Serie A’s return to action was not marked by any marquee matchups or shocking upsets. Instead, it brought us an AC Milan draw, Inter’s second loss and three more big points for Napoli. But it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s first two goals for Juventus that will grab all the headlines from this weekend in Serie A.
Cristiano Scores and Milan Clubs Drop Points
Cristiano Ronaldo had played the better part of four games and over 300 minutes for the Bianconeri already. He had taken the most shots in Serie A, and the most shots in Europe, without scoring a goal. We all knew that wasn’t going to last long. In the 55th minute at home against Sassuolo, he finally found the back of the net.
The ball was swung in from a corner and redirected on a header to Sassuolo defender Gianmarco Ferrari. Ferrari tried to head it back to his goalkeeper from three yards out, instead headed off the post and right to Ronaldo, who does not miss those. He grabbed his second with a very nice left-footed shot from just inside the left side of the box. Sassuolo pulled one back but Juventus were able to hold on, despite Douglas Costa getting a red card for spitting in Federico Di Francesco’s face.
Doing their best to keep pace with Juventus are Napoli, who picked up a big three points this weekend against Fiorentina in what was probably the ‘best’ matchup of the weekend. It was Dries Mertens’ first chance to start under Carlo Ancelotti and he did not shower himself in glory. In fact, he was remarkably underwhelming, and his replacement, Arkadiusz Milik, provided the key assist for Lorenzo Insigne’s goal.
It’s already quite clear that Ancelotti prefers Milik to Mertens to be his number nine. And with performances like this, it’s not hard to understand why. However, there doesn’t seem to be any more serious problems with Napoli. Their style and squad have translated well to what Ancelotti likes to do and we haven’t seen anything yet from their summer signings. They will for sure be a contender all season.
Two teams that are aspiring to be contenders are Inter Milan and AC Milan, but both have a lot of work to do. Inter thought they had an easy weekend, hosting Parma at the San Siro. But when a sensational strike by Federico Di Marco hit the back of the net, all those thoughts died. And AC Milan thought they had a simple trip to Cagliari but it was far from simple.
They were out-played by Cagliari in the first half and the beginning of the second half. The point when the matched changed was when Cagliari took off Diego Farias and replaced him with Artur Ionita. From then on, Milan closed the gap on Cagliari and shortly after found their equalizer through Gonzalo Higuain.
Strangely enough from there, Milan decided to protect the points rather than go for the win. Gattuso brought on Tiemoue Bakayoko and Diego Laxalt in the second half when maybe someone like Patrick Cutrone would’ve been able to help get the win. The three points were there to be won, but Gattuso decided the draw was more valueable.
Players of the Weekend
It’s not one player that has played so well for Sampdoria this season, but they have had a host of great performances. Therefore, after a 5-0 victory on the road, they all deserve to be players of the weekend. The strike partnership of Gregoire Defrel and Fabio ‘wonder-goal’ Quagliarella was particularly outstanding, combining for three goals and an assist.
Surprise of the Weekend
It really can’t be anything besides Inter Milan losing at home against Parma. With these two losses out of their first four, some of Spaletti’s decisions need to be brought into question. Sticking with Dalbert at left-back instead of Asamoah, and leaving Mauro Icardi on the bench to start, are the biggest this weekend. But they are only the latest of his strange decisions so far for Inter this season.
Still to Come
The Monday night game this week falls on Atalanta as they travel to SPAL. Next weekend, we get the pleasure of an interesting test between Sampdoria and Inter. Inter need a win and Sampdoria are trying to prove they are for real – it should be a great game.