How will Sarri respond to ADLs criticism? In the aftermath of the loss to Real Madrid, Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis blasted his current manager for failing to use players he spent significantly on more frequently. He was almost certainly referring to his two new defensive acquisitions Makismovic and Tonelli as well as midfielder Rog and striker Pavoletti.
Last season was the first time that Sarri was managing a club playing in Europe, and while he has rotated players more recently, in the eyes of De Laurentiis it simply wasn’t enough. It will be interesting to see the lineup Sarri employs when the partenopei travel to Verona to face Chievo, a tough opponent when they play in their home stadium.
How much rotation will Allegri implement against Palermo? While Sarri is fairly new to having to use turnover in multiple competitions, the same cannot be said about Max Allegri. The former Milan manager has been able to bring a more European dimension to the Old Lady, both with his willingness to rotate players more than his predecessor Antonio Conte, and with his new offensive minded 4-2-3-1 formation.
With the key Champions League match against Porto looming, Allegri has a great opportunity to rest some players and give a chance to his backups against Palermo at Juventus Stadium. With Mandzukic suspended as well as Barzagli and Chiellini less than 100% percent, we can expect to see Pjaca and Benatia (who recently returned from the Africa Cup) starting. In his pre match press conference Allegri also hinted that Sturaro could play and he would likely replace Khedira since Marchisio needs some playing time after being benched in recent weeks.
Return to the future for Zdenek Zeman- as I was growing up in Padova, I often went to the Appiani stadium to watch my hometown team play in Serie B- a league that has launched numerous great players and managers. In that division, I can never remember a season as magical as Pescara’s in 2011-12 when Insigne, Verratti and Immobile made watching second division games must see TV for Calcio junkies.
Obviously those three players have proven since then how talented they are, but they got their first chance to shine in Zdenek Zeman’s offensive style (a football version of Mike D’Antoni’s no defense and 7 seconds or less to take a shot offensively). Now the former Roma manager is returning to Pescara after coach Oddo resigned- while the club from Abbruzzo will certainly be relegated, Zeman will have an opportunity to get a jump start with the project of bringing them back to Serie A next season. Zeman is expected to be on the bench for Sunday’s home match, which is very important for his opponent Genoa since they’ll want three points to keep their cushion from the relegation zone.
Will Iago Falque, Ljajci and/or Iturbe punish their former team? In the past few seasons we have seen Roma and Torino complete many deals- Roma recently acquired Bruno Peres from the granata while Iago Falque and Iturbe moved to Turin. As part of the loan with option to buy deal that sent Iturbe to Mihajlovic’s squad, Torino redeemed the rights to Iago Falque. The Spanish winger has been a bit overshadowed by his teammate Belotti, but he’s also having an outstanding season in which he scored 10 goals already.
While it’s almost certain that Iago Falque will start, it will be interesting to see if Iturbe is chosen to start over another former Roma winger Ljajic. In the summer we’ll likely see the two clubs continue to make deals with each other, with Roma owned keeper Skorupski (who has been outstanding on loan at Empoli) potentially joining Torino to compete with prospect Milinkovic Savic to replace Joe Hart, and talented midfielder Baselli possibly joining Roma after the giallorossi pursued him in January.
How will Montella do against his former team Fiorentina? With Milan struggling since defeating Juventus in the Super Cup, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding Montella. There have been some reports that without the potential closing for the sale of the club to Chinese investors, the former Roma striker was on the chopping block.
On Sunday Montella will face his former team Fiorentina, a club he left on such bad terms that there was no opening to negotiate the sale of midfielder Badelj despite fact he had an expiring contract. Milan really needs a win to try to stay in the race for at least a Europa League spot, they will face Fiorentina without two starting defenders in Romagnoli and De Sciglio but at least won’t have to face the suspended Bernardeschi.