ALVISE CAGNAZZO: 10 Things we learned from Serie A

ALVISE CAGNAZZO: Lautaro Martinez can’t stop scoring, former Liverpool star Divock Origi has FINALLY got off the mark in Italy and Adrien Rabiot has gone from zero to hero at Juventus… 10 THINGS WE LEARNED FROM SERIE A this weekend

  • Lautaro Martinez bagged a brace in Inter’s dramatic 4-3 win over Fiorentina 
  • Juventus’ Adrien Rabiot also notched two goals for the first time since 2015 
  • Victor Osihmen scored a goal similar to the infamous strike by Marco van Basten 
  • Ex-Liverpool striker Divock Origi got off the mark for AC Milan against Monza 

It was another big weekend of Serie A football as Napoli maintained their place at the top of the table with a 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Other notable results saw AC Milan keep pace with the league leaders after a 4-1 demolition of Monza, while Juventus stormed to a 4-0 win against Empoli as they claw themselves back up the table.

Sportsmail’s Alvise Cagnazzo takes a look at 10 things we learned from this weekend’s action in Serie A. 

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez continued his good form after netting a brace against Monza

No-one can stop Martinez

Beyond a lucky victory against Fiorentina, Inter have understood that they have found in Lautaro Martinez the right leader to bet on in the present, as well as the future. 

Right now, Martinez is the best player in Serie A in terms of quality and quantity. Six goals in 11 appearances without even taking a penalty, Martinez is a lethal striker who scores in every way.

In Italy, Martinez has no rivals and without the presence of Romelu Lukaku, he is also able to score more goals and be a brilliant protagonist. 

The Argentine rifled his first goal into the back of the net with a well-taken finish early on

If he continues to maintain this pace, Inter will soon return to the top of the standings and Argentina will have a top player 100% fit for Lionel Messi’s last World Cup in Qatar.

Simone Inzaghi has the likes of Samir Handanovic, Joaquin Correa, Alessandro Bastoni and Nicola Barella but has shown that he can never do without the Argentine star who, at the age of 25, can finally fulfill his dream of being the top scorer in Serie A and to convince coach Lionel Scaloni to play him alongside Messi in the most anticipated World Cup by all of Argentina. 

For Martinez, it is a magical moment that coincides with Inter’s strong dependence on him. When he is on the pitch the team is aggressive and dynamic but when he is absent, the team lose charisma and concentration.

Martinez will be hoping that his impressive club form will earn him a call-up for Argentina

Osimhen scores like Van Basten

Today, it is difficult to give a real assessment of Victor Osimhen’s value. If Man United, Barcelona, ​​Real Madrid, Arsenal or Chelsea want Osimhen they will have to present themselves in front of the offices of President Aurelio De Laurentiis with an offer of around €120million (£105m).

The Nigerian striker scored a difficult – and beautiful – goal like those scored very often by Marco Van Basten, a perfect strike that curled into Rui Patricio’s far post, to give his side victory over Roma.

Osimhen is physically fragile but when he is in 100% form, he is a fantastic forward. He attacks the spaces like Filippo Inzaghi and runs fast like Thierry Henry. 

Right now, he one of the best strikers in Serie A and has the ability to fire Napoli towards the Scudetto. 

Without injuries, Osimhen would probably already be the top scorer in Serie A and would probably have scored more than 10 by the time of the break for the World Cup. 

Chris Smalling tried in every way to resist the Nigerian striker’s vertical runs but with 10 minutes left in the match he had to surrender to a real piece of quality.

Victor Osihmen scored a sublime, Van Basten-esque goal to give Napoli the win against Roma

The Nigerian forward has been a revelation up front for Luciano Spalletti’s side this season

Tatarusanu is like Maignan 

Ciprian Tatarusanu has always been criticised for the rust in his muscles but the fact that he plays very little is sufficient justification to make it clear that the goalkeeper needs to play a lot of games before being 100 per cent.

AC Milan must thank Brahim Díaz’s two goals for their win against Monza but also their unusual assist provider: Tatarusanu. The Romanian goalkeeper made the decisive assist for the Spaniard, and it was from him that the sequence began for the winger’s first goal.  

Tatarusanu will never be a top player but his constant attention and concentration in training is allowing him to play a key role in Serie A. 

Ciprian Tatarusanu provided an assist for AC Milan’s first goal against Monza at the weekend

His career should have been sparkling but until now he has only collected crumbs in Italy. He is no longer young and he is enormously close to the last part of his career, but as of yesterday he became Milan’s assist goalkeeper.  

