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.