The Serie A’s first half of the season came to a close on Wednesday, just days before Christmas, and what a three-month stretch it has been. With 19 games played for each club and 19 to go, teams will look to re-energize themselves ahead of the action returning on Jan. 6 live on Paramount+.
Here’s a look at Wednesday’s scores, some superlative awards and more:
Lazio 3, Venezia 1
Verona 1, Fiorentina 1
Roma 1, Sampdoria 1
Inter 1, Torino 0
Milan 4, Empoli 2
Spezia 1, Napoli 0
With a couple weeks until the action returns, here’s a look at some of the best and worse from the first half:
Biggest surprise: Inter Milan
It is surprising that the reigning champs are a first-half surprise? Most certainly. For a moment, it looked like the title would be there for Napoli or AC Milan’s taking, but the Nerazzurri haven’t really taken a step back as they reloaded their roster instead of experiencing possible challenges with a rebuild. Despite a change in manager and selling arguably their two best players in Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi, they are back at the summit of the league and are the title favorites with just one loss in 19 league games. Simeone Inzaghi’s team have seen the free transfers of Edin Dzeko and Hakan Calhanoglu boost the squad in a big way, with Joaquin Correa also looking sharp as a backup in attack. Dzeko already has 11 goals in 23 games this season.
They are the champs, and they very well may be again this season.
Most improved team: Torino
Don’t look now, but Torino have gone from just escaping relegation last season to being in a stable position where barring a collapse of epic proportions, they’re relatively safe from relegation battle. They have as many wins (seven) at the halfway mark as they did all of last season. They finished last season four points clear of the drop zone with 37 points, while they are on pace for 50 points this campaign.
Defender Gleison Bremer continues to improve and has been a key reason why with consistency at the back, serving as a threat on both ends of the pitch. He’s scored five goals in each of the last two seasons and is on pace to reach that mark again. On Wednesday, he led the defense as they allowed just three shots on goal to Inter in the 1-0 loss.
After allowing 1.8 goals per game this season, they are allowing just 1.0 goals per game.
Serie A’s newest superstar: Dusan Vlahovic
The top scorer in Serie A and expected to earn a big-money move at some point soon, Vlahovic is the next great striker export from Serie A. The big Serbian has morphed into a top young striker after scoring just three goals in 27 games at Partizan. After no goals in his first season with 10 games played, he scored eight in his first full season being a consistent player. He followed that up with 21 goals last season and he’s already got 18 in 19 games this season. He’s recorded an xG of 10.34 and continues to get himself into dangerous spots for a team that relies so much on wing play and feeding the No. 9.
Good in the air, strong with his weak foot and wise beyond his years, it’s no surprise teams such as Manchester City and now-rich Newcastle United are reportedly interested. He’s the best striker in Serie A today and has potential to be one of the best in the world if it continues.
One name you need on your radar: Gio Simeone
The last name should seem familiar as he’s the 26-year-old son of Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and the is producing quite the career for himself in Serie A. The former River Plate and Banfield man has been quite consistent in Italy since arriving in 2016, playing for four different clubs.
Simeone has saved his best, so far, for this season. On pace for over 20 goals this season, he’s scored 12 goals in 16 games for Hellas Verona while on loan. The club is 13 points above the drop zone with a 6-6-7 record, with Simeone being a big reason why.
Simeone scored four of his goals in one game this season, back on Oct. 24 against Lazio, bagging that amount on an xG of just 1.14. His xG for the season, entering Wednesday, was 4.46.
He’s averaging an xG of 0.34 per 90 minutes played but 0.94 goals per 90 minutes, greatly outperforming his xG. For comparison, that goals per 90 is higher than top scorer Vlahovic (0.90) and second best scorer Ciro Immobile (0.92). Simeone also has the highest shot accuracy (69 percent) than any of the top five scorers in the league, which includes Inter’s Lautaro Martinez and Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata.
He may never stick at one club and be a star, but he’s certainly gotten on the radar of some bigger clubs thanks to his consistency.