All eyes will be on Turin come Sunday evening, as Juventus try to get their Serie A season back on track and ruin Milan’s perfect start. There can be no doubts over the top fixture on the calendar for Week 4, as Juventus vs. Milan would be a box office draw regardless of date or situation.
Max Allegri returned to a Juve he barely recognises, and the team isn’t getting to grips with his style of football either, but time is not something the Bianconeri can afford. With one point from the opening three rounds, disaster already looms for the Old Lady, and defeat here would put them 11 points off the leaders. It’s an unconscionable thought for even an optimist like Allegri.
There were signs of revival in the 3-0 Champions League victory away to Malmo, and it’s true that the South American contingent were missing for the 2-1 defeat at Napoli last weekend. Even more importantly, Federico Chiesa is fit again and should start against Milan, which in turn could transform their entire attacking structure. The versatility of players like Chiesa and Juan Cuadrado can sometimes feel more like a hindrance than a help, giving coaches so many options that they never quite give their best with any degree of consistency. There are suggestions Chiesa will be used as a striker with Paulo Dybala, or if he is played wide, then Cuadrado can drop to the right-back role instead.
Milan have a not dissimilar situation with their forward options, specifically Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic. Now Alessandro Florenzi is added to the mix, a man capable of doing a job as a right-back, midfielder, right-sided winger or part of an attacking trident. With Zlatan Ibrahimovic seemingly out of action again, it’s up to Olivier Giroud to lead the Rossoneri front line and take on a Juve defence that has not kept a Serie A clean sheet since March.
If Juve boosted confidence with their Champions League adventure midweek, the same cannot be said of Stefano Pioli’s side. They had managed to overturn Liverpool and go 2-1 up before eventually capitulating 3-2, but the truth is they were over-run for long periods at Anfield and only Mike Maignan’s penalty save on Mohamed Salah prevented a bigger home advantage.
Verona, Cagliari under new management
Elsewhere this weekend, we already have two coaches making their debuts, as Verona sacked Eusebio Di Francesco after three consecutive defeats to make way for Igor Tudor, while Cagliari brought in Walter Mazzarri for Leonardo Semplici. Curiously, both of these tacticians begin against clubs from the capital.
Lazio are as expected struggling to get to grips with the radical changes imposed by Maurizio Sarri and also still suffering from the age-old lack of emotional balance that all Roman teams deal with. Whether it’s Lazio or Roma, they are either flying high or in freefall. There is no in between. The Biancocelesti are currently the latter, losing to Milan and Galatasaray after a Thomas Strakosha howler, so Cagliari’s counter-attacking and the arrival of Mazzarri could potentially cause an upset at the Olimpico.
There certainly ought to be goals, seeing as the Sardinians fumbled a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 with Genoa last week. Roma can’t seem to stop scoring and are seeking a seventh straight victory in all competition under Jose Mourinho, which seems like the safe assumption at the Bentegodi.
Serie A Week 4 fixtures
Friday September 17
Sassuolo vs. Torino
Saturday September 18
Genoa vs. Fiorentina
Inter vs. Bologna
Salernitana vs. Atalanta
Sunday September 19
Empoli vs. Sampdoria
Venezia vs. Spezia
Lazio vs. Cagliari
Verona vs. Roma
Juventus vs. Milan
Monday September 20
Udinese vs. Napoli