Thanks to the recent break for World Cup Qualifiers, the Serie A season is just three weeks old and, while that is certainly not long enough for anyone other than Maurizio Zamparini to base a sound judgement on, it does give us enough data to throw up some interesting statistical surprises. Looking closely at a number of categories shows us quality where some may have felt it was absent and can lay to rest some of the tired narrative that often creeps into analysis of the game on the peninsula.
Using the breakdown of figures available here on WhoScored.com we can assess some of the early season leaders and perhaps make a more considered judgement than the impatient Palermo President. Here are some stand-out figures from the campaign thus far.
Fans of the Rossoneri may well end the season with less hair than Adriano Galliani should their side continue the terrible run of results with which they have opened the 2012-13 calendar. Losing their first two home games for the first time since 1930 has seen the Vice-President take Massimiliano Allegri out to dinner – conjuring up images of The Godfather scene with Michael Corleone and the Police Captain – in order to reassure the coach his job is safe.
Looking at the team stats it is worthwhile noting Milan have had more shots than any other side, averaging 19 per game which is in no small part thanks to the efforts of Kevin-Prince Boateng, who leads the league with 6.7 per match himself. The San Siro club are also second only to Juventus in terms of pass completion (86.2) and third overall – behind Juventus and Cagliari – when it comes to possession, averaging an impressive 61%. It seems more a matter of execution in front of goal, something you would expect Giampaolo Pazzini & Pato to improve upon quickly.
Perhaps the laziest of assessments in Serie A to date came this past Sunday as Roma, leading 2-0 at home to Bologna, somehow contrived to throw away all three points, eventually losing 3-2 in a match which had to be seen to be believed. ‘Typical Zeman’ came the immediate chorus from journalists and fans of other clubs alike as the Coach’s penchant for wild, cavalier football was used as definitive evidence that that is exactly what happened.
Anyone paying attention however would have noticed not only were they not attacking in the manner we have come to expect from a side led by Zeman, Roma were actually looking to defend the lead. The coach was unhappy but it is becoming something of a trend and the Giallorossi actually lead the league in interceptions, with their average of 25 almost six more than any other club. In addition, newcomer Leandro Castán breaks the top five in terms of both that same category (averaging 4.3 per game) and blocked shots (1.3) while Nicolas Burdisso has won a league high 2.3 offside calls per match.
Pretty In Purple
Trying hard to avoid using the word ‘renaissance’ when discussing the huge improvement Fiorentina have made under Vincenzo Montella’s is becoming increasingly difficult as they sit sixth in the table, having won two of their three opening games. They are led by captain Stevan Jovetic who has netted a league high four goals and tops the WhoScored.com player ratings chart with a superb 8.97 average.
Thanks largely to a hugely impressive midfield, as a club the Viola lead the league in two contrasting areas – topping the charts in dribbles per game (13.3) and tackles (28.3) with Jovetic again leading the way in the former with 3.7 successful dribbles per game.
There are a number of individuals currently leading the way in Serie A in an array of categories, starting with Andreas Granqvist’s 11.3 clearances per game for Genoa. His team-mate Mario Sampirisi also has made more tackles than any other player with six per game, although Ciro Immobile – along with Sergio Pellissier (Chievo) and Vladimir Weiss (Pescara) – has committed more turnovers (3.7) than anyone else. The latter is currently the most fouled player in Serie A, having seen 5.3 opponents per game punished for offences against him.
Two players whose passing may not have caught the eye are defenders Mattia De Sciglio of Milan and Torino’s Kamil Glik. The Rossoneri full back has made more key passes than any player in the league with four per game while the Granata man has completed a staggering league high 95.4% of his 218 passes this term with that total bettered by only four players.
Daniele Conti, who will undoubtedly be looking to continue his habit of scoring against former club Roma this coming weekend, has made 16.5 successful long ball passes in the first three games. That figure not only beats any other player in the division, it is a huge increase on the average of 5.1 he posted last term. Like many of these numbers it will be interesting to see where they stand in a few weeks time.