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Serie A: Complacent Arrivals and Lazio’s Familiar Failings
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
August 19, 2018
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Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

Serie A’s opening day gave us two high profile games, just a taster of what is ahead across the next 378 matches of the campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut stole the headlines as Juve kicked off the season. Meanwhile, Napoli had a daunting trip to Lazio. Those two games alone gave us plenty to chew over. Have a look at the biggest talking points as the opening weekend hits the half way stage.

Also See: Who Did Serie A’s Big Six Sign This Summer?

Hard Yards for Juventus

After an incredible transfer window, Juventus kicked off the new season surrounded by excitement. They have made changes to the side which won a seventh straight title last time out. They’ve brought in players to strengthen their first team, so it’s hard to see the champions being toppled. After recording a bigger net spend than the rest of the top six combined, there’s clearly no one ready to make a real push against Juve.

They’ve switched focus to securing the Champions League title alongside domestic success. They’ve entered that top bracket with Bayern Munich and Barcelona, sides who are disappointed with only winning domestic doubles. The problem is, that lack of focus can be a huge problem. Juve were supposed to cruise by Chievo on Saturday, but instead they got a timely reminder.

The Old Lady struggled to get by Chievo in their 3-2 win. That showed how desperate the rest of Italy’s sides are when it comes to getting one over the champions. While their signings make them comfortably the best team in the league, there’s now a target on Juve’s back more than ever before. Unless they’re entirely focused on the task at hand, the champions could face more scares like the did at Chievo.

This was a reminder that Serie A will remain competitive this year, even if Juventus top the pile. The supporting cast are stronger than ever before, while sides like Atalanta, Fiorentina, Sampdoria and Sassuolo are lining up trying to get in to Europe. By taking a hit from a side set to struggle, Juve have been reminded that there’s no room for complacency.

Read More: Serie A 2018/19 Season Outright Predictions

Napoli Shaken Out of Slumber

Napoli also claimed an opening day win, with a 2-1 victory at Lazio. The Partenopei went behind early on, with Carlo Ancelotti saying that Lazio’s goal “woke us up.”

The Partenopei certainly seemed to be asleep for the opener, one of the worst pieces of defending you’ll see all season. Three defenders all followed a long pass, and one simple flick caught the trio off guard. That setback did allow the visitors to kick things up a gear, and they mounted a comeback.

Ronaldo may be the talked up transfer around the world, but in Italy he was rivalled by the return of Carlo Ancelotti. The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss did struggle at Bayern Munich. That has knocked his reputation slightly, but his homecoming is a big deal. In the nine years since he ended a glittering spell at Milan, he has won silverware around the continent.

That led to excitement when Ancelotti arrived. When the club could have worried about losing Maurizio Sarri, they were busy securing the man who is now Serie A’s most high profile manager. However, that could have brought complacency to the Partenopei too. They looked far too comfortable in the early stages against Lazio, their intensity had disappeared.

Last season’s success was built on a high intensity game. They raced to second because Sarri kept them on their toes. They managed to keep the majority of their squad and plug a few holes in the transfer window. That’s given them the chance for another strong season, but if they lose the intensity and identity established by Sarri, then Ancelotti’s return won’t go too well.

Flashbacks for Lazio

The new season is a blank slate. A chance to right any wrongs of the previous campaign. Even an early defeat doesn’t bring that down, although in Lazio’s case it just might. They finished the 201718 campaign with a major defeat to Inter, and this felt eerily similar.

The Aquile went in to the final day of last season knowing that a point at home to Inter would guarantee them Champions League football. They twice took the lead, but Inter hit two goals in three minutes to turn the game on its head. This defeat had a similar feel, with the Partenopei coming back to claim a victory.

Lazio seem to be paying the price of a quiet transfer window, which saw them make a transfer profit. After falling short in the race for the top four, you’d expect them to add a little more quality to their side. They shopped on a budget this summer, and over the course of the season that could prove to be a mistake. While they have the talents of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and a talented boss in Simone Inzaghi, this defeat suggests it’s more of the same for Lazio this time around. With a five way battle for three Champions League spots ahead, that should worry Inzaghi.

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