Round 3 in Serie A started with five teams at the top of the table. After drawing of the Derby d'Italia, Juventus and Inter slipped out of first place. Fiorentina soon followed after a late equalizer from Cagliari. By Monday, only Roma and Napoli were sharing the top spot...and, despite Parma giving it their all for about 10 minutes, Monday ended as it began, with two teams on top.
Saturday, September 14
Inter Milan 1-1 Juventus
The season's first episode of the Derby d'Italia was more fun than the scoreline suggested, as both sides strove for all three points. It may be early in the season, but it's possible that the meeting between Inter and Juve revealed more than Juventus's "mental toughness," as evidenced by an Arturo Vidal equalizer less than two minutes after Mauro Icardi put the nerazzurri ahead. Could it be that Walter Mazzarri has finally brought back Inter's competitive edge?
With the midweek Champions League clash against Dortmund on his mind, as well as having to deal with many of his starters tired from international duty, Rafa Benítez rang the changes, keeping five starters on the bench. This allowed Atalanta to keep themselves in the match -- at least, until the introduction of Marek Hamsik with 65 minutes left to play. The Slovak proved himself once again to be a game changer, and within fifteen minutes, goals from Gonzalo Higuaín and José Callejón gave the partenopei the win.
It's not a Milan match if there's no controversy. The first half was a rather dull affair, with the visitors more concerned about the re-debut of Kaká than in asserting their authority. Even when goals from Danilo D`Ambrosio and Alessio Cerci put Toro in front, it still looked unlikely that Milan would take anything from the match. The 87th minute goal from Sulley Muntari seemed as though it would be nothing but a consolation. But, Milan being Milan, the visitors earned a penalty in the 97th minute. The call was correct, with Giovanni Pasquale bringing down Andrea Poli, but it stemmed from Torino's frustration: Marcelo Larrondo had been lying injured on the pitch, with the referee refusing a substitution even when the ball went out for a throw-in.
Sunday, September 15
Fiorentina 1-1 Cagliari
Are the viola more concerned with dropping points, or with the fact that both Juan Cuadrado and Mario Gomez were injured in Sunday's early kickoff? Despite Fiorentina striking first, courtesy of a Borja Valero goal, Cagliari grabbed an equalizer through an 89th minute header by Mauricio Pinilla. Stoppage time brought controversy when the home side felt Giuseppe Rossi should've earned a penalty, and David Pizarro earned himself a red by shouting at the referee. Fun times in Florence!
Sassuolo aren't having the best time of it in their debut Serie A season. Three matches, three losses and dead last in the table, with one goal scored and seven against. Even with Luca Toni having to watch from the stands, Hellas still managed to pull off their second win of the season thanks to goals from Martinho and Rômulo. The win moves Verona into eighth place, sitting just above Milan. An impressive return to the top flight, but it's unlikely they'll fare as well traveling to Juventus next week.
Lazio 3-0 Chievo Verona
It seems to be the season for sides to shake off the curious hold Chievo can have on bigger teams. Napoli did it last round with a 4-2 win, and now the biancocelesti pushed away last week's nightmare against Juventus by putting three past the Flying Donkeys. Antonio Candreva, Luis Cavanda and Senad Lulic each contributed one in the first half, but Christian Puggioni woke up in the second, with the goalkeeper denying Miroslav Klose's attempts to add a fourth. The victory marks Lazio's first home win against Chievo in ten long years.
Of course losing Francesco Lodi and Alejandro Gomez was bound to hurt the elefanti, but no one really expected Catania to be fighting against relegation. They'll likely still survive by virtue of the fact that other sides are worse...but then again, we thought Livorno were one of those sides. In fact the amaranto are currently in seventh thanks to a Paulinho inspired victory, with the Brazilian putting two past Mariano Andújar. Who might want to remember that a goalkeeper is meant to stop the balls from flying into the back of the net.
Also, fun fact: one of Livorno's nicknames is The Mullets. If that's something someone made up to mess with me, please don't shatter my illusions.
If Francesco Guidolin really wants to head up the Italian national side, he might want to sharpen up Udinese first. Once again, the zebrette are off to a slow start to the season, with a draw, a loss and a win. They've conceded in every match (oh, how they must miss Samir Handanovic) and needed a last minute goal from Antonio Di Natale to get a point at home to lowly Bologna. But don't worry -- Udinese will still steal a spot in Europe in the final week of the season.
Well, this one might be the biggest surprise in a week of surprises. Prior to the Derby, Genoa had conceded seven goals, including five put past by Fiorentina in the last round. But, surprisingly enough, Mattia Perin wasn't pumped full of tranquilizers and made to sit on the bench. Instead, the Genoa goalkeeper faced down 20 shots from Samp and let none past, so he's probably busy strutting around Liguria with his chest puffed out. So too might be Luca Antonini, Emanuele Calaiò and Francesco Lodi. Meanwhile, 'Doria players are looking for dark corners to hide in.
Monday, September 16
Parma went into the second half feeling mighty good about themselves, having taken the lead for the first time all season through a goal by Jonathan Biabiany. Alas, those ten minutes of lovely play -- minutes 35-45, in case you're curious -- was all Parma had in them, as Roma staged a second half comeback. Goals from Alessandro Florenzi, Francesco Totti, and Kevin Strootman put the giallorossi back up with Napoli at the top of the table.