Lautaro Martinez extends his awful penalty record, Kim Min-Jae continues to go from strength to strength for Napoli, and Adrien Rabiot is ready to leave Juventus… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED from Serie A
- Spezia dealt Inter Milan a shock 2-1 defeat and ended their potential title hopes
- Napoli sealed a 2-0 win over Atalanta thanks to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s brilliance
- Adrien Rabiot netted a brace for Juventus during their 4-2 win over Sampdoria
It was another action-packed weekend in Italy as Serie A saw plenty more twists and turns.
Minnows Spezia dealt Inter Milan a crushing blow to their potential title hopes, Napoli extended their lead at the top of the table and Juventus ran riot against Sampdoria.
Sportsmail delves deeper into the weekend’s Serie A action and brings you ten things we learned.
1 – MALDINI: FROM FATHER TO SON
It was like something out of a fairy tale. The third player to come from the Maldini dynasty – after father Paolo and grandfather Cesare – condemned Inter Milan to a sensational defeat on Friday.
Daniel Maldini’s first-half strike destroyed the Nerazzurri’s Scudetto ambitions, handed Spezia three crucial points and cast Simone Inzaghi’s future into doubt.
Daniel Maldini followed in his father’s footsteps by scoring against Inter Milan on Friday
In the same stadium where the 21-year-old scored his first Serie A goal – which came for AC Milan against Spezia – the forward was on hand with his first goal against his parent club’s bitter rivals Inter.
After the goal, Maldini showed the kind of euphoria that many would display if they, too, were a part of the Rossoneri dynasty.
Interestingly, his strike against the Nerazzurri drew him level with his legendary father for goals scored against Inter in their respective careers.
As it stands, Daniel seems the least technically-gifted Maldini out of the trio of Milanese players, but he could change that with constant and hard work.
His current goal should be to return to Milan once his loan ends and take on a leading role. But whether he’ll do so remains to be seen.
2 – LAUTARO’S PENALTY WOES
Lautaro Martinez’s statistics as a penalty taker are disastrous. According to Opta, in the 14th minute of Inter’s loss at the weekend Martinez missed his fourth penalty since the beginning of the 2021/2022 season, proving he is not a cold-blooded striker.
Only Karim Benzema has missed more penalties, with the Frenchman fluffing five out of 17 attempts.
Martinez is still enjoying an exceptional season, having registered 14 goals and three assists from 26 appearances in Serie A, but the negative data on penalties is bad news for Inter.
Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez boasts a terrible record from the penalty spot in recent attempts
Belgian star Romelu Lukaku has scored 13 out of his 13 penalties for the Nerazzuri, which doesn’t make pretty reading for his fellow forward.
Inter are a team suffering from tension and fear right now and even their trusted No 10 appeared to be struggling during the most important moment of the match.
Despite his excellent performances in Serie A, Martinez has proven he does not have the composure for the big moments and lacks the correct guidance from the dugout.
The striker is yet to achieve the character growth required to become a top player and this same issue cost him a starting place in Argentina’s World Cup-winning side at the end of last year..
3 – KIM THE BEST DEFENDER IN SERIE A
Napoli’s Kim Min-Jae could well become one of the most sought-after players in the summer transfer window, after the South Korean put in a strong performance on Saturday.
Against Atalanta he was perfect and played the best game of his Italian career. Every intervention and tackle made by the defender was underlined by the choirs and applause of the ‘Maradona’ stadium.
Min-Jae, who has two goals and one assist from 25 Serie A appearances, has aptly earned the nickname ‘The Monster’ for his dominant performances.
He runs and fights like a gladiator of ancient Rome and is never afraid of physical confrontation with the opponent. Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund experienced the worst night of his career after encountering the 26-year-old.
Napoli defender Kim Min-Jae has become one of the hottest properties in Italian football
Napoli could be set to make a huge profit on the centre-back but will need to be quick to ensure they cancel the release clause in his contract.
The South Korean star’s deal has a release clause, valid only for foreign countries, worth £39.6m (€45m).
