Five talking points from the Serie A weekend
Leaders Juventus did the minimum necessary to win 1-0 at Bologna in Serie A at the weekend while the VAR system was again at the centre of attention after Fiorentina drew 3-3 at home to Inter Milan, thanks to a contentious penalty in the 101st minute.
Here are five talking points from the weekend:
TIME TO GIVE RONALDO A REST?
The entire Juventus team looked weary, with their minds probably on the Champions League, in their 1-0 win over Bologna and none more so than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 34-year-old, playing his 33rd game of the season, had only one real chance and that came in injury-time on a counter-attack when Bologna were desperately pressing for an equaliser.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has rotated the side but Ronaldo has been nearly ever-present. He has started in 24 of their 25 league games and been taken off once, even though Juve have been cruising in a number of those games.
Ronaldo missed one Champions League match through suspension.
“It was probably the worst CR7 of the season, tired physically and in the mind,” said Gazzetta dello Sport.
Beaten 2-0 at Atletico Madrid in their Champions League round of 16 first leg on Wednesday, Juventus face the return on March. 12.
INTER FUME AFTER CONCEDING 101ST MINUTE EQUALISER
Fiorentina’s 101st minute equaliser in the 3-3 against Inter Milan, which was scored from a penalty awarded after a lengthy VAR consultation, was one of the most contentious yet using the recently-introduced technology.
The spot kick was given in the sixth minute of stoppage time after Federico Chiesa’s shot struck Danilo D’Ambrosio at close range.
The referee immediately gave a penalty but then decided to review the incident on the pitch side monitor after a ‘silent check’ from the video assistant.
However, replays did little to clear things up; from one angle, it looked clear that the ball struck D’Ambrosio’s chest. But from a side angle, there was a suggestion it did, indeed, hit his arm.
After a delay of nearly five minutes, the referee pointed to the spot – infuriating Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.
“We were certain that it wasn’t a handball. We all saw it, even from the referee’s monitor,” said Spalletti. “There were 10 of us watching it. It clearly hit his chest, Danilo didn’t touch it with his arm at all. It’s clear for all to see.”
NAPOLI IN FULL FLOW AGAINST PARMA
Second-placed Napoli have been let down by wayward finishing this season but their 4-0 win at Parma showed that no other Serie A team can match them for entertainment value when they are in full flow.
Even with Lorenzo Insigne suspended, they were far too strong for the hosts with Arkadiusz Milik, Dries Mertens, Piotr Zielinski, Allan and Jose Callejon stringing together the passes.
ANCELOTTI DISAPPOINTED BY POOR HOME ATTENDANCES
Before the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti admitted to disappointment at his team’s poor home attendances but said he could understand why fans were reluctant to go to the San Paolo stadium.
The municipally-owned ground is widely recognised as being in need of modernisation.
“We would like to have more fans at the stadium — perhaps we would have had a few more points, maybe we could have beaten Turin and Chievo,” he told the website Il Napolista.
“I also have to say that the stadium is what it is. To be honest, if I were a Napoli fan, I would not really want to go there. It’s inconvenient for a variety of reasons.”
Having at one stage reached sixth place, promoted Parma are now in free fall. They have lost their last four home games and dropped to 13th in the table although they are still eleven points clear of the danger zone.
“We need to get back on the right path,” said coach Roberto D’Aversa. “I hope this defeat will make us face the next game in the best possible way, trying to concede little.”
REUTERS/Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Sudipto Ganguly