The new Serie A season has not disappointed, with Stefano Pioli’s Milan taking the league by storm. The Rossoneri have not been the only team to shock the calcio world, as Sassuolo’s rapid rise to prominence has them within two points of first place, off the back of an unbeaten start. Paulo Fonseca’s Roma is slowly coming together and would be unbeaten, had it not been for an administrative error condemning them to forfeit against Hellas Verona.
In any case, matchday nine is upon us and presents some intriguing matchups. Without further ado, here’s what to watch out for:
1) Are Sassuolo legit?
The Neroverdi are off to an incredible start to the season, maintaining an unbeaten record after eight matchdays, including an impressive 2-0 over Napoli. Roberto De Zerbi’s men have thrown their names into the conversation in Itay alla Atalanta and continue to emerge as this season’s surprise package. Their recent success comes with one question mark: Can they replicate their success as their schedule gets harder?
Sassuolo has won five of its eight encounters thus far, with four of their wins coming against Spezia, Bologna, Crotone, and Hellas Verona. While you can only beat the sides in front of you, they may be rocked back to earth shortly. This weekend De Zerbi’s men host Inter, a clash that will serve as a good litmus test for their top-four credentials. They will then take on Roma the week after. If they can get two positive results, it is safe to say they’re legit.
2) Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done?
Milan’s recent resurgence has been nothing short of remarkable, with the Rossoneri emerging as one of Europe’s hottest teams since the lockdown. Pioli’s men are flying high in first place and have shown no signs of slowing down. Led by the indomitable Ibrahimovic, Milan has picked up from where they left off last season, with six wins and two draws in eight games.
The big Swede has led the line with great aplomb and most recently fired his side to an important victory with a brace against Napoli. Ibrahimovic currently tops the scoring charts with 10 goals in six appearances but has since been sidelined with a thigh injury. The initial prognosis has ruled him out from Milan’s upcoming game against Fiorentina, begging the question: Can a Zlatan-less Milan get it done?
We’ll have our answer Sunday morning when Pioli’s men take the pitch against la Viola.
3) Are Roma title contenders?
This question is often asked about Roma after their hot starts to the new season, with the Giallorossi eventually disappointing. But this season feels different. Roma is in fine form right now and surging up the table with convincing wins. Henrikh Mkhitaryan has rolled back the years, Jordan Veretout is doing his thing from the spot, Pedro has impressed and countless budding talents have stepped up.
In a year unlike any other, Roma might just have what it takes to go all the way and contend. Juve remains a side in transition and the Giallorossi have shown they can compete with them. Milan has emerged as the anti-Juve until now, but their depth in the long run is concerning.
Roma takes on Napoli this weekend and will then shift its attention to Sassuolo: Much like it is the case for the Neroverdi, Roma’s next two games will be highly indicative of where they will finish this season. If they can get two wins, or at the very least four points, you would be foolish to write them off.
Then again, don’t get your hopes too high just yet as the wheels might just fall off. A prospect many Giallorossi fans have come to terms with.
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