Is Simone Inzaghi running Lazio properly? Has Gennaro Gattuso finally found the right formula at Milan? Can Inter win without Icardi? How much better will Juventus be when Cristiano Ronaldo starts scoring? Fiorentina, Sampdoria, or Sassuolo – who are most likely to qualify for European competition? These questions are only a small quantity of the many that could be asked as the third round of fixtures in the Serie A concluded. Below, @TriniSportsGuy will present a summary of this past weeks’ action in Italy.
Milan 2 vs Roma 1
Yet again, the Rossoneri took the lead, but unlike the match against Napoli, they held on to secure the three points this time. Manager, Gennaro Gattuso kept faith in his 4-3-3 formation and played the exact same team against the Giallorossi as he had done in the previous week against the Partenopei. Again, they played out from the back (it seems Gianluigi Donnarumma will have to learn to be a ball playing goalkeeper). However, Milan’s movement, passing, and pressing were better than versus the Partenopei and they thoroughly deserved their win. Two well-worked moves were finished off by Franck Kessie and Patrick Cutrone in either half, supplied with great work from Ricardo Rodriguez and Gonzalo Higuain respectively. Roma did pull one back through defender Federico Fazio, who volleyed home a rebound from a corner. Both teams also had very close calls for goals chalked off by VAR. Roma for a handball, which seemed unintentional by Steven N’Zonzi, who scored from inside the 6-yard box, while Higuain was very unfortunate to be called for offside, which was marginal, when through on goal he rounded Roma keeper Robin Olsen and slotted the ball into the net. Milan’s winning goal was scored with virtually the last kick of the game, with young gun Cutrone, surprisingly not picked for the Azzurri, placed a first time shot into the far corner of the Roma net. Milan march on, while Roma rangles with Monchi’s decision to sell off their best players…..
Bologna 0 vs Inter 3
Milan’s city rivals Inter had to deal with the archaic catenaccio of Bologna, but eventually, their talent came alive, as Radja Nainggolan, Antonio Candreva (yes he is still with Inter) and Croatian Ivan Perisic grabbed the goals. I wrote an article detailing my disappointment in the Rossoblu’s manager Pippo Inzaghi’s tactics, especially seeing as they were at home, so I won’t go into any more on that, but they were dreadful! Inter had almost three-quarter’s of the possession, while the home team just sat back, and offered virtually nothing going forward except a Federico Santander header that skimmed the post. All of the Nerazzurri’s goals were scored in the 2nd half, as the pressure that they exerted finally paid off. What was interesting is that they played without captain and talisman Mauro Icardi who was injured, as well as new boy Lautaro Martinez, opting to use Keita Balde as the center-forward in a false-nine formation. Last season, Inter was made up of Perisic and Icardi, and even though there will be much tougher tests than Bologna, they won without their Argentine captain – something that should give them some much-needed confidence going forward.
Parma 1 vs Juventus 2
The Bianconerri have scored 7 goals so far this season and Cristiano Ronaldo has not scored any. The rest of the league would shudder to think, how much they will score when the Portugal international will start to score. Parma had a very impressive approach in this match. Back in Serie A after 3 years away, they were tipped by some to be relegated at the end of this season but made some interesting moves late on in the mercato. They took the match to the 7-time defending champions and were unfortunate not to come away with anything from this game. However, this is what Juve do, they win, win, and win. At least in Italy, they can grind out results when playing at only two-thirds of their capability. The final scoreline of 2-1, could have easily been 3-3, but goals from experienced campaigners Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi, confined the Gialloblu to a home defeat. Parma have shown enough in this game to suggest they can safely stay in Serie A, and with the return to Italy of Ivorian winger Gervinho, as well as additions of Roberto Inglese, Luca Rigoni, and many more, they have players that can make a difference.
Fiorentina 1 vs Udinese 0
La Viola have an exciting young team at their disposal, and there were doubts whether or not manager Stefano Pioli could utilize the talent. However, two matches into their campaign, he has shown he can do just that! 2 games, 2 wins, both played with an attacking verve that is exciting to watch. That they only won 1-0, flattered the visitors from Udine. The home team got they just deserts, when Chiesa (who’s dad was in the stands), ran three quartes of the field, chipped the ball to another young Italian in Marco Benassi, volleying the ball past a hopeless Simone Scuffet in goal. Both players have been called up by Roberto Mancini for Italy, and it would be great to see their continued development over the next 5 years or so.
