Five Things We Learned from Serie A Week 3 (2021)

| September 14, 2021 11:55 am PDT

Inter stunned Juventus last season to wrestle away the scudetto from what had started to feel like the perennial winners.

But some big name exits from several the top clubs in the offseason suggested that this season’s title race could be an even more open affair.

The early weeks of the campaign, before the international break hit the pause button, certainly showed that Italian soccer fans might be in for a treat this season.

There have already been some interesting developments throughout the league – but here are five stories that I noticed from match day three in the Italian topflight.

The Special One is Back

Not everyone is a fan of Jose Mourinho. He has spent his coaching career with journalists reporting on his every utterance, but the fans of the clubs believe he is a genius.

Opposing fans have not always been kind – and neither have the supporters of his last few sides in England, to be perfectly honest.

But his return to Serie A with Roma has been nothing but triumphant so far. There have been five wins– and three in Serie A that have taken Roma to the top of the league. The late winner from Stephan El Shaarawy prompted Mourinho to run the length of the pitch and celebrate in front of the Roma fans with the players.

It is that kind of response that wins fans over and very ‘on-brand’ for Mourinho.

Apart from anything else, it gave him a victory in his 1,000th game as a coach and reasserted the belief that he still has a lot to offer after disappointing spells at Manchester United and Spurs in the EPL.

Should Maxi Allegri Be Worried?

After the disappointment of the Andrea Pirlo experiment last season, Juventus turned to former head coach Maxi Allegri to bring the scudetto back to Turin and elevate the club in the Champions League.

But, after three weeks of the season, the Old Lady is languishing in unfamiliar territory near the foot of the table. They are yet to win a game, and fell to a late Napoli winner last weekend.

This is not what Allegri signed up for.

Much of the criticism has been leveled at keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who has looked particularly poor in the opening games. But Allegri has stuck with the Polish shot stopper and was set to start him against Malmo in what could be a useful Champions League fixture on Tuesday.

Juventus will surely climb away from the lower half of the table in the next few weeks, but performances have been poor so far – and, with Milan up next, Allegri will not want to fuel his team’s critics further with another defeat.

He seems fine with losing Ronaldo to the EPL as he attempts to win the league again with Juve, but a more open title race might pose further problems for the likeable head coach.

Koulibaly Lives to Play Juventus

Kalidou Koulibaly played for Senegal during the international break but raced back to Naples to face Juventus on Saturday.

The defender has quite a history against the Turin club and his career is littered with special goals – at both ends of the pitch – that have determined how well his side has performed.

His late winner at the weekend deepened Allegri’s woes (see above) and kept up Napoli’s 100% record at the start of this season.

He was fortunate to take advantage of another mistake from the Juventus defense and keeper – and he celebrated in style, taking a photographer’s camera, and recording the wild celebrations of the fans behind the goal.

Napoli missed out on the Champions League after only managing to finish fifth in Serie A last year. After becoming one of the main challengers to Juve in previous seasons, that was a definite step back.

Now Koulibaly’s late winner has reignited the belief that a scudetto might not even be out of the question.

Fiorentina Needs to Keep Hold of Dusan Vlahovic

There have been a series of false dawns over the last few years at Fiorentina – and the takeover by Rocco Commisso is yet to reap its rewards on the pitch.

It did seem as though it would be another season of struggle for the Viola in the summer, when there were rumors of the owner having had enough and star striker Dusan Vlahovic looked like he might be on his way out the door.

But, with three games gone, Fiorentina has won two and still counts on the Serbian as an integral member of the squad.

He scored both of his two penalties on Saturday to help towards a very impressive victory away at Atalanta. The game itself was marred by VAR and controversial decisions, but Fiorentina will now travel to Genoa this weekend with a lot more confidence.

There is still a lot of speculation about Vlahovic’s future though. His current contract runs out in two years time but he is still wanted by a number of clubs from Serie A and further afield.

The strength and poise he shows for such a young player is incredible – and Fiorentina should do everything it can to get him to sign an extension as quickly as possible.

EDF is the First Head Coach to Be Sacked

I was going to write about how Eusebio Di Francesco should be worried about his future after Hellas Verona lost its third straight game of the season against Bologna on Monday.

But the powers that be at the Gialloblu decided they had seen enough and sacked the head coach.

It’s been a rough ride for him.

EDF had not won a game in 19 attempts, including those at the end of last season with Cagliari, and has not been able to help Verona push on from creditable mid table finish last year.

Igor Tudor has been earmarked as his successor and has already terminated his coaching contract at Juventus to make the move to Verona.

Di Francesco is probably a bit aggrieved at not being given a chance to turn things around after the poor start to the campaign.

It was always going to be a tough job after the club allowed most of its better players to leave in the summer. But the early dismissal now gives the new head coach a chance to turn things around with the majority of the season still to play.

Big Games Coming Up This Weekend

After a big weekend of soccer in Serie A there should be even more drama on match day four, which starts on Friday with Sassuolo taking on Torino.

The big game is probably Milan’s trip to Turin to take on Juventus on Sunday – and you can look at my preview of that game on this site, as well as a look at some of the best bets to make in Serie A.

There are sure to be more big stories coming out of match day four in Italy as well, so make sure you come back next week for another round up of all the action and news.

See what else we learned in the world of soccer with this MLS week 24 recap.

Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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