Juventus kept the heat on Inter Milan at the top of the Serie A standings this weekend, claiming a 1-0 win against Napoli on Friday night with Federico Gatti scoring in the second-half.
Yet, Inter continued their fine vein of form, putting four goals past Udinese to extend their unbeaten run in the Italian top-flight to 13 matches on the bounce.
There were some big losses around the league, too, with Atalanta claiming a 3-2 win against a 10-man AC Milan who had Davide Calabria sent off late on in the match.
Equally, Roma were sent down to nine men after Nicola Zalewski and Romelu Lukaku were both sent off during their 1-1 draw against Fiorentina.
There was plenty to take stock of after a gripping weekend of Serie A action, and Mail Sport’s Alvise Cagnazzo brings you 10 things we learned from the latest round of the Italian first division.
Federico Gatti scored to help Juventus defeat Napoli and keep the pressure on leaders Inter
Juventus sit just two points off Inter at the top of the table, having gone unbeaten in 10 games
Inter, meanwhile, put four goals past Udinese with Marcus Thuram scoring during the match
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Gatti is Juventus’ best attacker
Gatti could be considered Juventus’ new additional striker. The defender was decisive against Napoli, scoring to help Juve secure three points and keep the heat on Inter Milan at the top of the league table.
Andrea Cambiaso’s precise cross into the defender was beautiful and Gatti did well to jump between Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Amir Rrahmani to score the header.
When he attacks, he transforms into a powerful and aggressive centre-forward and appears to have the steely physique of former Leeds centre-forward Mark Viduka. In defence he concedes practically nothing to his opponents, he dominates attackers physically and has enjoyed an excellent period of form.
Gatti is certainly the best among Juventus’ current crop of centre-backs and his ability to score goals, having now netted three since the start of the Serie A season, is equally impressive.
He has now scored more than Juve’s forwards Moise Kean and Arek Milik and is closing in on Vlahovic’s tally, with the Serbian amassing five goals in the Italian top-flight this season.
Gatti is quickly becoming becoming Juventus’ most important player. But while he will never become Leonardo Bonucci’s heir, he guaranteed Juventus physical strength and great clarity during their 1-0 win against Napoli.
Does Kvaratskhelia still want to be a top player?
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia seems to have forgotten how to play football. Without the backing of former Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti, who left the club in the summer, he seems to be out of sorts.
Despite having been a key component of Napoli’s attack last season, he now appears nervous and has lacked self-control at the start of the new campaign.
In the first few minutes of his side’s match against Juventus, he missed a clear chance on goal and argued with the entire Juventus defence, showing that he is not yet mature enough to handle the pressure a match of this proportion brings.
He also received a yellow card for a senseless challenge on Gatti and seemed mentally checked out, with Andrea Cambiando keeping him at bay for throughout the match.
The Georgian suffered from the lack of service from his teammates, forcing Napoli to play more down the right-hand side of the pitch.
He tries to dribble a lot but the results are questionable and also lost every duel in the first half of the match.
Lautaro Martinez also starred to score his 14th goal of the season, keeping him top of the Serie A Golden Boot race
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia endured a difficult evening against Juve, missing a golden opportunity before conceding a yellow card
Inter’s atomic attack
Lautaro Martinez has dazzled so far this season, scoring 14 of Inter Milan’s 37 goals, with his side securing 38 points out of an available 45. Inter Milan are a tank with an atomic attack and are currently upsetting the Serie A statistics.
Inter posses a wealth of sharpshooters that includes Marcus Thuram and Federico Dimarco. Thuram scored his second consecutive goal against Udinese, while Dimarco has now amassed three goals and four assists in this first part of the Serie A campaign. Hakan Çalhanoğlu, meanwhile, netted his seventh goal of the season, proving he is the best midfielder in Europe at the moment.
Inter beat Udinese won 4-0 at the weekend regained the top spot in the table with some authority. Simone Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 is a catapult for defenders and midfielders and in attacking phases, the formation transforms into a 3-3-4, with the wingers pressing on the opposing defences’ back line.
Yann Bisseck, Francesco Acerbi and Alessandro Bastoni, Inter’s trio of central defenders, all had a quiet match, with Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer becoming a non-paying spectator.
