Kirsten Schlewitz looks at the early season form of the Italian title chasers.
We’re just two rounds into the Serie A season, yet we may already have some idea of who, if anyone, might be best suited to challenging Juventus for the title. But first thing’s first, we should start with the champions. Actually, firstly you should check out this Guts bonus sports. You're welcome.
The Old Lady remain top choice for this season’s scudetto. Replacing Antonio Conte with Max Allegri did prompt many questions, but so far, Juventus have delivered. It helps that Allegri has yet to change Conte’s game plan, adhering to a three-man defense despite having to shuffle players due to injury.
The talented collection of players Juve have on-hand means that, no matter who is shouting instructions on the touchline, they were always going to be favorites. But there’s still reason to think they may be more vulnerable this season than last. Injuries are already hitting the side, and a prolonged run without Arturo Vidal in midfield or Carlos Tevez scoring goals could mean danger. The Champions League may also take a toll, particularly as Juventus are being asked to finally deliver the goods in Europe.
Roma, who finished second last season, were tipped to challenge Juventus. But despite two wins from two, they’ve only truly impressed during their first half against Fiorentina. This weekend the giallorossi looked rather tepid against newly-promoted Empoli, winning 1-0 by virtue of an own goal.
It’s about to get tougher for Rudi García. The manager now embarks on his first Champions League journey, beginning with Roma hosting CSKA Moscow. It’s a relatively easy first match, but with Roma’s group including both Manchester City and Bayern Munich, the side could wind up exhausting themselves in Europe while stuttering in the league.
Milan are off to a flying start under new manager Filippo Inzaghi, collecting six points and scoring eight goals in the process. Considering their 8th place finish last season, tipping them for the scudetto may seem rather hasty. However, Inzaghi has assembled a rather frightening attack, even after selling Mario Balotelli to Liverpool.
What worries is their inability to defend. Milan ran out 5-4 winners against Parma on Sunday, but allowed two goals from corners, with another coming after a back-pass from Mattia De Sciglio, which caused Diego Lopez to flail spectacularly as the ball flew into his own net. If the defence isn’t sorted, the bigger sides could well rip Milan to shreds.
After failing to qualify for the Champions League, Napoli announced their goal was the scudetto. But they’re already stumbling. Genoa ran circles around them in their first match, and despite a last-minute victory for Napoli, they did very little to excite. But this weekend’s home loss to minnows Chievo may have already knocked them out of the title chase. Supporters have made their ire known, and if Rafa Benítez doesn’t pull off an impressive victory over Udinese this weekend, he can expect to be looking for another job.
After a 7-0 thumping of Sassuolo this weekend, many might include Inter in the scudetto discussion. But while their attack, and particularly Mateo Kovacic, certainly caused chaos, it’s worth remembering the same result occurred last season. Walter Mazzarri started 10 of those 11 players against Torino in the opening match, yet not a single goal came. Until the goals rain down against a side not expected to be battling relegation, the nerazzurri shouldn’t be considered title candidates.
You can find Kirsten on twitter at @KDS_Football.Categories: soccer