Talking points from the weekend’s Serie A matches INTER’S SLOW STARTS REMAIN AN ISSUE
While it was a late goal that ultimately cost Inter Milan a crucial three points in the title race after a 2-2 draw at Roma, once again they had to do things the hard away after another poor first-half showing. The difference between Inter’s first-half record and their second-half one is striking. After Sunday‘s draw, Antonio Conte’s side have scored just 12 first-half goals compared to 31 in the second. In comparison, Roma have scored 23 first-half goals.
Inter have, in fact, not scored in the first half in six of their last seven league games. Their second-half form had been bailing them out, as Inter won eight successive league matches ahead of their clash with Sampdoria on Wednesday. But two goals conceded in another sluggish first-half showing led to a 2-1 defeat, while they were behind at the break again in Sunday‘s draw at Roma.
IBRAHIMOVIC RETURNS TO A SIDE WHO HAVEN’T REALLY MISSED HIM When Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up a thigh injury in AC Milan’s 3-1 win at Napoli on Nov. 22, many thought his absence would damage his side’s title chances.
Yet without the talismanic Swede’s goals, others have stepped up for Milan, with Franck Kessie scoring four times in Ibrahimovic’s absence, while Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao have both scored three each in the same period. Milan’s unbeaten league record may have gone while Ibrahimovic was recovering, but Milan are still top of the standings, and worryingly for their rivals, Ibrahimovic is now back, after coming on as a substitute in Milan’s 2-0 win over Torino on Saturday, with Kessie and Leao’s goals seeing them home.
“The important thing is that the muscular problem is behind him, now we’ll have to help him find his way back,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told reporters. “He’s a great stimulus for the whole team.”
RAMSEY GETS REWARD There were tears when Aaron Ramsey left Arsenal after over a decade at the club in 2019, but the lure of Italian champions Juventus proved impossible to resist.
While he did take home a league winner’s medal during his first season in Italy in 2019-20, the Wales international came off the bench more often than starting games in Serie A and his impact was limited to just three league goals all season. After finding himself in and out of the side again this season, he has impressed in recent weeks when starting for Juventus, and scored his first goal of the current campaign, off the bench, in Juve’s 3-1 win over Sassuolo.