Giampaolo Pazzini wears number 11 for Milan. A certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic used to wear the shirt until last season and was probably the reason this otherwise mediocre squad clicked beyond their actual potential. The boots of the Big Swede are naturally too big to be filled and Pazzini is the last man one could think of as a like for like replacement. Ibrahimovic, apart from scoring at will, brings a lot more to the table and makes the players around him look good. Pazzini on the other hand, can be thought of as a replacement for Inzaghi at Milan, albeit far too less prolific one.
However, in his first start for the Rossoneri, Pazzini managed to allow the Milan faithful to dream once again. Despite a largely unconvincing performance, it was Pazzini’s precision, positional sense and decisive touch that translated into the most important piece of statistic in football – Goals. A hat-trick at Dall’Ara earned Milan the first three points in the season and reinstated the hopes of it turning out to be an eventful season sooner than most expect.
Bologna were the better side for a good portion of the game and Alessandro Diamanti continued to trouble the unorganized defensive line in their own half. However, the apparent difference in quality between Diamanti and the rest of the team was pretty decisive as Bologna failed to convert any of the potential scoring opportunities. Their game was impressive but lacked that element of professionalism and watching them play you might just feel the result could have been pretty different had they not sold Gaston Ramirez earlier last week. Bottomline is, Bologna are in for a long season ahead and are likely to find the going tough in the post Di Vaio era.
If Pazzini made it to the headlines of the weekend, his former Sampdoria teammate Antonio Cassano who made some for his antics off the field did not have the greatest of times over the weekend as Inter were dismantled at home 1-3 by Zdenek Zeman led AS Roma. Zeman’s teams are known to be potent in the final third and he likes to use three forwards upfront. Youth product Alessandro Florenzi and Brazilian midfielder Marquinho found their names on the scoresheet along with Pablo Daniel Osvaldo who was eventually given marching orders after the second yellow towards the end of the game.
Inter are still a team in transition and an odd leak in defence or two proved a little too costly in the end. A deflected effort from Cassano did manage to restore parity at half time but disappointment was written all over the first home game for Inter. Stramaccioni has a squad considerably reinforced this season and he has to make it click quickly. It is interesting to note both the Milan based sides were beaten in their first home game from the season.
Juventus are a team at least a mile above every other in Italy at the moment. The champions even after facing the rather unwanted events during the off-season have started the defence of their title in some style. Although Udinese are far from the team they were last season, Juve were simply stupendous on Sunday at Friuli for the home team. The 1-4 scoreline truly represents the dominance of Juve and unlike their problems with finishing last season, their conversion rate in front of goal too was highly impressive this time.
Mirko Vucinic and Sebastian Giovinco combined brilliantly and Juventus are likely to continue with the same strike force at least for the foreseeable future. In the 3-5-1-1 shape, Juventus look pretty threatening while attacking since Asamoah and Lichtsteiner add decisive width to the attack. One can only imagine how lethal this five ponged midfield might be once Isla begins to start from the right.
Udinese have had the worst possible start to the season but they aren’t exactly unfamiliar to this. They have sold the entire cream during the last two seasons but given their reputation, they still might emerge stronger and challenge for the Champions League spot. Toto Di Natale will once again have to deliver the goods for the less fancied Bianconeri.
Much like Juventus, Napoli too are enjoying a fantastic start to their new season after losing Ezequiel Lavezzi to PSG. After their 3-0 demolition of Palermo, they maintained the levels defeating a new look Fiorentina 2-1 in their first game in front of the home crowd. Two second half goals from Marek Hamsik and Blerim Dzemaili did enough damage for Viola who managed some consolation from a late Stevan Jovetic strike. Napoli will leave no stone unturned in reaching to the Champions League spot this season to attract more stars to come to the city of Naples whereas Fiorentina, who already look a promising team for the season, have the biggest agenda to ensure Jovetic stays put for the entire season.
Giving Napoli a run for their money in the quest for the Champions League qualification, Lazio will be one of their nearest rivals it seems. After a victorious start with an away win over Atalanta in the opening round, Lazio began the home campaign too on a high with a 3-0 drubbing of Palermo who suffered the same scoreline for the second time in running and require some immediate rescue act. Maurizio Zamparini’s policies do not tend to install any stability at the club and his obsession with revolving around with new managers is not helping matters at all. Lazio on the other hand are joint leaders along with Napoli and Juventus as of now and in order to stay competitive, the form of Miroslav Klose matters much.
It was a battle between two promoted sides over the weekend where Torino clearly held the upper hand over Pescara thrashing the latter 3-0. The Serie B champions will certainly find the going hard losing three of their most influential players and more than that dealing in the top flight without Zeman. Torino have had a decent start to the campaign with a win and a draw in their two games and are currently in the top half of the table while Pescara have already found a spot in the relegation zone and it looks like they will be found moving in and out of there for a good part of the season.
After a winning start, Chievo suffered the first defeat of the season at the hands of Parma who began on a wrong note losing their opening game to Juventus. A goal each from Belfodil and Rosi saw the home side through. Sampdoria are finding their comeback to the top flight pretty exciting and the excitement much shows in their performance as they registered second successive win beating Siena 2-1. With the loss, Siena are now at rock bottom of the table with (-5) points as they serve a six point reduction due to their involvement in match fixing scandal.
Like Siena, Atalanta too are into their second season in top flight after their promotion and their story is not too different from that of Siena. They were on the verge of registering their first win of the season against Cagliari after German Denis put them in front but a late equaliser from Albin Ekdal compelled them to drop more points. However, with their first point from the season, Atalanta are inching close towards zero as they too have been awarded a two point penalty for their role in the scandal.
Arguably the best game of the weekend was played in Sicily as Catania secured their first win of the season beating Genoa 3-2 in a thriller. The visitors were put in front by Juraj Kucka in the 26th minute however two quick second half goals from Gonzalo Bergessio brought things back into home side’s favour. Jankovic equalised late for Genoa only for Lodi to find winner a couple of minutes later. The game was full of excitement and breathtaking moments with pulsating action all around the corner.
Epilogue: Two weeks into the season and as per incoming reports, Montolivo and Boateng are nursing injuries and are expected to be out for two to three weeks. Pato and Robinho have already been ruled out for the same period. The season certainly has begun for Milan.