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Serie A Matchday 20 Recap: Lazio Continues to Climb the Table, Roma Remains in 3rd Place

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After a lackluster start, the Biancoceleste are now nipping at Roma’s heels. Meanwhile, the rest of the top 4 secured maximum points.

Atalanta BC v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Unlike last weekend when Roma was the first of the direct rivals for European spots to play, this week the Giallorossi closed out the match week against Hellas Verona. And while the win against Spezia was nerve-wracking, Roma got to sit back and relax the rest of the weekend and enjoy watching other top half sides dropping points.

This time around Roma entered the match at the Olimpico with the pressure of knowing that dropped points would mean losing ground to almost all of its direct competition for a top-four place. However, rather than wilt under the pressure, the Giallorossi thrived while dismantling one of the top defenses in the league.

Roma’s 3-1 victory over Hellas means that the Giallorossi remain third on the table through 20 matchdays. However, other than increasing its lead over Atalanta, the distance between everyone else in the top seven remains the same.

Serie A Matchday 20 Results

Bologna 1, Milan 2

In the early Saturday match, Milan got the job done to maintain its lead at the top of the league table. But, it wasn’t easy for the Rossoneri as former Roma man Lukasz Skorupski stood on his head countless times to keep the home side in the match—including saving a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty. Skorupski saved seven shots and, despite a PSxG of 3.4, gave up only two goals.

However, as good as Skorupski was, Milan was able to capitalize on two penalties en route to defeating Bologna 2-1. In the 25th minute, Ibra stepped to the spot for the first penalty but was denied by Skorupski. Unfortunately for the Rossoblu, Ante Rebic jumped on the rebound to put Milan up. Then in the 54th minute, Milan received another spot-kick. This time it was Franck Kessie who stepped to the spot and converted.

It was the 10th penalty made out of 14 attempted for the Rossoneri on the season. That stat will likely continue to raise eyebrows in the league with no other teams receiving more than five penalties in their favor. The match ended with a Bologna flurry, as the home side broke through in the 80th minute through Andrea Poli. However, it was too little too late.

Milan’s win keeps them two ahead of rivals Inter at the top. Meanwhile, Roma remains six off the top after its win against Verona.

Sampdoria 0, Juventus 2

Juve continues to put pressure on the teams at the top by winning for the second straight match day. On a rainy day at the Marassi, Juve took care of business 2-0 against the Blucerchiati. Federico Chiesa struck in the 19th minute and the Bianconeri controlled the match throughout.

There wasn’t much action in this one as Juve attempted only six total shots and held Sampdoria to just four (one on target). The Bianconeri controlled over 60% possession as they denied Samp of any chance of an equalizer before Aaron Ramsey put the match out of reach in the 91st minute.

The victory means Juve will enter next weekend’s match against Roma having won five of six league fixtures in 2021. Roma will have its hands full with the defending champions, who sit seven points of the top with a match in hand. With the Giallorossi just a point ahead of the Old Lady, next weekend’s match is a massive one.

Inter 4, Benevento 0

As we’ve seen in the first half of the season, Benevento’s capable of pulling off some impressive victories when Pippo Inzaghi’s side finds its goalscoring boots. However, the Sorcerers have also conceded the second-most goals in the league. So, when things go bad they can get very ugly. And for the second time this season against the Nerazzurri things got very ugly.

The match started off poorly for Benevento when Riccardo Improta opened the scoring in the sixth minute with an own goal. That was the only shot that the Sorcerers would put on either goal the entire match.

And despite keeping it 1-0 until halftime. Inter found its goalscoring touch in the second half when Inter struck three times. Lautaro Martinez hit in the 56th minute before Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace in just 11 minutes (66’, 77’). Despite having an xG of just 1.66, Inter won the match 4-0.

The win means the Nerazzurri remain just two points behind city rivals Milan at the top. For it’s part, Roma is four off the Nerazzurri who sit second on the table.

Atalanta 1, Lazio 3

It was the second time in less than a week that these two sides met after Atalanta pulled out a come from behind victory in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals on Wednesday despite being down a man. Yet, despite the embarrassing loss to La Dea just days early, Lazio didn’t come out downtrodden.

Adam Murusic opened the scoring for Lazio in just the third minute, which made the midweek collapse feel like a distant memory. And Lazio didn’t look back from there. The Biancoceleste went into halftime up 1-0 thanks to the early goal. However, as Lazio can attest to, a one-goal lead is never safe against Atalanta, which made Joaquin Correa’s goal early in the second half essential.

Correa ran onto a flicked header from Ciro Immobile and beat keeper Gollini one-on-one in the open field. That 51st-minute goal put Lazio up a pair and the Biancoceleste were in control. However, as the match wore on Lazio continued to cede more and more possession to La Dea. And finally, in the 79th minute, Atalanta broke through a stubborn Lazio defense when Mario Pasalic tapped home Luis Muriel’s great individual effort that struck the post.

It looked like it would be a nervy last ten minutes for Lazio, but just moments later substitute Verday Muriqi slotted home the visitors’ third goal. The 3-1 victory is Lazio’s fifth on the trot in the league and Roma’s city rivals continue to climb the table.

The win means that Lazio leapfrogs Atalanta and move up to sixth on the table. Meanwhile, La Dea drops two spots down to 7th place. Roma winning means it remains three points ahead of its city rivals but moves to four ahead of Atalanta.

Napoli 2, Parma 0

On paper, Napoli had the easiest match of the weekend of all of the top seven teams when it hosted relegation zone Parma. But, Parma didn’t make it easy for the Partenopei, holding Napoli to just three shots on target and 47% possession. However, for its part, Parma only had one shot on target and never truly threatened.

Napoli broke through in the 32nd minute when Elif Elmas scored on a great individual effort. It would stay 1-0 for quite some time until Matteo Politano sealed the victory when he took a shot that deflected into the net in the 81st minute.

With the win Napoli moves into fifth on the table, moving ahead of Atalanta, while Roma maintains a three-point gap over Napoli, but the Partenopei do have a match in hand.

Other Results

  • Torino 1, Fiorentina 1
  • Spezia 0, Udinese 1
  • Crotone 0, Genoa 3
  • Cagliari 1, Sassuolo 1

FiveThirtyEight Top Four Probabilities

Despite increasing its lead over Atalanta in the table, the computers still favor La Dea over Roma for 4th place.
https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/soccer-predictions/serie-a/

Without much of a change in the table this weekend, it’s not surprising there weren't many changes to FiveThirtyEight's top four model. Inter remains favored to win the title and its 4-0 thrashing of Benevento raised its Scudetto probability to 38%. The Nerazzurri’s CL probability also rose to 87%. Meanwhile, top of the table Milan and defending champions Juve also both saw their title and top four probabilities rise.

Meanwhile, despite its loss to Lazio, the site still tips Atalanta for fourth at 54%—down from 72% last week. And believe it or not, with the victory Roma actually saw a drop in its probability from 44 to 40%. (Note: Last week’s calculator still had the forfeited points from the Verona match, which could account for the discrepancy). Napoli held steady with a 41% of CL qualification, while Napoli were to biggest risers—up nine to 25%.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much a result one way or the other against Juve could change Roma’s qualification probability percentages. So, check back next week after matchday 21 concludes for updates from around the league.