‘Zeman’s 4-3-3 is as tolerant of trequartistas as Mormons are of premarital sex’ – Noted Jacopo Gerna of Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this summer when Zeman insisted on converting Marco Verratti, a natural trequartista into a deep-lying central midfielder.
The success story of Verratti and Pescara during the previous season only establishes the tactical expertise of Zeman but one can hardly neglect his insistence on his brand of football and his principles that he never is convinced to compromise with. That is exactly the reason his appointment replacing Luis Enrique at Roma was nothing short of perplexing. Under the ex-Barcelona man, defensive organization was always a problem for Roma despite the free flowing football on exhibition. However, the fluidity would only exceed under Zeman with his tactics but defensive discipline, something that is most sought after at the capital side as of now cannot be realized.
The matchday 3 clash for Roma against Bologna was another advertisement of a typical Zeman team. After securing an early two goal lead in the first half courtesy goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Eric Lamela, Roma continued to create chances and never seemed to emphasize on maintaining a defensive shape to guard the lead. The consequent events saw Roma not only lose out on their lead but they could not control the damage even after that and ended up conceding a third at home to experience the first loss of the season. Two goals in quick succession from Gilardino and Diamanti restored the parity to the game while Roma’s inability to instill any organization saw Gilardino steal a late winner.
The loss leaves a lot of questions to be answered and considering his history of managerial tenures at various clubs, Zeman is hardly expected to be reactive to the situation. He is highly likely to continue with the same shape where a clear lack of a defence minded midfielder in the centre leaves the defence exposed when being pressed in their own half.
Zeman will definitely make Roma an even better side to watch with his tactical improvisations over those of Luis Enrique but the defensive dimension that is primarily needed to be added to Roma at this stage does not seem to be happening under the arguably most interesting of managers in the league at the moment. After two consecutive losses at the hands of Chievo and Milan despite good showing, this win should take Bologna to another level of confidence.
Talking of confidence, AC Milan are doing maximum possible damage to their self belief and are consistently failing to match the levels of expectations of fans. With their second straight home defeat, Milan have done the greatest possible harm to their reputation and are now experiencing one of the worst starts to the season in their history. A second half goal from Luca Cigarini saw Atalanta triumph over the Rossoneri and finally take their points tally above zero after starting the season with a two point penalty.
Milan are heavily criticized both by the pundits and the fans and it seems Max Allegri’s job is under some serious scrutiny. Amidst these circumstances, a win at home is a must against Anderlecht when they kick-start their Champions League campaign. Adding insult to the injuries of Milan, city rivals Inter have fairly recovered after a minor hiccup against Roma during the previous round of fixtures. Against Torino on Sunday, the Nerazzurri were fairly comfortable throughout the proceedings and courtesy two outstanding goals from Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano, Inter registered the second win of the season taking their position on the table to fifth.
Champions Juventus continued to their dream start to the defence of the league title registering a third straight win coming from behind at Luigi Ferraris against the hosts Genoa. Three second half goals from Giaccherini, Vucinic and Asamoah saw things off for Juventus. What matters even more is that the only goal for Genoa was scored by Ciro Immobile who himself is a Juventus player currently being co-owned by the Rossoblu. Genoa created a number of chances in the first half but failed to convert them partly due to their poor and indecisive finishing inside the final third and partly due to the outstanding goalkeeping by Buffon. The win that maintains Juventus at the top of the table must prove to be a huge boost ahead of facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Sharing with them the pole position are Napoli and Lazio who added to their winning momentum getting past Parma and Chievo respectively. Playing at San Paolo, Napoli earned their second home win after beating Fiorentina in the previous round. Goals from Edinson Cavani, Goran Pandev and Lorenzo Insigne ensured three points and boosted Mazzari’s morale to another level. Marco Parolo responded with one late first half goal but that could only prove to be a mere consolation. Lazio on the other hand, travelled to Chievo and earned three points over the Flying Donkeys with yet another impressive performance. Two goals from Hernanes and one by Klose took Lazio well out of the reach of the hosts. A late penalty that was converted by Sergio Pellesier could not be of much help to them.
After the two losses in their two opening games, Udinese saw some real hope of first three points generate when they took a two goal lead as early as in the fifth minute after Dusan Basta and skipper Antonio Di Natale put them in front against Siena at Artemio Franchi stadium. However, the hopes were put to good rest in the second half when Udinese went a man down as Andrea Lazzari was sent off. Eventually the hosts Siena were comfortable unlocking the opposition defence making the numerical advantage count scoring two goals that earned them an all important point. This was the second draw in three games for Siena but they still find themselves at the rock bottom of the table serving the six point penalty.
In a battle of two promoted sides, Sampdoria got the better of Pescara in a nerve wrecking contest. Sampdoria have so far been the success story in the league and are at the fourth position on the table with two wins and a draw to their credit. The 3-2 beating of Pescara was a pretty eventful affair as new signings Maxi Lopez and Marcelo Estigarribia came to the fore for the visitors. The third straight defeat from Pescara leaves them only a place above Siena on the table.
Much like Sampdoria, another success story this season has been that of Fiorentina. Under a new manager and a fairly fresh crop of players, Viola are doing exceedingly well and with their latest 2-0 win over Catania, they are now at the sixth position on the table which is nothing short of a dream start. Stevan Jovetic has started the season in a wonderful fashion and was once again on the scoresheet for the hosts while veteran Luca Toni too made an immediate impact after being brought on in the second half. It must be noted that Toni enjoyed arguably the best phase of his career at the Florence based club and upon his return, he seems to be extremely jubilant to be back in familiar surroundings. Jovetic though, remains the key man should Fiorentina aim for a decent showing throughout the season.
However, above everything else, the story from the weekend that takes the cake has taken place in Sicily where Maurizio Zamparini has sacked head coach Giuseppe Sannino after Palermo got off to the worst possible start amassing only a single point from the first three games. Over the weekend too, they were held for a 1-1 draw at home by Cagliari. Post the disappointing result, the sacking of Sannino seemed nearly imminent and Zamparini as usual did not disappoint. The replacement has been one of the most experienced names in coaching – Gian Piero Gasperini. The former Genoa and Inter manager becomes the club’s seventh manager since the beginning of the year 2011. It seems Palermo and Zamparini will never fail to surprise the fans and neutrals in equal measure.
Final Note: A wise man would not bet against Gasperini’s removal from the new job before winter.