THINGS WE LEARNED from Serie A this weekend as Marcus Thuram shines in derby win over AC Milan, Federico Chiesa shows his growth for Juventus and Lazio struggle with stubborn Sarri
- Inter earned a stunning 5-1 victory of their arch rivals AC Milan in the derby
- Juventus overcame Lazio while Jose Mourinho’s Roma hit seven against Empoli
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’
Inter earned the headlines in Serie A this weekend as Simone Inzaghi’s side crushed rivals AC Milan 5-1 in the Derby della Madonnina.
Marcus Thuram continued to impress at Inter, Federico Chiesa shone against Lazio and Henrikh Mkhitaryn rolled back the years in Milan derby
Mkhitaryan struck twice while Marcus Thuram, Hakan Calhanoglu and Davide Frattesi were also on target as Inter recorded a fourth straight win to top the table.
Juventus overcame Lazio 3-1 to lie second in Serie A, as reigning champions Napoli fought back from 2-0 down to draw against Genoa.
Lecce maintained their unbeaten start to the season to lie fourth, while Jose Mourinho’s Roma thrashed Empoli 7-0 to earn their first win of the campaign.
Mail Sport‘s ALVISE CAGNAZZO talks us through 10 things we learned.
Inter earned a stunning 5-1 win win over AC Milan to remain top of the Serie A standings
Simone Inzaghi has led his side to four consecutive wins at the start of the Serie A season
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MARCUS THURAM IS A GIANT
At the start of the season no one could have bet on the devastating impact Marcus Thuram would have at Inter.
In just a few weeks, former Borussia Monchengladbach winger has transformed into a complete No.9, capable of playing in the middle of the penalty area and creating scoring chances from every position. His first goal in the Milan derby will be remembered as one of the best in the game’s history, a perfect snapshot of his physical power and quality.
When he starts running directly at speed, a comparison can be made to the best of Romelu Lukaku at Inter. Unlike the Belgian centre forward, Thuram possesses a better overall vision of the game.
For the first time in their history, Inter have won five consecutive matches against Milan: a statistic highlighting the Nerazzurri’s supremacy in recent years. Thuram was one of the key players in this latest and decisive victory, which can change the direction of the season.
He was never a prolific goalscorer in the Bundesliga but the new No.9 role seems to enhanced his goalscoring instincts. In four Serie A games he has already scored twice and the goal of exceeding 10 goals by Christmas seems to be easily achievable.
Marcus Thuram has made a stunning impact since joining Inter Milan during the summer
Thuram was on target for Inter during their demolition of city rivals AC Milan at the San Siro
FEDERICO CHIESA IS A FUTURE JUVENTUS ICON
Federico Chiesa is an extraordinary player who looks to have finally overcome all the physical problems he has experienced in recent months. Against Lazio he was a thorn in the side of the opposing defence, putting Adam Marusic in difficulty and scoring Juventus’ second goal.
Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri has obvious difficulties at full back but seems unable to find the best solution by persisting with Marusic and Elseid Hysaj, rather than trusting the more deserving Luca Pellegrini and Manuel Lazzari.
Chiesa was able to roam left and right, as well as running beyond centre forward Dusan Vlahovic. For Sarri, there was no possibility of man marking Chiesa and all the Lazio defenders felt the pressure of coping with his speed. With Filip Kostic raiding forwards from full-back, Juventus become a side playing a very attacking 3-4-3 formation.
Statistics have shown Chiesa’s growth with the forward scoring five goals in his last seven Serie A matches. If he continues to play like this he will be able to realise Massimiliano Allegri’s prophecy, after the Juventus boss predicted Chiesa would score between 14 and 16 goals this season.
Juventus star Federico Chiesa appears to have finally put his injury woes behind him
LOBOTKA LOOKS UNRECOGNISABLE FROM LAST SEASON
Even without changing key players in the team, Rudi Garcia’s Napoli are experiencing an identity crisis, with Stanislav Lobotka in particular struggling.
The Slovakian looks like a different player to last year. He is appears to be out of sync with Rudi Garcia’s gameplan, which has weakened his role within the midfield. In the 4-3-3 system chosen by the French coach, Lobotka no longer plays the role of the classic playmaker in front of the defence.
