Following a dreary, controversial start to the international calendar, Serie A made its timely return over the weekend for the third matchday of the 2021/22 campaign.
Juventus continued their early-season slump as they were beaten 2-1 by Napoli, who retained their 100% start to the new campaign, while champions Inter dropped the first points in their title defence.
There were more thrills and spills across Italy on Matchday 3 of Serie A, and here’s a round-up of yet another superb weekend of football. What a start it’s been!
Thriller in the capital
Jose Mourinho’s Roma are quite the watch, aren’t they? After overcoming Fiorentina and Salernitana on the opening two matchdays, the Giallorossi maintained their perfect start to the season with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday.
It was a ludicrous encounter, one that could’ve quite easily ended 6-6 or in a Sassuolo victory. The visitors spurned several glorious opportunities after Filip Djuricic cancelled out Bryan Cristante’s opener following a sequence of Domenico Berardi magic in the build-up. Rui Patricio was superb for the hosts, keeping Jeremie Boga at bay on more than one occasion.
Patricio’s heroics set up a grand-stand finish in Rome, with Stephan El Shaarawy’s pinpoint effort sparking remarkable scenes at the Olimpico as Mourinho joined in with his player’s celebrations like he was 17 years younger, a little more handsome and streaking down the Old Trafford touchline.
Gianluca Scamacca tried his best to kill the atmosphere right away on the Special One’s 1000th game in charge, but his incredible volley was ruled out for offside at the death.
Differing fates for the Milan clubs
AC Milan joined Napoli and Roma as the only 100%-ers left in the division after they impressively brushed aside Lazio at the San Siro.
Rafael Leao opened the scoring for the purring hosts before Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his comeback to the side by netting the Rossoneri’s second after some great work from Ante Rebic to set up the humble Swede.
Their Milanese rivals, Inter, however, stuttered in Genoa once again as they could only muster a point against Sampdoria. In the 2-2 draw, the Nerazzurri nonetheless conjured up a pair of wonderful strikes. Federico Dimarco’s thunderous free-kick was closely rivalled by Lautaro Martinez’s cool left-footed volley, wonderfully assisted by Nicolo Barella in transition.
Vlahovic downs Atalanta
Vincenzo Italiano’s bright start as Fiorentina boss continued on Saturday night as La Viola earned a surprise 2-1 victory against Atalanta in Bergamo.
La Dea, who are yet to ignite this season, succumbed to a pair of adroit Dusan Vlahovic spot-kicks on either side of half-time. Duvan Zapata halved the deficit with a penalty of his own, but the visitors held on for the victory.
Vlahovic has started the new campaign exactly where he left off in 2020/21, scoring three in three. Could Juventus go back in for him in January?
Bologna & Udinese remain unbeaten
After claiming a 2-2 draw against Juventus on Matchday 1, Udinese have since claimed two victories to leave them with seven points after three games. At the weekend, they edged an unlucky Spezia thanks to a late Lazar Samardzic winner.
The 19-year-old is one to keep an eye on after arriving from RB Leipzig in the summer.
Bologna also left it relatively late to secure their second win from three. Against a dull, uninspiring Hellas Verona, Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side had to be patient as the visitors sought to dominate the ball without trying to do anything with it. The hosts’ persistence eventually prevailed with 15 minutes remaining as Mattias Svanberg scored the game’s only goal.
Verona’s third successive defeat was enough for the club’s hierarchy to be done with the Eusebio Di Francesco experiment. Ivan Juric’s successor was sacked on Tuesday morning, and Juventus’ Igor Tudor is in line to be his replacement.
Drama at the bottom
Despite the primitive stage of the season, you can gauge who, well, might be in for a tough year. One of those sides is Salernitana who, after defying the underlying metrics to earn promotion from Serie B last season, have endured a torrid start to life in the top-flight – 22 years since their last appearance.
They fell to their second consecutive 4-0 defeat at the weekend as Torino eased to their first win under Ivan Juric’s tutelage following a pair of slender losses.
Empoli, meanwhile, failed to seize the momentum they gathered from toppling the Old Lady on Matchday 2 as they fell to a 2-1 home defeat to the winless Venezia. The hosts were typically enterprising and modern in their approach, but they succumbed to strikes from Thomas Henry and David Okereke.
Finally, Genoa completed a remarkable comeback to sink Cagliari 3-2 in Sardinia. After Joao Pedro and Luca Ceppitelli had given the hosts a 2-0 lead, Mattia Destro sparked a second-half resurgence with his smart header. A brace from debutant Mohamed Salim Fares, on loan from Lazio, then handed Genoa their first victory of the season.
Matchday 4 kicks off on Friday night as Sassuolo host Torino at the Mapei Stadium.
The blockbuster match-up arrives on Sunday night as AC Milan travel to a desperate Juventus. Napoli travel to Udinese at the same time. The other perfect team, Roma, visit a Di Francesco-less Hellas Verona in the evening. They’ll have a great chance to make it four wins from four to start the Jose Mourinho era.
Inter, meanwhile, will be looking to get back on track when they host fellow unbeaten side, Bologna, on Saturday evening. Atalanta, too, will be hopeful of bouncing back from their defeat to Fiorentina – who take on Genoa – when they visit bottom-of-the-table Salernitana.
Elsewhere, Lazio host Cagliari, Sampdoria visit Empoli and Spezia take on Venezia in Venice.