NEWS
Tuesday August 21 2018
What we learned in Serie A Week 1

Serie A returned with a reduced complement of eight matches this weekend, with Genoa and Sampdoria’s games postponed in light of the bridge tragedy.

There were debuts for Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus and Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli, as well as a first outing for the new-look Inter.

Here’s what we learned in Week 1 of Serie A.

Ronaldo at Juventus will take time

Neither Cristiano Ronaldo nor Juventus played badly against Chievo, but it’s clear that finding the perfect balance will take some time.

The Portuguese started up-front in a 4-2-3-1, with Paulo Dybala in behind and Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado on the wings.

On paper it looked devastating, but on the pitch the Old Lady lacked a certain fluidity, with Dybala in particular struggling to get into the game.

Once Mario Mandzukic came on and Ronaldo moved left things looked a lot better, but clearly both men can’t play every game this season.

Coach Max Allegri is well known for making tactical adjustments in the course of a season, and he’ll have to come up with another one this time around.

Napoli’s demise has been exaggerated

Despite amassing 91 points last season and appointing a proven winner in Carlo Ancelotti, many were tipping Napoli to drop off badly this season, perhaps even out of the top four.

A poor pre-season added fuel to that fire, as did some utterly shambolic defending to allow Ciro Immobile to put Lazio 1-0 up at the Olimpico on Saturday night.

The Partenopei fought back though, with goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Insigne ensuring they took all three points from a tough opening fixture.

Napoli weren’t perfect and there’s work to be done, but it doesn’t look like a collapse is imminent.

Dzeko is still Roma’s main man

Roma’s summer recruitment focused on providing Eusebio Di Francesco with more attacking options, as the Giallorossi struggled in front of goal last season.

Too often the capital club were reliant on Edin Dzeko for goals, and Sunday’s clash with Torino offered both worries and reassurances.

It took an improbable strike from the Bosnian - 0.03 on the expected goals model - to win the game, and the Lupi were again profligate in front of goal.

However, it was summer signing Justin Kluivert who provided the assist for Dzeko’s strike and the Dutchman generally looked sharp.

If he and the other new recruits are given time to gel, they may yet take the goalscoring burden off Roma’s number 9, but for now he remains the main man.

Inter still can’t beat Sassuolo

What is it with Inter and Sassuolo?

Neroverdi owner Giorgio Squinzi joked back in May that he was running out of space on his office wall for pictures of victories over the Beneamata, but after an impressive summer at San Siro few expected it to happen again.

On Sunday night though it did happen again, a penalty from childhood Inter fan Domenico Berardi condemning Luciano Spalletti’s men to defeat.

Sassuolo have now won their last four matches against the Nerazzurri in all competitions, and seven of the last eight meetings.

Papu Gomez remains a cult hero

It looked as though Atalanta captain Papu Gomez may move on this summer, having publicly admitted that he wants Champions League football.

The diminutive Argentine remained in Bergamo though, and thank goodness he did.

Last night saw a 4-0 win over newly-promoted Frosinone, with Papu getting two goals and two assists.

He’s already a legend for the Orobici fans, and a proper cult hero for any follower of Serie A.