Here is Italian Football Daily’s Team of the Week for Matchday 36:
Francesco Bardi (Frosinone): Despite conceding three goals – of which Bardi was arguably only at fault for one – the former Italian Under-21 goalkeeper was in great form as Frosinone travelled to Milan to face the Rossoneri. He saved Mario Balotelli’s penalty and made a few vital saves to ensure that the Canarini took a point away from the San Siro. Despite the point and due to Palermo’s win against Sampdoria, it now looks like it will be very tough for Frosinone to beat the drop as they are now four points from safety with two games to go.
Šime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo): Vrsaljko is one of three non-Italian players in Sassuolo’s squad and his quality is why the Neroverdi were willing to bring him in. The 24-year-old was on the ball a lot as Sassuolo struggled against Hellas Verona, but they still came away with a 1-0 victory. He also did his defensive work with four tackles as Sassuolo leapfrogged over Milan and into 6th position, what many believe will be the final Europa League place (should Juventus beat Milan in the Coppa Italia final).
Thiago Cionek (Palermo): For the second week in a row, the Polish-Brazilian defender was in fantastic form as Palermo beat Sampdoria 2-0 to secure back-to-back wins and provide some hope in their battle against relegation. Cionek also made a clearance off of the line from Lorenzo De Silvestri’s effort at Palermo’s goal when the score was 1-0 to ensure that the Rosanero retained their lead.
Gastón Silva (Torino): The Uruguayan centre-back was in excellent form as Torino dismantled Udinese to win 5-1 at the Stadio Fruili. Silva made three tackles and received a lot of the ball as he was a main source for bringing the ball out from the back, and also grabbed an assist for Pontus Jansson’s opening goal as he took Torino’s corner.
Hernanes (Juventus): Hernanes got a rare start as Juventus faced Carpi and showed what he can do as he got the game’s opening goal just before half-time, along with doing his defensive duties with three tackles and three interceptions. It is unlikely that Hernanes will see out the summer at Juve, but at 30 years of age the Brazilian could still be a valuable asset for another club in Europe.
Afriyie Acquah (Torino): The former Parma midfielder got a goal and an assist as he was everywhere in midfield for Il Toro. Acquah outmuscled Edenílson and put his shot in the top corner of Orestis Karnezis’s net to put Torino 2-0 ahead just before half-time. Udinese got a goal back just after the break, but three minutes later Acquah put Josef Martínez through on goal and he converted with ease to restore the Granata’s two-goal lead.
Franco Vázquez (Palermo): Franco Vázquez was the best player on the pitch as Palermo faced Sampdoria and showed that with his statistics: he scored one goal; won two aerial duals; had 73 touches; made six successful dribbles; and won six tackles as the Sicilians won a vital game in their quest to avoid relegation.
Senad Lulić (Lazio): Lulić was in great form as Lazio bounced back from back-to-back defeats with a 2-1 win over Inter on Sunday evening. The Bosnian international moved into midfield as the Biancocelesti faced Sampdoria last week and he retained his place on Sunday, showing to Simone Inzaghi that he should get an extended run in that role. He got the assist for Miroslav Klose’s exceptional opener, and was a force as he made seven tackles and won three aerial duals. Lazio’s slim chances of climbing to 6th were given hope with the three points as they moved four points behind Sassuolo.
Josef Martínez (Torino): The 22-year-old got two goals and an assist as Torino destroyed Udinese 5-1 at the Stadio Fruili. Since joining the club in 2014, Martínez has been very inconsistent but performances like these will give Giampiero Ventura a lot of optimism for his future. His first goal in particular showed a coolness that was reminiscent of Paulo Dybala at Palermo last season as he cut inside Danilo and fired across Karnezis with his left foot. Torino’s win means that they are up to 45 points, six points down on their tally from this point last season.
Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli): The Partenopei’s goal machine showed why he is so close to breaking Gunnar Nordahl’s record of 35 goals in one season with 20 teams in Serie A, set in the 1949/50 campaign, as he scored a brace as he ensured that Napoli beat Atalanta 2-1 to reclaim second place after Roma had jumped above the Neapolitans earlier in the day. Higuaín was clinical for both goals and now has a record of 32 goals in 33 games. If he hadn’t suffered a suspension for a red card at Udinese, he may have already passed Nordahl’s record. Instead, he has two games left to do so.
Stephan El Shaarawy (AS Roma): Il Faraone has been incredible since joining the Giallorossi in January and scored the winning goal as Roma came from behind to beat Genoa 3-2 at the Marassi. El Shaarawy was also involved in Salah’s opening goal after six minutes and had a strong game as he faced the side he came through at as a 16-year-old. One statistic that is perhaps going under the radar is the fact that since Luciano Spalletti came in, Roma have been unbeaten in their last 15 Serie A games since losing at Juventus in January, his second league game in charge (W12, D3).
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