Ronaldo and Lukaku but no Zlatan - Opta's Serie A Top XI for 2020

By Sports Desk December 30, 2020

The past 12 months saw another Juventus title in Serie A, but 2020 comes to a close with Milan back in the trophy hunt at the top of the table.

Although the Rossoneri have not won the Scudetto since 2011, they lead the way through 14 matches heading into the new year.

Rivals Inter are a point further back, while Juve are back in sixth after losing their unbeaten record last time out against Fiorentina.

To mark the end of an intriguing year, Opta calculated a 'Top XI' for Serie A in 2020, including a host of big names - but notably missing one superstar.

GOALKEEPER: MARCO SILVESTRI

Hellas Verona have conceded just 14 goals so far this season and, across the year as a whole, Silvestri saved 74 per cent of the shots he faced, trailing only Juan Musso among keepers with at least 10 appearances.

DEFENDER: JUAN CUADRADO

Juventus' converted winger Cuadrado continues to display his attacking qualities from right-back. Among all defenders in 2020, he played the most passes into the opposition half (1,044) and trailed only Cristiano Biraghi (eight) for assists with a haul of seven.

DEFENDER: MATTHIJS DE LIGT

Lining up next to his Bianconeri team-mate, De Ligt has played a huge role in Juve's continued success. They won 65 per cent of their Serie A matches and conceded 1.0 goals per game with the Dutchman in the side in 2020, coming out on top just 36 per cent of the time while conceding 1.4 goals on average when he was missing.

DEFENDER: FRANCESCO ACERBI

Lazio's form has fallen away a little this season, but Acerbi is certainly not to blame. He recovered the ball 177 times in the league in 2020; Rafael Toloi (179) was the only centre-back to do so on more occasions.

DEFENDER: THEO HERNANDEZ

The first Milan entry unsurprisingly belongs to left-back Hernandez. He was directly involved in 11 goals (six goals, five assists) in 2020 and also completed the most successful dribbles in the competition (57).

MIDFIELDER: RODRIGO DE PAUL

De Paul has been linked with a host of clubs, including Inter, where another player in this list would surely thrive on his service. The Udinese midfielder played more accurate crosses (36) than anyone else in Serie A this year.

MIDFIELDER: FRANCK KESSIE

A key part of Milan's climb up the table, Kessie has been a dominant force in the middle of midfield. He recovered the ball 246 times in 2020, the most of any outfield player in the league.

MIDFIELDER: HAKAN CALHANOGLU

Once Kessie wins the ball, it is over to Calhanoglu to get Milan on the attack. He created 99 chances and provided 14 assists in 2020, both league highs.

FORWARD: ALEJANDRO GOMEZ

Talisman Papu Gomez looks set to leave Atalanta in January but starred again in what may prove to be his final full year in Bergamo. Complementing his creative talents, he led the press by winning possession 28 times in the final third of the pitch - ranking third in this regard.

FORWARD: ROMELU LUKAKU

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been outstanding back at Milan, but he does not make the cut. Nor does Ciro Immobile. It is Inter striker Lukaku who leads the line after scoring 22 times in 2020, the most of any player to attempt fewer than 100 shots. Sixteen were from open play, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Immobile (both 17).

FORWARD: CRISTIANO RONALDO

Who else? Aged 35, Ronaldo scored 33 times in the league for Juve in 2020. Only Felice Borel (41 in 1933) and Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) have ever topped that mark in Serie A.

Not content just to lead the Italian top flight, Ronaldo has the edge over Robert Lewandowski (32) across Europe's 'top five' leagues heading into the final matches of 2020. He scored the most goals across the continent in five calendar years between 2011 and 2019.

Related items

  • Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale at the double for Mourinho's men Tottenham 4-0 Burnley: Brilliant Bale at the double for Mourinho's men

    Gareth Bale marked his return to a Premier League starting line-up with a brace in Tottenham's 4-0 thumping of Burnley.

    Bale had only been named from kick-off twice in the top flight since re-joining Spurs from Real Madrid last September, but a goal in each leg of the Europa League win over Wolfsberger AC persuaded Jose Mourinho to give the Wales international a chance.

    Tottenham's recent run of five defeats in their past six Premier League matches became a fast fading memory as Bale notched after 68 seconds and set up Harry Kane's second.