Mike Maignan was the last goalkeeper to record an assist for Milan in Serie A until Saturday, but from this week on he had to hand over the sceptre to the goalkeeper born in Romania. 

The renewal of his contract today seems to be a formality and the Qatar World Cup break could facilitate negotiations to take place. His desire is to end his career in AC Milan and Paolo Maldini intends to satisfy him also for his important role in the locker room.

The Romanian has been filling in for Mike Maignan – who’s been injured since September

Diaz is taking his chance

Brahim Diaz’s third and fourth goal in Serie A 2022/2023 campaign is a perfect mix of talent and cunningness. The young midfielder made a 40-metre run, splitting the field in two before scoring.  

After a difficult period, Diaz is back to being a protagonist in AC Milan, which is also thanks to the special attention of Stefano Pioli towards him. 

Given his form, Milan may choose to exercise their buyout option of €27m (£23.6m) for the player on loan from Real Madrid. The expiring contracts of Eden Hazard, Dani Ceballos and Marco Asensio expire in nine months and the Spanish club could decide to let the three talents leave the team to bring Diaz back to Madrid. 

AC Milan’s Brahim Diaz stole the show against Monza as he notched a brace for Rossoneri

It now seems that Diaz has returned to the high levels of performance that’s expected and now Pioli feels he can rely on him while he waits to know the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the psycho-physical condition of Charles De Ketelaere. 

Diaz is overshadowing the most expensive purchase of the Maldini era – the Belgian De Ketelaere – and his great dynamism seems to underline the club’s mistake in investing around €40m (£35m) for the former Club Brugge striker. 

Pioli will have the task of trying to make both of them coexist in his tactical system, in the hope of not having to say goodbye to Diaz at the end of the season.

Charles De Ketelaere has yet to score a league goal since making his big money move to AC Milan

Rabiot – from zero to hero 

Within a few weeks, Adrien Rabiot has become the hero of the Juventus midfield. From a possible new signing at Manchester United to an essential player for Massimiliano Allegri, who has now asked the club to try to renew his contract which expires in June 2023. 

From a player who was struggling, despite a salary of €7million-a-year, to a player which Juventus can build the future of their midfield around. After four years, the French star has begun to shine and above all, to score important goals that demonstrate both physical strength and his ability to get beyond the attackers. 

Rabiot scored his first brace at the Allianz Stadium and later received a standing ovation from the Juventus fans. The love between the shy player and the fans – who now dream of seeing him for many years – has finally been born in the heart of the team’s midfield. 

Adrien Rabiot pokes home from close range to give his side a deserved lead against Empoli

The history of Paulo Dybala and Federico Bernardeschi should tell you the difficulty of living in a limbo – which the midfielder was once in – yet Rabiot seems to have found new forces from this hybrid situation to find security and self-esteem. 

The Frenchman scored his first double in Serie A after 68 months at the Allianz Stadium, receiving a standing ovation from the Juventus faithful. 

Before this season, Rabiot had only scored a brace against Toulouse in Ligue 1 in 2015, when he was still wearing the PSG shirt.

The French midfielder was heading for a possible exit from Turin in the summer window

Smalling brushes off mistakes

There are many players who haven’t had much luck with the national team in their careers. In Italy, the emblematic cases are those of Roberto Mancini, Enrico Chiesa, Gianluca Vialli and Angelo Peruzzi. 

In England, one of the most striking cases is that of Smalling. Despite the excellent period of form, the Englishman is experiencing a very delicate situation because he continues to be ignored by coach Gareth Southgate and seems to stand little chance of being picked for the World Cup in Qatar,

The former Man United star is Mourinho’s go-to man who talks to him constantly and gives him plenty of tactical guidance for his teammates. 

Smalling was distracted only once and on that occasion Osimhen scored and launched Napoli into first place in the Serie A standings. 

Without his mistake, Smalling would probably have been deemed the best player on the pitch – but he still earned the compliments of the fans, forced to surrender only in front of Osimhen’s masterpiece.

Chris Smalling’s (R) lapse of concentration allowed Victor Oshimen to score a crucial goal 

Pedro plays like a 20-year-old!

Pedro appears to be 20 years old but his ID card says he’s almost 36. Thanks to Maurizio Sarri, the Spanish winger is reliving the joy of his early career and was the main man in the big match against Atalanta. 

He runs and fights, swings like a pendulum on an old clock from left to right and vice versa, driving the young Caleb Okoli and Giorgio Scalvini crazy. 

