By James Goyder
AC Milan sent a serious statement of intent to Serie A with a 4-0 opening day demolition of Lecce. Excitement levels were already high at the San Siro due the imminent arrival of prolific Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He is on a year long loan from Barcelona which will almost certainly be made permanent once the season ends. Although Ibrahimovic was not in action against Lecce he was introduced to the fans at half time and must have been impressed with what he saw from his new team mates.
Fellow striker Alex Pato grabbed a brace with defender Thiago Silva grabbing another and veteran poacher Filipo Inzaghi getting on the score sheet in injury time. Ronaldinho was pulling the strings for AC Milan and the Brazilian playmaker looks to be enjoying a late lease of life in Italy.
The prospect of him, Ronaldinho and Alex Pato forming an attacking trident together is a mouth watering one and AC Milan fans will he hoping that Ibrahimovic’s arrival can give the team enough impetus to actually challenge Inter Milan this season.
The other teams with realistic pretensions of Serie A success did not get off to such an emphatic start. Roma were held to a disappointing 0-0 home draw to newly promoted Cesena. New signing Adriano was not involved although Roma did announce they have finally secured the signing of Argentine center back Nicola Burdisso.
If Roma’s start was a little underwhelming Juventus’s was even worse. They have invested heavily in the pre season in the likes of Milan Krasic, Simon Pepe and Leonardo Bonucci and would have expected to comfortably overcome Bari.
It was the home side who emerged with all three points though as substitute Massimo Donate gave them the lead with a fine strike just before the interval. Juventus’s new look strike force of Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Quagliarella were unable to find the back of the net in a decidedly disappointing opening day performance.
Genoa put in an impressive away performance to defeat Udinese 1-0 with substitute Giandomencio Mesto grabbing the only goal of the game with ten minutes to go. Luca Toni’s debut ended prematurely when an injury forced him to leave the field just prior to half time.
Chievo, Parma and Sampdoria were the other winners. Chievo beat Catania 2-1 at home while Parma triumphed 2-0 at home to Brescia. A 2-0 defeat of Lazio will have helped to ease the pain of Sampdoria’s recent Champion’s League exit. Antionio Cassano was on target from the penalty spot with Stefano Guberti adding a second.
Elsewhere Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Napoli and Palermo drew 0-0 with Cagliari. Inter Milan’s match at Bologna was postponed until Monday night to give the Serie A champions an additional day to recover after the European Super Cup game on Friday.