Last Saturday saw the Italian top flight reach its halfway point, the first matchday to be played on December 29th in Serie A history wrapping up the opening part of the campaign. It was unbelievable that had taken Chievo Verona until Week 19 to win their first match of the season, with a 1-0 victory versus fellow strugglers Frosinone in the last game before the Winter Break.
Controversial VAR decisions were the order of the day, as both Juventus and Sampdoria were awarded penalties after dubious handball appeals in their match, and Fiorentina were denied what looked to be an obvious spot-kick of their own for handball even after the referee had reviewed the tape.
AC Milan finally won a match after three consecutive league fixtures without scoring, while Napoli scraped a 3-2 win at home to Bologna with a last-gasp strike. Meanwhile, Sampdoria looked to have earned a point away to Juve when Riccardo Saponara finished superbly after the 90 minutes were already over, only for his effort to be correctly ruled out for offside.
Indeed, that win saw the Bianconeri reach a total of 53 points after just 19 games, a record in the Italian top flight during the 20-team era. Veteran striker Fabio Quagliarella also became the first player since to score nine goals in nine games in Serie A since former Juve hitman David Trezeguet did so back in 2005, the Sampdoria man now closing in on Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 11 in 11.
Top Performers – Week 19
Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus (£10.23)
This was a round that saw attacking players truly shine, and CR7 proved his worth with a trademark cooly-taken penalty which helped his side to victory. That strike saw him rise to the peak of the top-scorers chart, a position he will not relinquish easily as the second half of the campaign gets underway.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – Lazio (£3.47)
After being heavily linked to a £100 million move away from Lazio last season, the form of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic has not lived up to expectations in the current campaign. That said, his performances are steadily improving as the January window comes around once again, and he scored a sublime goal to earn his side a 1-1 draw with Torino last Saturday.
¡Una auténtica belleza! 😍
— Fuera de Juego (@ESPN_FDJ) December 29, 2018
Josip Ilicic – Atalanta (£1.40)
Netting a hat-trick in a 6-2 away victory versus Sassuolo, Josip Ilicic put in a superb performance for Atalanta on Saturday. The Slovenian may not be the most consistent of players, but his trio of goals was his third in Serie A, placing him as a joint record-holder in Europe’s top five leagues along with Sergio Aguero of Manchester City and Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
Arkadiusz Milik – Napoli (£2.05)
His first two seasons at Napoli were wiped out thanks to ACL tears in consecutive campaigns, but an injury-free Arkadiusz Milik is now proving his worth for Carlo Ancelotti. His brace helped to secure an important 3-2 win over Bologna at the weekend, and marked the fifth occasion in which the Poland international had scored twice in the same match at the Stadio San Paolo.
Cengiz Under – AS Roma (£3.28)
Roma Sporting Director Monchi may insist that the club “is not a supermarket,” but in truth the Giallorossi may struggle to hang on to Turkish forward Cengiz Under in future. After scoring a wonder goal versus Inter at the beginning of the month, the 21-year-old ended December with a goal and an assist versus Parma, the 2-0 win easing the pressure on his previously underperforming side.