November 26, 2018 / 11:13 AM / 14 days ago

Soccer: Talking-points from Italy's Serie A weekend matches

MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A leaders Juventus extended their lead to eight points with a straightforward 2-0 win at home to SPAL while second-placed Napoli were held 0-0 at home by bottom-of-the-table Chievo. Here at five talking points from the weekend’s action:

Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v SPAL - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - November 24, 2018 Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo and team mates celebrate after the match REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

NAPOLI STADIUM PROBLEMS HIGHLIGHTED

On a good day, Napoli’s San Paolo is one of the most passionate, intimidating arenas in European football. But on a wet Sunday afternoon when the visitors are bottom-of-the-table Chievo, it is a different story.

With an athletics track separating the crowd from the pitch and the lower tier of seats almost entirely empty, the stadium produced a lukewarm atmosphere.

That seemed to rub off on the team as they laboured to a 0-0 draw with a performance which coach Carlo Ancelotti described as bland.

The future of the municipally-owned stadium has been the subject of arguments between the city government and Napoli’s outspoken owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Ancelotti said before the game that at a reformed San Paolo would be preferable to a new stadium.

“I would like a stadium with the pitch close to the crowd,” he said. “I hope that, in the future, we can enjoy a modern stadium....stadiums such as the San Paolo, with a great history, should not be demolished, but remodelled.”

JUVENTUS CONSISTENT RATHER THAN DAZZLING

Serie A was the only one of Europe’s five top domestic leagues to offer a genuine contest last season as Napoli pushed Juventus all the way.

This season, however, it is turning into a one-horse race as the Turin side canter towards an eighth successive title.

Bolstered by the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Massimiliano Allegri’s team have been relentless, chalking up 12 wins and a draw in their first 13 games.

They have the best attack and best defence, yet Juventus have been consistent rather than dazzling and there have been no routs in the style of Manchester City or Paris St Germain.

Six of their wins have been by 2-0 scorelines and they have not won any game by a margin of more than two goals, or scored more than three in a match.

RONALDO ALWAYS A SPLIT SECOND AHEAD

Ronaldo has scored nine goals so far but it is his speed of thought which has most impressed Allegri, who wants other players to follow suit,

“Cristiano does things that catch opponents off guard and that’s exactly what we need,” he said. “We need to all improve in that sense, being able to think ahead to the next move.

“Sometimes we play one pass too many and the moment is lost”

FIORENTINA DRAW AGAIN

Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli refused to be discouraged after Sunday’s 0-0 stalemate with Bologna, their fifth successive draw.

“I don’t want to hear talk of Fiorentina in crisis,” he said.

“We need to improve our finishing but we played good football and that is the important thing. It’s true we are without a win in six games, but we are also unbeaten in five.”

“The lads mustn’t get down-hearted. If we keep playing like this, we will start winning again.”

JURIC STILL WAITING FOR FIRST WIN AT GENOA

Genoa coach Ivan Juric was still waiting for his first win of his third stint in charge of the club following their 1-1 draw with neighbours Sampdoria in the Lighthouse derby on Sunday.

Soccer Football - Serie A - Juventus v SPAL - Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy - November 24, 2018 Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo in action with SPAL's Thiago Cionek REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

“We only allowed them one shot on goal, we played with courage and created a lot of dangerous situations. It’s a huge regret to play a derby like that and not win and I’m really sorry for the lads,” he said,

Genoa have drawn three and lost three of their six games under Juric, who admits that even he was surprised at being recalled to replace Davide Ballardini in October.

“I wasn’t expecting to be called back for the third time,” he said.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Alexander Smith

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