THINGS WE LEARNED from Serie A this weekend

Romelu Lukaku’s career is back on track in Rome, furious Victor Osimhen has tactical advice for his manager – and Inter’s Federico Dimarco is one of the best full-backs in Europe… THINGS WE LEARNED from Serie A

  • Inter beat Empoli 1-0 to secure their fifth victory from as many games this term
  • Romelu Lukaku also scored for Roma for the third game in a row at the weekend
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here

The Serie A season produced more thrills and spills this weekend as Inter Milan continued to lead the pack following their 1-0 win over Empoli on Sunday evening.

Last year’s Champions League runners-up have five wins from five games so far and are three points clear of rivals AC Milan and five ahead of Juventus, who sit fourth in the table.

Juve suffered a 4-2 defeat against Sassuolo as their inconsistent start to the campaign continued, sitting fourth in the table as they look to improve on a tough couple of years.

While several questions were answered, many more were raised at both ends of the table in terms of the potential direction of teams, coaches, and players.

But what did we learn this week about Serie A? Mail Sport’s ALVISE CAGNAZZO is on hand to detail some of the key talking points.

Inter Milan remained top of the Serie A table as they secured their fifth league victory in a row 

Juventus, meanwhile, lost 4-2 to Sassuolo and sit fourth in the table, five points off Inter Milan

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1 – There are few full-backs better than Dimarco

Federico Dimarco is one of the five best left backs in Europe at the moment. Against Empoli he was one of the best players on the pitch and scored the decisive goal that allowed Inter to secure their fifth consecutive victory in the league.

Dimarco attacked Razvan Marin and Tyronne Ebuehi very well, gaining space to push and help overloads in attack. 

Through the 25-year-old, Simone Inzaghi’s 3-5-2 turned into a 3-4-3, surprising Empoli. He rotated well with Alessandro Bastoni and didn’t put a foot wrong. The goal was a masterpiece of precision and power typical of his repertoire: a specialty that proves he is the best left-back in Serie A, surpassing Theo Hernandez. 

He will run for days with plenty of strength in his legs, was always proactive and never gave up. He ran until he was taken off for Carlos Augusto. 

Anyone who wants to buy the Italian full-back must submit an offer of at least £50million. As the weeks go by, his value could grow further, even if the chance of seeing him leave Inter is low. 

CEO Giuseppe Marotta thinks that Dimarco can become the captain of the team of the future and remain an Inter icon for another 10 years, inheriting the former role of Javier Zanetti.

Federico Dimarco has proved himself to be one of the best full backs in Europe recently

2 – Victor Osimhen and Rudi Garcia lock horns

DAZN’s images are telling. At the time of Victor Osimhen’s substitution for Napoli over the weekend, he turned to his coach and showed two fingers, underlining how it he thought it was necessary to try to obtain the victory by having two strikers on the pitch. 

Osimhen first covered his mouth, then let himself go completely. ‘What I told him remains in the locker room’, said manager Rudi Garcia at the end of the match. 

Osimhen has not scored for four games and his frustrations seem to be showing, creating an ever-growing diplomatic rift with his coach. 

Four shots on goal, a missed penalty, ball possession at 51 per cent and 462 passes in 96 minutes without managing to score a single goal for the champions against Bologna. 

Victor Osimhen (left) expressed his frustrations with Rudi Garcia (right) after being substituted this weekend, indicating that Napoli should be playing with two strikers rather than one

In Napoli there is a big communication problem between the dressing room and the technical staff but at the moment no one seems to want to deal with it. Jesper Lindstrom has been forgotten on the bench, Elif Elmas is deployed as a winger despite being a midfielder and Giacomo Raspadori is being used as a winger and not as a centre forward because of Osimhen. And no one ever plays in their role for 90 minutes. 

At the moment Napoli is a powder keg ready to explode and one more poor result could mean Rudi Garcia’s role in Napoli’s sporting project is called into question.

