Monday September 16 2019
Battle lines & battle scars

Football Italia’s Chief Correspondent Richard Hall looks back on an incredible Week 3 in Serie A, with a war of words between Inter and Juventus erupting, plus Bologna pulling off a mighty comeback.

Titles are not won after just three matches, but battle lines are certainly drawn. Antonio Conte went ahead and fired the first shots this weekend as his Inter team moved top of Serie A, with Juventus only drawing at Fiorentina. That gave credence to all those who expected a title race as Napoli also gained three points. Questions are already being asked of the Old Lady and the League is holding its breath, along with the sportsbooks that made them heavy favourites again this season.

It was with a wry smile that Conte told Maurizio Sarri to ‘calm down’. He indicated that the Bianconeri boss had no need to get so excited about the tactician’s comments after his draw in Florence. Sarri complained the midday heat contributed to three of his players being injured and that this was also a reason why his team only managed a draw. After Inter’s 1-0 win against 10-man Udinese, the Nerazzurri Coach was told about this comment from Sarri and he reacted.

Conte took a swipe at his old club by professing that Sarri needed to calm down as he was on ‘the powerful side’ now. He then pointed out that if his opposite number was to keep on, he would have to compare balance sheets and resources. Whilst these comments were nothing but a sideswipe, the ground is being prepared for battle. Inter have looked the much more serious and determined so far. They may have won ugly, but they have maximum points after three rounds played.

Questions were always going to be asked of Sarri, and the draw at Fiorentina doesn’t mean that there’s any need to panic, but it did in turn make many wonder. Does this Juventus side have the attritional values that were taken for granted under Max Allegri? The Monday papers in Italy all pointed out that this looked to be just the beginning of a long and drawn-out title race and, therefore, war of words. 

Napoli also bounced back from their stunning loss to Juventus by beating a Sampdoria team in crisis. The clean sheet will be welcome news as they had shipped seven goals in two games before that. Milan also got the job done against Verona in a terrible game, which saw the Rossoneri pick up six points from nine but highlighted they had much to improve on, especially with the Derby della Madonnina just around the corner. 

Brescia-Bologna was perhaps not the match that many tuned into on Sunday afternoon, but it was certainly the most entertaining. The home side had gone 3-1 up and looked to be cruising to their first home win of the season. Sinisa Mihajlovic was not in the Rossoblu’s dugout as he had just started the second round of his chemotherapy treatment, but a telephone team-talk later and the second half showed he was in spirit.

Indeed, his side mounted a remarkable comeback after the break to win 4-3, Riccardo Orsolini becoming the hero in the 80th minute. The result took Bologna into second place, and they are showing the same fighting spirit as their Coach.

Elsewhere, Lazio unexpectedly fell to SPAL away from home thanks to a dramatic late winner from Jasmin Kurtic. Roma, on the other hand, had a much better day as they dismantled Sassuolo 4-2, despite Domenico Berardi’s late brace giving the visitors hope.

Duvan Zapata’s goal in the fifth minute of injury time took a draw away from a resilient Genoa, who had only just scored a debatable 90th minute penalty, while Cagliari produced an excellent display away to Parma, beating the Gialloblu 3-1. 

Torino play Lecce on Monday night and a win could see them go joint top with Inter on nine points. The Granata have been impressive so far and, at the very least, can again compete for a Europe League spot. It may only be Week 3 in Serie A, but the quality of the games until now has been magnificent and it looks like being the closest title race we’ve had for some time.

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Have your say...
Woow wow what sensei!? is doing!!! give all and every single set-pieces to him from now!!! midfielders are alright for us esp in right and left (newcomers duo!!) in the centre vecino should given chance swapping with brozovic. because he has genuine talent of coming from dm position and score!!. lazaro will be fine for us; biraghi needs to keep up with him in the attacking phase. forwards need to sweat their way in the box much much better with swift sprints and one twos. needs partnership there
on the 19th September, 2019 at 3:32pm
Very concerned about Milan at the moment, think things could go either way. Gainpoulo seems to have completely wasted preseason and has no idea what his starting 11 or formation is 3 games in. He also has already criticised paquata and piatek a little unfairly which seems strange this early on. This cant be helping harmony in the team. There just seem to be alot of warning signs. hopefully it all works out. Personally id like to see kessie and benacer playing together with paquata regularly.
on the 17th September, 2019 at 10:50pm
I have no clue because I don’t follow the team blindly? We have been a mid table team for years and every season we get empty promises of change only for things to get worse. 6 points but made to work so hard for them, wait to see what happens we we play a decent team. Giampaolo should have worked out his team by now, we had 3 games to get it right before inter yet somehow we look even worse than we did during pre season
on the 17th September, 2019 at 1:08pm
to play without any kind of pressure. roma has much greater attacking threats than them. so they shouldn't listen to any skepticism where they might fall. downfall to where? europa league? fair enough! they just need to hope that their team turn out to be a something of a menacing thorn to the other lynchpins. start a new.. young team .. should see nothing rather then themselves. 4231 is seemingly the best fitting - mid nacer kessie rebic paqueta or suso leao or castillejo piatek.
on the 17th September, 2019 at 12:58pm
to me this year every top clubs are in their own agenda and in their own course. juve on jeopardy? no they decided to so. moving allegri was huge huge huge risk as much as loosing the next title. choosing sarri was their only choice other than gurdiola to get in line with their new direction but not having cancelo and foremost dyabala in their centre of the projects a bit shocking to me. to for my club inter anybody who thinks napoli is way better than us is naive to me. similarly milan needs
on the 17th September, 2019 at 12:39pm
@ Forza Milan I have to agree with rossonero I'm afraid. Milan have gone backwards. We found two solutions last January in Paquetá and Piątek and both have become problems which will no doubt need fixing next January at this rate. Oh and I haven't forgiven anyone at the club for Cutrone so as I far as I am concerned they can all go.
on the 17th September, 2019 at 11:34am
To ROSSONERO. What a ridiculous comment! You really show that you have no clue as to what you are talking (or should I say ranting) about. Yes the performances haven't been great but I'm quite happy with the six points we have collected so far. Football is a results business, and i'm of the belief that things will improve. If they don't so be it! You cannot be questioning Giampaolo's position after three games. He's the manager and is paid as so.
on the 17th September, 2019 at 10:11am
Disappointing start to the season. Giampaolo won't be there by Christmas, certainly well out of his depth. Barely got past 10 man Verona, a child could have made better team selections and his subs (or lack of). Derby will be a massacre, conte has totally revolutionised inter. Oh and whoever made the decision not to sign Sensi when we had him in the bag needs to be fired immediately!!!
on the 17th September, 2019 at 1:06am
Yes, an excellent start to the season (on the field anyways).
on the 16th September, 2019 at 5:34pm
Very early in the season but can certainly see a big difference at inter. The team has an identity and it will be interesting to see who makes conte’s best 11. First time seeing Godin de vrij and skriniar and it’s pretty clear inter has the best defence in the league. But the best surprise so far has certainly been Sensi! Massive not only for inter’s season but Italy too!
on the 16th September, 2019 at 1:10pm

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