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Serie A Round 1 Review: Fiorentina Rolls, Italian Giants Stumble Out of the Gate

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Juventus and Milan fell in their opening fixtures, while Sassuolo came back to top Napoli.

Josip Ilicic and Fiorentina made near-easy work of Milan in their opening-round victory at the Artemio Franchi.
Josip Ilicic and Fiorentina made near-easy work of Milan in their opening-round victory at the Artemio Franchi.
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

The 2015-16 Serie A season began about the way one would expect. The summer's two highest spenders, Milan and four-time reigning champion Juventus, lost painfully. Roma could not manage more than a point against Verona. The only household names to come out on top in the first weekend were Inter and Lazio.

Player of the Round: Luis Muriel, Sampdoria

Two goals, three shots on goal and five fouls drawn. After signing a contract through 2019 in the summer, Muriel had a heck of a showing in the season opener for il Doria during a convincing win over Serie A newcomer Carpi.

Serie A Power Rankings, Round 1

1) Fiorentina

Preseason Ranking: 5th; Round 1: Defeated Milan 2-0

Round 2: at Torino, Sunday

Things really started to unravel for Milan after Rodrigo Ely's red card, but Fiorentina looked to be heading toward victory even before that. Though it took an unnatural and incredible free kick from Marcos Alonso and a penalty kick from Josip Ilicic, the standout Florentine club looks like a serious contender for a spot in the Champions League under the guidance of new manager Paulo Sousa.

2) Inter

Preseason Ranking: 6th; Round 1: Defeated Atalanta 1-0

Round 2: at Carpi, Sunday

It took 93 minutes, but Stevan Jovetic finally found the net for Inter against 10-man Atalanta at the death. Inter is the de facto winner of the weekend among the Italian giants, though it took a late, late winner despite 68 percent possession and 20 minutes with a man advantage against Atalanta.

3) Juventus

Preseason Ranking: 1st; Round 1: Lost to Udinese 1-0

Round 2: at Roma, Sunday

Four straight titles, mostly untested. They can't all be easy, right? The fifth title will be the toughest to come by, but in the grand scheme of things, this slip-up against Udinese means little. Juventus is far and away the most talented team in Serie A. Still, questions can be asked about Max Allegri's decision making, especially in regards to starting Kingsley Coman over Pablo Dybala. Sunday's match against Roma will be a great one, and it could be telling about the Giallorossi's chances in the title race.

4) Roma

Preseason Ranking: 2nd; Round 1: Drew 1-1 vs. Verona

Round 2: vs. Juventus, Sunday

Edin Dzeko could have won the match with a few minutes left, but at least Alessandro Florenzi's fantastic strike salvaged a point for Roma. Rudi Garcia's men face a daunting task next weekend when the four-time reigning champions head to the capital.

5) Lazio

Preseason Ranking: 8th; Round 1: Defeated Bologna 2-1

Round 2: at Chievo, Sunday

The good news for Lazio: Lucas Biglia hit the back of the net early for Lazio, and Ricardo Kishna did the same six minutes later to celebrate his debut. The bad news for Lazio: Biglia was stretchered off in the 52nd minute. He will miss the second leg of Lazio's Champions League qualifier against Bayer Leverkusen and Argentina's upcoming friendlies.

6) Sampdoria

Preseason Ranking: 9th; Round 1: Defeated Carpi 5-2

Round 2: at Napoli, Sunday

Carpi received an unfriendly welcome to Serie A. After Eder opened the scoring on a penalty kick in the 14th minute, Sampdoria went on a 16-minute, four-goal spree to take a 5-0 lead. Not a bad start for Walter Zenga at the Genoa-based club. The big question for Sampdoria now becomes whether or not it will lose Roberto Soriano before the end of the transfer window. The 24-year-old Milan target had an assist Sunday.

7) Torino

Preseason Ranking: 7th; Round 1: Defeated Frosinone 2-1

Round 2: vs. Fiorentina, Sunday

Good showing from Torino, though they got an easy draw for their opener. Frosinone, like Carpi, was making its Serie A debut. Toro went behind after seven minutes and needed two second-half goals to pull out the victory.

8) Napoli

Preseason Ranking: 4th; Round 1: Lost to Sassuolo 2-1

Round 2: vs. Sampdoria, Sunday

This was not the start Maurizio Sari wanted in his first match in charge. After 25 years jumping around Italy, the last three at Empoli, this is a big jump for the 56-year-old Italian, as Napoli is the biggest squad he has ever coached. This is likely just a bump in the road—and, in fairness, Sassuolo is a tough side—but Napoli could have been better.

