5 Things We Learned from Match Day Seven in Serie A
As highlighted last week, there were plenty more goals in Serie A on match day seven. Sampdoria and Udinese shared six, Atalanta and Milan managed five between them, and Hellas Verona scored four of its own without reply against Spezia.
It is fair to say that it was another entertaining weekend in the Italian top tier this weekend. Those results had their own effect on the league standings as well, of course.
Serie A is looking increasingly interesting as we take a short break for World Cup qualifiers – at both ends of the table. There were plenty of stories across the peninsula, but here are five from match day seven that I thought were worth highlighting.
Napoli Continues to Fly High
There was only one other game to be played after Napoli’s on Sunday, but the Partenopei was already assured of top spot going into the international break, whatever the outcome of its fixture with Fiorentina.
Luciano Spalletti’s side went on to win the game anyway and is now enjoying a two-point lead at the top over Milan, who also won on Sunday evening.
This latest victory was marred by racist comments made by Fiorentina fans towards Kalidou Koulibaly as he was leaving the pitch though.
It is not the first time there have been incidents of racism in Serie A this season but there is some hope that it is being dealt with more seriously this year, on the evidence of those earlier instances.
That ugly side of Italian soccer should not take away from the way Napoli fought back against a very impressive Fiorentina to take all three points.
Lorenzo Insigne could even afford to miss a penalty, thanks to Hirving Lozano eventually putting the ball in the net on the rebound. Amir Rrahmani scored the winner, finishing off a well-worked set piece move.
A few Fiorentina fans at the end may have ruined the spectacle but Napoli still leads the way in Serie A.
Locatelli Saves the Day in the Derby della Mole
Torino very rarely manages to take all three points in its local derby against Juventus. But the Granata was just four minutes from a valuable and morale-boosting point on Saturday.
Instead, it was Manuel Locatelli who scored the only goal of the game to give Juventus its third consecutive victory, helping the club overtake Torino to go into seventh place.
Both goalkeepers had made some excellent saves throughout a very entertaining derby game, but Milinkovic-Savic could do nothing about Locatelli’s strike that ultimately won the points.
It could be argued that Juve might have put the game out of sight in the first half alone had its finishing been better.
Under Ivan Juric, Torino has looked like one of the more exciting teams in Serie A this season, and it seemed as though this was the perfect opportunity for the Granata to win this fixture for the first time in years.
That was not to be though – and now both clubs need to concentrate on keeping up their fine form when they return after the week off.
Salernitana Wins at Last
Newly promoted clubs always face a tough task in Serie A but, before the weekend, Salernitana had not won a topflight game since 1999 and was rooted to the bottom of the table.
There had been a good comeback to earn a point against Hellas Verona a few weeks ago, but that first victory had proved elusive.
Head coach Fabrizio Castori elected to go with both the veteran Franck Ribery and Simy, the striker who had done so well at Crotone last season.
But neither of those two was able to unlock the Genoa defense and it was left to Milan Duric to head the only goal of the game just minutes after coming on as a second half substitute.
It is debatable whether this win will change the course of Salernitana’s season though. It is good news for the club that it has now climbed off the bottom of the table – even though it is still in the bottom three.
But there have been only five goals scored so far and – combined with one of the worst defenses in the league – it is still going to be a long haul this season.
|Bottom of Serie A|
Bologna Continues to Improve
Since Bologna returned to Serie A in 2015, it has only managed to squeeze into the top half of the table on the final day of the season on one occasion.
In fact, for most of the last few campaigns, head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic has been battling against relegation – or at the very least against the possibility of being dragged into a scrap at the foot of the table.
There was some excitement in the summer when Musa Barrow confirmed a permanent move to the club after performing well on loan from Atalanta last season.
There were also scenes of jubilation that welcomed the public arrival of Marko Arnautovic after his spell in China. But none of that suggested that this season would be markedly different to the last few.
But a thumping 3-0 win over Lazio on Sunday was Bologna’s third of the season after a slow few weeks and saw the club go back into the top half of the table.
Musa Barrow’s opener was sublime. The second from Arthur Theate was headed in just minutes later and Aaron Hickey finished off the rout with a firm strike with 20 minutes to go.
Udinese is up next before Bologna faces Napoli and Milan in the space of six days.
Gian Piero Gasperini Has Some Work to Do
Atalanta has become nearly everyone’s second favorite team in Serie A over the last few years.
The Bergamo club has started to become a regular in the Champions League and has enthralled fans with its high-scoring style of soccer.
But the goals haven’t been quite as forthcoming this season – and it only managed to take one point from two games against the Milan sides in the last two weeks.
With two potentially pivotal Champions League fixtures against Manchester United coming up after the international break, Gasperini will need to work out a way to get his players to finish off their chances as they have been in previous seasons.
Another worry for the Atalanta head coach will be the number of chances his side allowed its opponents in the last two games. End to end play might be exciting for the neutrals, but Milan created 30 chances on Sunday, while Inter managed an astonishing 40 the week before.
Even the best defense won’t be able to cope if that kind of barrage is faced every single week.
Time Off Before Match Day Eight in Serie A
Napoli might be top of the table as we go into the international break, but there are only four points separating the top three.
There’s a whole host of clubs clogging up the middle of the standings, and then the makings of an intense relegation battle are already beginning to emerge at the foot of the table.
Serie A really is shaping up to be a wild ride this season.
World Cup qualifiers take center stage now though, before Spezia and Salernitana get match day eight Saturday October 16th. I’ll be back at the start of next week rounding up the big stories from another week of enthralling Serie A action.