3 – Berardi’s 300

Domenico Berardi could have moved to Juventus in the final hours of the transfer window and during negotiations he had decided to exclude himself from the first Serie A match to force his transfer to Turin.

On the night of his 300th appearance in Serie A, Berardi scored a great goal at the end of the first half and played football as if he had a compass and a protractor between his feet. 

He was the hero of the evening who secured the three points for Sassuolo against Juve and continues to prove to be an exceptional player despite never having played even one second of his long career at a top club participating in Champions League. 

Berardi chased after Filip Kostic, limiting him for 45 minutes, helping Jeremy Toljan in defence and scored with his first shot on goal. At the moment he is one of the best players among all Italian attackers and Luciano Spalletti can continue to rely on him.

Domenico Berardi made his 300th Serie A appearance against the team he could have joined in the summer

4 – Romelu loves his new Rome role

It was Romelu Lukaku’s third game in a row with a goal at the weekend, but it wasn’t enough for Roma win their match against Torino. When Lukaku plays in the penalty area, he becomes a lethal attacker. 

The Belgian scored a true centre forward’s goal on Sunday, taking up space in front of defender Alessandro Buongiorno, turning quickly and kicking hard past Milinkovic-Savic. 

After Roma his the post for the sixth time this season, Jose Mourinho began to lose hope in the possibility of winning the match. The former Chelsea man scored his fifth goal of the season against Torino and put to rest the fears that he was going to struggle at the club.

In Mourinho’s 3-4-2-1, Lukaku’s role is fundamental. He is Roma’s attacking pivot, with the task of making the Giallorossi play. Stephan El Shaarawy and Paulo Dybala are not wingers, and play behind the number 9 as second strikers with freedom of movement. 

The four-man midfield allows the the attackers to stay forward and provide Lukaku with continuous supplies. Mourinho’s tactical move seems to be helping the team, but it’s unclear how long it will last.

On-loan Roma striker Romelu Lukaku scored his third goals in as many games for his new side

5 – Szczesny’s struggling

Wojciech Szczesny is no longer a reliable goalkeeper capable of being Juventus’ No 1. The recent history of his career tells of decent game but also terrible errors that contributed to the team falling out of the Champions League and the title fight. 

The Polish goalkeeper has one of the highest salaries in Serie A but his performance is well below that of his predecessors in the black and white shirt. The sensational error made from Armand Lauriente’s shot sums up the last few years of his career – he is very often distracted, he no longer has the reactivity of his best years and his defence is almost afraid of him. 

He made some good saved, but for Berardi’s shot he appeared to have little reactivity in his legs. He’s also to blame for the third goal.

His career seems to have embarked on an irreversible downward trajectory. Mattia Perin is his No2, but in terms of technical quality and concentration even he is superior to Szczesny.

Wojciech Szczesny’s place in the Juventus side is starting to cause serious issues fir the club

6 – Lookman’s back on song

Ademola Lookman has returned to shine in Serie A after four games of absence. The Nigerian winger, after having impressed in Serie A in his first year in Italy, has struggled to regain a leading role in an Atalanta side that has changed massively, especially in attack, with the tactics also changing. 

Without Duvan Zapata, Gian Piero Gasperini chose to focus on Charles De Ketelaere. But Lookman’s first goal in five games helped Atalanta pick up a vital three points, reaching nine points in the table to help eliminate fears from the start of the season. 

He was best playing in the win against Claudio Ranieri’s Cagliari, playing a vital tole in a first half of the highest level, hitting the crossbar and above all putting the entire Sardinian defence into a state of panic every time he got the ball.

Gasperini will have to try to improve the partnership between De Ketelaere and Lookman without defusing the talent of both and to do so he will need a new tactical idea that can also involve the new signings. 

The choice to play with the former AC Milan player as the central striker role seems to reward Lookman but penalise the Belgian, who offers greater quality when he can play alongside Gianluca Scamacca.

Ex-Premier League star Ademola Lookman (left) has returned to form for Atalanta and is starting to forge a promising partnership with 22-year-old forward Charles De Ketelaere (right)

7 – Is Lindstrom a tourist in Naples?

