The headlines were inevitably written by one man and one man alone in Round 23 of Serie A, but it wasn’t only Mario Balotelli who turned in a performance worthy of credit. There were some other real standouts around Italy over the past weekend, with plenty of candidates sticking their hands up for a place in the latest Goal.com Team of the Week.
Sergio Romero proved a very effective last line of defence as Sampdoria earned a point from their trip to draw specialists Torino thanks to a couple of very important stops by their Argentine shot-stopper.
Juventus remained clear at the top of Serie A thanks to a 2-1 win at Chievo, with Stephan Lichtsteiner netting what would prove to be the decisive goal to cap a superb personal display from the wing-back position. Paolo Cannavaro‘s traumatic few weeks came to a magnificent end as he got on the scoresheet and kept Catania out at the other end in Napoli’s 2-0 win which keeps them hanging on to Juve’s coat-tails. Meanwhile, Andreas Granqvist was Genoa’s star man as the Grifone grabbed three massive points in their relegation fight to extend Lazio’s uncertain spell.
In midfield, Alessio Sestu ran Inter ragged and dispatched a fantastic curling strike beyond Samir Handanovic as Siena lifted themselves off the foot of the table with a huge three points. Mr Consistency Marek Hamsik makes it into our XI for the ninth time in just 23 rounds after another dominant showing at the head of Napoli’s midfield as Catania left the San Paolo without any points, while Belgian star Radja Nainggolan shone once again in the Cagliari midfield, and netted a goal to boot, as the Isolani ended the reign of Zdenek Zeman at Roma. Andrea Bertolacci was one of the men Genoa had to thank for their 3-2 win over Lazio, netting the second goal in a huge victory for Davide Ballardini’s side.
Up top, Innocent Emeghara marked only his second game in a Siena shirt with a goal in the Robur’s shock win over Inter, while Marco Sau was also on the scoresheet and proved a constant threat to the Roma back line in Cagliari’s big win at the Olimpico. But it is Super Mario Balotelli who gets the last word, turning in a magnificent two-goal showing on his return to Serie A. His first appearance in our Team of the Week this season may well not be his last.