Soccer-Talking points from the Serie A weekend

Alasdair Mackenzie
·3-min read

By Alasdair Mackenzie

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

VIDAL ATTRACTS CONTE'S IRE

Inter Milan's 6-2 demolition of Crotone marked an eighth consecutive victory and the perfect start to 2021, but another disappointing display from Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal soured the mood of coach Antonio Conte.

Vidal was at fault for both of the visitor's goals in the first half, losing Niccolo Zannellato to head in before conceding a penalty which Vladimir Golemic converted.

The 33-year-old was replaced by Stefano Sensi at halftime and Conte later warned that his place in the team is at risk.

"He has significant room for improvement," Conte said to Sky Sport.

"He needs to work hard, get his head down and pedal because nobody has an assured place in the team here.

"He needs to show he deserves to play. He must do a lot better. I'm referring to what we've seen up until now, too many highs and lows, and at Inter we can't allow that."

There were no such concerns for Conte about his attack, though.

Inter's six-goal haul, which included a perfect hat-trick of left foot, right foot and header from Lautaro Martinez, took their tally to 40 goals in 15 games this season: their best record since 1950-51.

PIOLI PLAYS DOWN IMPORTANCE OF JUVENTUS CLASH

AC Milan provided yet more evidence of their champion potential as they played more than an hour with 10 men in a 2-0 win at Benevento, following Sandro Tonali's red card.

The result kept their unbeaten record intact and maintained a 10-point advantage over reigning champions Juventus, who Milan host on Wednesday.

But coach Stefano Pioli was eager to downplay the significance of facing a Juve side that boasts a nine-year stranglehold on the Serie A title.

"I continue to say Juventus, Inter and Napoli are the strongest sides in Serie A," he said.

"We're talking about a team that has won nine consecutive league titles. It's not a decisive match.

"We will look at our place in the league table in April, our strength is focusing on the next task."

TORINO FINALLY WIN TO LEAVE LIVERANI ON BRINK

Torino clinched their first win since Nov. 4 with a 3-0 victory at Parma, lifting them off the foot of the table and out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

It was just their second league victory of the season, ending an eight-match winless run and easing pressure on coach Marco Giampaolo.

"I never had the feeling the club lacked belief in me," Giampaolo said.

"It's not that I feel secure now, but the club noticed a bond between me and the team, otherwise they would have replaced me."

However, the position of Parma coach Fabio Liverani is under threat, with speculation rife that he will be replaced after three consecutive defeats left them one point above the drop zone.

"What's missing is that spark," Liverani said.

"It's not that we're not creating anything, but we aren't able to make the crucial decision to score goals."

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)