He is experiencing a difficult phase in his career and appears less confident on the ball as a result of the tactics employed by Rudi Garcia. Napoli fought back to secure a 2-2 draw against Genoa after Lobotka was substituted, confirming he is not currently an irreplaceable player in the set-up.
During Napoli’s build-up, defenders have opted to bypass Lobotka by directing possession into the wide areas.
Over the past few months, the Slovakian midfielder lost his role as the central pivot in the team and has returned to being a simple water carrier in front of Napoli defence. Lobotka being substituted is now considered a normal event, but only a few months ago former coach Luciano Spalletti would never have removed him from the pitch.
DUSAN VLAHOVIC LOOKS LIKE CHRISTIAN VIERI
Despite being naturally left footed, Vlahovic scored twice against Lazio with his right. The Serbian forward also fought for every ball against Nicolo Casale and Alessio Romagnoli, with his performance rightly rewarded by being named as the man of the match.
Vlahovic is again proving himself to be a fantastic centre forward, with fans at the Allianz Stadium adoring his every action. Rumours of a swap deal for Lukaku are now in the past, with Vlahovic among Serie A’s top scorers again with four so far this season.
Against Lazio he showcased the same movements as the great Christian Vieri in his pomp, using both physical strength and power while shooting towards Ivan Provedel’s goal with precision.
His performance against Lazio was arguably the best of Vlahovic’s career at Juventus in terms of intensity and concentration.
Vlahovic is currently the best under-23 striker in Serie A and his willingness to fight up front provides a boost to the whole Juventus team.
He is now a clear reference point in Juventus side, showing growth in his hold up play thanks to Allegri’s work on the training pitch.
Dusan Vlahovic struck twice with his right foot to help Juventus to a 3-1 win against Lazio
The Serbian forward showed similar characteristics to the great Christian Vieri during the win
HOW OLD IS HENRIKH MKHITARYAN?
Inter have won their opening four matches of a Serie A season for just the fourth time in their history.
The run has been achieved in part due to the amazing performances of Henrik Mkhitaryan, who must be one of the most underrated players in Serie A.
How old is Armenian player really? This is the question Inter fans are asking themselves after his superb performance in the Milan derby.
At 34 years old, Mkhitaryan has gained the trust of manager Simone Inzaghi, maintaining his role in the Nerazzurri side despite the recent arrival of Davide Frattesi from Sassuolo.
At Inter, Mkhitaryan seems to be five or six years younger and appears to be in the best physical condition of his career having overcome a series of injuries.
Mkhitaryan constantly embarrassed Tijjani Reijnders and the rest of the AC Milan midfield, who were unable to find a way to stop him.
The two goals Mkhitaryan scored showed a player going through a top physical and psychological moment, justifying the effort Inter CEO Beppe Marotta is making to extend his contract for another year.
Mkhitaryan is equipped with superior tactical intelligence which allows him to read his teammates’ movements well in advance, playing between the midfield and the attacking lines.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck twice for Inter as the midfielder starred in the Milan derby
LAZIO ARE A PRISONER TO SARRI’S TACTICAL OBSESSIONS
Lazio seem to be the victim of Maurizio Sarri’s stubbornness, with the head coach imprisoning his team in a 4-3-3.
Sarri is showing an unwillingness to change despite his side’s technical and tactical problems, which has to Lazio suffering three heavy defeats in their opening four matches.
Pellegrini, Nicolo Rovella and Valentin Castellanos were initially left on the bench against Juventus. These choices demonstrate how Sarri has predefined ideas and never wants to deviate from his beliefs, whether right or wrong.
Ciro Immobile in attack is starting to show signs of age, but Sarri doesn’t seem to have any intention of trusting his new signing Castellanos.
In defence, the problems of Lazio have at full-back are evident. But the Tuscan coach has no intention of giving up on Hysaj and Marusic, who was the victim of Chiesa. Sarri’s choices seem to be obsessive, repetitive and lacking in logic, with fans suffering as a result.
Sarri will have to start questioning his strategy after his side had 64 per cent of the ball against Juventus, but their possession was sterile. Despite having less of the ball, the hosts were incisive enough to score three goals.
Having earned just three points to date, Lazio’s start to the season should serve as a wake-up call to Sarri, who must take a lot of the responsibility.
Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio side have earned just three points from their opening four matches
GATTI IS CHIELLINI’S HEIR
Federico Gatti has been the pleasant surprise in Juventus’ start to the season.
After Alex Sandro played the opening two matches, Allegri decided to promote Gatti him to the role of starting defender. To allow Gatti to start in his preferred role on the right of the three-man defence, Allegri opted to move Danilo to the left.
His performance against Ciro Immobile was perfect, with the former Frosinone star unbeatable physically, showing both skill in the air and remaining concentrated throughout the match.
After Giorgio Chiellini’s departure, Juventus has finally found a player with the same physical qualities as its former captain. Gatti does not have Gleison Bremer’s qualities nor the positional sense of former captain Leonardo Bonucci, but he offers Juventus security.
Gatti’s ride comes in one of the most delicate moments in the history of the defence, which after 12 years has lost all of the magical ‘BBC’ of (Gianluigi Buffon, Bonucci, Chiellini).
Juventus over the last two years have lost their three starting defenders of Matthijs De Ligt, Bonucci and Chiellini for various reasons. Gatti can be the man for the present and the future.
KRSTOVIC CAN BE THE REVELATION OF THE SEASON
Lecce is in fourth place in the Serie A table, ahead of champions Napoli.
The club are experiencing an extraordinary spell in front of goal, scoring seven goals in four games.
Nikola Krstovic is the brightest and least publicised star so far this season. His start to life in Serie A is reminiscent of the great centre forwards who wrote chapters for Lecce such as Davor Vugrinec, Mirko Vucinic and Javier Chevanton.
Krstovic is the first striker in Lecce’s history to score three goals in his first three Serie A matches. The forward is considered one of the most promising strikers in Montenegrin football and his goals have been crucial to Lecce’s unbeaten start.
Fans didn’t know Krstovic’s pedigree when he was signed from Slovakian side Dunjalska Streda in the summer. It has taken just a couple of weeks for supporters to take a shine to the 23-year-old forward.
Kratovic appears destined to be one of the most interesting players in Serie A this season, with the forward likely to develop further having made the step up into a more difficult league.
ROMA HIT SEVEN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 17 YEARS
Roma had not scored seven goals in Serie A since a match against Catania on November 19 in 2006.
An extraordinary 7-0 win over Empoli saw Jose Mourinho respond to the criticism he suffered after difficult start to the campaign, relaunching Roma’s ambitions in the process.
Roma appeared reborn from the ashes thanks to Paulo Dybala, Renato Sanches and Lukaku, with Mourinho’s team delivering a first win of the season to the fans who flocked to Olimpico.
Beyond Empoli’s struggles, the Giallorossi finally demonstrated their technical dominance by involving Lukaku, the scorer of Roma’s first goal, and demonstrating how Renato Sanches is still a top player during the opening 45 minutes.
Mourinho led his side with great intelligence, managing the quality and fitness of his attackers as best as he could.
If the Roma’s three stars of Dybala, Lukaku and Sanches can reach an acceptable level of physical fitness, they will be able to achieve great results and close the eight point gap to leaders Inter.
As well as scoring seven goals, Roma will be boosted by Rui Patricio finally keeping a clean sheet, aided by a solid showing from his defence.
Romelu Lukaku was on target as Jose Mourinho’s Roma team put seven past Empoli
PINAMONTI HAS FINALLY WOKEN UP
Andrea Pinamonti scored twice for Sassuolo during his side’s 4-2 defeat against Frosinone.
It was just the third brace for the forward in Serie A and his first since April 2022, when he struck twice for Empoli against Napoli.
The former Inter Milan youth product can still become a great player having initially struggled to replace Gianluca Scamacca in the Sassuolo attack.
Pinamonti has experienced a career full of ups and downs but the Italian now appears ready to fulfill his potential.
His excellent performance against Frosinone should give optimism to Sassuolo, despite the forward fading with the rest of the team in the second half of the defeat.
Pinamonti can make an important contribution to Sassuolo should he replicate the form he showed at Empoli in 2021-22, were he scored 13 goals in 36 matches.
Should Pinamonti continue to make progress he could well earn a call-up to the Italian national team, with Luciano Spalletti likely keeping a close eye on the striker.
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