The tables seem to be turning at the Giuseppe Meazza, as seasoned title challengers’ Inter and AC continue their indifferent start to the season. Inter were turned over by Siena at home on Sunday whilst the Rossoneri were defeated 2-1 away to Udinese, leaving them off the pace in the race for the Scudetto after only four games.
Inter, with six points from nine, faced bottom of the table Siena on Sunday knowing a win would keep them in close contact with Juventus and Napoli at the top. Alas, Siena beat them 2-0. A fantastic team move was slotted home by Vergassola in the 73rd minute, before the win was sealed in injury time by Valiani, who nodded home at the back post much to the joy of head coach Serse Cosmi. It has been an extremely poor week for Inter; Nagatomo’s last minute equaliser rescued a draw at home to Rubin Kazan in the Europa League, so it could be argues that a European hangover led to the subsequent result against Siena. Excuses aside though, Inter should be winning these games and have to start doing so if they want to have any real chance of competing at the business end of the season. These results do nothing to help young coach Andrea Stramaccioni, but are players like Juan, Gargano and Guarin the calibre of player that should be in the starting XI? Don’t get me wrong, they are talented players, but are they really the type that can take the club forward? If Antonio Cassano can build on his goal last week against Torino, along with managing to keep his temper under control and refrain from throwing his toys out the pram at any given time, he will prove to be a shrewd piece of business for Inter and hopefully fill Pazzini’s boots. But, if Inter fail to claim all three points away to Chievo on Wednesday, they will have six points from a possible 15, and the word ‘crisis’ may start to be thrown around by the newspapers.
The situation doesn’t seem to be any brighter for the red and black half of the San Siro; infact, it’s bleaker. A goalless draw mid-week at home to Anderlecht (Which burst this writer’s coupon for £75!) didn’t help set the tone for a trip to Udinese at the weekend. Although Milan largely dominated the match, they lost 2-1 to Francesco Guidolin’s men, with Boateng and Zapata both given their marching orders. The performance of Stephan El Shaarawy again turned heads, though, and his 30 yard wondertonk brought Milan level on 54 minutes, before a cool Antonio Di Natale penalty gave Udinese the win. Il Diavolo sit 15th in the table on three points from a possible 12, so anything less than a victory at home to Cagliari in their next fixture will do. Despite the atrocious start to the season, Massimilliano Allegri has reiterated that he is under no threat of being sacked and that he and the board are at perfect harmony. The 45-year-old, who could be mistaken for a 65-year-old, has failed to fill the void left by talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and defensive rock, Thiago Silva. Cristian Zapata and Giampaolo Pazzini aren’t ample replacements for two world class players such as Ibra and Silva, so Allegri should look to spend some of the money in January on a marquee signing. With Robinho and Alexandre Pato on the sideline, youngster El Shaaraway has stepped in and performed admirably, to say the least. Once Robinho and Pato come back into the side, and if Pazzini can start to find the net, AC will have a formidable front line, and with the play-making ability of Montolivo and the industry of Nocerino and Boateng, the 18 time Serie A champions will cause opposition plenty of problems, but Milan seem to create as many defensive worries for themselves these days. Allegri will look to put that right and hopefully kick start his side’s season, for his own sake too.
Juventus could be forgiven for looking down at the San Siro and letting out a little chuckle, as they continued their 100% start to the season. A double from the on form Fabio Quagliarella, the opener being a stunning overhead kick, allowed Juve to cruise to victory over Chievo. Quagliarella’s return to form after his cruciate ligament injury will only increase Juve’s chances of retaining their title. Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco all started on the bench at the weekend, whilst Paul Pogba, Kwando Asamoah and Quagliarella all started. Asamoah is settling in wonderfully at Juventus after his move from Udinese, and the players Juventus have on the bench highlights their strength in depth. It was a comfortable victory for the Old Lady who will look to keep their winning run going when they face a tough trip to Florence on Tuesday.
Elsewhere in Serie A, Napoli’s 100% start was halted as they drew with Catania in a very exciting goalless draw (no, seriously). Genoa pulled off a shock by beating Lazio 1-0 at the Stadio Olympico with Borriello grabbing the winner late on with a tidy left footed finish. Valdes scored a last minute penalty as Parma snatched a draw against Fiorentina in another enthralling encounter, in which each side also missed a penalty. Sampdoria and Torino shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw, whilst Atalanta made it two wins on the bounce as they beat Palermo 1-0, leaving the Rosanero on one point. Pescara earned a decent point away to Bologna and Cagliara versus Roma was postponed due to safety reasons.
Some of the midweek games to look out for this week are Fiorentina versus Juventus, Lazio’s trip to Napoli and Roma hosting Sampdoria. It may also be worthwhile looking out for AC Milan’s result, to see if they can actually win at home to Cagliari.