Atalanta 0 vs Cagliari 1
Europa League hangover for La Dea? After putting so much effort on their qualification for European competition, Atalanta were undone by a deflected Nicolo Barella goal at home. They dominated the stats, but not necessarily the play, and manager Gian Piero Gasperini, who is reportedly on the verge of a contract extension, will need to work on the minds of his players. The Sardinians winning goal came on the stroke of half-time, and despite Atalanta throwing on Papu Gomez and Musa Barrow, they could not provide the tying goal.
Torino 1 vs SPAL 0
SPAL have been a welcome surprise this season, winning both their opening round games, both with spectacular goals, both scored at the home of Reggio Emiliano rivals Bologna’s home ground. However, that start came to a grinding halt, first by the weather and then by a Nicholas N’Koulou header. The match had to be stopped due to a torrential downpour in the first half as the heavens opened and Torino’s stadium was soaked. The Granata scored their game winning goal in the 52nd minute from a corner as N’Koulou rose above the SPAL defense, to head the ball into the net. There were no spectacular goals to save SPAL in this match, and Torino held on for their first win of the season.
Sampdoria 3 vs Napoli 0
Yes, you are reading that scoreline correctly. Fabio Quagliarella… what else is there to say? Is it too early to just give him the award for the Best Goal of the Season already? If you have not seen it, my words or in fact anybody else’s words can’t do it justice! The Blucerchiati were playing at home to Scudetto contenders Napoli and were already leading 2-0, when the former Napoli player, back heeled a cross into the net from 14 yards out – a truly spectacular striker. Normally scoring a goal like that would send a player into a delirium, but Quags celebration was muted to say the least, as to show respect for his former club. He even went to shake the hand of Napoli keeper Ospina, in an almost apologetic way. The home team took the lead through a Defrel double, the first with a smashing finish on the counter-attack, the second off a deflected shot after he was set up by the unselfish Quagliarella. The Neopolitans had twice comeback to win in Serie A this season, however, this time, there was no comeback and manager Ancelotti, chastised his team for a “bad attitude” on the pitch. Napoli are arguably the best placed to take Juve’s crown, but they can’t rely on comebacks every week. Samp, on the other hand, can dream of Europe, if, and it is a big if, they improve on their form away from the Luigi Ferraris.
Sassuolo 5 vs Genoa 3
8 goals were scored in this match which was won by the Neroverdi 5-3, who were playing at home at the Mapei stadium. However, there was hardly anyone there to see it, as, despite the stands being close to the pitch, the fans continue to not show up to see this entertaining side. The main story-lines from this match was the continued blistering performances being put out by Polish talent Krzysztof Piątek who scored a brace, and Kevin Prince Boetang’s fine form on his return to the Serie A, who grabbed the opening goal for the home side. Sassuolo are so far unbeaten this term and they must be harboring European ambitions, even if it is still very early on in the campaign.
Chievo 0 vs Empoli 0
There is not much to report from this game, except that the away side from Tuscany kept probing, but could not break down a resolute Flying Donkeys defense. Empoli had more possession, more passes, more shots, but could not make a breakthrough, and the home team got their first points of the Serie A season.
Lazio 1 vs Frosinone 0
“Our season starts now”. Those were the words of Biancocelesti manager Simone Inzaghi, after his team’s 1-0 home win over the newcomers from Serie B. Lazio completely dominated this match and had chances through Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile, but eventually got the game-winning goal from Spanish playmaker Luis Alberto. The number 10 smashed home from inside the 18-yard box from a cross that occurred after a few rebounds that landed at his feet, and he gratefully gave the biancoceleste their first win of the season, after losses to Napoli and Juve in their opening two matches.
The players head off to their respective national teams, some teams in great form, some struggling, while some, we don’t know what to expect from, but football is back with a bang in Italy, and we cannot wait for the 15th of September, when it resumes.
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