In the Italian playing cards tradition, a Settebello is the seven of coins card – the most magnificent and important one of the deck. Indeed, playing cards is a deep-rooted tradition in Napoli, a city which has their own traditional set – the infamous carte napoletane.
Playing the Settebello in Napoli means playing your own ace, your trump card, and that’s exactly what Maurizio Sarri’s squad did by catching their 7th straight win in Serie A to retain the top of the league and creating small rift with Juventus – as Bianconeri let Atalanta come from behind in their Sunday night match, and lost their first points in the League.
Serie A and other major European Leagues will take a break next weekend to leave room for the World Cup qualification round last matches. This will allow us some time to make a first evaluation of this edition of the Italian top level championship, which never had seen so many teams putting together this many points – Napoli 21 out of 21, Juventus and Inter 19 out of 21, without forgetting Roma which totalized 15 out of 18 available points, with one match to be caught up.
In the meantime, here is what happened in the Serie A matches this weekend:
When the game seems to have taken a clear direction, with the Bianconeri leading 2-0 – here comes an unexpected reaction from La Dea. It was a shocking night at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia in Bergamo. Federico Bernardeschi gave his side the lead, marking his official debut in Juventus’ starting lineup, tapping the ball in after an inaccurate save by Erit Berisha. Gonzalo Higuain brought his team on 2-0, but center back Mattia Caldara was quick to re-open the match when he took advantage of another defective save – this time by Gianluigi Buffon on a free kick by Alejandro Gomez. Atalanta equalized with a header by Bryan Cristante – whose convincing recent performances awarded him a calling from Nazionale’s coach Giampiero Ventura. The Bianconeri still had a chance to make full score, but Berisha redeemed himself from the mistake on Juve’s first goal, and saved a penalty kick shot by Paulo Dybala. The score didn’t change anymore, and Massimilano Allegri’s band had to accept the first stop in their Serie A march.
Nerazzurri capture another win and reach Juventus at the second spot of the Serie A Table, but continue to suffer more than expected. Yesterday at lunch time, it took a double by Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic for Inter to overcome Benevento, which at least finally managed to score again after five weeks. A goal by Marco D’Alessandro kept coach Luciano Spalletti’s side under pressure until full time, showing that the Campani can indeed put up a battle to avoid relegation. Inter conquered their 6th win in 7 games, a trend that usually grants access to Scudetto – but in this unusual beginning of the season, this is not even enough to lead the standing!
Three fundamental points for Chievo, which managed to come back after Fiorentina had moved ahead with a goal by Giovanni Simeone. Lucas Castro’s first Serie A double gave coach Rolando Maran his first home victory this season, leaving the Gialloblu from Verona in a comfortable mid-standing position.
A goal dell’ex by Rodrigo Palacio gave Bologna an important away victory, and put Genoa’s coach Ivan Juric seriously at risk of being sacked. Il Grifone has scraped together only two points in seven games so far – continuing with the same poor trend that put them at risk of relegation towards the end of the past season. Roberto Donadoni’s Bologna caught their second win in a row, which places them just one point behind the Europa League qualification quota: the Rossoblu from the Emilia Region are one of the most interesting surprises from these early Serie A rounds.
Napoli was just too much for this Cagliari. Maurizio Sarri’s Azzurri went to 7th Heaven without even giving the impression of having to sweat that much. Captain Marek Hamsik converted a precious assist by Dries Mertens only four minutes into the game for his 116th goal wearing a Napoli jersey – one more than a certain Diego Armando Maradona…
Mertens made it two scoring from the penalty kick spot, for his 7th seasonal goal, and defender Kalidou Koulibaly brought the gap to three in the second half. Among Cagliari lines, another good performance for midfielder Niccolò Barella, who earned the right to join the Italian National Team for the first time.
The Biancocelesti are in tip top shape, and caught their 8th win in 10 official games this season, eating Sassuolo in one bite. A penalty by Domenico Berardi deluded Christian Bucchi’s Neroverdi, before Luis Alberto equalized for Lazio converting a free kick before half time. After the break, Simone Inzaghi’s gang made short work of the opponents, scoring five more times with Stefan De Vrij, Marco Parolo (twice), again Luis Alberto, and Ciro Immobile (9th goal for the Azzurri’s striker).
We analyzed Roma’s away win in San Siro here.
Goals by Alberto Paloschi and “Simy” Nwankwo awarded one point each to Spal and Crotone, in what was the anticipation of a likely seasonal battle to avoid relegation to Serie B. The Ferraresi interrupted a losing streak of four games, whereas the Calabresi caught another positive result after last week’s win against Benevento. Both teams left the pitch happy, and postponed their final showdown to the retour match – when the battle to remain in the top tier will be on.
Torino is caught up by Verona during extra time after having led by two goals, and has also to face an injury to its best player Andrea Belotti: It was definitely not a good day for coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, who probably thought to have closed today’s match after goals by Iago Falque and M’Baye Niang had given him a 2-0 lead. Verona snatched their third point this season thanks to a goal by Moise Kean, and a converted penalty by Giampaolo Pazzini – conceded when Cristian Molinaro ingenuously committed a hand foul at 91’.
Raise your hands, those of you who would have expected such an outcome in Saturday’s first match of the 7th Round of Serie A. Udinese took advantage of Sampdoria’s mistakes and trashed the Bluecerchiati with a 4-0 win that give coach Gigi Del Neri’s boys a boost of morale. Three out of four goals for Udinese came from penalty kicks, respectively converted by Rodrigo De Paul, Maxi Lopez and Seko Fofana. A red card for Samp’s Edgar Barreto only 40 minutes into the game made it even easier for the Bianconeri, who scored a fourth goal again with Maxi Lopez.