All eyes were on the Derby Della Madonnina this weekend, as Inter faced what was to be their first real test and passed it with flying colours.
San Siro would once again supply the choreography, the noise and the entertainment, as the two Milan clubs battled it out, with two new Coaches and two new projects. The result would send a message to the others contesting this year’s Scudetto and indicate that there would be no room for error. Juventus and Napoli would respond with gusto and the race is now certainly on.
In the end Inter looked much more composed, much more aggressive and much more capable. Danilo D’Ambrosio perhaps hit the nail on the head when he said after the game that Inter simply wanted it more. It certainly looked that way and goals from Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku meant that the Nerazzurri took the spoils. Antonio Conte had let his players know that the performance against Slavia Prague in midweek had been insufficient, and they responded with a dominating display.
The result means that Inter have now won four games out of four and certainly look to have a new resolve about them. Determined not to settle for anything less than three points, Conte seems still far from happy about the level his team is playing at, even though they are winning. What should Milan and Marco Giampaolo say, then? This Inter already has the hallmarks of a Conte team, a clear idea of what to do when in possession and when chasing the game. The Rossoneri are also under a new Coach, but if Giampaolo had a plan for how they should play, it doesn’t seem to have reached the squad.
The display has now convinced many that Inter just might be able to push Juventus all the way to the end.
The Champions had played earlier in the day and laboured to overcome Hellas Verona. Maurizio Sarri admitted that his team are still under construction and there were still many areas that needed ironing out. For The Old Lady, the important thing was the three points so that they could keep Inter in their sights.
The pressure now went onto Napoli, but it didn’t show. They tore apart newly-promoted Lecce, as Fernando Llorente grabbed a brace to continue his impressive form. The top of the table now has a very familiar look to it.
Fourth and fifth positions are now occupied by the Roman teams. Lazio had to make up for a poor European display and managed to push past a passive Parma, Ciro Immobile scored and also reacted badly to his substitution, but later apologised to his Coach. The Giallorossi left it late, as with 10 men they ended Bologna’s run of eight straight home wins, Edin Dzeko pouncing to take all three points in the 93rd minute. The teams from the Eternal City are certainly improving and Lazio against Inter will be the tie of the midweek round.
Elsewhere, late goals seemed to be in fashion as Atalanta left it until 95th minute to stun Fiorentina. The Viola had been 2-0 up thanks to an audacious goal from Franck Ribery, but La Dea confirmed their status as comeback kings. Despite what they thought was a last-gasp equaliser being disallowed via VAR, there was still time for a Timothy Castagne volley to add even more drama for 2-2.
Torino were bitterly disappointing again as they faced a floundering Sampdoria. Eusebio Di Francesco’s side were without a point until this game, but Manolo Gabbiadini’s goal got them off the mark. The win will do little to help the relationship between Massimo Ferrero and the fans, as the Sampdoria President arrived with a bodyguard to watch the game, but it should at least calm some of the EDF sack rumours for a few days.
Cagliari beat Genoa 3-1 in Sardinia in a game that saw three goals in the last seven minutes, so any good progress from the Grifone in the opening games seems to be dissipating quickly. Sassuolo hammered SPAL 3-0 with Francesco Caputo netting a brace, confirming the Neroverdi are in sporadic form, but there always seem to be goals. Finally, Udinese suffered their third consecutive defeat at the hands of Brescia. Defeats to potential relegation candidates will have many questioning the Zebrette’s ability to contest in Serie A this campaign and it’s looking like another anxious season.