ROME (AP) After five rounds, the Serie A table has an unfamiliar look to it.
Four-time defending champion Juventus is languishing in mid-table with just one point, while Inter Milan has left behind its mediocrity of the past few seasons to enjoy its best start in 49 years.
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Inter Milan beat Hellas Verona 1-0 on Wednesday to remain the only team in Serie A with a perfect record. It’s the first time since the 1966-67 that it has won its first five matches season.
That year Inter went on to win its first seven, but still finished second – to Juventus.
“Obviously winning five in a row is incredible, but we have another 30 games to play and we need to focus on winning them one by one,” Inter President Erick Thohir said. “It’s important that the team stays concentrated now and keeps its feet on the ground. We need to keep focused, work hard to play as a team and keep winning one game at a time.”
Sunday sees Inter welcome Fiorentina, which is up to second after a 2-0 win against Bologna. Fiorentina would move top, above Inter on goal difference, with a victory at San Siro.
Juventus visits Napoli – which is also having a poor start – on Saturday evening, shortly after last year’s runner-up Roma hosts newly-promoted Carpi. The capital side is looking to bounce back after drawing against Sassuolo and losing at Sampdoria.
Sunday’s other matches are: Genoa vs. AC Milan; Bologna vs. Udinese; Sassuolo vs. Chievo Verona; Torino vs. Palermo; and Verona vs. Lazio.
Fresh from securing its first ever Serie A point against Juventus, Frosinone welcomes Empoli on Monday, when Atalanta entertains Sampdoria.
Here are some things to know about this week’s Italian league matches:
JUVE IN CRISIS
Juventus was expected to march to a fifth successive league title, but Massimiliano Allegri’s side is already 10 points behind Inter.
While the Milan side is enjoying its best start in nearly 50 years, Juventus is enduring its worst in almost as long.
Juve its two opening matches, drew another two and won just one. Moreover, its normally formidable home record is looking distinctly average. The Bianconeri, which had won 42 of their past 47 matches at Juventus Stadium – drawing the other five – are still to win in Turin this campaign after losing at home to Udinese and drawing against Chievo and Frosinone.
The draw against Frosinone was particularly galling as the small club earned its first ever Serie A point with a stoppage-time equalizer – a header by Juventus fan Leonardo Blanchard.
“I’m angry because we must improve quickly,” Allegri said. “At this moment we’re shipping goals from the first opportunity that falls our opponents’ way, you simply cannot concede from a corner with two minutes remaining.”
NAPOLI STAYING CALM
Napoli has just a point more than Juventus after a similarly woeful start.
There were signs Napoli had turned a corner after two successive 5-0 win – against Lazio in the league and Club Brugge in Serie A.
However, on Wednesday it was held to this season’s first goalless draw by Carpi – which is in Serie A for the first time in its history.
“That’s part of football, and that’s also what makes Napoli great but we shouldn’t allow it to influence us,” said coach Maurizio Sarri when asked if there was too much expectation after outscoring the opposition 10-0 in its last two games.
“We should isolate ourselves a bit, but I didn’t seen any particular exultation after two 5-0 results and I don’t think I will see gloomy faces after this draw.”
Fellow minnow Sassuolo is showing Carpi and Frosinone just how it’s done.
Like those two clubs, Sassuolo had never previously played in Serie A when it was promoted in 2013. It now stands third in the standings.
Moreover, less than two years after picking up its first top-flight point, Sassuolo is now the only side along with leader Inter Milan still unbeaten this season.
“If we have these points it’s because we deserve them,” Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco said after Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Palermo. “We are going to every stadium to play for the points. We also came here to win, and to impose our style of play.
“We’ll have to see what happens at the end.”