If Sarri’s Lazio managed to make up for the lack of Ciro Immobile due to injury, the credit goes to the diminutive Spaniard, who literally changed the face of the Biancocelesti’s attack. 

Pedro recorded a brilliant assist for Lazio during their win against Atalanta on Sunday

No-one would have ever imagined that the experienced Spanish player could return to being a protagonist – such as his days at Barcelona – and yet today he is one of the few irreplaceable players of Lazio. 

With the Spanish national team he became world champion in 2010 and European champion in 2012, but he runs in the middle of the pitch as if he’s never won a trophy in his career. 

The sweet assist for Mattia Zaccagni is an extraordinary gift, a mix of physical strength and precision that enhances the tactical work of Sarri-ball – which is catapulting Lazio towards the top of Serie A standings.

The 35-year-old winger has become a key feature to Maurizio Sarri’s Lazio side

Origi still has a lot to prove 

Divock Origi finally made his mark on Serie A after notching his first AC Milan goal, having endured an unlucky first 60 days in Italy. 

The Belgian will probably never be a centre-forward capable of scoring 25 goals a year, but in this Milan team he can carve out an even better role than the one that saw him feature at Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. 

His fantastic goal against Monza was a masterpiece of strength and precision and may convince Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara not to look for other strikers next summer. Origi will have to become decisive in many games and not just in some matches. 

Divock Origi notched his first goal for AC Milan in fine fashion during their win over Monza

His body needs a lot of training to fuel but his desire to prove that he is not a ‘normal player’ could be the key to definitively improve his feeling with goal. 

Speaking to DAZN about his striker, Piolo reminded the media how important he can be in the future of the club: ‘Divock is a great striker for my team. He is a very complete forward. We missed him so much and I am convinced that this goal will make him forget the bad luck of the last few months’. 

At the beginning of this year, AC Milan fans were very skeptical about the player’s health conditions but are now starting to have faith in him. Now Origi, and his physical strength, are needed to try to further improve the position in the standings.

The Milan No. 27 has struggled with injuries since joining the side from Liverpool in summer

Arnautovic – better than Ronaldo at the moment?

Football is sometimes an incredible fairy tale. In August 2022, Erik ten Hag’s United had decided to buy Marko Arnautovic, who had just returned from an excellent season with Bologna – but protests by the Red Devils’ fans blocked the deal. 

After 12 Serie A matches, Arnautovic has scored seven goals – one more than the six scored by Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Cristiano Ronaldo combined.

Today, Arnautovic is the top scorer in the Italian league and perhaps also the greatest regret of the United coach, who was frightened by the protests of the fans during the transfer window. 

Former West Ham forward Marko Arnautovic is the leading goalscorer in Serie A currently

After a complex negotiation in 2021, Arnautovic returned to Italy after being bought by Bologna. And today, after 11 matches, he’s managed to score more than CR7 – one of the players highest paid on the planet.

He is no longer a kid and perhaps he still has two to three years left in his career but at the moment, Arnautovic is proving to be more prolific than many other players most loved by the Italian media. 

He is an iron sergeant who loves to annoy his opponents, who fights for every ball and who loves physical contact to make defenders nervous. 

If Bologna manages to save themselves from relegation, Thiago Motta will have to offer him a rich dinner to repay him, while United will continue to rue their missed chance.

The Austrian forward has notched more goals the Man United’s front-line – including Ronaldo

Rugani is quiet and safe

The feeling when Daniele Rugani plays well after so many months on the bench is similar to that when you find some change in the pockets of old pants forgotten in a closet. 

Allegri has found a physically intact player, capable of dueling against Satriano and Destro, immediately finding a connection with Danilo and Leonardo Bonucci. 

The Italian defender has never been a top player, or even a charismatic player, but his strength is in the serenity with which he manages to get in tune with the team – despite barely playing.

The rust on his muscles is evident but certainly his approach to the match against Empoli showed how the player is still useful and decisive for Allegri. 

Daniele Rugani came back into the Juventus team after a long absence on the sidelines

He won the battle with team-mate Gatti for a starting spot, won the duel with Alex Sandro – who could have played as third central defender – and is now a candidate to play from the first minute in the Champions League.

Rugani has less physical strength and less explosiveness than Bremer but has great experience and a sense of position on the pitch thanks to over 100 matches at Juventus. 

Unlike other players on the bench, Rugani can play in a three- or four-man defence and this feature seems to be essential to allow Juventus to be very flexible at the back.

The defender is one of Juventus’ longest-serving players having been at the club seven years

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