Serie A also kicked off this week and was full of surprises and action. TheHardTackle relives all the action from an exciting week of football in Italy’s top flight.
Fiorentina and Udinese faced off in the first game of the new campaign and entertained fans with some stoppage time action. Udinese were looking to move on after having lost some highly influential players over the summer, while the Viola had done just the opposite by bringing in a number of new faces this summer. With Udinese competing at the continental level as well, Francesco Guidolin chose to field a weakened side and was duly punished. Although recent acquisition, Maicosuel, put the Zebrette ahead in the 28th minute, things weren’t going right for Guidolin at the Artemio Franchi. Highly touted Stevan Jovetic equalized in the 67th minute and stole the game from the visitors with a stoppage-time goal. Guidolin may have felt hard done by this result, but in truth, he must consider himself lucky not to have seen his side get a thwarting.
Like Fiorentina, defending champions Juventus kicked off their campaign in style with a 2-0 win over Parma on Saturday. Juventus boss Antonio Conte may be shrouded in a thick cloud of match fixing allegations, but the Bianconeri were at their clean and clear best as goals from Stephan Lichtsteiner and Andrea Pirlo helped them pick up the three points. The hosts dominated most of the game, maintaining possession and looking a lot more threatening than their opponents.
Juventus were awarded a penalty around the half hour mark for a foul on Lichtsteiner, but Arturo Vidal’s tame shot was saved by Antonio Mirante. Juventus kept knocking on Parma’s door with the former Parma striker Sebastian Giovinco, in the thick of things. Luckily for Roberto Donadoni’s men, the scoreline remained unchanged at half-time. Things changed in the second half as Lichtsteiner gave Juventus the lead in the 54th minute. The Swiss wing-back latched on to a delightful cross from Kwadwo Asamoah to put them ahead. It didn’t take Juventus long to seal the deal as Andrea Pirlo whizzed a free kick under the Parma wall to double his side’s lead. The goal was debatable as the ball didn’t seem to have crossed the line. Juventus had no problems hanging on to their two goal lead, starting their title defence with consummate ease.
Milan were looking to catch up with Juventus when they hosted newly promoted Sampdoria on Sunday. Although Milan’s financial situation has seen them struggle in the transfer market, they were expected to deal with Sampdoria without much of a hassle. Max Allegri decided to play just one of his summer signings, Riccardo Montolivo, in the starting XI. The Rossoneri failed to create any clear-cut chances throughout the first half, and their complete of lack lethality in the attacking department was most obvious. Stephan El Shaarawy still seemed to lack any form of consistency and composure, while Robinho continued to be his woeful self.
The use of Kevin Prince Boateng as a number 10 failed miserably and there was no support whatsoever from the midfield trio. As most fans bickered on the social media, centre-back Mario Yepes seemed to be Milan’s most potent attacking threat. Milan’s wastefulness was rightly punished in the 58th minute when Andrea Costa headed home off a corner to give the visitors the most unlikely of leads. Ciro Ferrera’s side put on a stunning defensive display from thereon to pick up a narrow yet extremely memorable win on the first match-day of the Serie A.
Unlike their city rivals, Inter had no problems disposing of another newly promoted side, Pescara. Boasting of a mouth-watering attack, Inter wasted no time in putting Pescara’s defence to the sword. Wesley Sneijder tapped into an empty net from a Diego Milito pass to put the visitors ahead in the 17th minute. Milito went from provider to scorer in a matter of a couple of minutes to give Inter a comforting two goal cushion. Sneijder played Antonio Cassano through on goal with a delightful ball and the former Milan star unselfishly played the ball across goal for Milito to tap in. Andrea Stramaccioni’s side continued to have the better of Pescara and added insult to injury about ten minutes from time, as Coutinho coolly finished from another Milito pass.
European hopefuls Napoli and Lazio picked up wins over Palermo and Atalanta respectively. The Partenopei walked away from the Renzo Barbera with a comfortable 3-0 victory thanks to goals from Marek Hamsik, Edinson Cavani and Christian Maggio. Lazio struggled against the controversial side from Bergamo and will be most grateful to goalkeeper Federico Marchetti for his sensational shot stopping antics.
Roma were unable to start the Zeman era in style as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Catania. Chievo and Genoa picked up comfortable 2-0 wins over Bologna and Cagliari to end the first gameweek in the top half of the table. The only goalless game was played between Siena and Torino at the Artemio Franchi.
Week 1 results: Fiorentina 2-1 Udinese, Juventus 2-0 Parma, Milan 0-1 Sampdoria, Roma 2-2 Catania, Atalanta 0-1 Lazio, Chievo 2-0 Bologna, Genoa 2-0 Cagliari, Palermo 0-3 Napoli, Siena 0-0 Torino, Pescara 0-3 Inter
Player of the week
Stevan Jovetic: The only player to score a brace this week, the Montenegrin was unfathomably influential in Fiorentina’s brilliant performance against Udinese. His first goal was undoubtedly a lucky deflection but the control exhibited in the build up to the goal was exquisite. The second goal just showed the world how brilliant this youngster really is. No wonder every club seems to be after him.
Flop of the week
Kevin Prince Boateng: It was inevitable that a Milan player featured in this section and Boateng is the player who best describes the Rossoneri’s woeful performance. Wasteful shooting, complete lack of positioning, a good deal of ball hogging, the list of traits exhibited in Boateng’s awful performance seems endless. The Ghanian midfielder needs to buck up quick if his club are to achieve any success this season.
1. This season marks the first one in which 12 substitutes can be fielded in each game.
2. Bologna’s Diego Perez was the only player to pick up a red card this week.
3. The game between Siena and Torino had just one shot on target. Boring!
4. Milan took the most shots this week and still managed to end the game without scoring.
5. Juventus and Genoa earned penalties but both failed to convert. Zlatan missing!
Goal of the week
Pablo Osvaldo’s sensational bicycle kick wins this award hands down!
Quote of the week
Antonio Cassano: “Above Milan there is only sky. Above the sky there is Inter.”
It shouldn’t take much longer before Fantantonio adds another storey to this building of clubs.