Today’s Papers – Milan break, Napoli run away
Watch as Bologna rattle the woodwork on three occasions before Marko Arnautovic converts the winning penalty for an M’Bala Nzola handball.
The visitors had several chances to take the lead at the Stadio Picco, as Arnautovic’s half-volley smacked the outside of the post, then Musa Barrow repeated the trick twice, including one chance that ricocheted into the grateful arms of Ivan Provedel.
The match was decided by a penalty, as Nzola stuck up an arm to protect his face from the Arnautovic free kick and was penalised for handball.
Thiago Motta admits Spezia ‘can play better than this’ and doesn’t complain about a decisive penalty kick awarded to Bologna: ‘It was a fair decision.’
Spezia lost 1-0 against Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side due to a penalty kick converted by Marko Arnautovic.
The Rossoblu earned the spot-kick after that a free-kick has been charged down by Nzola in the wall, who had his arm up covering his face.
Thiago Motta believes the referee’s decision was correct but has doubts regarding the free-kick that led to the penalty.
“I was really angry about the corner kick, but not the penalty kick,” the former Barcelona and Inter midfielder told DAZN.
“It was a bit naive from Nzola to leave the arm in that position. I am sad about the defeat. It’s not the first time that we don’t win a balanced game.
“We wanted to create trouble on the counter-attack, but I know we can play better than this.
“We need to improve defensively and read the game better without letting our opponents come forward with the ball.”
Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic explains why he is not entirely satisfied despite a 1-0 win over Spezia.
The Rossoblu won their sixth game this season at the Stadio Alberto Picco thanks to a penalty kick converted by Marko Arnautovic.
“We collected three important points, we knew it was a tough game and I think we deservedly won,” Mihajlovic told DAZN.
“However, we can’t be satisfied. It’s true that Bologna haven’t had 21 points after 14 games since 2002, but we’ve thrown away many points this season against clubs that will be behind us in the standings at the end of the campaign.
“I remember we deserved more against Genoa, Udinese and Venezia, but we made some errors in those games. Today we didn’t risk much and we created a lot, but we only scored from the spot.”
Bologna hit the woodwork three times, but only beat Spezia thanks to a controversial Marko Arnautovic penalty.
The hosts had Emmanuel Gyasi suspended, Leo Sena and Medhi Bourabia injured, but Arkadiusz Reca got his first start of the season, with Simone Bastoni moved into midfield. Bologna missed Jerdy Schouten, Andreas Skov-Olsen and Lorenzo De Silvestri.
M’Bala Nzola went down in the box during the opening minutes, but the referee and VAR waved away appeals.
Marko Arnautovic went very close for Bologna moments later, his half-volley clipping the outside of the near post.
Adama Soumaoro’s header skimmed the bar and the visitors struck the frame of the goal again just before half-time. It was pulled back for Musa Barrow, whose low drive thumped the base of the upright and ricocheted into the grateful arms of Ivan Provedel.
The Spezia goalkeeper used his legs to parry from Riccardo Orsolini at the near post, while Kelvin Amian tested Lukasz Skorupski after combining with Nzola.
Bologna hit the upright for the third time with Barrow’s right-foot effort on an Arnautovic cut-back, then Mattias Svanberg came close too by skimming the woodwork from outside the box.
Eddie Salcedo forced a save too after the Viktor Kovalenko assist, but the deadlock was broken in very controversial circumstances.
An Arnautovic free kick was charged down by Nzola in the wall, who had his arm up covering his face. The referee considered this intentional handball and awarded a penalty, as he was standing just inside the box at the time. Arnautovic converted to give Bologna the lead.
Martin Erlic had the final chance in stoppages, his header glancing wide on a Salva Ferrer cross.
Spezia 0-1 Bologna
Arnautovic pen 83 (B)
Serie A Week 14 continues with five games on Sunday, when Mike Maignan is expected to return for Milan against Sassuolo, while Lazio visit Maurizio Sarri’s former club Napoli.
The top two teams in Serie A are in action on Sunday and must respond to the wins of Inter and Atalanta on Saturday.
Atalanta strengthened their position in the top four, and Roma need a win over Torino today to reduce the gap up to the Orobici.
The big game of the day is at 19.45 UK time tonight, when leaders Napoli host Maurizio Sarri’s new club Lazio at the Stadio Diego Maradona.
Udinese open the day at 11.30 with a home game against Andriy Shevchenko’s Genoa, before Milan take on Sassuolo at San Siro.
Stefano Pioli must cope without Ante Rebic and Oliviver Giroud and leans on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack.
The match kicks off at 13.00 and French goalkeeper Mike Maignan seems set to return in goal after being out with a wrist injury.
Spezia host Bologna at the same time, when Sinisa Mihajlovic seems set to start with Musa Barrow and Marko Arnautovic together up front.
Roma coach Jose Mourinho could give Nicoló Zaniolo a supporting role behind Stephan El Shaarawy and Tammy Abraham, when Andrea Belotti’s Torino arrive at the Olimpico at 16.00.
