Andrej Kramarić won himself back a spot as starting striker with a fine two goal performance to lift Hoffenheim to a 2-0 win over Darmstadt on Saturday. Kramarić came on up top in the 50th minute and did it all for Hoffenheim, firing away 5 shots (4 on target), creating 2 chances, and completing 15/15 passes. Kramarić broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, getting on the end of a Marco Terrazzino through ball and finishing from a tight angle. He earned his brace in the 92nd minute, converting a penalty right down the middle. Hoffenheim are hanging in the Champions League places through 20 matches, as they are tied with Borussia Dortmund for 3rd in the Bundesliga.
Goals: 1:10, 1:40
Ante Rebić played the full 90 minutes for 10 man Eintracht Frankfurt as they fell 2-0 to Ingolstadt on Saturday. Rebić had a good match, with two shots and three chances created. He also picked up a yellow card in the 35th minute. Frankfurt are 5th in the Bundesliga, two points out of 3rd and 4th.
Tin Jedvaj started at center-back for Bayer Leverkusen for the second straight match as they won 3-1 at Augsburg on Friday. Jedvaj had four tackles and two interceptions and was partially at fault for Augsburg’s goal. Leverkusen are 8th in the Bundesliga through 20 matches, 8 points out of the Champions League places. Jedvaj has seen an increase in minutes in the past few weeks with Jonathan Tah out injured. Jedvaj may play some big minutes this week as Leverkusen host Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in the Champions League Round of 16.
Danijel Subašić was in net as Monaco’s 4 game winning streak came to an end on Friday as they were held to a 1-1 draw at 19th placed Bastia. Subašić made two easy saves and was not at fault for Bastia’s goal. Monaco remain three points ahead of PSG at the top of Ligue 1, with the French side playing to a 0-0 draw against Toulouse on Sunday. Monaco head to Manchester this week for their first leg Champions League Round of 16 match against Manchester City.
Mateo Kovačić got the start and played a solid 61 minutes for Real Madrid Sunday in a 2-0 victory over Espanyol. Kovačić got the nod over Luka Modrić who took the week off to get some much needed rest with Champions League doubles back after the winter break. With the win, Real Madrid keep their one point lead on Barcelona with two games in hand. Ivan Rakitić and Barca escaped a disaster result, needing an injury time penalty from Lionel Messi to scrape by Leganes 2-1. Rakitić played the full 90 minutes and showed his worth after Barca’s 4-0 loss to Champions League where he did not start. Barca will need help from the rest of the league to slow down Real Madrid as they try to keep pace with the reigning Champions League holders.
Duje Čop came on in the 84th minute for Sporting Gijon in a 4-1 loss to Atletico Madrid. Atletico’s Kevin Gameiro scored three goals within five minutes of each other to end the match and earn the victory. Šime Vrsaljko played all 90 minutes for Atletico at right back. The win keeps Atletico securely in 4th place while Sporting remain dancing with relegation.
Dejan Lovren (above) and Liverpool had the week off as the Premier League took a back seat to the FA Cup. Liverpool were eliminated in the previous round by Wolverhampton, giving Lovren a much needed week off to rest his knee which kept him out last week. The Reds currently sit in 5th place, but only three points behind second place Manchester City.
Juventus cruised against Palermo at home on Saturday. The bianconeri retain their lead following the 4-1 on Friday night. Mario Mandžukić missed the match on a ban and subsequently Marko Pjaca was given his second serie A start. The former Dinamo star has still not glued into the team despite being served with good continuity. In spite of good team spirit and the defensive support he tried to bring on the table, the Croatian international showed that he still has a lot to learn if he wants to become a key player in Serie A especially with respects to his withuout the ball play. The fact that his dribbling looked below his standards might be coincidential, though his inability to move and create space and the dangerous lazy attitude to always expect the ball on his feet is something that he should definitely work hard on. The manager, who had tried to stimulate the player during the previous week said after the match “He played a good match. You have a different rhythm in Croatia which enabled him to emerge easily”. “He needs to do more here.” Allegri added.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport Ratings:
Marko Pjaca 5,5 Allegri said :’work harder’. “He did commit but looked lika a F1 car that got lost in the countryside because the navigator broke down.”
Josip Posavec 5,5 “Concedes 4, but saves as many.”
— Zul’Qarnain. (@ZulQarnain__) February 17, 2017
Josip Posavec gets beat for the opener
Josip Posavec was a starter for the rosanero. As usual, he made many saves but not always looked secure. The highlight of the night was a crash with his teammate Goldaniga that left him apparently unconscious for a few moments. Luckily he got up and managed to end the match on his feet.
