Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Serie A review - matchday 6

Here were the results from the Serie A last weekend:

Catania 1 - 1 Roma
Chievo 1 - 1 Atalanta
Juventus 1 - 1 Bologna
Lazio 1 - 1 Palermo
Livorno 0 - 1 Fiorentina
Milan 0 - 0 Bari
Napoli 2 - 1 Siena
Parma 0 - 2 Cagliari
Sampdoria 1 - 0 Internazionale
Udinese 2 - 0 Genoa

Three matches warrant further comment. Sampdoria gave Inter their first loss of the season. It was one of those matches where the team that looks better ends up losing. Inter didn't dominate but, despite being without Motta and Sneijder, they were the better side on the day in every category except number of goals. They dominated possession (64-36%), had 6 more shots, 2 more shots on target and Sampdoria had 5 yellow cards to Inter's 1. Castellazzi, the Sampdoria goalkeeper made several big stops. Sampdoria's goal came on what I would describe as a defensive collapse after a bad turnover. The first mistake was Inter LB Davide Santon making an errant pass right to Sampdoria midfielder Angelo Palombo about 30 yards from goal. Palombo made a short run down the right side and cut it back to Mannini just inside the penalty area. Because of the scramble after the turnover, there was no defender within a couple yards of Mannini who then passed across to Pazzini on his first touch. Pazzini, despite being about 10 yards from the goal was similarly unmarked and made no mistake. After the goal Inter had a goal waved off on a legitimate offside call and had a tremendous free kick saved by the Sampdorian keeper.

In their matches, both Juventus and AC Milan could only manage draws at home against mid-table teams. For anybody that has followed the Serie A at all this season, AC Milan's result won't come as a huge shock. After being held scoreless, they have now scored just 3 goals in 6 matches and with just 8 points they find themselves closer to relegation than to the top of the table. There is a lot of football to be played, but it doesn't feel like it's too early to say that this will not be the season that they win their 18th scudetto. Juve allowed a stoppage-time equalizer in their 1-1 draw against Bologna. Bologna currently sit 16th in the table. Last year they finished in 17th, 3 points clear of relegation. This year it is likely that they will be in a relegation battle. It's only one match and Juve aren't anywhere near the kind of situation Milan are, but it's tough to win the league when you can't get 3 points against such teams at home.


GD rank: ranking by goal differential
S Rank: ranking by goals scored
D Rank: ranking by fewest goals conceded
EGD: expected goal differential if you started the season over and every team played all their matches at the level their results thus far have indicated

The table confirms what I said above: AC Milan have not been very good at all so far this season. The story in Naples is pretty similar. Those two teams are surely the biggest disappointments thus far in the campaign. While AC Milan weren't expected to be as good as their San Siro rivals, few predicted them as a mid-table team and they look worse than that if anything. This was supposed to be a breakout year at Napoli, but they are going to have to seriously improve on their results if they want to fight for a spot in Europe. At the top you have no real surprises other than perhaps the absence of those teams. Inter have been easily the best side.

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