Never let anyone tell you that Italian football is boring and defensive. It’s neither of those things. A look at the best moments of 2018 proves that this is a league full of color and excitement, and what follows is a run-down of the best moments of the year.
1. Kalidou Koulibaly Shocks Juve
It was billed as the title-deciding match as Napoli traveled to Turin in late April, as a win for the visitors would see them close the gap to Juventus to just one point with four games remaining. It would be no easy task, however, as the all-dominant Old Lady had never lost to Napoli at the Allianz Stadium since it opened in September 2011.
As the match grew closer to its conclusion, the play became ever edgier, neither side wishing to show their hand by pushing forward for the win. Yet in the 89th minute, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly rose up from a corner with a towering header that sent the world of football into sheer shock — for a moment, Napoli seemed on the verge of overthrowing the Turin giants.
It turned out not to be for the Partenopei, as a defeat to Fiorentina in the next match ended their hopes of stopping Juve from winning a seventh consecutive Scudetto, but this remained a truly dramatic moment in the story of the 2017-18 campaign.
2. Quagliarella’s Outrageous Strikes
At the age of 35, Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella has been in the form of his life during 2018, scoring a total of 31 goals in the 12-month period of what can only be described a veritable renaissance. Now free from the stalker nightmare that had to remain a secret for a long period of his career, the veteran is firing in the most audacious kind of goals, with backheel strikes and outrageous volleys delighting all those who watch him.
Fabio Quagliarella is like a fine Barolo — just getting better with age.
3. Juve Win Historic Seventh Title
Gonzalo Higuain was Juve’s key man in the title race, his 89th-minute strike away to Inter sealing victory in dramatic fashion just one week after the disappointment versus Napoli.
No team had ever won more than five consecutive Scudetti in the history of Serie A, but Juventus had made it seven in a row by the end of May 2018. Indeed, a look at the cumulative total for Max Allegri’s men during the entirety of the calendar year reveals that they earned 101 points, more than any other side in Europe’s top leagues.
It was not all tears of joy though, as supporters said farewell to legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon at the end of the campaign after 17 years in Bianconero, the stopper moving on to a new challenge at Paris Saint Germain. Fans also said goodbye to club favorite Claudio Marchisio early in the new campaign.
4. Bonucci Celebrates . . . Then Makes A Return
Leonardo Bonucci caused shock waves across world football when he made the switch from Juventus to AC Milan in summer 2017, but the controversy would not die down once 2018 began. On March 31, the defender not only scored versus his former side, but took the opportunity to fully celebrate his goal at his former home thanks to the frosty reception he received.
Just five months later, he returned to Juve with his tail between his legs as he opted to re-sign for the club he so acrimoniously left.
5. Florence Unites For Davide Astori
The sudden death of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori seems ill-placed in a discussion regarding the best Serie A moments of 2018; however, the response of the city of Florence to the terrible tragedy certainly deserves a mention. Grief-stricken Viola fans packed into Piazza Santa Croce in the center of Florence for Astori’s funeral just days after the terrible event on March 4, creating a scene of purple flares and banners that was shared all over the world.
Those supporters even applauded Buffon and representatives from the squad of most hated rivals Juventus, such was the event’s transcendence over the normal routine of football. Just one week after the death of the captain, Fiorentina’s players did not crumble, but instead turned out for a home match with Benevento, a game with the most surreal atmosphere ever witnessed inside the Stadio Artemio Franchi and maybe even the world.
Vitor Hugo – Astori’s replacement in the side – appeared to be lifted up as he jumped to an incredible height to score the only goal of the game, the defender rushing towards the bench to salute a picture of the departed captain that had been held aloft.
Incredible. The best possible send-off for Davide Astori as fans sing the “inno della Fiorentina” that players run out to on matchday 💜 pic.twitter.com/rS3AiirfYb— Chloe Beresford (@ChloeJBeresford) March 8, 2018
6. Cristiano Ronaldo Comes To Serie A
The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin was announced during the World Cup final, his move from Real Madrid totally unexpected for many. Juventus supporters have reveled in the opportunity to see one of the world’s best players in Serie A, but so have supporters of other teams.
Tickets for matches at various stadiums around the country have become like gold dust when Juventus are in town, with Empoli press officer Marco Patinostro having revealed that he received over 1,000 inquiries via email once their match with the Bianconeri was announced. The superstar’s arrival can only serve to benefit the league in terms of attracting attention from abroad, a factor that can be seen as a blessing and a curse in equal measure.