What We Learned From The Opening Round Of The Serie A
The new season of Serie A began with no surprises and a low amount of goals – only 19. It is a sign that all defences are still a work in progress.
Both Juventus and Roma, the two favorites teams in the Scudetto race, played on Saturday, and both gained victory. However, they challenged two opponents ranked very differently. Massimiliano Allegri made his official debut on the Bianconeri bench at the Bentegodi Stadium against Chievo, a side that will struggle to maintain its place in this league. The new coach confirmed the 3-5-2 formation, the trademark of Antonio Conte’s successes, and gained a slender 1-0 win thanks to an own goal from Cristiano Biraghi. The away team should have increased their margin, with Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal and It was a result that should have been, but Tevez, Vidal and Martin Caceres all missing quality opportunities.
The lack of goalscoring instinct in front of goal for Juventus almost cost them dearly when Maxi Lopez had a chance to level the scores. Gianluigi Buffon made a brilliant save to preserve his team’s lead and give his team a priceless three points.
AS Roma faced a challenging first round clash with the ever-improving Fiorentina, who are aspiring to be a genuine title contender.
A more challenging match faced AS Roma, against the eternal big-team-to-be Fiorentina. Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan dominated the midfield, netted the first goal and assisted Gervinho for second goal. The 2-0 triumph was a great start for new manager Rudi Garcia – will his Roma be able to stop the Juventus dominion?
Filippo Inzaghi made his competitive bow as the new AC Milan boss, and the former club legend’s team got off to a great start with a 3-1 victory against Lazio. Fully recovered Stephan El Shaarawy and Keisuke Honda both had fine displays, to breathe life into the new season and show that there’s life after the departed Mario Balotelli. Adding new signing Fernando Torres into the mix, and Milan will be hoping to hit the ground running.
Napoli chairman, Aurelio De Laurentiis would have been delighted with the summer capture Jonathan de Guzman, who came on as a substitute and scored a dramatic winning goal. Ahead after three minutes thanks to a nice volley from Jose Callejon, Napoli looked in control before their defensive weakness reared its ugly head. Mauricio Pinilla netted an equalizer, and there will be more pressure on the shoulders of centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, who has now turned in two disappointing displays after a sub-par performance in Napoli’s loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Champions League. Strangely after the game, Rafael Benitez commented that new signing David Lopez, a defensive midfielder from Espanyol, is not “Gonalons, but he will help us anyway”. That’s sure to fill the new signing with confidence upon his arrival to the club.
Inter Milan had to make do with a point, following a 0-0 stalemate with Torino. After 20 minutes, Torino were awarded a penalty and luckily for Inter manager Walter Mazzari he has the best penalty saver in the league. Samir Handanovic again thwarted a spot-kick, which means that he now sits second on the all-time list for penalties saved (18) in Serie A. New summer purchase Nemanja Vidic had a debut to forget after he gave away the penalty for a foul on Fabio Quagliarella. In injury time his day went from bad to worse when he was sent off for a second yellow for his sarcastic applause to a referring decision – welcome to Serie A.
In other results, Sampdoria stole a point in injury time away to Palermo, Cagliari and Sassuolo had to settle for a 1-1 draw and Udinese legend Antonio Di Natale scored a brace and received a standing ovation – the veteran striker now has 195 goals in Serie A.