Three Points from Serie A Round Five: Leao Confirms MVP Credentials

It’s been another exciting weekend in Serie A as we take a look at the three most significant takeaways from matchday five. Milan won the Derby della Madonnina against Inter, Juventus looked faceless again, while Sassuolo are no longer a shadow of their former selves.

Here are the three talking points. 

Leao Shows Last Season’s MVP Award Was No fluke

It was long coming. Rafael Leao entered Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina searching for his first-ever goal against Inter. 

He didn’t only break his scoring duck against the Nerazzurri. He bagged a double to inspire Milan to a morale-boosting 3-2 win in the famous Derby.

In doing so, the 23-year-old rising star became the first Portuguese player to score in the Milan derby. But it goes far beyond the history books.

Leao made the Inter defenders look silly time and time again throughout the evening, pulling all the strings in Milan’s attack to confirm why many see him as the best player in Serie A.

The former Lille winger first drew the Rossoneri level via a sublime finish with his weaker left foot before assisting Olivier Giroud to complete the hosts’ comeback. 

He then put the icing on the cake, making light work of Alessandro Bastoni and Stefan de Vrij before smashing the ball past Samir Handanovic with a casual finish. 

Is Massimiliano Allegri the Right Man for Juventus?

Following back-to-back fourth-place finishes in Serie A, Juventus headed into the new top-flight campaign with high ambitions, keen to regain their status as chief Scudetto protagonists. 

Despite going unbeaten in their opening five league matches (W2, D3), the record-time Italian champions have flattered to deceive, with the Bianconeri fans demanding Massimiliano Allegri’s head on a silver platter.

Indeed, Juventus look like a club up the creek without a paddle, clueless in the attacking third and struggling to keep hold of possession, with no identity or a precise game plan.

Allegri’s side eked out an underwhelming 1-1 draw at Fiorentina on Saturday, but it was a thoroughly embarrassing performance from the former champions.

Mattia Perin denied Luka Jovic’s penalty to rescue a point for the visitors, who attempted only four shots on goal and just one target, the one that Arkadiusz Milik turned home in the ninth minute.

Instead of seeking a second-half winner, Allegri pulled his troops back, allowing Fiorentina to have the possession and create several decent goalscoring opportunities.

Perin was a hero at the Stadio Artemio Franchi as Juventus walked away with an undeserved point, fuelling the rage among the desperate Turin faithful. 

Allegri’s defensive-minded football keeps backfiring on his side, but he seems unwilling to change his approach, which naturally raises the question – is he the right man for Juventus?

Sassuolo from “Party Boys” to “Entertainment Killers”

For years, Sassuolo have been one of the most enthralling teams to watch in Serie A. However, numerous high-profile departures from Mapei over the past 12 months are taking their toll. 

After Francesco Caputo and Jeremie Boga, Giacomo Raspadori and Gianluca Scamacca left the Neroverdi this summer. The star duo’s exit has left head coach Alessio Dionisi with bare bones.

Without their recognized forwards, Sassuolo have experienced a faltering start to the season. In addition to winning just one of their opening five Serie A fixtures (D3, L1), Dionisi’s men have drawn a blank three times.

Though they could be forgiven for failing to get on the scoresheet against Juventus and Milan, the latest scoreless draw at newly-promoted Cremonese has not gone unnoticed.

A season or two ago, Sassuolo would have netted at least a couple of goals against the Serie A newcomers. But a lack of firepower up front condemned Dionisi’s underperforming side to another scoring blank.

The alarm bells are ringing loud at Mapei these days. Unfortunately, it looks like there’s not much Dionisi can do to turn Sassuolo’s fortunes around for the foreseeable future.