With two rounds of fixtures completed, both Inter and Milan sit on one point apiece. It’s been an unexpected start to Serie A, with Massimo Allegri’s champions doing their best to take the heat off Gian Piero Gasperini with an equally shocking start, though Milan at least have the luxury of a Champions League draw at Barcelona to boost their ailing morale. Four teams have been quick out the blocks with a maximum six-point haul, though with Lecce the only side to supply WhoScored’s All Star Serie A XI with more than one player, it’s perhaps an indication of the indifferent performances around Italy’s top-flight last weekend:
Nicolás Spolli, Catania. WhoScored rating 7.97
In a game of few chances, the centre half proved an immovable force at the back as Catania saw off Cesena 1-0 at home. Just 7 shots were produced all game, mainly down to some sterling defensive work; Cesena dominated possession with 61% but the home side’s battling ability saw them win 20 tackles to limit the visitors’ opportunities.
Spolli made 4 tackles (including a crucial last-man tackle), 2 interceptions and 5 clearances in a defiant display at the heart of defence and also won 67% of aerial duels to keep the dominant opponents at bay.
The centre half had just 44 touches and made 28 passes –with a 78% accuracy- in a backs to the wall performance but his resilience at the heart of the Catania back-four ensured they kept a clean sheet and saw Spolli awarded accordingly, with a man of the match performance duly noted by WhoScored.
Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Lecce. WhoScored rating 8.72
The right-back produced a sensational performance as Lecce bounced back from last week’s home defeat by Udinese to triumph at Bologna. Lecce’s 4-2-3-1 formation places the emphasis on their full-backs to bomb forward and provide attacking impetus and Cuadrado excelled in the 2-0 victory.
He had 110 touches –far and away the most of any player- but made 49 passes, instead looking to take opponents on. This is highlighted by 7 successful dribbles- again the highest tally in the game- as his trickery troubled Bologna from deep. He made just 1 cross but produced 2 key passes in a brilliant attacking display.
Defensively, Cuadrado was equally eye-catching; an incredible 9 tackles shows his ball-winning ability, in addition to 2 interceptions and 5 clearances. With his exceptional display going forward and at the back, there’s no surprise to see Cuadrado picked up the man of the match award.
Rodrigo Palacio, Genoa. WhoScored rating 7.96
The right winger was fundamental to his side’s 2-1 win at Lazio. Grabbing a goal and assist in the victory, Palacio -playing in a 4-1-4-1- unsurprisingly picked up a man of the match award for a performance that saw his side climb to fifth in the table, with four points from two games.
Palacio didn’t see too much of the ball -just 43 touches- with Genoa playmaker Miguel Veloso dictating matters with 83 touches in the centre of midfield. When the visitors broke forward, though, it was mainly down Palacio’s side of the pitch- 39% of Genoa attacks came from the right, with just 29% from the left.
As a result, he was the most creative player on show- despite making just 29 passes, Palacio produced 5 key passes as he laid on chance after chance for his team mates. Indeed, no other Genoa player made more than 1 key pass, an indication of his importance to the side. He delivered just 1 cross and 1 successful dribble from out wide and his 2 shots brought 1 goal, but Palacios was the difference between the two side as Genoa came back from a goal down to defeat Lazio in a result that even saw the home side’s manager Edy Reja offer his resignation only two games into the season.
Daniele De Rossi, Roma. WhoScored rating 8.33
The midfielder was immense in Roma’s no score draw at Inter. De Rossi had more touches (96) and made more passes (67) than any other player on the pitch as Roma picked up their first point of the new campaign at the San Siro. With an 88% pass accuracy, he also played 7 long balls, looking to hit a shaky Inter on the break, managing 1 key pass over the 90 minutes.
De Rossi offered no goal threat and had just 1 successful dribble but his defensive work was exceptional. He made just the 1 tackle but his masterful reading of the game saw De Rossi make 8 interceptions to break up the home side’s play time and again. He also had 3 clearances and blocked 3 shots in a fantastic central midfield display that saw him named as man of the match by WhoScored.
Antonio Di Natale, Udinese. WhoScored rating 8.08
An early Di Natale penalty helped Udinese on their way to a comfortable home win over Fiorentina. The 2-0 victory keeps their 100% record intact and much was down to the constant goal threat from Di Natale. Playing a 3-5-1-1 with Di Natale as the lone frontman, Udinese had 8 shots all game and Di Natale had 6 of them- with 4 on target, he found the net just once, though.
His contribution was solid; 48 touches and 34 passes were supplemented by 4 crosses and 5 long balls but with little support, Di Natale was always playing on the shoulder of the last defender- he was caught offside 5 times, the only Udinese player to do so. For his overall goal threat, though, Di Natale was key to the victory that keeps his side neck and neck with the early Serie A pace-setters.