If he had a more exotic surname, Min-Jae would probably be worth €200m (£176m), but his oriental origins and lack of experience in the top European leagues mean his market value is much lower, and the biggest clubs in England may soon try to pay off his release clause.
4 – KOSTIC CATAPULT
In Juventus’ clash with Sampdoria, Filip Kostic recorded his 85th assist of the last five years and his 11th in this Serie A campaign.
His statistics are impressive, as well as the 10km that the player runs on average in each game for the Old Lady.
Juventus waited patiently for Kostic to acclimatise to Italian football and are now reaping the rewards of his speed and extraordinary technique with his left foot.
Kostic has the ability to deliver an incredible number of crosses into the heart of an opposition’s penalty area, making Juventus’ attacking strategy lively.
Filip Kostic has recorded eight assists for Juventus so far in his first campaign in Italy
As Mattia De Sciglio struggled to go beyond the opponent’s half, Kostic attacked full-back Alessandro Zanoli from behind, puncturing Sampdoria defense.
The only pity is that he has arrived in the Italian top-flight too late at 30 years of age, but his style of play can also be very important through a change of role.
In the future, as happened for Di Livio, Zambrotta and Cuadrado, Kostic could be used as a pure left-back.
5 – RADONJIC: FROM HELL TO PARADISE
Nemanja Radonjic responded to his coach’s accusations with a fantastic game.
On February 28, Ivan Juric defined Radonjic as a ‘non-footballer’ in front of Dazn’s cameras and claimed he regretted his failure to tactically improve the player.
There are still many areas for the Balkans talent to improve in, especially on the ball, but technically Radonjic is an extraordinary player who can become a top one in Torino.
Now he must be able to offer greater consistency on the pitch and can do so by achieving a higher mental level.
Radonjic made a number of extraordinary and delicious moves against Lecce, driving Samuel Umtiti and the entire Apulian defence crazy.
Nemanja Radonjic recorded a brilliant assist against Lecce to prove his manager wrong
The Torino playmaker sent his opponents into a tailspin by providing the perfect assist for their second goal.
He managed to skip past Federico Baschirotto, one of the best defenders in Serie A, which demonstrated his great athletic condition.
If Juric manages to motivate him in the best possible way, the Serbian star could become Turin’s secret weapon to seal European football next season.
6 – KRAVA CONTINUES TO SHAKE UP ITALIAN FOOTBALL
After Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo Nazario, no player has ever had such a devastating impact on Italian football and in Serie A after just 9 months.
The birth of the Khvicha Kvaratskhelia phenomenon will be unique and unrepeatable for the next 50 years, leaving an indelible mark on Napoli’s history.
The fantastic goal he scored against Atalanta was a technical masterpiece that made you rub your eyes in disbelief.
Eight opponents were there waiting for the Georgian, who immediately accelerated to send Giampiero Gasperini’s defensive plans into a tailspin.
When Kvara runs at Italian defenders there is nothing left but to make the sign of a cross and pray.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has become one of the highest-rated prospects across Europe
Kvara swerved right, then left, then right again, and as opponents fell like flies at his feet, his tongue became a radar to pierce goalkeeper Juan Musso with a fiery arrow.
A tally of 11 goals and nine assists from 22 appearances is an extraordinary result for a man who, exactly 12 months ago, lived between Russia and Georgia and could not even remotely imagine becoming a star of Italian football in just a few months.
His market value rises like the flour from Napoli’s famous pizzas day after day and, today, prising him away from Aurelio De Laurentiis’ club could set you back around €130million (£115m).
7 – RABIOT READY TO LEAVE TURIN
The two goals he scored on Sunday proved Adrien Rabiot can become a dominant player in the Juventus midfield, despite years of mediocrity.
At the end of this season his contract will expire and, barring sensational news, he will leave the Italian club to look for a better contract abroad.
Without his goals, Juventus would have failed to win yet another match at the weekend, while also losing ground in the race for European football.
