The August midweek round of matches, in place due to the compressed season owing to the winter World Cup, threw up plenty of drama and exciting story lines.
As Atalanta sat at the top of the league table on goals scored, only three points separated the top nine teams in the division sparking hopes that Serie A could be the place for another exhilarating title race this season.
In the latest instalment of our weekly review, Sportsmail’s ALVISE CAGNAZZO takes you through 10 things we learned.
1. DYBALA FINALLY ARRIVES FOR ROMA
Roma’s first shot against Monza resulted in their first goal, with Paulo Dybala notching his first for the club with an excellent finish on 18 minutes. The Argentine did not look back, scoring again inside the first half and generally running the show for the Giallorossi on a stellar night at the Stadio Olimpico.
Dybala has become the eighth player to reach the threshold of 100 goals and 50 assists in Serie A since Opta began collecting assist data in 2004-05.
The feeling from Italy is that Dybala suffered from excessive nerves in Roma’s first three games of the season with the Argentine appearing at times to have let games drift him by while his team-mates guided Jose Mourinho’s side to a stellar start to their league campaign.
However, Tuesday’s performance displayed why Roma were so keen to land the former Juventus forward this summer with the second goal, in particular, demonstrating why the player is worth time and patience. His 100th goal in Serie A, Roma’s second in the game, showed the player’s intuition in front of goal and what an asset he will be to Jose Mourinho this season.
Dybala is not yet 100 per cent fit and has some visible hesitation in pushing the accelerator because the fear of getting injured. The mental blocks in place after years of injury troubles in Turin will be hard to overcome but Tuesday’s performance gave supporters a glimpse of the Argentine that so excited Serie A and Europe only a few seasons ago.
His influence on Roma’s performance was laid bare in the opening 30 minutes of their win over Monza. It is likely Dybala will be key to any success the club may enjoy this season.
2. MONZA – WITH FOUR DEFEATS FROM THEIR OPENING FOUR FIXTURES – LOOK DOOMED FOR THE DROP ALREADY
Four consecutive defeats are proof of a series of serious mistakes made by all members of the club: from President Silvio Berlusconi to coach Giovanni Stroppa, from Adriano Galliani to Marlon, the Brazilian defender who seems to have forgotten the difficulty of Serie A after a few years in Ukraine.
Monza look like the walking dead: a team built with players discarded by all the other Serie A clubs who are not equipped for the rigours of the Italian top division.
Zero points, eleven goals conceded in four games and little sign of any harmony between the team and the coach. Under these conditions, conclusions are already starting to be drawn not about whether or not the club will survive, but instead just how few points they might acquire this term.
Andrea Petagna and Gianluca Caprari have proved tactical and technical disappointments thus far despite both being internationals.
Meanwhile, Matteo Pessina, the club’s captain and another of the Italy national team, has not proven to be the revelation in the centre of the park many in Brianza thought he would.
Their initial form this season suggests anything other than relegation would come as a major shock this season.
3. BERLUSCONI AND GALLIANI HAVE HAD THEIR TIME IN FOOTBALL – THIS IS NO LONGER THEIR GAME
An excellent past is not always synonymous with absolute guarantees for the future. Time passes quickly and things, as Woody Allen teaches in the film ‘Crimes and Misdemeanors’, change so quickly that one does not realise it.
In Monza no one can criticise the historic milestone of reaching Serie A for the first time in the club’s 110-year history.
Executives Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani, the one-time proprietors of one of the most dominant periods in all of Italian football history with AC Milan, will always be highly regarded by fans of the club for the job they did in achieving promotion but signs suggest that they are just to old to run a successful side in the top division these days.
Both were protagonists of a sport that no longer exists. For the club to survive this season, more modern, concrete ideas are needed to back up the astonishing money spent on a newly-promoted side.
Monza was built with a crazy strategy: that of collecting random pieces for a random puzzle that the coach, Stroppa, is expected to magic into a masterpiece.
Petagna has failed everywhere he has played apart from Spal but was presented to the supporters as a major coup for the club. This muddled thinking seems set to doom the club to relegation straight back to Serie B.
Berlusconi and Galliani should both enjoy a period of profound reflection in which they look back at the costly mistakes made in a transfer window rich in quantity but desperately poor in quality.
4. ASTONISHING ABILITY TO SAVE PENALTIES COMES FROM MAIGNAN’S EXTENSIVE YOUTUBE RESEARCH
Mike Maignan is the best goalkeeper in Serie A. The French ‘keeper is only further confirmation of Paolo Maldini’s astonishing identification of talented young players.
Maignan has shown himself to be an adept shot-stopper this season, not least with an opposing forward standing over the penalty spot. His secret? Watching YouTube videos and absorbing all the information that the technical staff have. His deep knowledge has allowed him to become one of the best at saving penalties in all of Europe.
Domenico Berardi’s saved penalty on Tuesday was the 12th Maignan has saved in his career to date. An astonishing number.
It is a statistic that demonstrates the technical skills and personality of a goalkeeper who like Bruce Grobbelaar loves to irritate attackers. While the old Liverpool player loved to distract players through a variety of means including wobbly legs, Maignan opts for the more modern approach of trying to get inside the minds of those preparing to step up and take a spot kick. It is clear the new approach remains as effective as that of the 1980s.
5. WINKS IS UNLIKELY TO PROVE SAMPDORIA’S SAVIOUR
Harry Winks, after being reluctant to move abroad, eventually accepted the proposal of Sampdoria to try and revive his ailing career after Antonio Conte deemed him surplus to requirements at Tottenham.
