Serie A focus: Juve hot on the heels of table-toppers Inter

Serie A is 20 gameweeks deep and plenty of interesting narratives have already unfolded. 

The title race is a tantalising one with Inter climbing to the summit, closely followed by Juventus. 

Meanwhile, Napoli — who won the Scudetto last term — have endured a disastrous title defence, accumulating only 31 points to date. 

And the relegation battle is as tense as ever, too, with just seven points separating rock-bottom Salernitana and Sassuolo in 15th.  

Ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, we’ve enlisted the help of Twenty3’s Toolbox to reveal some statistical insights from the season so far.

Title race

Serie A’s title race in recent seasons has been gripping, primarily because a new team has claimed the trophy every year since Juventus’ dominance ended in 2020/21. 

Inter have emerged as the rightful favourites after a strong start to the campaign, racking up 51 points and only losing one game. 

Simone Inzaghi has been at the helm since 2021 and has built a formidable machine.

As shown in the passing network below, Inter’s front two operate very closely together. 

Marcus Thuram, signed from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer, has forged an excellent connection with Lautaro Martínez.

The Argentinian is in stunning form, already notching 18 league goals — eight more than the league’s next best marksman in Oliver Giroud (10). 

It is also worth noting Martínez’s xG of 12.88, which means the 26-year-old is significantly overperforming based on the chances he has been presented with.

Thuram has scored eight goals but more impressively has also claimed six assists, which is the joint-highest total in the league.

A potent mix of Martínez’s lethal finishing and Thuram’s productivity could lead Inter to a 20th Serie A title. 

However, Juventus — after a few years below their usual standard — are just three points behind the Nerazzurri and look ready to fight at the top again. 

Their passing network demonstrates that they build-up in a very similar way to Inter, in a 3-5-2 formation. 

Dušan Vlahović and Federico Chiesa are the decisive players in the final third, but the Old Lady’s strength resides more in the spine of defence and midfield. 

Manuel Locatelli is a key figure in the centre of the park, completing 794 passes this season and attempting the second-most passes into the final third (185). 

AC Milan — Serie A champions in 2021–22 — are lagging behind and only just remain in the race. 

Interestingly, their passing network shows that Stefano Pioli’s outfit build-up with four at the back, rather than with wing-backs. 

This means that their most dangerous asset, Rafael Leão, can get high and wide on the left-hand side.

Best of the rest

The race for Serie A’s European spots looks set to be a scintillating one, with very little separating the challengers. Fiorentina, who sit in fourth, are only nine points ahead of Monza in 11th. 

Perhaps the most noteworthy team is Napoli, who won the league last term but are enduring a miserable title defence. 

Luciano Spalletti left in the summer and was replaced by Rudi Garcia but he only lasted until November. 

Walter Mazzarri has steadied the ship slightly, but the Azzurri are still underperforming.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia emerged as one of the best left wingers in the world last year but has not hit those heights this time around.

As evidenced by Napoli’s flank attacks, they focus the majority of their build-up down the right-hand side, despite the influence of the Georgian star on the opposite wing. 

Elsewhere, Roma are performing below par and have parted company with manager José Mourinho as a result.

Mourinho took over in 2021 and helped Roma win the Europa Conference League that season, before reaching the Europa League final the following year.

But they are five points off the Champions League places and were been knocked out of the Coppa Italia by rivals Lazio.

Daniele De Rossi has taken over and will hope to get more of a tune out of the squad — especially Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku, who have the potential to form a lethal partnership. 

Despite featuring in an inefficient system, the duo have 13 combined goals in Serie A. 

The underperformance of Napoli and Roma could see a less prestigious club sneaks into the top four. 

Fiorentina are currently in the all-important fourth spot — the Viola have not been in the Champions League since 2009-2010. 

Bologna, led by shrewd tactician Thiago Motta, are also surprise contenders.

They have only conceded 18 goals and made 1,883 successful defensive actions — the eighth-most in the league.

Battle at the bottom

The relegation battle is difficult to call, with a significant number of teams still flirting with the bottom three. 

Salernitana, Empoli and Hellas Verona are currently in the drop zone, which may be a surprise given they have all been in the top-flight for a few years. 

Based on the touches in the opposition box visualisation below, Empoli should be the least concerned given they venture into dangerous territory more regularly — but they have only scored a miserable 11 goals in 20 games. 

Genoa do have some distance from the bottom three, but only accumulating 32 touches in the opposition box will be a concern for Alberto Gilardino.

The two other promotied teams — Frosinone and Cagliari — are both living dangerously above the relegation trapdoor. 

The former have conceded an almighty 39 goals — only rock bottom Salernitana have a worse record (40). 

Salernitana have flirted with relegation since their promotion in 2021 and have only accumulated 12 points in 20 games. 

However, with just seven points separating 20th and 15th, a run of form from any side could change the picture at the foot of Serie A.

All visualisations in this article were produced with the Twenty3 Toolbox. For more information, please get in touch below.