It’s not about how you fall, it’s about how you get back up. This famous adage may as well have been draped around the stadia of Italy, given the emphatic return to form a number of Serie A stars enjoyed in midweek.
There will be few current footballers whose psychological strength has been tested as rigorously as Fernando Torres. The Spaniard has spent the past the last three-and-a-half seasons trying, and failing, to live up to the stonking £50m price tag Chelsea forked out to take him off Liverpool. Often cutting a disconsolate figure, Torres has been far from prolific during his time in West London and a move to Milan was widely considered as his final opportunity to rediscover some of the old magic.
While it is still very early days, the 30-year-old certainly started in the right manner on Tuesday evening. With his side continuing to self-destruct defensively as they went 2-0 down to newly promoted Empoli within 20 minutes, Torres pulled them back from the brink with a sensational header just before half-time to open his account. Some dazzling footwork in the second half took the striker through three defenders before setting up a strike from Jeremy Menez that cannoned off the bar. By the time he was substituted, Milan fans were suitably encouraged by what they had seen. Watch this space.
Another player who has struggled to rediscover the impact of earlier years is Sebastian Giovinco. Now afforded very little playing time in a squad that boasts Carlos Tevez, Fernando Llorente and Alvaro Morata in its arsenal, the Atomic Ant was brimming with energy in Juventus’ 3-0 win over Cesena. The performance just lacked a goal, but Arturo Vidal saw to that. The Chilean is back in the goals after slotting home a penalty before doubling the lead with a trademark 18-yard bullet. His importance to the Bianconeri cannot be overstated – the fact that the club has won 92 per cent of the matches in which he has scored speaks volumes.
Two players in striped jerseys also made the difference at San Siro, as Inter defeated Atalanta 2-0 to overcome their slight blip in Sicily. Dani Osvaldo and Hernanes both scored stunning goals reminiscent of the form they enjoyed whilst staring daggers at each other across the Roman divide for Roma and Lazio. A scissor-kick from Osvaldo, a free-kick from Hernanes. These are almost trademark moves for the two players and something Inter will need from them with consistency if they are to mount a genuine challenge.
Torino won’t mind how they score their goals, as long as they just go in. Remarkably, with four rounds of action played, the Granata have only just recorded not only their first win but also their first goal. Obviously the departures of Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile were expected to have an impact, but the fact that a side who finished seventh last season have been so slow to get off the mark must count as a surprise. In any case, they had a point to prove against Cagliari and they made it during a 2-1 win in which Fabio Quagliarella got his first goal for the club. The Sicilians will have to prolong their own wait for a win a little longer.
Sampdoria and Verona can revel in the glory of being awarded the early-season ‘surprise package’ title by most fans, as both clubs remain unbeaten and in the top five. Alessandro Matri burst back on to the scene with two goals for Genoa that looked good enough to dash Verona’s hopes of a continued unbeaten run, but the Gialloblu mounted a fantastic comeback in which the Moldovan Artur Ionita scored for the second consecutive match to stake his claim for a regular starting berth.
Sinisa Mihajlovic will be hoping his reign might lead to a return to Sampdoria’s recent glory days, when they reached the Champions League Play-off round of 2010. Although that still seems highly unlikely, a 2-1 win over Chievo sets his side up nicely for the Genoa derby this weekend.