Since the first game of this championship, the Nerazzurri have played with a different rhythm, playing fast football and have pumped crosses from their full-backs into their opponent’s penalty area.
What happened to Calabria?
AC Milan captain, Calabria, endured one of the worst games of his career, undermining his team’s comeback. In the last 10 minutes of the match, with the game still in balance, he was booked twice, committing two stupid fouls and left coach Stefano Pioli in some difficulty.
AC Milan were pressed by Atalanta collapsed under their relentless attacks. Calabria, meanwhile, made some very serious mistakes, continuously failing to mark Chris De Ketelaere and Ademola Lookman until he ultimately conceded a red card.
Opposition wingers tormented him with their speed and skill on the ball. He has been underperforming for many weeks and doesn’t seem to have enough energy in his legs to play 90 minutes.
For the first time in the recent history of AC Milan, the captain gave up in front of his own team-mates and perhaps his side may be starting to doubt his leadership.
He seems overwhelmed by the responsibilities given to him after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure and does not seem to have the right charisma to become a key player for the team.
Atalanta’s first two goals come from their own half and in the second term, Giampiero Gasperini pushed De Ketelaere further out to Calabria’s wing. The Belgian became Calabria’s nightmare and made him suffer at every exchange.
Davide Calabria had a night to forget after he was sent off during AC Milan’s defeat by Atalanta
Max Allegri’s tactical genius is helping Juve, who have now amassed 35 points in 15 games
Allegri is like Napoleon
Massimiliano Allegri is like Napoleon. But what similarities are there between the greatest military strategist of all time and the Tuscan coach?
Despite having lost Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli, Allegri’s tactical genius has seen him nullify opposition teams to go second in the league. After 15 matches, Juventus now have 36 points, having won 11, secured three draws and have only suffered one defeat.
Allegri is an Emperor who loves to smile and provoke his opponents, and in Napoleonic spirit, rises above the criticism that is regularly put to him in press conferences.
Like Juventus’ club motto, ‘Winning is not important but it is the only thing that matters’ and whoever wins, in sport, is almost always right. His football ideology is very old, but remains successful and for the eighth time in the last 10 games, he won his side three points with his trademark tactics.
Juventus play chess, they take the lead and they then become impenetrable, lowering their 3-5-2 formation until it transforms it into a result-saving 5-3-2. The soul of Allegri’s winning Juventus side is Allegri himself.
Lookman and Muriel embody Yorke and Cole
Luis Muriel and Lookman are transforming Atalanta into a goal machine and their exciting 3-2 win against Milan has consecrated their harmony in attack.
At the Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo we got a glimpse of the excellent partnership between the pair. They can be likened to the partnership of Manchester United legends Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, who were known as the ‘Calypso Boys’.
Obviously, Lookman and Muriel still have a long way to go to catch up to the achievements of Yorke and Cole who won the Treble with Manchester United in 1999 and scored 140 goals in three years.
But their form has pushed Atalanta to eighth in Serie A. Lookman and Muriel, just like Yorke and Cole, never step on each other’s toes on the pitch, demonstrating an expert understanding of each other within the opposition penalty.
They are able to overlap, exchange roles and alternate without ever lowering their performance standard. To date, Lookman has scored six goals in 15 games while Muriel, often considered the twelfth man from the bench, scored his first goal of the season with an extraordinary back-heel.
They compliment each other very well and can help Atalanta push for a berth in the Champions League.
Ademola Lookman has continued his fine vein of form, scoring twice in Atalanta’s win against AC Milan
Luis Muriel got the winner for Atalanta, scoring his first goal of the season with an excellent back-heel
Lookman and Muriel have formed an excellent partnership this season that has been likened to Manchester United’s legendary duo Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole (pictured)
Lukaku and Dybala condemn Rome
A tank and a dancer with muscles as delicate as silk. Romelu Lukaku and Paulo Dybala together represent this extraordinary mix that is conditioning Roma to live a season in limbo.
If both were in 100 per cent physical condition, Roma could aspire to win the Scudetto but the constant muscle injuries suffered by Dybala has also negatively affected Lukaku’s performance.