Probable line-ups: Udinese vs. Genoa (at 11.30 UK time)
Udinese (4-2-3-1): Silvestri; Molina, Becao, Nuytinck, Samir; Walace, Arslan; Deulofeu, Pereyra, Pussetto; Beto
Genoa (3-5-2): Sirigu; Biraschi, Masiello, Vasquez; Ghiglione, Sturaro, Badelj, Touré, Cambiaso; Ekuban, Pandev
Probable line-ups: Milan vs. Sassuolo (at 14.00)
Milan (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Bakayoko, Bennacer; Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz, Leao; Ibrahimovic
Sassuolo (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan, Chiriches, Ferrari, Kyriakopoulos; Frattesi, Maxime Lopez, Traore; Berardi, Defrel, Raspadori
Probable line-ups: Spezia vs. Bologna (at 14.00)
Spezia (4-2-3-1): Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Nikolaou, Bastoni; Sala, Kovalenko; Antiste, Maggiore, Strelec; Nzola
Bologna (3-4-1-2): Skorupski; Soumaoro, Medel, Theate; Orsolini, Svanberg, Dominguez, Hickey; Soriano; Barrow, Arnautovic
Probable line-ups: Roma vs. Torino (at 17.00)
Roma (3-4-1-2): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Mkhitaryan, Pellegrini, Vina; Zaniolo; El Shaarawy, Abraham
Torino (3-4-2-1): Milinkovic-Savic; Djidji, Bremer, Buongiorno; Singo, Lukic, Pobega, Vojvoda; Praet, Brekalo; Belotti
Probable line-ups: Napoli vs. Lazio (at 19.45)
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabiàn, Demme; Lozano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens
Lazio (4-3-3): Reina; Lazzari, Luiz Felipe, Acerbi, Hysaj; Milinkovic-Savic, Cataldi, Luis Alberto; Felipe Anderson, Immobile, Pedro
Join us for all the build-up and action as if happens from today’s five Serie A games, including Milan-Sassuolo, Roma-Torino and Napoli-Lazio.
We begin at 11.30 GMT at the Dacia Arena, where Udinese and Genoa both need a boost to break away from the drop zone and Andriy Shevchenko is seeking his first points in charge.
At 14.00 GMT, leaders Milan try to get back on track against Sassuolo after their first Serie A defeat of the season, while Spezia and Bologna face off.
At 17.00 GMT, Roma are forced to reshuffle again with Andrea Belotti’s Torino amid injuries, bans and COVID cases.
Serie A Week 14 concludes at 19.45 GMT, when Maurizio Sarri visits his former club at the helm of Lazio, as Napoli adjust to life without Victor Osimhen.
Spezia and Bologna are both coming off painful defeats, just as they were starting to find some confidence.
Despite that 5-2 hammering by Atalanta, Thiago Motta’s Spezia are still out of the bottom three and hope to remain there. Emmanuel Gyasi is suspended, so Antiste joins Daniele Verde and M’Bala Nzola upfront, while Nikolaou returns from his ban.
Bologna had won back-to-back games until the 1-0 home loss to Venezia. That could prompt a reshuffle on the right, where Riccardo Orsolini and Ibrahima Mbaye are in the running.
Form Guide: Spezia (L W L D L) Bologna (L W W L L)
Stat fact: Spezia are the fourth side in this Century to concede over 30 goals in the opening 13 Serie A rounds. The others were Parma in 2014-15, Benevento in 2017-18 and Torino in 2020-21.
Spezia (4-3-3): Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Nikolaou, Bastoni; Kovalenko, Sala, Maggiore; Verde, Nzola, Antiste
Injured: Bourabia, Sena, Agudelo, Sher
On a yellow card: None
Bologna (3-4-2-1): Skorupski; Soumaoro, Medel, Theate; Orsolini, Dominguez, Svanberg, Hickey; Soriano, Barrow; Arnautovic
Injured: Schouten, De Silvestri, Skov-Olsen, Kingsley
On a yellow card: Dominguez, Medel, Hickey
Players in Serie A this weekend are sporting a red mark on their cheeks as part of a campaign challenging violence against women and spreading awareness of an anti-stalking hotline.
Every year for several seasons now, the Lega Serie A has participated in the campaign Un Rosso Alla Violenza – A red card to violence.
Players were also urged to contribute via social media with their wives and partners, showing the women wearing red lipstick and the same shade smeared on the cheeks of the star names.
The captains have a special edition armband this weekend also referencing the campaign.
There is a special hotline in Italy for women to report stalking or violence, the phone number is 1522.
Calls to that hotline rose by 79.5 per cent over the last calendar year.
Italy was shocked by an incident earlier this month in Sassuolo, where a man killed his ex-wife, their two children and his mother-in-law before killing himself.
He had been under a restraining order, but broke it to commit the massacre.
The only survivor was the woman’s 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, who was at school at the time.