    It was 3-0 after the half hour thanks to Lucas Moura, who kept Dele Alli on the bench despite the England midfielder's similarly impressive European form, and Bale's eighth goal of his second Tottenham spell came in the 55th minute.

    Bale wasted little time in making the most of his selection by stealing in behind a sleeping Burnley defence to convert Son Heung-min's cross – Nick Pope having charitably stayed on his line.

    There was fleeting defiance from the visitors, with Davinson Sanchez forced to make a last-ditch challenge on Jay Rodriguez.

    Pope denied Lucas at close quarters before Bale was given time and space to send a raking ball into Kane's path in the 15th minute.

    The England captain advanced infield from the left and rifled home an emphatic finish.

    Any lingering doubt over the result was put to bed when Sergio Reguilon's cross clipped off James Tarkowski and Lucas pounced.

    Burnley's misery deepened nine minutes into the second half with Bale allowed room for a touch and a clinical finish after Son played the provider once more.

    Lucas and Bale made way but Kane and Son remained a nuisance for the Clarets.

    Pope pushed over a swerving drive from the England captain before getting down sharply to deny Son.

     

  • Rashford leads Man Utd line against Chelsea as Tuchel benches Werner Rashford leads Man Utd line against Chelsea as Tuchel benches Werner

    Marcus Rashford was tasked with leading Manchester United's attack at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner dropped to the Chelsea bench.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared on Friday that he was unsure if Cavani, who has had a positive impact this season since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, would overcome a knock which has kept him out since mid-February.

    Paul Pogba was a confirmed absentee, however, and neither player featured as Solskjaer made five changes to his United team.

    Rashford, who has been involved in seven goals in all competitions against Chelsea (five goals, two assists) – more than against any other side in his career – was instead given the central role that Anthony Martial had started in against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

    That was one of five changes made by Solskjaer, who also brought back Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and David de Gea.

    United are unbeaten in 19 Premier League away games (W13 D6), a run that began with a 2-0 win at Chelsea in February 2020. 

    This is the Red Devils' longest unbeaten away run in their top-flight history, though their previous longest of 17 between December 1998-September 1999 ended with a 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team have been in strong form.

    After a frustrating draw with Southampton last week, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning winner.

    Giroud is rewarded with a start up top, with Tuchel making three alterations.

    One of the players to drop out is Werner, who ended his long goalscoring drought in Chelsea's last home game – a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.

    Hakim Ziyech is in to partner Mason Mount – who has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 21 in the competition – behind Giroud, with N'Golo Kante replacing Jorginho in midfield and Ben Chilwell coming in at left wing-back.

    Opposite Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi retains his place, despite the youngster being subbed on and subbed off in the draw with Southampton.

    The away team has won all four of the previous managerial matches between Tuchel and Solskjaer, with all of those games taking place between United and PSG in the Champions League.

  • Inter 3-0 Genoa: Lukaku & Sanchez keep Serie A leaders on course Inter 3-0 Genoa: Lukaku & Sanchez keep Serie A leaders on course

    Inter's Serie A title charge remains on course after goals from Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez sealed a 3-0 win over Genoa at San Siro on Sunday. 

    Belgium international Lukaku set them on their way to a fifth consecutive top-flight win with a goal inside the opening minute. 

    Antonio Conte's side largely dominated proceedings thereafter, with Nicolo Barella striking the crossbar, and they wrapped up all three points in the second period through Darmian and Sanchez.

    The result moved them seven points ahead of second-placed Milan, although Stefano Pioli's side can rein them back in with victory over Roma later on Sunday.

    Inter started in blistering fashion, Lukaku firing into Mattia Perin's bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area after 32 seconds – Inter's second-fastest Serie A goal since Opta started tracking such data in 2004-05.

    Darmian clipped wide after 14 minutes, while Barella hit the bar with a long-range effort soon after.

    Perin then kept out Lukaku's powerful strike shortly after the half-hour mark as Inter ultimately failed to double their advantage before the interval.

    The hosts put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Darmian lashed home his first Serie A goal for the club from 12 yards after being picked out by Lukaku. 

    Substitute Sanchez then added gloss to the scoreline 13 minutes from full-time, heading in from close range after Lukaku's effort had been repelled by Perin. 

     

     

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.