PREVIEW-Football-Lukaku a distant memory as Inter start in style

No Lukaku, no problem.

Inter Milan have started their Serie A title defense in the form of free goals, despite selling their top scorer last season. As Juventus struggle in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italian champions have had no such difficulties, scoring 18 goals in five league games before Saturday’s clash with Atalanta.

New Inter coach Simone Inzaghi was given a complicated situation when he replaced Antonio Conte at the end of the season. Forward Romelu Lukaku and influential full-back winger Achraf Hakimi were sold to Chelsea and Paris St-Germain respectively, while Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 with his future in the uncertain game.

That left many tipping Juve to reclaim the title, but after five games Inzaghi’s side are eight points clear in the lead. Inter have taken four wins and a draw in style while 13th-ranked Juve have scored five goals in four league appearances since Ronaldo joined Manchester United in late August.

Only Bayern Munich, with 20 goals, had a better score than Inter in the top five European leagues after five rounds of matches. Inter’s variety of goals also stood out. The champions split the load between 11 players and eight strikes were provided by end-of-season signings Edin Dzeko, Joaquin Correa, Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco.

“I am fortunate to be at a club which lost three important pieces to Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen and which did not lose heart,” said Inzaghi. “We worked hard and brought in some important and functional players. We had four wins and one draw and now everyone is talking about Inter, unlike in the summer. “

TOOTHLESS ATALANTA Inter will next face Atalanta in San Siro in their first clash with one of last season’s top four.

The Bergamo club have long been known as Serie A’s most entertaining team, but they started the season with an unusually blunt appearance in front of goal. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side have scored six times in the league so far and miss the injured Luis Muriel clinic.

“I think some of our issues have been sharpness issues as we keep making simple mistakes like passes and layoffs,” Gasperini said. Sunday’s Rome derby promise to provide fireworks as AS Roma’s Jose Mourinho and Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri lock in with their new clubs for the first time.

Roma have started the season in superb form, winning six games in all competitions before losing to Hellas Verona this weekend, while Lazio are on a three-game winless streak in all competitions. Both sides can return to victory on Thursday, when Udinese and Lazio host Roma in Turin.

Elsewhere this weekend, undefeated AC Milan, tied for 13 points with Inter, travel to Spezia on Saturday, while Juve host Sampdoria on Sunday as third-place Napoli one point away from their visit to Samp Thursday will host Cagliari.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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