by LIAM RICHNER
Featured Game: Torino v Empoli
Joe Hart’s debut in Serie A last weekend showed how difficult it is for a player to acclimatise to a different style of football in another country.
Almost every Premier League fan has thrown criticism at players with large pedigrees who move to England from the likes of Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga, but failed to live up to expectations.
Moving abroad is nothing compared to moving from one side of the country to another, there is a new language to pick up and a new culture to understand. The music is different, the food is different, even the shows on TV.
So I applaud Hart for making the move to Italy, as that in itself is as tough a challenge as competing in the Manchester Derby.
He surprised the media at his unveiling by opening his presentation in Italian, telling the press he is learning the language needed to communicate with defenders on the football pitch.
Even that is a big step to helping him settle in quickly, and make the move easier. Determination like this both on and off the field could make this loan a successful one.
However, Hart quickly learned on his Torino debut at Atalanta last weekend how Italian football consists very much of attack, attack, attack.
Most Serie A sides have forward lines that could harm any defence in Europe, but they are let down by poor defensive players who struggle to keep clean sheets.
His blunder led to Atalanta’s equaliser in Torino’s 2-1 defeat last Sunday, and this weekend provides another stern test against a side who have started slowly in Empoli.
Giovanni Martusciello’s side won for the first time this season last Monday with a hard fought victory over Crotone, but go to Turin with optimism.
The travelling side have won their last three trips to the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino 1-0, and the Tuscans haven’t been beaten by Torino in five years.
Neither side has kept a clean sheet all season, and with the likes of Iago Falque and Maxi Lopez playing for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side, one could expect a goal fest.
Il Toro could be without key forwards Adem Ljajic and Andrea Belotti for Sunday’s clash, whereas Empoli are at full strength.
As with Italian football, patience is non-existent and reports in Italy claim that a defeat for either manager could mark the end of their time in charge.
Elsewhere Juventus, who have three wins from three, travel to the San Siro to play Inter Milan, who lost 0-2 at home to Hapoel Be’er Sheva last night.
Both teams look to be on the other side of the spectrum. Juve are playing free-flowing attacking football, whereas Frank De Boer’s side are still trying to find their rhythm. Il Nerazzurri must find a way to stop red hot Gonzalo Higuain, who has three goals in as many league games for the Serie A champions, and an in form Sami Khedira.
The Derby d’Italia has been dominated by Juventus in recent times, with Inter last tasting success in this fixture back in 2012.
AC Milan have also found it tough this season. Despite an opening day victory, Vincenzo Montella’s side have lost twice on the spin.
Carlos Bacca netted a hattrick in that win over Torino in week one, but hasn’t scored since. With the goals drying up, could summer signing and former Pescara striker Gianluca Lapadula get his chance to shine?
The Rossoneri travel to Sampdoria tonight, with Marco Giampaolo’s men also looking o bounce back from a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Roma last weekend.
The loss ended Samp’s unbeaten run, but with Luis Muriel in spectacular form, and playing alongside a rejuvenated Fabio Quagliarella, they could really make a statement with a positive result over the 2007 Champion’s League winners.
Lazio v Pescara
Napoli v Bologna
Udinese v Bologna
Sassuolo v Genoa
Fiorentina v Roma
Crotone v Palermo
Cagliari v Atalanta