With Serie A now in recess for the World Cup, we nominate our best performers for the first-half of the season - though without forgetting the impact of Moise Kean at Juventus and Paulo Dybala with Roma last weekend. Let's see what happened...
MATCH OF THE WEEK - ATALANTA-INTER 2-3
Atalanta fell again, they lost another big match and this hurt Gian Piero Gasperini and his fans particularly badly. At the end of the match, the Nerazzurri coach from Bergamo asked the club to show him the path to follow, whether that of renovation (and therefore whether to focus on young players) or not.
It was a good opportunity, even if against Simone Inzaghi's Inter, a particularly fit team in this period, also thanks to the good moments from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko.
Ademola Lookman and teammates had taken the lead (thanks to a penalty scored by the former Leicester player), but then Inter's comeback began: first the two goals scored by the Bosnian, then Palomino's own goal, who in the 77th minute he had scored the second goal, for the final 2-3. There were many chances for the two sides, but right now the Nerazzurri from Milan are in good form, having won four of their last five games and climbing up to third place in the standings. Not bad for a team that had started badly, especially given that for a long time there was even talk of sacking Inzaghi, who instead found a way to make his team work in the best possible fashion.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK - DYBALA, PESSINA
Paulo is AS Roma's light, as Jose Mourinho has said on multiple occasions. Without him and Lorenzo Pellegrini the team struggles to create chances. He has been injured since the match against Lecce, but he did everything he could to come back for the last match of the before the World Cup in Qatar (he has been called by Lionel Scaloni) and he managed to do it.
Roma and Torino ended up in a draw: Karol Linetty for the Granata, Nemanja Matic for the Giallorossi, but for 70 minutes Roma didn't create any goal chance. With Dybala, subbed in at 20 minutes before the end of the match, the team seemed to come back to life. He was fouled for the penalty (missed by Andrea Belotti, against his former team), he hit the crossbar before the goal scored by Matic, he was the one who created all the chances, in just 20 minutes. Roma missed him and that's why.
Matteo Pessina is Monza's captain, best player and first player to be called to the Italian National team. He's the man of the moment for his team, not only for all these reasons, but for the goal scored against Salernitana, with a penalty scored in the 75th minute. He's the heart of the team and he showed his love for Monza coming back during the transfer window, leaving a bigger team such as Atalanta, where he was an important player for Gian Piero Gasperini. He's deserving all the love his people is giving him and will have the chance to represent his team with the National shirt once again. A true pride for his city and for his people.
INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE(S) OF THE WEEK - KEAN, DZEKO
Everyone was waiting for Dusan Vlahovic, but right now the best striker in Juventus' shirt is Moise Kean. Against Lazio (match ended 3-0 for the Bianconeri, now in third place in the standings), he scored a brace, the first goal in the 43rd minute and the second at the 54th and with these two he has now scored five goals in his last five games.
He's on fire and Max Allegri is literally depending on him. Who would have thought this two months ago? Probably no one, including Moise himself. Probably the pause for the World Cup arrives in the worst moment for the Italian striker: he will have to wait until January to play again for Juventus and in Serie A, but right now he was living one of those moments that a striker dreams of, a moment in which every shot is a goal. Anyway, part of the credit should go to Allegri too, as he's managed to tap into Kean's talent and his qualities.
Edin Dzeko is living a second youth. The Bosnian striker is playing at the level he played with AS Roma, he's leading his team goal after goal, always present for Simone Inzaghi and all his teammates.
Beppe Marotta, Inter's manager, has publicly spoken about the chance of renewing his contract before the end of the season. The striker decided to leave AS Roma to start a new adventure at Inter and after a first season as a supporting actor he is know playing at his best level. He led Inter in the comeback against Atalanta on Sunday, scoring two of the three Nerazzurri goals. His best moment in a long time.
BEST PLAYERS OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON - PELLEGRINI, MILINKOVIC-SAVIC, THEO HERNANDEZ, KVARATSKHELIA
The first part of the season is over and the teams will not be playing again in Serie A until January. At the moment, there are some players that are giving their best to their teams. There are players that are always playing even if they are unfit, like Lorenzo Pellegrini, others that are leading their teams, such as Theo Hernandez and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and players that are simply showing that they are probably stronger than their actual club, like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Roma's captain has been playing with a muscular problem, ignoring the pain to help his teammates and has managed somehow to collect 4 goals and 7 assists. Jose Mourinho called him and Paulo Dybala “Roma's light" and that's simply the truth.
Hernandez and Kvaratskhelia are simply irreplaceable for Milan and Napoli: the second one is without doubt the biggest surprise of the league and up to now has scored 8 goals and made 8 assists for his colleagues at Napoli. Many top European teams have already put their eyes on him, but Luciano Spalletti can't lose him.
The French left back is becoming more and more important for Stefano Pioli: in the last games he even played him in a position close to that of midfielder, since his attacking qualities are almost wasted in his usual position.
Lazio's midfielder is probably playing his best football ever: 5 goals and 7 assists for the moment, but he's fundamental for Maurizio Sarri. The Serbian is being followed by Juventus' directors, already for January, but Lazio can't afford to sell him, in particular before the summer. Sergej is growing season after season and has probably reached his peak at Lazio.