After a break for international duty that saw Italy miss out on their first World Cup since 1958, it was only fitting that this weekend’s Serie A games should follow a similar theme: take nothing for granted.
The Azzurri thought they could drop some of the most talented players and use others out of position, because that would still be enough to beat Sweden. Juventus must’ve known they couldn’t leave out Paulo Dybala, Gigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli for a trip to the only team with a perfect home record, and yet seemed genuinely surprised when they lost to Sampdoria.
Giorgio Chiellini and Max Allegri both said the same thing, that Juve seemed irritated, almost affronted, to have gone behind at Marassi. Did the Old Lady think this was beneath them? Samp are not Benevento, they are an excellent team with well-drilled tactics and talented players. If the Bianconeri are taking tough fixtures like this for granted, then they can kiss goodbye to a seventh straight Scudetto.
The emblematic image of the day was Sami Khedira, stood with hand up, looking behind him towards the assistant referee, demanding a free kick while Gianmarco Ferrari tapped in undisturbed. He resembled a Viscount during the start of a revolution, haughtily requesting his afternoon tea as the proletariat banged on the door.
Has there been a revolution in Serie A this season, and if so, who ends up taking the reins of power? Napoli are the favourites and didn’t need to get out of second gear to dispatch Milan. Vincenzo Montella in his blissful parallel universe saw an even match with a fine performance from his players, even though they were the only side other than Benevento who failed to get a single touch in the opposition penalty area during the first half. When your stats are compared to the team with the all-time worst start to a season, it’s time to worry.
Roma take absolutely nothing for granted under Eusebio Di Francesco and they are relishing every moment of this season, knocking down one taboo after another. Lazio saw their run of nine consecutive victories in all competition come crashing to an end in the worst fixture of all to finally stumble, the Derby della Capitale. The Aquile are an intriguing side who can play some fine football, but who will have the bragging rights come the end of the season? I’m going for the Giallorossi, as they have strength in depth, talent and thanks to their new Coach a solid tactical identity.
Inter climbed back into second place with a 2-0 victory over Atalanta, which again confirmed just how much they rely on Mauro Icardi. If there’s one thing you can take for granted, it’s that Maurito will find the net at San Siro. He’s a wonderful centre-forward anyway, but seems to hit another gear under the lights of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. What would Luciano Spalletti’s men do if Icardi were to pick up an injury or suffer a freakish loss of form? Nerazzurri fans hope they’ll never have to find out the answer to that question.
Benevento President Oreste Vigorito went viral when insisting a curse on his team was behind their record-breaking zero points total, but after the defeat to Sassuolo, some might believe it’s true. It’s not possible that a team can continue to concede stoppage-time goals just when they seem to be on the cusp of a positive result. Domenico Berardi hit the penalty against the bar in injury time, so surely they had dodged the bullet this time and would pick up their maiden top flight point? Take nothing for granted. Federico Peluso popped up with a header for 2-1 at the 94th minute.
When Chievo first came on to the Serie A scene, practically everyone had a soft spot for the Flying Donkeys who succeeded against the odds. Now you can feel all the fans of other clubs willing Benevento to get a point just out of sheer pity.