Monday, March 11, 2013
Christian Puggioni, Chievo
While many in the Flying Donkeys' camp undoubtedly saw only a single victory since veteran stalwart Stefano Sorrentino's departure in January as a sign of Puggioni's lack of capability between the sticks, these critics' minds may be swain by a performance worthy of only the loftiest plaudits against Napoli. The 32 year-old shot-stopper was immense in turning away any and every shot on goal, highlighting his day by outwitting Edinson Cavani to save his 58th minute penalty and diving to his left with supreme agility to push a thunderous free-kick from the Uruguayan around the upright.
Boukary Drame, Chievo
Drame was the pinnacle of versatility on the left side of a resolved five-man Chievo back line, clashing fearlessly with opponents in the tackle and dribbling past his adversaries with relative frequency. The Senagalese dynamo was responsible for snatching an early lead for his side that they would never surrender, leaving Morgan De Sanctis awestruck with a searing rocket from 30 yards that crashed inside the far post for his first goal of the season.
Cristian Zapata, Milan
The former Udinese man continued to prove his worth to the Rossoneri after a rough start to life in Milan, turning in a great shift in which he never let his man get a quality look at goal. Zapata also displayed great finesse in setting up Mario Balotelli for his side's second goal, delicately caressing the ball first-time as it fell from the sky to roll a perfectly weighted pass into the Italy international's path.
Andrea Barzagli, Juventus
Hardly putting a foot wrong over the 90 minutes, Barzagli lorded over all that dared enter his defensive third by any mode of attack. The 31 year-old never lost out on a single aerial battle in stifling Catania's men up front, and was lethally precise in playing the ball forward as well, completing 97% of his passes.
Nicolas Frey, Chievo
The Frenchman was totally unfazed by the pace and feet of Juan Zuniga, dominating his territory out on on the right flank and rendering the Colombian so ineffective that Walter Mazzarri removed him on 63 minutes and changed his tactical set-up. Frey was also instrumental in Chievo grabbing an insurance goal on the stroke of halftime, providing the assist for countryman Cyril Thereau with a lovely lofted ball into the penalty area from the midline.
Paul Pogba, Juventus
In a star studded midfield, the teenage wonder somehow managed to shine brightest once again with his ever-expanding arsenal of skills. For the entirety of the match Pogba tirelessly won possession, silkily went past defenders, and uncorked shots from distance. On top of his all-action display, he played a crucial role in Emanuele Giaccherini's winner at the death, putting in the penultimate cross that dragged Mariano Andujar off his line and allowed the diminutive Italian to slot home.
Alessandro Florenzi, Roma
The 22 year-old was the hungriest of the Lupi on the pitch against Udinese at the Stadio Friuli, making a case for more playing time to caretaker boss Aurelio Andreazzoli after seeing a decrease in opportunities with the dismissal of Zdenek Zeman. Florenzi was dynamic in the heart of the Roma midfield, tackling well, beating opponents with pace, and also troubled the keeper several times, one of which led to Erik Lamela's opener for the Giallorossi.
Diego Perez, Bologna
An absolute bulldog in the center of the park, Perez was responsible for disrupting any semblance of link play Inter could muster against the determined Rossoblu. The Uruguayan hard man was imperious in the air throughout and finished the day with a stellar six tackles in addition to assisting Alberto Gilardino on the match's lone goal with a chipped ball of utmost pulchritude.
Andrea Cossu, Cagliari
The Sardinia native appears to have found his groove once again, dictating play from the hole behind the forwards in a cracking win over one of the hottest teams in Serie A. Cossu constantly found space from which to launch attacks with his pinpoint-accurate distribution throughout the day, tallying a pair of assists with some wonderful deliveries for the grateful Victor Ibarbo to take advantage of.
After seeing his Ducali go down 1-0 early in the second half, the Brazilian took it upon himself to make sure that his side avoided slumping to a fourth straight defeat in spectacular fashion, scoring a hat-trick in a span of only 13 minutes to single-handedly dispatch Torino.
Victor Ibarbo, Cagliari
The gangly Colombian was utterly unstoppable for the Isolani, finding acres of space with his intelligent and exploitative runs as well as dribbling past defenders at will. Ibarbo seemed to be linked telepathically with playmaker Andrea Cossu on the afternoon, as he opened the scoring from the Italian's snapshot rebound before finding the back of the net twice more with the aid of a pair of assists from the trequartista.
You can follow Ian Capasso on Twitter: @capasso10