Roma, or Mohamed Salah, scored three goals on Sunday night to ensure Roma remain Serie A’s top goalscorers so far this season. Just behind them in the goalscoring charts though, is Sinisa Mihajlovic’ young, energetic and free-scoring Torino who hit five against Cagliari on Saturday. A strong start to the season has seen the Granata fans dream of European qualification.
Torino played in the Europa League as recently as in 2014/15 under Giampiero Ventura, but didn’t play in Europe last season or in this current campaign, but maybe Turin will see both of the cities big clubs in Europe next season. Sinisa Mihajlovic has started reasonably well at his new club, despite a poor first few games, and they are really fun to watch.
Mihajlovic sets them up in a classic 4-3-3 shape with Joe Hart in goal and a back-four of, usually, the ultra-attacking Davide Zappacosta on the right, Luca Rossettini and Leandro Castan in the middle and young academy product Antonio Barreca on the left. Rossettini, right-footed, and Castan, left-footed, complements each other well in defense and their preferred feet gives the team a nice balance in building up attacks from the back.
Balance is a key word also for Torino’s midfield where the playmaking abilities of Mirko Valdifiori in the regista role in front of the back four is complemented by the energy and tireless running of former Italian U21-internationals Marco Benassi and Daniele Baselli. Both provide a genuine goal threat, and Baselli’s passing is key to the attacking game.
The trio up front has been brilliant, all three of them. Iago Falqué plays on the right, cutting in on his sweet, sweet left-foot and has provided goals and assists in big games against Roma and Fiorentina. On the left is Serbian maverick Adem Ljajic, who’s been sensational. Ljajic has always been terrific when in-form, but has lacked consistency and controversy has always been around him. When he plays like he is now, however, he is one of the best attackers in the league, excelling with creative passing, goalscoring and remarkable dribbling ability. These two provides the creativity around the main marksman, Andrea Belotti.
Belotti has consistently developed over the last few years and is now also a certainty in the Italian national team squad under former Torino manager Ventura. Belotti is strong, quick and clever with his movement, as well as a tireless presser from the front. More than anything though, he’s a goalscorer and has already scored eight goals in nine starts in the league, as well as providing three assists and missing two penalties.
The young players together with the experience and quality of Hart, Castan, Valdifiori and Ljajic has seen Torino rise to seventh in the league and score 27 goals so far, only two behind Roma. They could have been higher too, were it not for a missed Belotti penalty in stoppage time at Milan and a late, late world class finish from Mauro Icardi in the other visit to Milano.
This weekend they thoroughly dismantled Cagliari with goals from Belotti (2), Ljajic, Benassi and Baselli. If the young squad can find a little more consistency over the coming months, Torino will continue to challenge the top of Serie A, and might even find themselves back in Europe next year.
Roma remain top scorers and stay close to Juventus after beating Bologna at the Olimpico thanks to Mohamed Salah’s hattrick. Bologna started really well, but are now without a win in six games. Trouble for Roberto Donadoni.
Juventus remain top and keep their lead over Roma after coming through a trip to Chievo unscathed. Juve took the lead through Mario Mandzukic before Chievo equalised when veteran striker Sergio Pellissier scored from the penalty spot. Miralem Pjanic secured the three points for Juve though, with a beautiful free-kick that left Chievo’s Stefano Sorrentino with no chance to save it.
Gianluca Lapadula scored 30 goals for Pescara in Serie B last year but had until this weekend desperately tried to break his drought in the top flight. He would finally score his first Serie A goal at Palermo when he sealed Milan’s 2-1 win with a cheeky backheel. Goals from Milan’s Suso and Palermo’s Ilija Nestorovski had seen the game level all the way to the 82nd minute until Lapadula’s big moment.
Atalanta continued their extraordinary start to life under Gian Piero Gasperini with an impressive 3-0 win at Sassuolo. First half goals from Alejandro Gomez, Mattia Caldara and Andrea Conti saw Gasperini’s young charges earn a highly impressive victory. The day got even better for 22-year-old midfielder Roberto Gagliardini who were called up by the Italian national team for the first time. Atalanta are now up to fifth. Incredible.
Mauro Icardi might be extremely controversial off the pitch at the moment, but he’s highly decisive on it. Against a Crotone full of confidence following their first ever Serie A win last week, Inter had to wait until the 84th minute to break the visitors resolve when Icardi set up Ivan Perisic for the opener. Icardi would then add two of his own to take his tally to 10 for the season and condemn Crotone to a 3-0 loss at Giuseppe Meazza. A welcome win for the home side and caretaker manager Stefano Vecchi.
Federico Bernardeschi and Luis Muriel has been in fine form lately, and goals from these two meant Fiorentina and Sampdoria drew 1-1 in Florence in a game that saw 37 shots between the two sides. Both teams play good football, but need to go on winning runs to reach their targets for the season.
Empoli has only scored two goals all season before this weekend, but doubled that in 90 minutes by hitting four at Pescara. The super-experienced Massimo Maccarone scored two and assisted Manuel Pucciarelli’s strike before Riccardo Saponara finally scored his first goal of the season to secure Empoli’s win. For Pescara, this was the worst result possible as they continue to struggle to earn points. They struggle for goals going forward but Massimo Oddo’s biggest problem is a leaking defence. They need to stop conceding so many goals to have any chance of staying up.
Genoa are still chasing consistency, and had to settle for a point at Marassi against Luigi Del Neri’s rejuvenated Udinese. Genoa dominated large parts of the game but fell behind to Cyril Thereau’s strike. Lucas Ocampos equalised before 30 minutes had passed, but the rest of the match provided no more goals. Udinese has really stepped up under Del Neri and are enjoying some good results and performances at the minute.
Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio continue to impress, this week by drawing 1-1 at San Paolo against Napoli. Napoli took the lead through a brilliant Marek Hamsik goal, but Baldé Keita equalised due to Pepe Reina’s mistake. Disappointing for Napoli who were on top, but Lazio are defensively sound and always a threat with Keita, Ciro Immobile and Felipe Anderson. Inzaghi’s doing a great job and it’s interesting to see how far they can go.
Player of the week
Mauro Icardi scored two and assisted the third in Inter’s vital 3-0 win vs Crotone.
Goal of the week
Marco Benassi is a really good midfielder. This week he also scored a really good goal.
Coach of the week
This week it has to be Gian Piero Gasperini again, as his impressive Atalanta earned a brilliant 3-0 win away at Sassuolo to take them to fifth.
Palermo-AC Milan 1-2