Everything ends. Nothing is eternal. There is no need to panic. Napoli lost their first match, Benevento earned their first point and Sampdoria’s perfect home record was terminated. At some stage, Juventus will fail to win the Scudetto.
Are Napoli the next coming of Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan? No. Are they a very good team who still have an excellent chance of winning the Scudetto? Yes. Losing their unbeaten record will not change that, even if naturally they would’ve preferred if it hadn’t been to Juventus and at the hands – one hand, considering the other was in plaster following surgery – of their formerly beloved Gonzalo Higuain. Nicknamed Core Ingrato – ungrateful heart – after an old Neapolitan song, Pipita’s presence on the scoresheet made a bad situation feel a hundred times worse.
The Partenopei had to lose eventually, but doing so to the Old Lady prompted exaggerated reactions from all sides. Maurizio Sarri’s team are not suddenly a disaster, nor have Juve automatically resolved all of their issues. It’s one game. We’ll see come the end of the season how it pans out in the wider scheme of things, but for now my advice would be for nobody to get ahead of themselves.
Inter are on top of the table for the first time since January 2016 and achieved it by sweeping Chievo aside 5-0. It was an almost perfect showing from Luciano Spalletti’s side and means they remain the only unbeaten team in Serie A this season. Most notably, it showed the strength in depth at their disposal, because where Roberto Gagliardini, Joao Miranda and Matias Vecino missed out, Joao Mario, Marcelo Brozovic and even Andrea Ranocchia delivered the goods.
The Nerazzurri are genuine title contenders, there’s no doubting that, but we have yet to see how they’ll react when that unbeaten run comes to an end. Like Napoli, it must happen at some stage and the reaction will be more decisive than the initial result.
Everything has a natural conclusion, such as Benevento’s extraordinary 14-round losing streak. Le Streghe really don’t do things by halves. Every time they seemed to be on the verge of that elusive result, they’d concede a last-second goal or give away a ridiculous penalty. What better way to make history with their first ever Serie A point than against Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan with the goalkeeper on target in stoppages? Nobody will forget that moment in a hurry. Alberto Brignoli did what all goalkeepers do with the last kick of the game – ran up there to put another body in the box and confuse the marking. He certainly didn’t think he was going to score, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Milan fans wish they could forget it, but this seems to be their destiny: being on the receiving end of an historic comeback that everyone remembers decades later. We can only hope that soon enough there will be something positive for the Rossoneri to write in the popular consciousness once more. Vincenzo Montella had come to the end of the line, that was clear, but Gattuso isn’t exactly a natural progression. How many barely-qualified former star players do they need to appoint before opting for someone with expertise rather than name recognition? As Spalletti has shown at Inter this term, grit can only get you so far without tactical organisation. Every element of the Nerazzurri squad know what they are meant to be doing and that simply cannot be said of Milan’s men.
Lazio have a clear identity and belief in that is what kept them going at Marassi. Sampdoria’s 100 per cent home record had to end eventually and it’s rather fitting it should be against the side that won all their away fixtures. Statistically, that isn’t true, but the only ‘away’ match the Aquile lost was the derby with Roma in their very own Stadio Olimpico. With that trend, maybe it’s Lazio who ought to be pushing for the move to a new stadium rather than their local rivals.
Simone Inzaghi’s side will eventually slip up on their travels, just as Torino will stop sharing the spoils. Mattia Destro’s goal drought ended, after all, and that means truly anything is possible.