There is a fear that Jesper Lindstrom, attacking star for the Danish national team, may not be suited to Serie, despite Aurelio De Laurentiis’ club having spent £22million on him.

Napoli thought about replacing Hirving Lozano, who returned to PSV, with the winger from Eintracht Frankfurt but so far Lindstrom has only played 15 minutes and Garcia even preferred Alessio Zerbin over him in the draw against Genoa. 

Even against Bologna, Lindstrom was among the non-paying spectators at the Dall’Ara stadium and suffered yet another blank from his French coach, who had approved his purchase in last summer. 

Raspadori and Matteo Politano are ahead of him but in the coming weeks it will be necessary to spread minutes on the pitch. 

Garcia played Elif Elmas for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in moments of difficulty but once again Lindstrom looked with resignation at the choices of his coach, who does not seem happy with the former Bundesliga star’s approach to games.

Jesper Lindstrom (left) is struggling to adapt to life at Napoli after his £22million transfer

8 – Gagliardini is reborn

The match against Lazio was a fundamental crossroads for Roberto Gagliardini’s season. He was the best player on the pitch and when the midfielder is in excellent physical and psychological shape, Monza plays very well.

He played almost silently behind the Lazio defence, eventually hitting them with a lethal bite worthy of a shark. His playing style has not changed over the years, but with Raffaele Palladino in charge he can return to scoring a few more goals each year. 

He is very intelligent and reads the movements of the opposing defence first. At Inter he suffered from the competition and player turnover from Simone Inzaghi, but at Monza he is the brightest star in middle of the pitch with Matteo Pessina and Andrea Colpani. 

He doesn’t have to worry about his place in the team – he has returned to being the fast and star player admired many years ago when he was at Atalanta.

Roberto Gagliardini is back to his best as the main man for Monza, who drew 1-1 with Lazio

9 – Allegri stops at 112

Massimiliano Allegri has set a new forgiving record. In the match against Alessio Dionisi’s Sassuolo, he decided to field the same 11 that beat Lazio, stopping the number of times in which he presented a different starting team at 112 since the day of his return as Juventus manager.

It seemed the sequence would last forever.  But the final result of 4-2 was disastrous and three of the men chosen by Allegri disappointed massively. Weston McKennie was selected over Timothy Weah, Federico Gatti was preferred to Daniele Rugani and the young Fabio Miretti played instead of Nicolo Fagioli for the second consecutive match. 

All three had already played very well against Lazio, so they earned their starts. In the past Allegri has always had to live with a number injuries to his best players and 90 per cent of his athletes in the last two-and-a-half years have suffered an endless series of physical problems which have facilitated the continuous turnover in every match.

Massimiliano Allegri named an unchanged side after 112 matches without doing so at Juventus

10 – Oudin’s magic for Lecce

Remi Oudin’s goal against Genoa gave three important points to the Apulian team who find themselves in an unexpected position in the league table with 11 points in five games. 

Oudin is the new goose that lays the golden eggs of Pantaleo Corvino’s Lecce and his great technical and tactical contribution can transform the small Salento team into one of the surprises of the season in Serie A. When Nikola Kratovic doesn’t score, the 26-year-old Frenchman tends to take care of business.

He is having a huge impact on Italian football and Serie A, and can be considered the perfect player for what Roberto D’Aversa’s team needs. He is a versatile athlete who plays on the right but is left-footed, can play any offensive role and can also be deployed as a midfielder if necessary. 

He is talented and skilled at dribbling but so far he has always shown a certain difficulty in finding the back of the net. If he manages to improve that, he will become an important player with a new ceiling. For Bordeaux he played 79 games scoring only nine goals, too few for a striker and perhaps even for a midfielder. 

Sporting director Pantaleo Corvino had a lot of intuition in bringing him to Lecce and he is now one of the flagships of the Apulian team.

Remi Oudin’s shone for Lecce against Genoa and is proving to be a useful talisman for the side


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