After the initial goal, the Argentine’s injury shook him and made him nervous, as confirmed by the drop in his performance and the red card a few minutes from the end of the match.
When Dybala is not at the Stadio Olimpico, the lights go out and whole team collapses on itself. Dybala’s precarious physical condition prematurely ended his relationship with a top club like Juventus and seriously risks changing Roma’s mind on the future of the player who systematically misses two months of football a year due to injury.
The draw against Fiorentina allows Roma to return to fourth place with 25 points. Together they are Roma’s fortune but on the disappointing evening against Fiorentina between injuries and a red card, their exit from the pitch created a handicap, putting the final result at risk.
Roma ended the match with nine men and nervousness is at its highest level, also due to the physical problems of Sardar Azmoun who was supposed to replace Dybala but who, just like the Argentine, was injured.
Zirkzee is ready to play for a top club
Joshua Zirkzee continues to score and has proved that he deserves to start for Bologna.
The former Bayern Munich star scored his seventh goal in 15 Serie A appearances, fuelling Bologna’s dreams of qualifying for Europe, with his side now fifth in the league, level on points with Roma in fourth place.
Salernitana have only won once in their last five outings but Zirkzee’s brace on Sunday could propel him higher in Thiago Motta’s pecking order.
At 22 years old, the Dutch footballer has become one of the most prolific attackers in Italian league, having also amassed two assists this season, and seems to be improving under his coach.
Zirkzee is an atypical centre-forward who, despite being 193cm tall, runs with crescent movements through the opposition half. Unlike Marko Aranutovic, he is a less aggressive attacker, but compared to the Austrian, he is a pure talent who will not need many years to be considered a top player.
Romelu Lukaku was sent off during Roma’s 1-1 draw to Fiorrentina, with Nicola Zalewski also being sent off in the match
Joshua Zirkzee celebrates after scoring twice during Bologna’s win against Salernitana
Why have Salernitana forgotten Simy?
Nwankwo Simy had fallen down in Paulo Sousa’s pecking order due to the lack of trust the former coach had bestowed in him. But with the arrival of Filippo Inzaghi the Nigerian striker can carve out a key role for Salernitana.
Having emerged from a lack of game time, Simy scored an aesthetically beautiful goal during their 2-1 defeat by Bologna and proved himself a handful in the game, fighting for every ball and attracting at least two defenders to him on every cross.
If Inzaghi’s team had managed come back after going 2-0 down in the first half, credit should go to the giant Simy, who from his towering height of 200cm, caused several problems for Bologna’s defence.
Chukwubuikem Ikwuemesi has been favoured as the side’s first-choice striker but has not managed to make much of a difference for Salernitana and it is baffling to think how Salernitana can cast aside a player like Simy.
His statistics are exceptional; the Nigerian centre-forward is the first African footballer to have won the the Golden Boot in Serie B in 2019-2020 and with 66 goals, 30 in Serie A, 34 in Serie B and two in the Italian Cup.
With 20 goals in the 2020-2021 Serie A championship, he became the second African footballer, after Samuel Eto’o and Victor Osimhen, to have scored at least 20 goals in a single season of the Italian top flight. Salernitana must bring him back into the fold if they hope to obtain salvation.
Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio were held to a 1-1 draw by Verona, with Thomas Henry cancelling out Mattia Zaccagni’s goal in the first-half
It can’t all be Maurizio Sarri’s fault
Compared to last season, the club that has suffered the worst collapse so far during the 2023-24 campaign is Lazio. President Claudio Lotito’s team have endured a disappointing start, finding themselves in ninth place with 21 points, scoring 16 goals while conceding 16.
While goalkeeper Ivan Provedel has begun to make mistakes in technical areas and very often seems unfocused, the blame is probably not to be attributed only to Maurizio Sarri and his mathematical vision of football.
The team, with the exception of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, is the same as last year and has made no tactical changes. After 15 games, we can also look to the drop off in performances of three of their key players from last season, Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto and Fabio Romagnoli.
As far as Sarri is concerned, the numbers and statistics on ball possession are always exceptional but Lazio are the team that has lost the most points from advantageous situations (10) during the start of the season.