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Monday September 2 2013
Brera wouldn’t be impressed…

New attacking options drafted in over the summer appear to be having an immediate effect. Giancarlo Rinaldi struggles to keep count on a bad weekend for goalkeepers and defences.

If Gianni Brera was looking on from beyond the grave, he would have tutted in disapproval. For one of Italian football’s most famous scribes, the perfect game was one which finished without a single goal. The Serie A weekend would have given him 43 reasons to be unhappy.

Perhaps it was something in the crazy, rumour-filled air of a round of fixtures still being played with the transfer window wide open. It creates a daft atmosphere about matches in which players are unsure where they might be playing after the international break or who could lose their places to last-minute signings. Whatever the cause, the goals flew in across the country at an average of more than four a game.

The overall impact was to leave five teams tied at the top of the table with a 100 per cent record. On last season’s form this was not such a surprise for top four finishers Juventus, Napoli and Fiorentina. However, it represents a more notable recovery for Inter and Roma – even on such a small sample of results.

There is already something different about Rudi Garcia’s Giallorossi and Walter Mazzarri’s Nerazzurri this term. They seem to have a certainty, shape and growing confidence about them which must give their supporters a flicker of hope. Capping their respective 3-0 wins over Verona and Catania were classy finishes from Miralem Pjanic and Ricky Alvarez. If both sides can get such talented individuals to deliver to their full potential, they could have some fine times ahead.

Make no mistake, these were the kind of games these clubs could easily have mucked up last year. Instead, they took their chances with style and also kept things tight at the back. It is a small step, no doubt, but at least it is finally in the right direction.

The feeling, of course, is that there is still a long journey ahead of them to challenge the likes of Juventus and Napoli who were both in crushing form on Saturday. Antonio Conte’s men reprised their Super Cup demolition of Lazio with an Arturo Vidal double contributing to a 4-1 victory. It was also notable for another strike for new boy Carlos Tevez and a Leonardo Bonucci attempt to impersonate Andrea Pirlo with a couple of delicious assists. It is now 10 years since the Biancocelesti managed a League win against La Vecchia Signora.

In Verona, Rafa Benitez’s men confirmed the entertaining qualities they displayed last week. Marek Hamsik underlined his credentials as team leader with another brace in a pulsating 4-2 victory. It was hard not to feel a little sympathy for Alberto Paloschi who grabbed a couple of goals and still ended up on the losing side. There were some defensive lapses from the Partenopei but, with Gonzalo Higuain getting his first Serie A strike, they look pretty irresistible when they sweep forward in attack.

The most madcap performance of the top teams came, almost inevitably, from Fiorentina. Mario Gomez and Giuseppe Rossi both spurned chances in the opening two minutes but more than made up for it with a double each. They should have been home and dry with a 3-0 lead at half-time, but instead they showed failings at the back which let Genoa have an outside hope of getting something out of the game until Super Mario converted a penalty late in the game.

The other Super Mario – the Milanese one – was also on the mark against Cagliari to cap a good week for the Rossoneri. With Champions League qualification secured and rumours of Kaka’s return swirling around the San Siro, there was a much more positive feel to Max Allegri’s post-match interviews. Who knows, he might even go a couple of weeks without speculation that he will be replaced on the Milan bench.

A first League goal in Parma’s colours did Antonio Cassano little good as his team was ultimately submerged by Udinese. There was also a precious win for Atalanta over Torino, while Bologna and Sampdoria shared four goals – including one beauty from Manolo Gabbiadini. You get the feeling it will not be his last strike for the Blucerchiati this campaign. It was capped by a call-up to Cesare Prandelli’s latest Italy squad.

The final world goes to a game which already had the air of a relegation six-pointer even at the start of the season. Livorno were the big winners away to Sassuolo with Innocent Emeghara making an immediate impact with a couple of goals in the Tuscan side’s 4-1 triumph. There was a time when these crunch matches among newly-promoted times would be tense, tactical and tedious affairs. However, on the evidence before our eyes across Saturday and Sunday, those days are clearly long gone. It might not be perfect in Brera’s eyes, but it is pretty entertaining.

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Have your say...
I'm glad that Roma Dumped Osvaldo and you will see that without him they will do well. Roma should have kept Borini instead of Destro if Zeman was coach he never would have let that happen.

I;m just waiting for Liverani to get fired and for Stramacchioni to take charge. It will happen and Strama plays excellent football so he should bring some stability to that team. Otherwise, we have a great season ahead of us
on the 9th September, 2013 at 7:16pm
I also remember watching that game with rather unimpressed Premiership football fans and finding it fascinating and the others not having a clue why. Ah those were the days.
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 5:49pm
Yeah apologies Cannavero (sic) didn't play in that game. Shows what 10 years does to you! Still the point stands. Italian teams had much better defences back then! PS Whoever us the pedantic person commenting above you do realise that comment was written in about 2 seconds in work. I don't tend to pay too much attention to typos (or it seems facts) when I'm commenting on blogs.
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 5:47pm
Come on,a Milanese Super Mario ? There's only one Super Mario, and that's BaloGOL. I'm a Juventino.
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 1:22pm
Looking at Prandelli call ups. I can understand what he is saying about Rossi but god we need him for the qualifiers. Also again cant understand why no Cassano and Di Natale. Gila is always selected yet he is crap,and not international class. Nice to see Gabbiadini and Motta re called. Glad in a way Barzagli is injured as Ogbonna has now been called. I rate him and feel he should have been called up anyway. Still hope Bardi gets his chance soon as for me he is Gigis heir. 2 wins and we are there
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 11:32am
Firstly its Cannavaro. And he didn't play for Juve in '03. And thuram played at right back. In the middle it was tudor and ferrara. How dare you use maldini's name as ur username.
Do you even soccer?
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 5:50am
To maldini's heir,I don't think cannavaro played in that match vs Milan in the 2003 ucl final..he was still an inter man back then,but true way back then in serie a there were top notch defenders some absolutely masterclass defending throughout.
on the 3rd September, 2013 at 4:48am
This happened last season too, I remember everyone saying the same thing. By about week 4 normal serie A service had resumed in fact it actually got a bit boring for a few weeks! No doubt will be a repeat this year. Although Roma and Inter look interesting as they could be challenging for champions league places come May!
on the 2nd September, 2013 at 6:57pm
Italian/Serie A defending really has gone to the wall. If you look at the Premiership this weekend where Liverpool and Arsenal both held onto 1 - 0 leads it was like watching Italian teams play 10 years ago. If you think back to Milan v Juve in 2003 Champions League final. Maldini and Nesta v Cannavero and Thuram...now that was defending. Not that I want to be seen pontificating from the side lines but Milan's defending last night was appalling. Still difficult not to get excited about Kaka!
on the 2nd September, 2013 at 10:44am

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