Having made a flying start to our Serie A title defence, it was interrupted by a mid-season break while players went off to the Winter World Cup in Qatar.
2018 finalists Croatia got knocked out in the group stage by Bosnia and Mali, while Uruguay, Serbia and Colombia also both exited at the first stage. The second round was packed with upsets as Bosnia beat world champions France on penalties and Rissia beat Spain, while two huge games saw Italy defeat Brazil and England beat Portugal 3-2 with three goals in the last six minutes!
In the quarters, England thumped Belgium 3-0 with a Rashford hat-trick, Italy hammered Bosnia 4-0, Argentina battered Germany 3-0 and Mexico snuck past Russia 2-0 in extra-time. I attended the England v Argentina semi, in which Sterling put England ahead after 10 minutes and Mount curled in an 89th-minute free-kick. Italy beat Mexico on penalties after a 2-2 draw, with our boy Sandro Tonali scoring in extra-time.
I also attended the World Cup Final, in which England played Stones in midfield and left out Alexander-Arnold, Rashford and Kane… But they still took the lead through Greenwood just before the break. Absolutely nothing happened, with Italy having 5 shots and England just 3! And England won a terrible game 1-0 to become World Champions.
Gianluigi Donnarumma was named in the World Cup dream team and won the World Goalkeeper of the Year award.
Serie A resumes
We resumed the season at home to Sampdoria and should have been two up inside eight minutes as Andrea Belotti and Karim Adeyemi missed sitters. But we did get in front in very lucky fashion as Marco Asensio’s free-kick evaded everyone and snuck in at the back post. We dominated the game and eventually wrapped it through young winger Henrique Pinho – who now has two goals in two sub appearances!
A tougher game followed at Roma, but a dominant second half performance saw us ease to a 3-1 win through Asensio, Belotti and substitute Ismael Bennacer.
The league action was broken up by taking on the Zebres in the Italian Super Cup. They started well and went ahead early through Nabil Fekir, but we plugged away and eventually equalised through Belotti on 88 minutes. Nothing happened in extra-time and Donnarumma saved the first penalty from Bonucci and we won 5-4 on penalties!
The quality of this squad was shown by a totally changed 11 beating Fiorentina 3-2 in the Italian Cup quarter-final! But that gave us an unneeded two-legged tie with Inter. I did the same in the home leg with Inter and we got a 0-0 draw, then in the second we gave away a penalty and had a player sent off after 30 seconds!! we competed until half-time but then got ripped apart 4-1.
Relentless league form
We continued our fine form with a 2-1 win over Torino, then 1-0 at Cagliari with this remarkable Adeyemi strike from the halfway line:
We hammered Bologna but only drew thanks to them nicking an undeserved late equaliser. And another draw looked destined after we’d hammered Atalanta but couldn’t find a way through. That was until Belotti popped up in the 92nd minute to turn home a loose ball in the box to seal a huge win.
We returned to winning ways with a 4-0 thumping of Empoli in which Asensio scored a brilliant brace, then 4-1 at Parma with Talles Magno grabbing his first Milan goal and we racked up a 4.41 xG, which may be the highest I’ve seen so far. The ridiculous form continued as Ilaix Moriba inspired a 2-0 win against Fiorentina, Luís led the way in a 3-0 win at Benevento, then Belotti bagged a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Genoa.
We went behind on two minutes to Lazio’s only shot on target (because of course), but fired back with goals by Franck Kessié and Adeyemi. That moved us a huge 16 points clear of Sassuolo and 20 clear of the Zebres with 12 games remaining.
Two big tests followed as we hosted Juve then visited Inter. We somehow only drew 0-0 with Juve despite having 18 shots to their five, then led through Tonali but conceded a late deserved equaliser to Nicolo Barella at Inter.
As a result, we led high-flying Sassuolo by 14 points and with a game in hand with 10 games remaining. We were also 17 clear of Juve with a game in hand, 24 clear of fourth-place Napoli and 30 clear of Inter, who were down in eighth.
Champions League knockout stages
Two legs with Arsenal saw no goals untul the 120th minute of the second leg when Belotti popped up with a fully deserved winner, considering Arsenal only had 10 shots in two games.
More English opposition followed in Man City, who battered us at their place in the first leg and won 2-0. We immediately started the second leg better and Moriba got one back to send us into half-time at 1-0. I pushed the guys forward after the break and we eventually got level with an injury-time goal from substitute Rafael Leao.
That was already a good performance, but a ridiculous extra-time score us score four to win the game 6-0!! Adeyemi scored two and Leao added another to seal our best performance of the save so far.
Join us next time as we take AC Milan into the final 10 games of Serie A and the semi-finals of the Champions League!