Italian’s often refer to ‘il verdetto del campo’ (the verdict of the pitch) as the definitive judge of players, teams and coaches and, by using the games of the opening weekend a number of points become apparent. Yes, after months of speculation, rumour and scandal, the world of Serie A finally gave us some on field action to discuss and, in doing so laid bare a number of inescapable truths.
Napoli and Inter confirmed their summers were well spent, the Nerazzurri in particular looking much improved from the last campaign. Roma’s stuttering performance against Catania showed they still have much to learn from Zdenek Zeman, with the coach himself bemoaning his side’s ‘pointless’ possession and sideways passing that seemed to be held over from previous boss Luis Enrique.
A comfortable win for Juventus and a poor display from Milan highlighted what many had said about each club in the build up to week one, with the reigning Champions proving too strong for Parma as Milan failed to show up against Sampdoria. Both Adriano Galliani and Massimiliano Allegri pointed to the remaining few days of the transfer window as vital to the Rossoneri, who simply lacked the quality you would expect from such a giant club.
Above all however, week one in Serie A gave us some hugely impressive performances from individual players. Some were only to be expected, others were above and beyond the usual level of certain players. Here, using WhoScored.com’s vast array of statistics and unique rating system, we bring you the top five displays from this past weekend.
5. Christian Maggio (Napoli) Who Scored Rating: 9.07
After a somewhat disappointing showing at Euro 2012, the Napoli right-back put on a consummate display in the 3-0 victory over Palermo. Maggio was everything we have come to expect from him; tireless in defence and constantly motoring forward to join his sides’ attacks. He was rewarded with a goal and an assist – it should have been two were it not for an incredible Edinson Cavani miss – and the closer we look, the better his performance was. He completed 29 of the 33 passes he attempted (87.9%), won two tackles, one interception and made five clearances. Maggio also made just one cross – converted for Marek Hamsik’s opener – and scored with his only shot in a truly effective showing.
4. Edinson Cavani (Napoli) 9.17
Joining Maggio is team-mate Cavani, making up for that shocking miss with a simple header which, out of respect for his former club, the Uruguayan showed true class by refusing to celebrate. He set up one excellent chance with his passing and also completed all four long balls, his one through-ball and both crosses attempted. As ever, he didn’t stop there, also contributing to a solid defensive performance with three tackles, one interception, three clearances and a league high two blocked shots.
3. Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus) 9.23
In this column last week we highlighted the Ghanaian as one of the top five transfers of the summer and this week he gave a display worthy of inclusion in such a list. Playing in an unfamiliar wing-back role, Asamoah single-handedly dominated the entire left flank, notching an assist from one of his two key passes, completing four successful dribbles, 2 of 3 crosses and 6 of 9 long balls. He shone defensively, winning six tackles while making two interceptions and five clearances as well as proving his ability to fit into Antonio Conte’s slick midfield unit, completing 86% of the 50 passes he attempted. He looks set to provide the coach with an enviable selection dilemma and, if he can maintain this kind of form, he will prove undroppable.
2. Diego Milito (Inter) 9.34
A laughable choice for the Bidone d’Oro last year, Milito showed once again that he is truly a top quality centre-forward, making a mockery of his selection for that ‘Golden Dustbin’ award. A goal and two assists in the 3-0 demolition of newly promoted Pescara may not have been the greatest stage but, as Inter rebuild under Andrea Stramaccioni, the Argentine striker proved that not all of the old guard have seen better days. An 88.6% pass completion rate – including 100% success on long balls, through balls and crosses – was allied to some great hold up play as he allowed men like Wesley Sneijder, Antonio Cassano and Philippe Coutinho to pour forward in support.
1. Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina) 9.66
The best performance of the weekend was made by a man who was subject of much of the off-season transfer talk, constantly linked with a move to either Juventus or Manchester City. However, Jovetic remains in Fiorentina purple and put on a display worthy of some of the great creative players to have donned that shirt over the years. His two goals ensured a 2-1 victory over Champions League hopefuls Udinese as part of a tremendous attacking display that will have fans of La Viola dreaming of where their season may take them. He took seven shots, made three key passes, completed six dribbles and was fouled a league high seven times as the Zebrette simply had no answer for Jojo.