Inter returned from Bologna with 3 more points under their belt following their 1-0 win on Sunday morning. Marcelo Brozović missed the match on an injury while Ivan Perišić after a one match ban returned to his usual spot on the left flank to go the distance. The former Wolfsburg star did put on a good display and thanks to a good understanding with D’Ambrosio they formed a solid pair for the vast majority of the match, at least until the Italian full back was hijacked on the other side of the pitch. Perišić managed to be the most dangerous man on the field with two conclusions that should have deserved a better ending. He served a good assist to Palacio who missed an easy one as well.
Bruno Petković claimed a spot in the starting line up due to Destro’s absence and went the distance. The former Trapani striker took time to adapt to the Inter defence but managed to step up as the game progressed. Petković never was really dangerous but ran a lot to create spaces for his teammates and to keep the ball up. Those who saw him playing last year in Serie B swear that he is a poor man Ibhrahimović, and they are not far from the truth if they refer to the young Zlatan, who was not such a great finisher in his early days.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport Ratings: Ivan Perišić 6 “He is the true star in the first half. Runs, crosses and everything but then goes worse with time. His precision is questionable. 29 lost balls. Huge number.”
Bruno Petković 6,5 “Sorry for being late. Studied in the first half, then kept the ball up, created dangerous situations and fights. Though never shots..”
Milan got 3 vital points to keep their European hopes alive as they beat Fiorentina 2-1 on Sunday night. Mario Pašalić was a starter for Montella and went the distance. After a few unimpressive displays the former Hajduk star proved to be important in all of the stages of the match. He ran, tackled and defended everywhere in the midfield as Fiorentina retained possession for the vast part of the match. Pašalić supported Deulofeu in the initial goal that put Milan ahead and almost closed the match himself when he hit the post. A positive performance for the Chelsea midfielder.
Milan Badelj was surprisingly left out of the match to come on in the 71st minute and the team down 2-1. His presence enabled Borja Valero to play next to the strikers. Badelj made 29 touches in 20 minutes and helped the team in a last effort to tie the match.
— Indra adisetya (@adisetya_indra) February 20, 2017
Nikola Kalinić retained his lone striker position and went the distance. The former Hajduk star kept Milan defense busy all night. Kalinić managed to bang in one and tie the match the only one good service he received. His movement behind Gomez should be studied by every striker who want to shine at top flight level. Hrvoje Milić looked on from the bench.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport Ratings:
Mario Pašalić 6 “Better in the first half, with an assist and a shot ended on the post. Fiorentina attacks, the water gets busy but he rows against it.”
Milan Badelj 6 “Only 20 minutes.”
Nikola Kalinić 6,5 “He had a date with a goal at 21:00 and proved to be punctual. Can’t be seen that much towards the end of the match but he is not at fault.”
After the debacle in Madrid that voiced complaints from Aurelio De Laureentis who maintained that some of the new players have not been collecting much playing time, Napoli won 3-1 in Verona vs Chievo to show almost nothing has changed. Marko Rog and Ivan Strinić were both unused substitutes under Maurizio Sarri.
Udinese thrashed 3 points as they first went ahead 1-0 vs Sassuolo, then left the neroverdi an easy come back to finish with an unpleasant 1-2 loss on Sunday. Stipe Perica came on in the 60th minute with the team still ahead. The giant from Zadar played even worse than a dull Zapata and proved to be useless in this time of the year when coming off the bench. Opposite to what used to happen in the early stages of the season Perica looks now never being able to warm up in the second half. There is no question with regards to his commitment but never ever manages to pose a threat. Andrija Balić looked on from the bench. The former Hajduk star has still not kicked a ball in the season.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport Ratings:
Stipe Perica 5 “Useless substitutions. Gigantic technical problems. Needs to work his socks off during training.”
Ante Budimir retained his usual bench warming position during the 1-1 draw between Sampdoria and Cagliari.
Atlético Madrid at Bayer Leverkusen(Champions League), Monaco at Manchester City(Champions League),
Juventus at Porto(Champions League), Real Madrid at Valencia,
Borussia M’gla at Fiorentina(Europa League),
Mainz 05 at Bayer Leverkusen, Frankfurt at Hertha BSC, Atalanta at Napoli, Empoli at Juventus,
Hoffenheim at Schalke 04, Sampdoria at Palermo, Milan at Sassuolo, Udinese at Lazio, Roma at Internazionale, Barcelona at Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid at Villarreal,
Liverpool at Leicester City, Torino at Fiorentina
~Ante Kvartuč reporting from sunny Southern California, Zach Gilfix reporting from Minneapolis, MN and Salvatore Cagnazzi reporting from Italy