Soccer-Serie A talking points

Peter Hall
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Serie A - Spezia v AC Milan

By Peter Hall

(Reuters) - Talking points from the weekend's Serie A matches.

SPEZIA RISE CONTINUES

What a debut Serie A season it is turning out to be for Spezia.

The Ligurian club recovered after being declared bankrupt in 2008 and last season won promotion to the Italian top flight for the very first time through the playoff system.

Widely expected to struggle, Spezia find themselves in the lofty position of 13th in the Serie A standings after a shock victory over title-chasing AC Milan at the weekend.

It was not their first surprise success this season, with Vincenzo Italiano's side having beaten AS Roma in the Coppa Italia and Napoli in the league since the turn of the year.

The Milan win capped a significant week for Spezia, whose takeover by an American consortium was confirmed on Thursday.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD FOR JUVE

Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo had suggested several times in recent weeks that his side's defeat by Inter Milan on Jan. 17 was a turning point in their season.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Napoli, the champions appeared to have learned their lessons from a performance Pirlo described as the "worst of my time so far", with Juve winning six and drawing one of their seven games in all competitions since the 2-0 loss to Inter at the San Siro.

Against a determined Napoli, however, Pirlo's side appeared devoid of ideas. The champions had plenty of shots at goal, but most were hopeful efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pirlo complained about the penalty decision that won the game for Napoli, but seeing his strike force pose such little threat on goal must be concerning.

SUPER-SUB MURIEL STRIKES AGAIN

Of players with more than six goals in Serie A this season, the man with the best goals-per-game ratio is not Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic nor Romelu Lukaku, but Atalanta super-sub Luis Muriel.

The 29-year-old Colombian was again named as a substitute for Atalanta at Cagliari on Sunday, and has now started just seven league games all season.

But Muriel dug his side out of a hole again, grabbing his 13th league goal of the season to snatch a 90th-minute victory for Atalanta, taking his goals-per-game ratio to remarkable 1.76 goals per 90 minutes.

A substitute with Muriel's scoring record would normally give a manager plenty to ponder, but Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini is just as likely to keep things as they are.

(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond)