Serie A

Five features of Serie A: Week 8

Club football made a superlative return in Italy after the international break, with six of the top seven Serie A clubs facing off against one another.

Juventus fans were forced to remember how it felt to lose a match in the comfort of their own home, Napoli picked up their eighth consecutive win to continue their perfect league run, while Inter edged AC Milan in a thrilling Derby della Madonnina thanks to the brilliance of Mauro Icardi.

Here are five standout features from the latest round of Serie A.

The title race is open

If week 8 taught us anything, it’s that the 2017/18 Scudetto race is well and truly alive. Napoli’s win over Roma sent them five points clear of the reigning Champions at the top of the table, with Inter claiming outright second just two points behind the Neapolitans.

With Serie A looking to be the prime focus of coach Maurizio Sarri, the Partenopei are in prime position to finally break Juventus’ stranglehold of the league. Add into the mix a resurgent Nerazzurri under Luciano Spalletti, an overwhelming start for Eusebio Di Francesco at Roma and the new force of Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio, the Italian league is set for a thrilling 30 rounds.

Icardi; a true phenomenon 

Following just one goal in his last four matches, Mauro Icardi made a monumental return to goal scoring form with a hat-trick in Inter’s 3-2 victory over AC Milan.

A textbook striker’s touch for the first, the Argentinian then produced an outrageous volley with the outside of his foot to slot home Ivan Perisic’s cross before converting a late penalty for the third.

The Nerazzurri captain provided the world another example of what he is capable of when presented with opportunities in the box, arguably placing him amongst the top strikers in the world; perhaps only understated due to his lack of European and International football.

Juve’s diminished dominance

Losing their first match at Juventus Stadium for over two years provides a convenient sign that the Bianconeri’s Serie A dominance may be over.

While they may yet challenge and indeed claim an unprecedented seventh straight Scudetto, it’s fair to say that this season will be tougher than any of their previous six league victories.

Apart from the hole left in the centre of defence and their weaknesses in midfield, the clubs around them are looking stronger than they have for some time. Whether the Bianconeri does win the title or not, the predictability of Serie A is certainly starting to look like a thing of the past.

Samp’s Genoan fortress

The Blucerchiati enjoyed another impressive win on the weekend with a come from behind victory over last season’s fairy tale, Atalanta.

With a perfect record from their three matches at home, Sampdoria are proving to be a tough opposition for anyone making the trip to Genoa.

While much of the league’s focus is on the fight for the Champions League places, Doria might just have one eye on sneaking into a Europa League position if their impressive form continues; particularly at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Le Aquile demand respect

Last season, Simone Inzaghi led Lazio to fifth place in the league in addition to a Coppa Italia final.

In August, the Biancocelesti surprised many by taking out the Italian SuperCoppa with a 3-2 victory over Juventus. Now into October, they sit in equal third position after inflicting the Bianconeri’s first loss at home in over two years.

Lazio have for some time been overlooked as a threat in Serie A, however Inzaghi has built a team that is showing time and time again, that it deserves to be respected.

Champions League qualification looks to be the minimum goal set for this season and their competition should be warned to underestimate them at their own peril.

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