Serie A: The Recap of the 2nd Round

Aside from Inter’s come-from-behind win against Roma, the second round of Serie A offered multiple emotions and 32 goals, some of which – like Andrea Belotti’s overhead kick or Lazio’s Milinkovic-Savic spinner – are already potential candidates to the best goal of the season.

Five teams are leading the league table with two wins in two games – Sampdoria moving along with traditional high-rank contenders such as Juventus, Napoli, Inter and Milan. Other clubs are unexpectedly still at 0, including Udinese, Fiorentina and Atalanta.

Serie A will take a break next weekend along with other European major leagues, to leave room for the final matches in the World Cup 2018 qualification rounds. Italy will face Spain in an all-in game in Madrid, which could make the difference between gaining direct access to the world cup, or having to go through an additional playoff round.

We will discuss more in details the Azzurri’s upcoming match, but here is a recap of what happened on the home grounds last weekend:

Benevento-Bologna 0-1
Another disillusion for Benevento, who missed the first point in their Serie A experience when a late goal by defender Fabio Lucioni at 98’ was disallowed by the video assistant referee. Bologna took the lead thanks to a sharp low shot by Godfred Donsah and maintained it until the end, when technology rightly suggested substitute referee Daniele Chiffi (who had replaced the regular ref because of an injury!) to disallow Le Streghe’s offside equaliser.

Chievo-Lazio 1-2
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, what a player! The Serbian totally stole the spotlight in a game that Ciro Immobile from Lazio had set on fire by converting a corner kick by Luis Alberto. Chievo’s equaliser coincided with Manuel Pucciarelli’s first goal in his new team. Then the match became Milinkovic-Savic’s game reserve, with the Eagles’ midfielder firstly producing a perfect chip pass that Immobile went close to turn in his second goal, and then resolving the game himself with a powerful right-foot screamer for Lazio’s final 2-1.

Crotone-Verona 0-0
Crotone and Verona neutralized each other in a match that offered few emotions. The home team from Calabria region did a little more than their Northeastern Italy opponents, but not enough to prevent a no-score draw.

Fiorentina-Sampdoria 1-2
Fiorentina wakes up too late and Sampdoria takes three points that place them on the top of the standing. Genova’s Blucerchiati took the lead with a penalty by Fabio Quagliarella and doubled with Gianluca Caprari. In both occasions, defender Nenad Tomovic could have done better, and when coach Stefano Pioli pulled him out at half time, the Viola supporters sarcastically rejoiced liked they had just scored. The home team reaction did eventually produce a real goal in the second half with Milan Badelj, but the score didn’t change anymore.

Genoa-Juventus 2-4
Not even a 2-goal handicap could stop Juventus from conquering Marassi Stadium and taking their second consecutive win. La Joya Paulo Dybala scored a hat trick and Juan Cuadrado rounded up for the Bianconeri, after Miralem Pjanic had put the ball in his own net just 18 seconds into the game, and a penalty assigned via VAR and converted by Andrej Galabinov had brought Genoa to 2-0. All good for Juventus, but a shocking start with 2 goals conceded 8 minutes is a warning sign for trainer Massimiliano Allegri, whose defense seems a bad copy of the almost impenetrable fort from last season.

Milan-Cagliari 2-1
Milan’s current added value is a player whose impact until one year ago had been marginal to say the least: Spaniard forward Suso offered another superb performance, delivering a perfect cross for Patrick Cutrone’s conversion 10 minutes into the match. Then he saved the day with an accurate free kick after Joao Pedro had brought Cagliari back into the game. It’s 6 wins a row this season for the new Milan, but this was not an easy one, and many of its expensive new players – Andrea Conti, Franck Kessié, Ricardo Rodriguez – performed below expectations.

Napoli-Atalanta 3-1
45 minutes into the game, Napoli was reliving the same nightmare as last year against their nemesis Atalanta – who beat them twice in the 2016-17 league. A head shot by Bryan Cristante sent the Bergamaschi to half break with one goal lead. Polish midfielder Piotr Zielinski equalized with a beautiful right foot shot and gave courage to his side, which eventually scored again with Dries Mertens and Marko Rog. Maurizio Sarri’s squad showed that they can struggle and come from behind, something that they had been missing in the past season.

Spal-Udinese 3-2
A fantastic home debut for Ferrara’s Biancazzurri, who snatched a last-breath victory against Udinese thanks to a late goal by Luca Rizzo. Coach Luigi Del Neri’s squad had managed to come back from a 0-2 handicap, but that’s the only positive note in two games for his side. Spal’s striker Marco Borriello became the second player ever to score in Serie A with 12 different clubs (!) as he gave his team the lead, then Manuel Lazzari doubled, before Udinese’s Bram Nuytinck and Cyril Théréau temporarily rebalanced the match.

Torino-Sassuolo 3-0
A grande Torino at Grande Torino Stadium! We will probably use this verbiage every time the Granata take full prize at their recently renamed home ground, but the final score looks like too much of a punishment for Sassuolo. Andrea Belotti’s opening goal – a masterpiece overhead kick to convert a right-side cross from Lorenzo De Silvestri – was worth the price of the ticket itself. Late scorings by Adem Liajic and Joel Obi made Torino’s victory more impressive.