Has there ever been a more thrilling matchday at this early stage of the campaign? Calcio pulled out the big guns in what a fascinating weekend of action. Inter pummelled their rivals Milan in a shocking fashion, while Juventus announced themselves as a potential Scudetto challengers with a convincing win over Lazio. But that wasn’t all, as Roma mutilated Empoli by seven goals, while Fiorentina toppled Atalanta in a five-goal thriller. So we’ll try to recap the most intriguing action from the last three days in our Tops and Flops of Serie A Round 4.
Top (Player): Henrikh Mkhitaryan
In the most recent versions of the Derby della Madonnina, we witnessed the likes of Olivier Giroud, Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Rafael Leao announce themselves as the ultimate heroes on various occasions.
But who would have thought that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would cement himself as the main protagonist in what unfolded as one of the most one-sided encounters in this eternal rivalry.
In earnest, the vast majority of the Inter players were fabulous on the evening, but the Armenian veteran stole the limelight in the 5-1 routing by bagging a personal brace in an addition to an assist.
Not a bad tally for a player whom many fans and pundits didn’t even want in the starting lineup (more on this later).
Flop (Players): Federico Baschirotto & Luca Caldirola
Federico Baschirotto and Luca Caldirola have many traits in common. They’re both popular, hard-nosed defenders with a knack for scoring headers. But on Sunday, they shared an undesirable fate by receiving their marching orders for avoidable challenges.
With Monza and Lecce tied 1-1, Baschirotto left the visitors with a man down following a studs-up tackle in the middle of the park.
But while the Biancorossi were pushing for a winner, Caldirola wasted their numerical advantage by earning a second booking for a needless foul, also in the middle of the pitch.
In the end, the score remained intact, with each defender serving serving as the main culprit for his respective side.
Top (Manager): Simone Inzaghi
Did Inter’s starting formation on Saturday contain more quality than Milan? Perhaps. Does this presumed gap justify the demolition we witnessed? Absolutely not.
So it’s time to give some props for Simone Inzaghi who orchestrated yet another tactical masterclass, outmaneuvering his counterpart Simone Pioli at every corner.
The 47-year-old resisted popular demand to thrust Italy hero Davide Frattesi into the starting formation, instead maintaining the tried-and-tested Mkhitaryan. On the other hand, he betted on the returning Francesco Acerbi who was yet to play a single minute this season.
In the end, every choice Inzaghi made turned gold, while his team’s rhythm, tactical balance and pattern of play were sights to behold.
Flop (Manager): Maurizio Sarri
Last time around, Maurizio Sarri was our best Serie A coach of the week after mastermining Lazio’s win at the Maradona Stadium, but in Round 4, he failed to provide any answer to Juve’s rampant display.
The Biancocelesti were second best from start to finish, and they may have been lucky to avoid additional goals, while Luis Alberto’s consolation strike came due to a defensive blunder rather than any build-up play from the capital side.
With only three points from four fixtures, Sarri is certainly feeling the heat.
Top (Team): Inter
Juventus and Roma both had spectacular displays, but Inter complete a clean sweep this weekend as they seem to be operating on a whole different at this stage of the season.
With a splendid squad at the disposal of an ever-improving manager, the Nerazzurri have the ability to run away with the lead this season, unless a competent challegener presents itself and manages to keep pace with Inzaghi’s men.
Flop (Team): Empoli
Empoli might the the home of some of the most exciting talents in Serie A, but their 0-7 obliteration at the Olimpico in Round 4 suggests that drastic changes are needed at the provincial Tuscan club that is yet to earn its first point of the season.
Head coach Paolo Zanetti could end up paying the ultimate price.
Top (Goalkeeper): Stefano Turati
Despite conceding twice, Stefano Turati gets the nod for the second round in a row. The young Italian pulled off two jaw-dropping saves to preserve a stunning come-from-win for Frosinone over Sassuolo.
Flop (Goalkeeper): Alessandro Sorrentino
In the absence of the reliable Michele Di Gregorio, Monza coach Raffaele Palladino trusted the young Alessandro Sorrentino with the starting gloves.
Sadly for the 21-year-old, his Serie A debut was blemished by a reckless pass that gifted Lecce a spot kick, culminating in the opening goal. This blunder partially prevented Monza from securing what would have been a well-deserved win.
Nevertheless, we expect the young custodian to consider it a learning experience and return stronger the next time his services are called upon.
Top (Match): Frosinone vs Sassuolo
First of all, kudos to Andrea Pinamonti for scoring a spectacular brace. At that point, no one had expected Sassuolo to return home empty handed after enjoying an early two-goal cushion.
Yet, Frosinone and their manager Eusebio Di Francesco never stopped believing, and they ended up pulling off a resounding comeback against the coach’s former club, led by their valiant captain Luca Mazzitelli (another former Sassuolo alumni).
The Canarini will certainly dwell on this one for years to come.
Top (Fans): Genoa
Although they ended up wasting a two-goal lead against the reigning champions Napoli, Genoa performed admirably on Saturday night, and the unyielding passion of their home supporters certainly had something to do with it.
The deafening chants at the Luigi Ferraris never stopped for a moment, creating a surreal atmosphere in what almost ended up being a historic night for the Grifone. It eventually ended 2-2, as the Partenopei escaped with a single point.
Top (Goal): Marcus Thuram
Among the 37 goals scored on Serie A Round 4, at least five deserved a recognition, including volleys from Matteo Politano and Mazzitelli, and a stunning long-range shot from Bryan Cristante.
But at the moment, this is Inter’s world, and we’re all just living in it. So we can only give the nod to Marcus Thuram who did his best emulation of his idol “Il Fenomeno” Ronaldo by riffling his shot into the top corner from a rather tight angle.
Top (Assist): Bryan Cristante
The Roma midfielder arguably produced the best goal of the Serie A weekend in the shape of a long-range scorcher against Empoli.
But just minutes later, he pulled off a stunning backheel that was nodded home by Gianluca Mancini. Whether he intended to set up a teammate or not remains a mere detail, as this sublime piece of skill deserves a mention in any case.
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