It’s only been back on our screens and in our lives for two weeks, but Serie A is already proving to be the best league in the world yet again!
What’s that? The Premier League broke its record for the highest number of goals in a weekend? Well, while you were watching Southampton bore Burnley into submission in a 1-0 snorefest on Saturday evening, scrapping like two drunk blokes fighting over the remains of a floored kebab, Serie A was rocking to the beat of its own drum.
Inter were just putting the finishing touches on an incredible two minute double-salvo to beat Fiorentina 4-3 at San Siro, while the rest of Italy was gearing up for the colossal meeting between AS Roma and Juventus on Sunday night.
Who’s the loser now, huh?
The Italian top flight may only be two weeks old (and just one week, in some cases), but we have already learned plenty about the intentions and expectations for each of Italy’s top sides. So, where to start? With the champions, of course.
Juventus 3-0 Sampdoria
Roma 2-2 Juventus
Assessment: It all looked far too easy after 90 minutes, didn’t it? All of Juventus’ problems had vanished under their stylish and sexy new coach Andrea Pirlo, who had got the team ticking, humming and purring in a 3-0 demolition of Sampdoria. The dilemmas in attack had disappeared, the leaky defensive pipes had been fixed, and it was sunshine and lollipops in Turin.
Seven days later, and that serenity seemed an even more distant memory. The midfield was full of holes, poor passes and a worrying lack of urgency in the 2-2 draw with Roma, while the backline was breached on countless occasions. Juve only mustered one shot in the first half – a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. The second half was better, and the response to going a man down was admirable (although I Giallorossi should have put the game to bed long before Ronaldo’s second strike).
Overall, there were positives and negatives to take from both matches. Pirlo clearly knows how to get them playing some lovely football, but he must settle on a consistent starting lineup and get up to speed quickly with this management malarkey.
Way too premature prediction: Plenty of lessons left to learn, but not much time to do it in. Title is at risk.
Inter 4-3 Fiorentina
Assessment: Only 90 minutes of action to base our snap-judgement of Inter on, and it was far from straight-forward viewing in their mental 4-3 victory over Fiorentina on Saturday evening. Staring down the barrel of a 3-2 defeat, I Nerazzurri scored two in the final three minutes to snatch the points.
What we learned, was just how much depth Antonio Conte has at his disposal this year. Achraf Hakimi, Alexis Sanchez, Stefano Sensi, Radja Nainggolan and Arturo Vidal all stepped off the bench to help turn the result around in the dying minutes, offering the Italian coach a quintet of stars who would walk into most other starting XI’s.
Way too premature prediction: Inter’s main downfall last year (according to Conte) was their lack of options off the bench, and that deficiency ultimately cost them the title. No excuses this time round, then.
Torino 2-4 Atalanta
Assessment: New season, same old Atalanta. La Dea were never really involved in the title race last season, although they could have been, had results not dropped off post lockdown. We were all wondering how they would recover following the heart-breaking, last-gasp Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain in August, and well, it’s business as usual.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men turned on the style against Torino, scoring four, (a couple of crackers, too) with the front three clicking like they’d never been away on their jollies at all. Luis Muriel stepped in to replace the absent Josip Ilicic, and his wonderful performance was just like putting on an old pair of slippers. All is well in the world of calcio in Bergamo.
Way too premature prediction: Title challenge inbound.
Cagliari 0-2 Lazio
Assessment: As far as comfortable curtain raisers go, Lazio made pretty easy work of Cagliari. They took the lead on four minutes, controlled the game throughout, and then struck the final blow with 15 minutes to play. Le Aquile will be pleased to see Ciro Immobile start the season with a goal, and alongside three points and a clean sheet, there’s no reason to be downbeat in Rome.
However, the lack of squad players was an issue last year, and it has yet to be addressed this time round. Very few new additions have been made in the summer transfer window, and it’s difficult to see the Eagles breaking into an ever-improving top three.
Way too premature prediction: In danger of going backwards without reinforcements.
Hellas Verona 0-0 Roma (3-0 victory awarded to Verona post-match)
Roma 2-2 Juventus
Assessment: There is absolute chaos at Roma right now. The new owners have walked into a minefield, starting with the club having no sporting director, and acting SD Guido Fienga suspended for breaking social distancing rules. I Giallorossi then made a clerical error prior to the Verona stalemate, forgetting to register and then fielding Amadou Diawara. This led to Roma being handed a 3-0 defeat for their stupidity (and rule breaking), rounding off a terrible start to the campaign.
The 2-2 draw with Juve was a significant step forward, but Paulo Fonseca’s men should have won, particularly when their visitors went down to ten men. They didn’t. The Portuguese coach managed the game terribly, and the win slipped through their fingers. Tough times in the capital… things can only get better.
Way too premature prediction: The staggering floor-kebab scrappers of Serie A’s big boys.
Milan 2-0 Bologna
Crotone 0-2 Milan
Assessment: It all feels far too normal to be Milan, doesn’t it? Two games, two wins, two clean sheets and four goals scored. All in two days work. Stefano Pioli has assembled a group of young, hungry and talented footballers, all desperate to pull on the Rossoneri jersey.
There were concerns that Milan would struggle to win without Zlatan Ibrahimovic in their side, but after he contracted coronavirus and missed the Crotone victory, those fears were quickly put to bed. Whisper it quietly, but the sleeping giants may be about to awaken from their deep slumber.
Way too premature prediction: You can’t win anything with kids…but a little sneak into the top four? These dark horses just might.
Parma 0-2 Napoli
Napoli 6-0 Genoa
Assessment: The final day of the week is nowadays known as ‘Sunday Funday’ among the cool kids, and that could never be more accurate than when Napoli are in town. Gennaro Gattuso has rarely been synonymous with goals and entertainment, but this Partenopei side are breaking the mould.
Napoli spent huge money on new striker Victor Osimhen in the summer, and he has looked incredibly dangerous when handed the opportunity. Last season’s flop Hirving Lozano is also ready to carry the torch dropped by the departed Jose Callejon, and he was a man possessed in their opening two victories. The 6-0 drubbing was a statement of intent – Gattuso means business.
Way too premature prediction: Title-winning forward line, but only a top-six midfield and defence. Still gonna be fun, anyway.