For five straight years, Juventus have reigned supreme in Italy, winning title after title. As a result, it is widely expected that they will retain their Serie A title once more this season.
However, after five gripping rounds of action, there are indications that Juventus’ supremacy is under threat.
After five matches, Inter Milan lead the way as one of two teams yet to lose this season. Meanwhile, Roma and Fiorentina occupy second and third. Despite remaining unbeaten, Juventus sit fourth after winning three and drawing two so far, with Sampdoria rounding off the top five.
The first fully professional season may be only getting into its stride, but there are signs that the top five contain serious title protagonists who can challenge Juventus.
Scoring goals at will: Inter Milan
Inter achieved their highest-ever finish in Serie A last term after ending the campaign in fifth place. Not content with incremental improvement, Inter have set out their stall as a side that could challenge at the top.
After thumping Parma 4-1, Inter made the trip to Turin to face Juventus. Trailing 2-0 at the interval, Tabitha Chawinga netted a brace to restore parity by the 61st minute. Linda Sembrant was then sent off, which opened the door for an Inter victory. Cristiana Girelli had other ideas, scoring in the 90th minute to grab what should have been the winner. However, there was to be more drama as Ghoutia Karchouni snatched a point with a dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser.Embed from Getty Images
Karchouni found the net once again on matchday three as Rita Guarino’s side thrashed Pomigliano 6-1. Elisa Polli bagged a hat-trick and Ajara Nchout netted a brace to wrap up a comfortable victory.
Another win followed as goals from Tatiana Bonetti and Chawinga condemned Sampdoria to their first defeat of the season. Inter then beat Como 3-1 thanks to goals from Bonetti and Polli.
With Inter comfortably the league’s highest-scorers, they clearly possess the firepower to mount a credible challenge to the Serie A title. They also demonstrated that they could compete with Juventus, suggesting this could be the beginning of a memorable season.
Realistic Serie A title contenders: Roma
After five matches, Roma currently reside in second place. Despite losing to the champions on matchday three, they look to be the best-placed side to wrestle the Serie A crown off of Juventus.
Only five points separated them from top spot last term in Alessandro Spugna’s first season as head coach. Were it not for a three-game winless run in October, Roma could already be talking about a title win. Since that winless spell, they embarked upon an 18-game unbeaten league run, which came to an end against Juventus.Embed from Getty Images
After beating Pomigliano and AC Milan 2-0, an away meeting against the champions awaited on matchday three. Valentina Cernoia’s 53rd-minute strike gave the host a precious lead in a game where Roma had a number of chances. Even Manuela Giugliano’s sending-off did not deter Roma, but they could not find a way past the resolute goalkeeping of Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.
They would have been contemplating another defeat the following weekend when Michela Catena gave Fiorentina a half time lead. However, Roma turned the contest on its head in the second half, with Emilie Haavi and Valentina Giacinti grabbing a goal apiece to secure a 2-1 victory.
Their latest result was a 5-0 thumping over Parma, which gives them the third highest goal tally of the season so far.
Sitting one point adrift of Inter and with their next two fixtures taking place against bottom half sides, Roma have a real chance to move to the top of the table.
Potential Dark Horse: Fiorentina
Patrizia Panico’s Fiorentina have also sprung somewhat of a surprise this season. Having previously won a Serie A title, two Coppa Italia trophies and a Super Cup, Fiorentina may be readying themselves for an unlikely title challenge. In truth, pursuing the Serie A crown seems unrealistic, but their early season form has been impressive.Embed from Getty Images
An opening day win over AC Milan raised a few eyebrows, while 2-1 victories over Como and Parma ensured their first three matches yielded maximum points. Their first defeat followed, but Fiorentina were able to rectify their mistakes with a 2-0 win over Sassuolo in their latest game.
A title challenge may be unrealistic for a side that finished seventh last term, but a top-half place is certainly plausible.
The early season surprise: Sampdoria
Sampdoria surged out of the starting blocks, surprising everyone with three consecutive victories. Despite sitting in second position after three games, there was certainly a feeling that Sampdoria’s form could not be sustained. All three victories had come against sides that are yet to win this season (Sassuolo, Pomigliano, Como).
A 2-0 defeat to Inter gave Sampdoria a reality check, and more tough tests are to come. Juventus and Fiorentina are all coming their way in the next two games, and their most recent match was a 2-1 defeat to AC Milan.
After finishing in sixth place in their debut Serie A season, a similar result may be expected this time around.
Underwhelming starts: AC Milan and Sassuolo
Surprisingly AC Milan started the season with consecutive defeats to Fiorentina and Roma. A response has since been found with victories over Sassuolo, Parma and Sampdoria.
Despite claiming back-to-back wins, nine points from a possible 15 leaves Milan in sixth place. Having already given up some ground to the top sides, next month’s Milan derby and a home meeting with Juventus already look crucial.Embed from Getty Images
Meanwhile, Sassuolo kept pace with Juventus in the first half of last term before finishing the season in third position. Unfortunately, one point from five matches has left them contemplating a relegation battle.
However, they would have taken confidence from the well-earned point they picked up against Juventus on Saturday.
Entertainment in store
Despite the likes of Roma and Inter showing signs that they have the capability to go toe-to-toe with the Goliath that is Juventus, there is a belief that the silverware will remain in Turin when the curtain comes down on the 2022/23 season.
But, the opening five games have demonstrated that we could be treated to a fierce Serie A title fight that may go right down to the wire.