Inter Milan vs. Fiorentina: 6 Things We Learned
Walter Mazzarri's Inter came from behind to win a crucial clash against the much-favoured Fiorentina this week, winning 2-1 at the San Siro thanks to goals from Jonathan and Esteban Cambiasso.
Giuseppe Rossi had put the visitors ahead with a penalty following Joaquin being tackled roughly in the box, but the home side responded to the strain well and equalised shortly afterwards before going on to heap some pressure of their own on Neto in the Viola goal.
So what did we learn?
Neto Still Has a Lot to Learn
The wisdom of trusting Fiorentina's goalkeeping responsibilities to Neto is still up for debate.
The 24-year-old has very little experience of first-team football, and while he certainly has time on his side, at this stage in his career it's difficult to know for sure what kind of keeper he'll turn out to be.
It was from his error that Cambiasso was able to capitalise, scoring an influential equaliser that put an end to the Viola's momentum and turned things in favour of the home side.
Little could have been done to stop Jonathan's powerful strike, but had he not fumbled to allow the first, this game would surely have been a very different affair. With the impetus on their side, it was Vincenzo Montella's men who looked the more likely to score after Rossi's opener.
Should more have been done to sign Emiliano Viviano permanently from Palermo? Time will tell.
Cambiasso Is Comfortable as Captain
What is it about Argentines and the Inter captain's armband? Cambiasso's stepped into the role vacated by the injured Javier Zanetti, and so far, he's acquitted himself brilliantly.
The 33-year-old's opportunistic equaliser was a just reward for his inspirational performance, and the the way he rallied the Nerazzurri to respond positively to the set-back of Rossi's opener would make any captain proud.
It's true that Neto made a mistake that lead to Cambiasso's goal, but the veteran still had to display no small amount of intelligence, quick-thinking and skill to volley home the goal. He's not getting any younger, but he still has plenty to give at the San Siro.
Josip Ilicic Needs to Settle in Florence—and Fast
With the game getting away from him, Montella tried to freshen up the Fiorentina attack by replacing Rossi with Josip Ilicic. It didn't work.
The Slovenian's signing from Palermo in the summer excited many but so far, he's failed to live up to the billing. Ilicic was wasteful in possession and on the whole looked out of sorts.
The 25-year-old's most notable contribution to the game was a negative, when he blew a fantastic opportunity to score late in the game by firing Borja Valero's brilliant cut-back straight into the hands of Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal.
With Mario Gomez out long term, and Rossi's troubled past with injuries surely in the back of the manager's mind, he needs all of his attacking players at their best. Against Inter, Ilicic was some way off that standard.
Jonathan Looks Like a Different Player Under Mazzarri
Maybe it's the change in formation, or maybe it's Mazzarri's man management skills, but Jonathan Moreira has been a revelation in the early part of this season.
Jonathan was widely derided last season, but in 2013-14 he's been solid defensively and offered plenty going forward. His passing has been accurate and he's got a goal and an assist to his name after five games in the side.
Until recently, the idea that the Brazilian could score a powerful winner against strong opposition would have been laughable. Not anymore. At this rate, he might even earn himself a call up to the national team before long.
Rossi Continues to Impress
There are those who don't want to admit it, but signing Giuseppe Rossi was something of a risk for Fiorentina.
The striker is sublimely talented and a joy to watch, but any player who has missed so much of their career through injury represents a slight gamble for a football club that needs its star players featuring regularly and justifying their cost.
So far, so good. Rossi has six goals in six games since moving to Florence, and shows no signs of stopping. Long may it last.
... but Problems Mount for Montella
It's still very early in the season, but things are in danger of getting out of hand at Fiorentina.
Pre-season they were among the outside favourites and expected to do plenty this term. Five games in, and it's been a difficult start for the Viola.
Three wins, a draw and a loss is far from disastrous, but coupled with the medium-term loss of star signing Mario Gomez, Montella needs to turn things around quickly.
The Germany international is out with an injury he picked up in the disappointing draw with Cagliari and was sorely missed against Inter.
Rossi has been fantastic, but Fiorentina need more than just the American-born Italy international if they're to have a successful campaign. Thus far, they're five points off early leaders Roma. But Montella must get his side ticking quickly, because with games against Lazio, Juventus, Napoli and Milan coming up in the next month, the gap will quickly grow to be a lot bigger.