior to this, the forward has been booked in every season since his professional career began with Bari in 2008–09 — where he picked up an astounding 22 yellow cards in two seasons.
Nothing extraordinary about this, just useless.
We just wanted a reason to write something about ‘Ciccio’ so mission accomplished.
Speaking of streaks Bologna’s Gary Medel has kept his fear of the penalty box alive and well.
The diminutive Chilean took 26 matches, nearly 2400 minutes to get a touch of the ball in the penalty box last season.
We’re 14 matches into the 2022–23 season and a mere 835 touches of the ball later, Medel is yet to touch the ball in the penalty box despite touching the ball 43 times in the attacking third of the field.
Napoli’s Leo Ostigard unfortunately broke his streak at the time of writing.
The Norwegian recently lost his first aerial duel of the season which is spectacular considering he’s listed in many a Serie A guide as measuring in at 174 cm.
Ostigard’s mate at the back Alex Meret continues to impress having kept six clean sheets this season on track to beat his personal record of 11 clean sheets with SPAL in 2016–17.
Meret’s fellow Friulano, Lazio’s Ivan Provedel is impressing many after his move to the capital from Spezia.
To be fair Provodel was impressive in a below-average Spezia side last season keeping seven clean sheets for the little eagles however the spotlight shines brighter in Rome.
Provodel’s well on his way to beating that mark having already kept eight clean sheets, still short of personal best of 15 for Pro Vercelli in their 2016–17 Serie B campaign.
Cremonese’s Austrian defender Emanuel Aiwum has quietly gone about his business establishing himself as one of the league’s most promising young defenders.
The 21-year-old Austrian leads the league in tackles won in which Cremonese have gone on to win the ball and is 3rd in the league for combined tackles and interceptions.
Lecce’s terrific trio continue to win admirers across Italy.
The 26-year-old Federico Baschirotto is in the league top ten for blocks, pass blocks and leads the league in clearances from an attacking breakdown, not bad for his first season in Serie A.
The 23-year-old Danish midfielder Morten Hjulmand, now in his 3rd season with Lecce, and finds himself linked with moves across Italy, is in the league top ten for tackles won, tackles won in the defensive third of the pitch and interceptions all while still managing to pull his weight in attacking sense.
Hjumland through his defensive work has contributed 18 shot-creating actions, two goal-creating actions and registered three assists, all from central midfield role.
Completing the trio is the 22-year-old Frenchman Valentin Gendrev, now in his 2nd season in Italy’s south, who is near the top of the standings when it comes to tackles won, passes blocked and intercepted and more importantly, in useless information style, leads the league in throw ins.
Keep an eye on Lecce as they try to consolidate their position in Serie A and maintain their ever-growing reputation as a side to watch for Calcio hipsters far and wide.
AS Roma’s Tammy Abraham has taken 35 shots in 14 matches for 3 goals, Lorenzo Pellegrini has taken 30 shots in 13 matches for 1 goal while Chris Smalling has taken 9 shots in 14 matches for 3 goals.
Perhaps the wrong Englishman is playing up front for Roma.
Udinese’s Gerard Deulofeu has also lost his shooting boots with two goals in 43 attempts on goal.
The Spanish attacker has made up for it in the assist category though with six assists to his name so far this season and on track to beat last seasons total of 11.
Bologna’s Marko Arnautovic still has shooting boots from last season, 7 goals in 12 matches however has failed to register a single assist this season.
If you’ve watched the Austrian play you know he only has one thing on his mind and he’s on trend for his career.
Including his three-year spell in China with Shanghai SPG and last season with Bologna across 61 matches he’s managed to rack up five assists, in four seasons!
Extraordinary, and yet at the same time useless info.
The king of the short pass Sassuolo’s Maxime Lopez continues to come under threat from a myriad of Luciano Spaletti’s acolytes.
Napoli lead the league in successful short passes — a pass between 5 and 15 yards — the next best side being Lazio more than 600 passes behind Spaletti’s side.
Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Stanislav Lobotka and Kim Min-jae occupy four of the top five short passers in the 2022–23 Serie A campaign.
I believe we can say that’s the definition of playing your way out from the back given their respective positions in the side and on the field.
Monza lead the league in unused subs whilst Cremonese and Lecce continue to take advantage of the five-sub role dishing out 70 substitutions each across 14 matches giving an average of 23 and 21 minutes respectively to their subs, finishers, closers, whatever you’d like to call them.
Fiorentina’s Alessandro Bianco and Salernitana’s Leo Capezzi, Torino’s Matt Garbett and Roma’s Filippo Tripi have all managed to make the team sheet, albeit as substitutes, warm the benches across Italy with failing to register a single minute of action yet.
Vincenzo Italiano, Davide Nicola, Ivan Juric and Jose Mourinho, you know what to do.
Speaking of playing time, the previously mentioned Federico Baschirotto is only one of three outfield players to have played every minute of every match this season joining AS Roma’s Roger Ibanez and Spezia’s M’Bala Nzola in maintaining a perfect record.
I hope you enjoyed all of this useless information.
Thanks for reading, please share it if you enjoyed the read, stay safe and enjoy your Calcio.