Tops of Flops of Serie A Round 8: Lukaku on Target, Giroud in Goal

Before taking an untimely two-week hiatus and making room for international football, Serie A saw its supporters off with a stirring weekend packed with stunning events. From comebacks and upsets to strikers excelling as goalkeepers, this round hardly missed a beat. So let’s recap the most interesting action that ensued in Serie A Round 8 in our latest edition of the Tops and Flops series.

Top (Player): Romelu Lukaku

Following a cringy soap opera that dominated the headlines throughout the summer, it’s refreshing to see Romelu Lukaku doing his talking on the pitch. The Belgian has been firing on all cylinders since joining Roma, and Cagliari became the latest victim to suffer his wrath.

Aside from his personal Sardinian brace, the 30-year-old is elevating the level of a squad that has been overly relying on Paulo Dybala, carrying the team on his broad shoulders even following the Argentine’s injury scare.

One has to wonder if Inter and Juventus are already regretting missing out on the controversial striker.

Top (Youngster): Matias Soulé

Since no player truly deserves to be picked as the ultimate flop of Round 8, let’s instead focus on the exploits of one of the most exciting young talents in Serie A.

Since joining Frosinone on loan, the Juventus-owned starlet has been taking the league by storm. This weekend, he ran the show for the Canarini who consolidated their status as the ultimate Dark Horses of the campaign with a 2-1 win over Verona.

The Argentine created the opener before nodding home the second. He could have also added another couple of strikes to his name but was twice denied by the post.

Top (Coach): Raffaele Palladino

If last season was the revelation, this term it’s the confirmation. At this point, Raffaele Palladino has to be acknowledged as one of the most brilliant up-and-coming stars in coaching.

Not only did Monza run through Salernitana with three unanswered goals, but this encounter displayed the enormous work conducted by the young manager.

Take Roberto Gagliardini for example. Inter fans were all too happy to see his back following several poor campaigns. But now, the midfielder has been spectacularly revitalized and once again looks like the young player who earned the plaudits in his early formative years at Atalanta.

Take a bow, Mister.

Flop (Coach): Simone Inzaghi

Thirteen minutes into their home encounter against Bologna, Inter already had a two-goal cushion thanks to goals from Francesco Acerbi and Lautaro Martinez. Yet, they found a way to squander the lead like only the Nerazzurri can.

Perhaps it’s unfair to blame Simone Inzaghi for his players’ blunders. Still, it’s this type of wasted opportunities against smaller clubs (Bologna does ring a bell) that cost the club two Scudetto titles while they were arguably the most-equipped side to build a winning legacy on their 2020/21 triumph.

There can be no alibis to rescue the former Lazio manager if he bottles it again.

Top (Team): Fiorentina

Vincenzo Italiano’s purple army struck again at the Maradona Stadium. Fiorentina conquered the Southern City with a masterclass display as Rudi Garcia haplessly watched his side getting steamrolled from the sidelines.

One might argue that Napoli could have suffered a worse defeat than 1-3, as their goal came from an individual error courtesy of Fabiano Parisi. Even with their star player Nico Gonzalez on the bench, the Viola dominated the action from start to finish, while the Argentine eventually made his cameo count, placing the final nail in Napoli’s coffin.

Flop (Team): Salernitana

At this stage, Salernitana looks like a shade of the inspired team we saw in the previous two campaigns, the one that derailed Napoli’s Scudetto celebrations last season.

Following the 0-3 defeat at the hands of Monza, perhaps the international break offers an inviting opportunity for a managerial change, as Paulo Sousa appears to have lost the plot.

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Top (Goalkeeper): Olivier Giroud

Now obviously this is a bit of a stretch, but truth be told, Olivier Giroud deserves credit for stepping up to the plate at such a delicate moment and donning the jersey of his dismissed compatriot Mike Maignan at a time when Stefano Pioli couldn’t introduce a genuine goalkeeper.

Expectedly, his handling wasn’t the neatest, but the veteran striker showcased his courage by diving in head-first for a vital intervention that secured a precious win for Milan over Genoa, one that placed them on top of the Serie A standings after Round 8.

Top (Actual Goalkeeper): Michele Di Gregorio

Well, the previous one was too tempting to be ignored, but several actual goalkeepers delivered the goods in Round 8, including Sassuolo’s Andrea Consigli and Udinese’s Marco Silvestri.

But once again, it’s Monza’s Michele Di Gregorio who gets the nod. The 26-year-old pulled off a string of saves against Salernitana, preserving his team’s comfortable lead and earning himself a well-deserved clean sheet.

Flop (Goalkeeper): Vanja Milinkovic-Savic

Sadly for the Serbian, he endured a torrid Derby della Mole, as his replicated mistake gifted Juventus their two goals. On two occasions, the Serbian abandoned his goal in an attempt to clear a corner kick, but he and his team paid dearly for his late arrival.

Top (Redemption): Federico Gatti

Speaking of the Turin Derby, Federico Gatti scoring a goal and celebrating with the Juventus Curva Sud was a moment to cherish for the defender who finally opened his Serie A account.

What made this moment even more special was the almost traumatic evening that the Italian experienced at the Mapei Stadium a couple of weeks ago.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Top (Moment): Ranieri & Mourinho Embrace

For one reason or another, the warm embrace between Claudio Ranieri and José Mourinho made for an emotional moment for us Calcio fans.

We’re talking about two of the most famous managers in the world, and who at one point in time, were fierce rivals. One is the most outspoken manager possibly in the history of the game while the other is one of the nicest persons you’ll meet in football.

Yet, the respect and esteem they have for one another is something to behold.

Top (Match): Genoa vs Milan

While the score-line suggests a routine 1-0 win for a top side over a mid-table club, the action was anything but.

This one took football drama to a whole new level as the events truly escalated in the final minutes: Late goal from Christian Pulisic, VAR controversy, Mike Maignan sent off for a knee from hell, Alfred Gudmundson’s freekick hitting the post, Giroud excelling as a goalkeeper, Genoa shot-stopper Josep Martinez also sent off…

This was chaos in its most glorious form.

Top (Goal): Lautaro Martinez

Forget about his ill-advised defensive howler that sparked Bologna’s comeback, Lautaro Martinez consolidated his Capocannoniere lead with a fantastic long-range strike that landed in the far corner.

The Inter captain just can’t stop scoring at the moment.

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