9) Milan

Preseason Ranking: 3rd; Round 1: Lost to Fiorentina 2-0

Round 2: vs. Empoli, Saturday

Shame. Shame. Shame. Ding, ding, ding!

For all the big signings Milan made this summer, the most exciting debutant for the Rossoneri was supposed to be Rodrigo Ely. The 21-year-old center back has spent three years on loan from Milan, but his stellar preseason earned him a start alongside 20-year-old newcomer Alessio Romagnoli. Fiorentina regularly looked like the better side overall, but the match opened up for them following Ely's red card. The ensuing free kick led to Alonso's wonder-goal. Romagnoli conceded a penalty in the second half, allowing Ilicic to double the lead. Even before Milan went down to 10 men, the attack was hardly exciting, and Milan needs another midfielder. Axel Witsel, Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Maybe.

10) Sassuolo

Preseason Ranking: 11th; Round 1: Defeated Napoli 2-1

Round 2: at Bologna, Saturday

Always feisty, maybe Sassuolo were underrated in the preseason. Veteran Antonio Floro Flores started the scoring, and young substitute Nicola Sansone made a splash off the bench. Along with young star Domenico Berardi in the attack and longtime star Paolo Cannavaro in the back, Sassuolo could turn some heads and finish top half.

11) Udinese

Preseason Ranking: 14th; Round 1: Defeated Juventus 1-0

Round 2: vs. Palermo, Sunday

Who doesn't love Cyril Thereau? The veteran Frenchman bagged a late winner for Udinese against the four-time reigning champions, though the masterful part of the goal was the ball in by Panagiontis Kone. All Thereau had to do was keep running through the ball. It was hard to not put the Zebras at No. 1 this week, or in the top 10, for that matter. But that would have been jumping to way-too-early conclusions after one match. Great win. Relevant in the grand scheme of things? Well, they are not going to Europe next season, and they are not a likely relegation threat.

12: Verona

Preseason Ranking: 12; Round 1: Drew Roma 1-1

Round 2: at Genoa, Sunday

Good draw for Verona against the Romans. The Mastini have fought hard to stick around in Serie A. They are a tough side.

13) Palermo

Preseason Ranking: 13; Round 1: Defeated Genoa 1-0

Round 2: at Udinese, Sunday

Abdel El Kaoutari grabbed a stoppage-time winner for Palermo Sunday afternoon. This was a solid win for Palermo, but 13th is where it opened the rankings, and 13th is an accurate assessment of where the club stands in Serie A right now.

14) Chievo

Preseason Ranking: 15; Round 1: Defeated Empoli 3-1

Round 2: vs. Lazio, Sunday

If there were three returning clubs at risk of going down when the year started, they were Chievo, Empoli and Atalanta. Chievo roughed up Empoli in the opening weekend, putting three goals past the home side in the second half after going down early.

15) Genoa

Preseason Ranking: 10; Round 1: Lost to Palermo 1-0

Round 2: vs. Verona, Sunday

Not a good start for Genoa. The Griffins had at least a point until El Kaoutari buried the winner in stoppage time. They will have a chance to recover against a challenging Verona side.

16) Atalanta

Preseason Ranking: 16; Round 1: Lost to Inter 1-0

Round 2: vs. Frosinone, Sunday

It would have been surprising for Atalanta to hold on for a point against Inter. Clearly, that was not meant to be.

17) Empoli

Preseason Ranking: 17; Round 1: Lost to Chievo 3-1

Round 2: at Milan, Saturday

To Empoli's delight, Riccardo Saponara picked up where he left off at the end of last season, scoring his seventh goal since his return from Milan during the winter.

18) Bologna

Preseason Ranking: 18; Round 1: Lost to Lazio 2-1

Round 2: vs. Sassuolo, Saturday

Welcome back, Bologna. Matteo Mancosu scored before halftime, but by that point, Lazio had already struck twice.

19) Carpi

Preseason Ranking: 19; Round 1: Lost to Sampdoria 5-2

Round 2: vs. Inter, Sunday

They won't all be this bad for the Serie A newcomers, hopefully. Last year's Serie B champions got one heck of an initiation at the hands of Sampdoria, who struck five times in the first 37 minutes.

20) Frosinone

Preseason Ranking: 20; Round 1: Lost to Torino 2-1

Round 2: at Atalanta, Sunday

The other Serie A debutants had some hope early Sunday, but two second-half goals from Torino spoiled what would have been a remarkable debut for a club playing in Serie A for the first time in its 103-year history.