Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 1: Majestic Candreva Stuns Roma

And we’re back! Similar to any other season, the Cult of Calcio is your home for all the latest on Italian football, from the latest news, to match coverage and special columns. Every week, we’ll recap the action from every round while highlighting the best and worst performers. Last weekend, Calcio returned with a bang. While the majority of the top boys passed their initial tests, there were a couple of surprising results across the board. So let’s recap the action from the opening matchday of the season in our own special way while identifying the Tops and Flops from Serie A Round 1.

Top (Player): Antonio Candreva

While there were other standout performances in the opening round, they all fade in comparison to the majestic display of Antonio Candreva and his stupendous brace at the Olimpico Stadium.

The former Lazio star returned to the Eternal City to torment his old rivals Roma. At the age of 36, the winger is paying little heed to father time, as he remains one of the most devastating players in the Italian Peninsula.

While his two astonishing goals turned the result upside-down, it wasn’t enough for Salernitana to return south with all three points… more on that later.

Top (Duo): Olivier Giroud & Christian Pulisic

Since we’re still enchanted with the return of our favorite league, we’ll ditch some Flop sections in favor of additional Tops!

While Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo had a claim, it’s Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic who got the nod after leading Milan towards a 2-0 win at Bologna. The fact that it was their first official match together in Italian Football makes it an even more impressive feat.

The American instigated the play that led to the French striker’s opener, while the latter returned the favor by assisting his old Chelsea comrade for what was a splendid second goal.

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Top (Manager): Massimiliano Allegri

After recurrently landing on the Flop section last season, Max Allegri is hellbent on turning the page this season. The Juventus coach was the architect of a proactive and tenacious display that saw Juventus thumping their hosts Udinese with three unanswered goals in the first half while adopting a progressive approach.

In short, this was a vast contrast to last season’s hollow version. Although, it only lasted for one half, it’s enough to spark optimism among the club’s glory-thirsty supporters.

Flop (Manager): Paulo Sousa

Paulo Sousa might be one of the most brilliant minds in Calcio. But there are simple principles to adhere to and maneuvers to avoid. So With Salernitana taking an unexpected lead against Roma at the Olimpico, you’d tip the Portuguese manager to bolster his defensive lines and instruct his players to ferociously protect the lead.

Yet, the former Fiorentina boss opted for an unorthodox ploy, swapping the services of a wingback (Pasquale Mazzocchi) with a striker (Boulaye Dia). The result? Conceding an equalizer.

This would have been deemed a courageous and innovative maneuver had it worked. But since it backfired, it can only be described as a costly tactical blunder.

Top (Team): Fiorentina

In Round 1, Fiorentina gave Genoa a warm reception following their return to Serie A, catapulting their net with four goals. This was a splendid team display from Vincenzo Italiano’s men.

Special mention to veterans Cristiano Biraghi and Jack Bonaventura who both scored and assisted stunning goals, in addition to Juventus loanee Arthur Melo who produced a midfield masterclass.

Flop (Team): Udinese

Even though Juventus were on song this weekend, their hosts Udinese made Allegri’s mission considerably easier with an abysmal display, consistently giving the ball away.

The Zebrette have lost key players in Roberto Pereyra, Destiny Udogie and Becao, while the rest of the band doesn’t appear to be physically or mentally ready for the challenge just yet.

Top (Goalkeeper): Wojciech Szczesny

After earning a healthy first-half lead, Juventus inevitably turned on autopilot mode in the second half as they coasted towards victory.

Yet, they had to rely on a string of fascinating saves from Wojciech Szczesny who earned his first clean sheet of the season the hard way. He also ate a ball in the face as a reward for his heroics.

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Flop (Goalkeeper): Elia Caprile

Following Guglielmo Vicario’s departure to Tottenham, it was up to Elia Caprile to make a strong first impression and tend to Empoli’s wounds.

While the young Napoli loanee did produce a few impressive saves, his blunder gifted Verona the winner as he failed to properly deal with a high ball.

The 21-year-old will be desperate for redemption next week, but he shouldn’t be surprised if Paolo Zanetti decides to drop him from the starting formation.

Top (Super-Sub): Charles De Ketelaere

The Calcio gods must adore a good jest. How else could you explain what transpired in Charles De Ketelaere’s career since he first stepped foot on Italian soil?

The attacking midfielder failed to score a single goal at Milan last season. Yet, he only needed a second-half cameo to put the ball over the line (merely) and subsequently lead Atalanta towards victory over their hosts Sassuolo in his club debut. Besides the goal, the Belgian looked genuinely inspired.

Take a bow, Mister Gasperini!

Special Guest: Bruno Conti

For the first time in 18 years, Roma legend and 1982 World Cup winner Bruno Conti was in the Giallorossi dugout.

The capital side resorted to their iconic winger as José Mourinho is (yet again) serving a touchline ban, while his assistant Salvatore Foti made his mentor proud by following suit and earning himself a suspension by insulting the referee.

Roma will always be Roma.

Top (Goal): Antonio Candreva

Kudos to Biraghi for producing a wonderful goal against Genoa with his weaker foot, but Candreva routed the competition with his wonder strike in the capital.

This man still oozes magic at the age of 36.

Top (Assist): Luis Alberto

Speaking of wizards, Luis Alberto’s jaw-dropping assist to Ciro Immobile deserves a mention, even if Lazio ended up suffering a shocking defeat at the Via del Marre following a late uprising from Lecce.

Top: Capocannoniere Race

While it’s still too early to tell, the initial signs had us foretelling an epic Capocannoniere race, with the best hitmen in Serie A putting their names on the chalkboard as early as Round 1.

Last season’s winner Victor Osimhen is hellbent on defending his backyard, opening his campaign with a brace. The same goes for his runner-up Lautaro Martinez, while Andrea Belotti made a statement of intent by bagging two goals as he looks to put last season’s woes behind him.

Four-time winner Immobile is also hoping to reclaim the crown he lost last season, opening his account on Matchday One, as did Dusan Vlahovic, who’s determined to showcase his worth at Juventus this term.

So who will land on top?

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