After the seventh round of fixtures in Serie A there are only two teams left unbeaten, after Napoli brought an end to Milan’s run and Atalanta saw off Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the capital
And Udinese continued their own fine form against the top sides with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Inter, while Juventus suffered a shock as Monza recorded just their first win of the season over the Old Lady who played most of the game with 10 men.
All of that and more in our latest 10 things we learned from Serie A with Sportsmail’s ALVISE CAGNAZZO.
1. ANGEL DI MARIA CAN BE A BULLY
He was supposed to be the extra man for Juventus, but Di Maria’s ‘bullying’ attitude against Armando Izzo at the weekend has seen his stock take a sharp decline in the Juventus locker room.
The Argentinian continues to show discouraging signs of intolerance that hurt the team, letting them down in key moments. Angel Di Maria must become a key figure for the Old Lady rather than a player full of anger and resentment. Against Monza he threw away several opportunities to be a hero and now his adventure in Italy looks verging on a failure.
At 34, you need to be mature and capable of handling the pressure, but that red card highlighted the frustration of a player going through an unhappy period in his career a few months before the World Cup. The former PSG star left his team-mates facing an uphill battle for over 60 minutes.
These are not the traits of a charismatic leader and his performance speaks to a certain trepidation in his approach to Italian football. Without him it will be even more difficult for Juve to return to the top of the standings, and Massimiliano Allegri’s bench will continue to tremble nervously. There is a lack of confidence and the blame can only be attributed to Allegri’s contrived way of playing football.
2. NO BARELLA, NO PARTY
When Nicolo Barella is in excellent physical shape, Inter’s midfield takes a completely different speed and intensity. A goal from a free kick is just reward for a player who showed great character in an impressive technical performance. When he is on song, everything runs smoothly and the other midfielders win back possession balls and create space in the middle of the pitch.
But when he is tired, his almost magnetic touch loses its potency and the team are prone to implode mentally.
When his performance collapses, as it did against Udinese, the entire Inter XI struggles, and Marcelo Brozovic in particular is made to look fragile and predictable.
Barella suffered up against Tolgay Arslan for the majority of the game, forgetting to track back and press him at key points in the match. The difference in physicality between the two was marked, and it was evidently this which cost the entire Inter midfield.
The impression is that Barella is being deployed tactically in a different way than he is used to, and that fatigue is setting in faster. The relationship with Simone Inzaghi is far from perfect, but his performances are becoming visibly affected by a lack of fitness that is difficult to explain, having played just seven games in the league since August.
The Nerazzurri are under the microscope, but the feeling is that something is wrong in the relationship between the squad’s leaders and Simone Inzaghi.
3. SAMPDORIA LOOK LIKE A DEAD MAN WALKING
Sampdoria are starting to look like something out of a horror film, but their inefficacies are simply the result of several mistakes made by the club in the transfer market, as well as the tacitcal decisions of Federico Giampaolo.
The Blucerchiati are at ricks of having their destiny already sealed in September, after a 2-1 defeat to Spezia in the Ligurian derby, and Giampaolo’s men are slipping further and further down the table. They already look to be a team tired of fighting.
Giampaolo has unfortunately done everything wrong, from the formation to the choice of substitutions, and his team are playing with the uncertainty of a team has acquired all t