After De Boer's disappointing tenure as Inter manager in which he arguably wasn't given enough time to bring his ideas through, the club from Milan turned to Stefano Pioli who has great experience and knowledge of the Italian League. His appointment might not have been the most exciting choice for Inter fans but he is already proving to be a safe pair of hands for Inter. De Boer was sacked with Inter sitting in twelfth place which was a serious underperformance from a team that some expected to challenge for the title. Since Pioli has taken over, Inter are now up to seventh place and only 5 points off the Champions League spots. There are signs that Pioli is beginning to turn things around at the Nerazzurri.
Stefano Pioli began his time as Inter manager with a baptism of fire. Pioli's first match in charge of the Nerazzurri came against a highflying A.C. Milan side in the derby. Inter came out with a positive result with Persisic rescuing a point for Pioli deep into stoppage time. Pioli has been turning the tide at Inter with only one defeat in their six games with the experienced Italian in charge. That one defeat as well was a 3-0 loss away to Napoli, which wasn't a big surprise given that Pioli was still trying to implement his ideas with the Inter squad. However, Pioli has had some very impressive wins with the Nerazzurri beating Fiorentina 4-2 and most recently Lazio 3-0. There are signs that Pioli is beginning to get the best out of an Inter side that on paper looked like that they could have challenged Juventus for the title.
One of the first things that Pioli has improved is Inter's defense and it was quite clear under De Boer that the defense needed urgent attention. Under De Boer the Nerazzurri only kept two clean sheets in 12 games and those two clean sheets came against relegation battlers Empoli and Crotone. Under Pioli, Inter have managed to keep three consecutive clean sheets in their last three games and it looks like Pioli has managed to solve some of the defensive problems. A large part of these problems under De Boer was his style of play. De Boer's style of playing out of the back caused a number of mistakes by Inter's backline. Perhaps if De Boer had not have been so stubborn and changed to a slightly more direct style he would still be in the job. Nonetheless, it is Pioli who has now managed to get rid of these sloppy mistakes in the Inter backline.
Pioli so far in his short time at Inter has managed to get the best out of Antoniio Candreva who he previously worked with at Lazio. Since Pioli has taken over, Candreva has scored 3 goals in 6 matches and looks to be finding the form he had at Lazio. Pioli will need Candreva to be at his best if Inter are to finish top 3 and qualify for the Champions League. At Lazio Pioli certainly demonstrated his qualities as a manager bringing Lazio to a third place finish and qualifying for the Champions League play-off round. He has a very difficult task on his hands to get Inter to finish in the top three as the Nerazzurri are currently 5 points behind Napoli and if Milan win their game in hand they will be 6 points off the top three. However, Pioli has stated that he believes Inter can qualify for the Champions League and there is a long way to go before the end of the season, anything could happen.
Stefano Pioli might not have been the most glamorous choice but it seems that he is slowly beginning to turn things around at Inter. The Nerazzurri fans will be hoping that Inter can continue Pioli's upward trend and hopefully find themselves in the top three at the end of the season....
Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks)
Tomorrow nights title showdown between Roma and Juventus is a massive game. However, it is a game with much greater implications for the Giallorossi compared to the Bianconeri. If Roma lose tomorrow night they will be seven points adrift of Juve and unfortunately for Serie A that would mean that the Scudetto would be as good as won for Allegri's men. Even a draw would not really suffice for Spalleti and his team. Roma need to beat the Bianconeri tomorrow night to prove that they can mount a serious title challenge. A win would put the Giallorossi only a point behind Juventus and perhaps it would finally give Roma the belief they need to win the title. However, Juventus have recently put highflying Atalanta and Torino back in their place and will hope to do the same to Spalletti's men.
Both Roma and Juventus come into tomorrow’s game on the back of two impressive wins against in form opposition. The Giallorossi will have great morale in their camp after a 2-0 derby win against Lazio and a dogged 1-0 against a surprisingly strong Milan. In both these games, particularly the Milan match, it seems that Roma are learning how to win ugly. This is something which Spalletti has been saying over recent weeks that his Roma side have to learn how to grind out results and win ugly. Now that his players finally seem to be listening to him he can go into the match against Juve quietly confident of grinding out a positive result.
