One week into the Serie A season and everything looks normal. Spots one through four are (in order) Internazionale, Juventus, Milan, and Napoli. Even with new technology the refereeing decisions seem to be favouring the favourites. Gigi Buffon continues to defy age and stake a claim as the best keeper in the world with another great penalty save against Cagliari.
That said, one week is only one week. While much of what we have seen is familiar, a week like this upcoming one could easily challenge our assumptions. Also, with the transfer deadline looming, results in these two weeks could influence panic buys or sells, meaning the rosters we see this week could look slightly different next.
That said, with the usual suspects trying to assert their power from week one, it is only appropriate that we preview this week’s matches through the lens of the movie “The Usual Suspects”.
Genoa v. Juventus – “To a cop the explanation is never that complicated… you’re gonna find out you’re right”
For Juventus last week, everything was fine. They got the result and the three-goal margin despite conceding an early VAR-aided penalty and not truly testing the new backline. Depending on where you stand, The Old Lady is continuing its long string of dominance or showed cracks that could be exploited against a better opponent. This week that means a trip to Luigi Ferraris to face a Genoa side who played to a 0-0 draw the week prior. Watch to see how new signing Blaise Matuidi makes an impact on the midfield.
Benevento v Bologna – “It all makes sense when you look at it right”
Last week Bologna benefitted from a VAR call to grab a point from Torino that looked less sure than the electronic system made it seem. This week, they visit Benevento still looking for their first win of the season. Note: this will be the first ever Serie A match at Stadio Ciro Vigorito.
Roma v. Inter – “Then he showed those men of will what will really was”
The premier match of the weekend. Both clubs won to avoid this match losing any luster. The overwhelming media attention will be on Luciano Spalletti returning to the Eternal City after achieving much but also so little with Roma. This could be a statement match for both sides – if either can take all three points it will receive outsized analysis but justifiable hype.
Torino v. Sassuolo – “A rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die…”
The scariest time of the year for a Sassuolo fan is a week before the close of the transfer window. Domenico Berardi has been retained for a while and seemingly will continue to be, but the spectre of a money you cannot turn down remains ever present. Meanwhile, his club faces a Torino side that feels hard done not getting three points in their match against Bologna.
Milan v. Cagliari – “How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?”
So far so good for Milan, who won convincingly against Crotone but with the asterisk that they played the majority of the match a man up. This week they have their first chance to show off their new players in front of the home fans against Cagliari, who had good early chances to put a scare into Juventus and blew it. This week there will likely be fewer chances.
Chievo v. Lazio – “There’s nothing that can’t be done”
Chievo impressed with a road 2-1 victory over Udinese last week. This week I Gialloblu host a Lazio side that failed to carry over Italian Cup momentum into their first league match. Ciro Immobile should be salivating at the chance to face a side that allowed 61 goals last season.
Crotone v. Verona – “Are you sure you brought enough guys?”
Crotone’s Serie A season probably could not have started any worse and it is only by the utter ineptitude of Fiorentina that they are not sitting at the bottom of the table. Their chance to hit the reset button may come at the expense of Verona, who similarly were a chance for their week one opponent Napoli to showcase its talent. This may eventually be a relegation six-pointer early in the season.
Fiorentina v. Sampdoria – “What I know now was that these men would never break, never lie down”
The pain for Fiorentina fans of seeing Matias Vecino and Borja Valero wearing the Inter shirt may have been just as bad as the pain of watching the match itself. They have little time to recover from a disaster of a match as they now face their own unhappy fans and a Sampdoria side that rode a Fabio Quagliarella brace to victory. If Fiorentina cannot find a way to compete or take points from this match, they may enter a death spiral that could be impossible to avoid.
Napoli v. Atalanta – “A man can convince anyone he’s somebody else, but never himself”
Napoli is Napoli. Potent attack, suspect defence, and just enough questions to set them a tier below the contenders. This is one takeaway from last week, where they had a dominant victory over Verona. They can continue to polish their resume this week facing Atalanta. The visitors failed to grab at least a point last week despite better statistics against Roma. Last season Atalanta took six points from both matches.
SPAL v. Udinese – “You run and we’re gonna be digging a hole for you, you got that?”
Udinese lost last week on poor play by keeper Simone Scuffet. They will have to be much more solid this week when facing surprising SPAL. The Serie A newcomers stunned high-flying Lazio by having the better chances on the road and almost winning the draw. Fans will have a chance to see the clubs new players such as Marco Borreillo and Bartosz Salamon.