Rabiot has a steely physique and for the entire 90 minutes against Sampdori he won every duel with the muscular Tomas Rincon.
His match data from the clash in Turin was impressive; 66 passes made, two goals from as many shots and five headers won in the middle of pitch.
French midfielder Adrien Rabiot bagged a brace during Juventus’ 4-2 win over Sampdoria
Any club that manages to secure Rabiot’s signing on a free transfer will be getting a terrific deal and will surely be improving the quality of their midfield.
His style of play seems perfect for the Premier League and very soon his entourage will start talking to Juventus and top English clubs – who were pursuing him last summer.
At the end of the Sampdoria match, Rabiot told DAZN: ‘For now, I’m only thinking about this season, we’ll talk about it later.
‘I’m fine here, I score many goals in this stadium but now we just have to I’m just thinking about finishing this season well, we’ll talk later on’.
8 – CABRAL, LESS KILOGRAMS AND MORE GOALS
Arthur Cabral is an atypical Brazilian striker with the tactical intelligence of a European player.
His initial approach to Serie A wasn’t exceptional but, as the months went by, he returned to play and score as he did in Basel.
According to Serie A statistics, Cabral makes an average of nine passes per game and has a pass completion rate of 73% – confirming his ability to play as an attacking midfielder and not just a central striker.
‘King Arthur’, as he was called by Basel fans, doesn’t have a slim physique but does have great technical skills which allow him to hide a few extra pounds under his tight-fitting Fiorentina shirt.
Arthur Cabral looks to be regaining his Basel form in-front of goal for current club Fiorentina
The slimming cure imposed by coach Vincenzo Italiano’s medical staff worked and the South American player transformed his physique into a weapon that helps him hold off opposition defenders.
The incredible numbers he produced in his last season with Basel are unrepeatable in Serie A, but they do represent a starting point to evaluate his qualities.
With Basel, Cabral scored 27 goals in 31 games across the Swiss championship, Swiss Cup and Conference League, proving he deserves a chance in Serie A.
9 – SINGO ROAR
If it wasn’t for his injury problems, Wilfried Singo would probably be a man with many suitors in the transfer market.
The Torino right-back is slowly regaining his best physical form and the recent match against Lecce seems to have restored the serenity he lost in winter.
The goal he scored in the 20th minute was proof of Singo’s dynamism and physical strength.
Singo is a ‘box-to-box’ full-back that Juric forged with passion and, today, he represents one of the few technical guarantees in a team that is still too naive in managing the crucial moments of each match.
Full-back Wilfried Singo is looking back to his best after notching a goal against Lecce
The boy born in Ivory Coast is a millennial who needs to play continuously to gain more experience.
With Ivan Juric he learned to play both as a full back in a 3-4-2-1 and as a fifth midfielder in a 3-5-2, becoming a much appreciated player also by Fabio Paratici’s Tottenham.
10 – WHY DOES DRAGOWSKI NOT PLAY FOR A TOP CLUB?
Bartlomiej Dragowski is a goalkeeper who has never been blessed with luck in his career.
In Poland’s national team he found himself competing with Woijciech Szczesny, Łukasz Fabiański and Łukasz Skorupski, meaning he failed to gain visibility.
His Serie A run was met with setbacks and the 26-year-old Polish goalkeeper missed his best chance at Fiorentina before starting a second phase of his career at Spezia.
Dragowski has improved on his technical limitations and has learned to handle the ball better with his feet since joining Spezia.
Spezia goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski has revitalised his career with a move from Fiorentina
Against Inter he saved a decisive penalty from Lautaro Martinez and saved the result on at least three occasions with tremendous saves.
If he continues in this growth process, he will be able to aspire to become a goalkeeper capable of playing a leading role in a top Serie A club.
Fiorentina could have trusted him more but the experience at Spezia allowed him to become a key figure without having to undergo uncomfortable run-offs with Terraciano.
His permanent promotion to the starting role has amply repaid the trust of the Ligurian club which hopes to achieve salvation as soon as possible.
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