Corriere dello Sport (Alberto Polverosi) The bottom 4 teams in Serie A are in a league of their own. If Empoli, who have picked up 1 point in the least 8 games, still have a 7 point lead over Palermo and 8 over Crotone, 18th and 19th in the table respectively, it means that there is very little quality below them. But, if we continue to look at Empoli, there’s still something (someone) that can be rescued from this tense and laboured season. That is Lukasz Skorupski, who turns 26 in May, the Polish goalkeeper currently in his 2nd season with the Tuscan club, his 1st with Martusciello after the one under Giampaolo. If they avoid relegation, he will celebrate setting a historic record with Empoli: the Azzurri have never before remained in Serie A for 4 seasons in a row. And if they achieve it, a large part of the achievement is down to him. For the penalties, but also for his performances in an excellent season.
There’s one record that Skorupski is justifiably proud of: he has already saved 3 penalties this season, more than anyone else, more than a specialist like Handanovic, more than the young giant Donnarumma (who is on 2), more than his international rival and next opponent Szczesny (who is also on 2). And talking of Polish goalkeepers, there’s a curious statistic to note if you examine the figures: looking at the top 5 leagues in Europe (Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, the Premier League and the Bundesliga), there are 3 players from Zibi Boniek’s nation in the top few places as Artur Boruc (formerly of Fiorentina, now in England with Bournemouth) is another specialist (with 2 saves), together with Skorupski and Szczensy. In all, the 3 Poles have saved 7 penalties. In the overall table, the Empoli keeper is in 2nd place behind Alves of Valencia.
Even if he weren’t making these penalty saves, Skorupski would still be getting high marks for his performances this season. Roma, his parent club (he will go back to Trigoria at the end of the season but won’t stay to be back-up to his international team-mate; there is talk of him replacing Hart at Torino), know this all too well: at the Castellani earlier in the season they were held to a 0-0 draw thanks to a series of top class saves by the Pole. When the league resumes after the international break, it is Roma-Empoli again, and Spalletti will be hoping that it doesn’t transform into another Roma-Skorupski.