Going from the Champions League final and the fight for victory in the Premier League to a relegation dogfight in Serie A could prove quite the culture shock for the one-time England international.
Winks is betting with his future that his 12 month stint in Serie A will come off, with the hopes of all of those at Tottenham and Sampdoria that it will prove a resounding success.
Coach Marco Giampaolo’s 4-1-4-1 system could suit Winks, but the stubborness of the Italian coach in not trying other tactical formations could cost the club this season. Simply put, they do not possess the technical quality to be able to adequately perform in a system that demands so much.
Winks is an excellent player but he is unlikely to prove the saviour of Sampdoria this season. The draw against Lazio must not deceive: Sampdoria’s problems are many and are spread across various departments. The Englishman should be under no illusions: this will not prove a Ligurian holiday.
6 – NEW NAPOLI MIDFIELDER NDOMBELE NEEDS A LESSON IN DISCIPLINE IF HE IS TO PLAY FOR SPALLETTI
Tanguy Ndombele confirmed Antonio Conte’s negative impressions on the day of his debut at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. Unlucky but also seemingly distracted, the Frenchman struggled throughout and made basic mistakes that led to manager Luciano Spalletti hooking him at half-time.
The midfielder’s struggles over the past few years are well documented and nobody expected it to be plain-sailing for the Frenchman in Serie A. Spalletti will monitor him closely over the coming weeks with the former Lyon and Tottenham midfielder likely to be put on a special plan to ensure he accustoms to life in Italy in the appropriate fashion.
The Frenchman has seen his career fall by the wayside in recent years and it will be the job of the Napoli coach to ensure he gets back somewhere close to the level he has showed in glimpses since leaving Lyon three years ago.
Aggression has been allowed to creep into his game, perhaps owing to his lack of fitness. Spalletti made a mistake in not partnering Ndombele next to Stanislav Lobotka in the club’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Lecce. His tactical immaturity, for the time being at least, requires a calm head to be next to him in the centre of the park.
7. KEAN MUST ARREST THE DECLINE OF HIS CAREER TO AVOID A PATH WELL-TRODDEN BY OTHER ITALIAN PROSPECTS
Moise Kean risks becoming the greatest mystery of Italian football.
The Italian striker from Vercelli missed his big chance at Everton with Carlo Ancelotti proving that he is unable to align his performances with his exuberant personality.
The precocious talent, at one time deemed the heir to the Juventus throne, risks seeing his career fall by the wayside like Mario Balotelli. He needs to get a grip on himself fast or else his will be another story or regret and what could have been.
Kean was booed by the Bianconeri faithful after his touch let him down for the fourth time in less than 45 minutes in the club’s 2-0 win over Spezia at the Allianz Arena. The criticism did not stop there, with Ciro Ferrara, a pundit on DAZN’s coverage, also taking aim at the international for his poor all-round performance.
According to the legendary former Juventus defender, Kean is a player that must always be 100 per cent focuses for him to make the most out of his undeniable talent.
Enough people believe in the player for him to return to the heights that saw him labelled one of the most talent young players in all of Europe. He must recognise this if he wishes to return to the Azzurri national team.
8. BETO IS THE MOST UNDERESTIMATED FORWARD IN SERIE A
Beto is one of the most under appreciated strikers in Serie A but his contribution to Udinese’s stellar start to the campaign should not be overlooked.
The striker’s goal against Fiorentina on Wednesday evening ensured Udinese finished the latest round of matches in the top half, a finish that would represent an improvement on last season’s 12th place finish.
If Udinese manage to push themselves up the table this season, it will likely be down to the Portuguese forward.
Born in 1994, the forward did not have an ambition to become a top player but possessed the attributes of someone who could perform superbly across Europe.
Due to his physical characteristics he has been compared to Duvan Zapata and if he continues to play and score regularly he could become his heir. Udinese has proven an adequate springboard onto bigger and better things for a number of players down the years. Beto could prove to be the next off the rank in that sense.
9 – THE LACK OF ATMOSPHERE AT HOME COULD BEGIN TO HURT JUVENTUS
The silence is deafening in Turin. One time a cathedral of football with a ferocious atmosphere to match that was the fear of Europe’s elite clubs, the Allianz Stadium now is more akin to one of the city’s great opera houses.
Throughout the win against Spezia there were only two moments of genuine noise and encouragement for the team: when Dusan Vlahovic and Arkadiusz Milik scored. Every club in Europe has a corner of raucous supporters that do their best to drive their team onto victory. Apart from Juventus, it would seem. The ground was so quiet that the mechanical action of a supporter standing up and the seat clattering up behind them made a noise.
Juventus are two points off the summit of the division, with Massimiliano Allegri showing signs of life in trying to revive a Juventus team that has now gone two years without winning the Scudetto. What is the fans’ problem?
10 – KOOPMEINERS COULD SOON BECOME ONE OF ATALANTA’S TRUE STARS
Teun Koopmeiners is the new charismatic leader of the Atalanta midfield. In the past, the Dutch player has been courted by Napoli and Roma but he chose to stay at Atalanta because he was convinced he could improve his professional career by remaining in Bergamo.
The hat-trick scored by the midfielder against Bologna during the week capped what has been an extraordinarily impressive start to the season for both the Dutchman and the team as a whole. They sit on top of the pile after four rounds of matches with Gian Piero Gasperini’s side looking every bit as ominous as they have done in recent years.
Having joined the club last summer from AZ Alkmaar, Atalanta have stumbled across a solution to their midfield problems in the early stages of this term. One of the most interesting players in all of Italian football at the moment, Koopmeiners does not earn a significant sum by footballing terms but could soon become one of the true stars of Gasperini’s much-loved side.