Soccer – Serie A weekend talking points

Serie A - Napoli v Juventus
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Napoli v Juventus - Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy - September 11, 2021 Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

September 13, 2021

By Peter Hall

(Reuters) – Talking points from the weekend’s Serie A matches.

ALLEGRI AND JUVE A MESS OF THEIR OWN MAKING

Massimiliano Allegri’s second coming at Juventus just gets worse by the week.

Having lost last season’s top goalscorer in Serie A Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United three weeks ago, Juve then suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at home by newly-promoted Empoli in their next match.

In the first game following the international break this weekend at Napoli, things did not improve, as basic defensive errors again proved costly as Juve lost 2-1 to sit on one point from their three matches this term.

Allegri let his frustration boil over after the match, with Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti insisting his counterpart refused to shake hands after the final whistle. All is not well in Turin, ahead of the resumption of the Champions League this week.

NO HOLDING ZLATAN BACK

Approaching the age of 40, you would think Zlatan Ibrahimovic would need time to get back accustomed to top-flight football again after a four month injury lay off. In fact, he required just seven minutes.

Coming off the bench to make his return from a knee injury, the veteran Swede fired the winning goal seven minutes into his appearance to steer AC Milan to a 2-1 win over a determined Lazio on Sunday.

“Zlatan hadn’t played for four months, so I’m glad he scored a goal and will get stronger in the next games,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. “He has this fire within him, the way he battles in training as well as games, wanting to be the best, you don’t feel the years when you do that.”

The victory ensured Milan made it three wins from three so far this term, and with Ibrahimovic back, and back scoring goals, a sustained title tilt could be in the offing.

THEATRE BEFITTING A MOURINHO MILESTONE

Jose Mourinho reached another milestone in his illustrious coaching career on Sunday, with the occasion marked with the kind of fireworks only the Portuguese tactician brings to the table.

AS Roma’s 2-1 win over Sassuolo on Sunday ensured Mourinho’s 1000th game as a coach ended in victory but the manner of the success, a stoppage-time winner, typified the drama that has followed him down the years.

Fans were on the pitch amid scenes of euphoria, with the man himself very much involved.

“During the week I was lying, even to myself, by saying that this was not a special match. I was trying to convince myself of that.” Mourinho told DAZN.

“It was a special match, with a special number for me; it was my 1000th game on the bench. I wanted to remember it for the rest of my life. I did not want to lose.”

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Christian Radnedge)