However, Roma will be facing the strongest team in Italy by far and the masters of grinding out results. Juventus are also coming off the back of two impressive wins against Atalanta and Torino. The Bianconeri have bounced straight back from their defeat at Genoa to return to winning ways which is a true sign of champions. Allegri's men proved just how good they are at winning ugly against Torino coming away with a hard earned 3-1 win. Despite Allegri's claims that tomorrows match won't decide the championship, a win for Juve would all but kill off Roma's aspirations of mounting a serious title challenge. It's very hard to see the Bianconeri throwing away a seven point lead and even harder to see Roma not dropping any points while trying to catch Juventus.
The expectation going into tomorrow’s game is that Juventus should see off the Giallorossi in a tight affair. The Bianconeri have home advantage and have so far this season won all their games at home. Roma on the other hand have only recently picked up their away form and tend to struggle away from the Olimpico. The Giallorossi have only three wins in eight matches away from home and one of those wins was against Lazio in which they were only technically the away side. Roma and Juventus are the top two scoring sides in Serie A this year with Roma one goal ahead of Juve on 36. However, Juventus have the best defense in Serie A with only 14 goals conceded and Roma are only two behind them, so it probably won’t be a match full of goals despite both teams free scoring form.
Spalletti will be aware that if Roma are to mount a challenge for the Scudetto they will have to win tomorrow. Even a draw would not be good enough for the Giallorossi as it would be hard to see them catching Juventus even with only a four point gap between them. However, Roma's fans will be feeling hopeful of taking a positive result away from Turin tomorrow. Yet both Roma and their fans will know that they have to win tomorrow night against the champions to keep any hopes they have of winning a Scudetto alive...
Written by Joshua O'Byrne (@JobJobBinks):
Roma currently find themselves in 2nd place in Serie A and 4 points behind leaders Juventus. So far Spalletti will be happy with where Roma sit in the standings. However, the manner of I Giallorossi’s performances this year has been a real cause for concern for Spalletti and fans alike. Roma seem to be keeping last seasons trend of blacking out during matches, conceding too many goals and struggling with their away form. I Giallorossi are going to have to improve quickly to remain title contenders or even to maintain their place in the top three, as their next three games are against Lazio, Milan and Juventus. These three games are crucial for Roma and will be one of the potential major turning points for their season and their title ambitions.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for a manager to watch is your team dominate the majority of the game, only to see your side to completely fall asleep for a small period of the game concede a goal or two and let your opponents back into the game. This is a feeling that Luciano Spalletti has become quite familiar with during his time with Roma. Under Spalletti, The Giallorossi has a tendency to fall asleep after racing into an early lead and they allow their opponents back into the game. These blackout periods that Roma suffer from are something that urgently needs attention. When playing against the small teams Roma tend to get away with these blackout periods. A recent example being their last match against Pescara. Roma raced into an early 2-0 lead and missed many chances to put the game to bed. Then with half an hour to go Pescara scored after Roma's defense fell asleep, Spalletti's men then woke back up and Perrotti made it 3-1 from the spot. Game, set and match Spalletti might have been thinking, however three minutes later Roma's non existent backline conceded again making it 3-2. Fortunately for I Gialllorossi they were able to see out the win but against better quality opposition they will not be able to get away with these blackout periods and they could cost them a lot of points by the end of the season.
Spalletti will also need to address Roma's defensive issues. Although they are the top goal scorers in Serie A with 33 goals, I Lupi have already conceded 16 goals in 14 matches. Roma will certainly need to tighten up their defense if they are serious about mounting a title challenge to Juventus. Roma's defensive frailties could cost them dearly in the next three games and it could see them outside the top after their next three matches. Spalletti's men also need to drastically improve their away form. Roma's total of 8 points away from home is the worst out of all the clubs currently in the top five. Two of their next three vital matches are away from home one against Juventus and against Lazio they are technically the away side. Roma will need to solve their problems away from home if they are to pick up points against Lazio and Juventus.
Spalletti will find himself under immense pressure over the next three games. A poor result against a high flying Lazio side in the Derby Della Capitale could send Roma reeling in despair as points against Milan and especially Juventus won't come easy. Whereas a win against Lazio will set Roma up nicely for their fixtures against Milan and Juventus. Whatever the outcome may be there is no doubt however that if Roma don't improve their performances over the next three games they risk falling out of the top three and risk the strong possibility of another disappointing season...