Roma, Juventus turn back to Serie A after European success
MILAN (AP) As everyone turns their attention back to domestic football following the opening round of the Champions League group stage, one goal from midweek is still being talked about in Italy.
Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi scored one of the best goals in the history of the competition on Wednesday night to secure a 1-1 draw against Barcelona, lobbing goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from near the halfway line with an exquisite shot which went in off the post.
”It was an important goal because it earned us a point,” said a modest Florenzi, who then added ”it was a great goal, you could see my face when it went in, I just put my hands over my face.
”I’m emotional because it’s only now that I’m seeing what I did, I didn’t realize then where I was. I couldn’t pass it to Edin (Dzeko) and so I thought: at the most it will be a deep throw-in…”
Florenzi, who has spent almost his career at Roma after emerging from its youth academy, may have just made a name for himself on the international stage but he is already well known to Italian football fans.
The 24-year-old midfielder is a well-rounded player, who is also extremely versatile. An attacking midfielder usually, he has been used at fullback more recently. And it is this versatility which is almost certain to earn Florenzi a spot on Antonio Conte’s Italy squad for next year’s European Championship.
Spectacular goals are nothing new to Florenzi, who scored with an acrobatic bicycle kick in January 2014.
His goal celebrations are further endearing – he marked a goal last season by sprinting into the stands to share the moment with his 82-year-old grandmother, who had come to see him play for the first time.
Roma fans will be hoping he can keep it up on Sunday, when the capital side hosts Sassuolo. Both teams have seven points, two less than leader Inter Milan, which visits previous frontrunner Chievo Verona.
Here are some things to know about the fourth round of Serie A:
Inter Milan is the only side still with a perfect record in Serie A, after it beat AC Milan in last week’s derby to make it three wins out of three.
Its impressive start has Inter fans dreaming of a league title, or at least of the side becoming a realistic challenger after a few years of mediocrity.
Coach Roberto Mancini insists it’s too early for title talk and his players are also keeping their feet firmly on the ground.
”Good start to the season, but the road is long,” wrote Fredy Guarin on instagram, with a picture of him celebrating scoring the derby winner. ”Humility and responsibility will be very important factors to keep in mind.”
Inter visits Chievo Verona, which would have also had a 100 percent record had Juventus not equalized with a late penalty last weekend.
Roma and Sassuolo are among six teams on seven points, and all of them will be hoping to end the weekend in top spot.
Chievo has the best goal difference and it hosts Inter, but a draw could allow one of the other teams to leapfrog them both.
Palermo can move provisionally top with a win at AC Milan on Saturday ahead of Chievo and Inter’s lunchtime meeting the following day.
Torino and Sampdoria are also entertaining dreams of first place ahead of their match on Sunday.
Juventus has had a miserable start to the domestic season but beat Manchester City 2-1 in England in the Champions League on Tuesday.
The four-time defending champion has just one point from its opening three Serie A matches and will be hoping its European success can propel it to its first league win of the season when it visits Genoa on Sunday.
”In the league we have had 40 shots but just have one point,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. ”When you play in the Champions League, you know it’s an amazing competition, which motivates everyone. The win will serve as an injection of confidence for the Champions League and for the league and it would have been different if we had lost.”
SARRI WANTS TO PROVE MARADONA WRONG
Napoli is also without a win from its opening three matches and the pressure is already on new coach Maurizio Sarri, who replaced Rafa Benitez in the offseason after the Spaniard left for Real Madrid.
Napoli legend Diego Maradona criticized Sarri in a recent interview, saying the former Empoli man is out of his depth and would not be able to bring success back to the club.
”Maradona was my idol,” Sarri said. ”I even went to see him at a Napoli training camp. Just the fact he knows me is an honor, I’m not going to respond to him but I hope to change his mind in the next few months.”
Napoli has drawn its past two matches after an opening day defeat to Sassuolo. It hosts Lazio on Sunday.