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Ancelotti putting his mark on Napoli; Roma struggling

September 24, 2018
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Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Torino and Napoli in Turin, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. (Alessandro Di Marco/ANSA via AP)

MILAN (AP) — Carlo Ancelotti is beginning to put his mark on Napoli.

Ancelotti replaced Maurizio Sarri in the offseason and immediately began making changes.

He has shifted Marek Hamsik back to a deep-lying playmaker role, and moved Lorenzo Insigne to a more central position. He also deployed a 4-4-2 formation against Torino rather than Sarri’s preferred 4-3-3.

Napoli responded with the best half-hour of football yet under its new coach in a dominant 3-1 victory at Torino on Sunday, which saw Hamsik look completely at ease in his new role.

Napoli will face a sterner test at Juventus next weekend, after a midweek fixture against Parma.

Napoli beat Juventus in Turin last season but ultimately finished second as the Bianconeri clinched a seventh successive scudetto.

“The coach has changed but what matters is the technical level of the players on the pitch, more than formations or tactics,” said Insigne, who scored two goals against Torino.

ROMA ROT

The rot appears to have settled in at Roma but club captain Daniele De Rossi has defended under-fire coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

“With all respect to Bologna and Chievo Verona, you don’t need to have Pep Guardiola on the bench to beat them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the time to put all the blame on the coach.”

But Di Francesco needs to turn things around swiftly. Roma faces Frosinone on Wednesday and then has the capital derby against Lazio.

Roma has not won following an opening-day victory against Torino. Since then it has drawn two and lost the other two in Serie A, while it was demolished 3-0 at Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Bologna — which hadn’t scored a goal in its previous four matches — was the worst yet.

“If only I had an explanation,” Di Francesco said. “I’m not the type to look for excuses: We need answers and I can’t find them, and I’m responsible for that. We continue to embarrass ourselves, and the facts condemn us or rather they condemn me.”

NO GOALS

After Bologna scored twice against Roma, Frosinone is the only team yet to score in Serie A — and across Europe’s top five leagues.

It again failed to find the back of the net in its fifth league match of the season. Frosinone kept Juventus at bay for more than 80 minutes but eventually capitulated as Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and helped set up the second for Federico Bernardeschi in a 2-0 win for the Bianconeri.

However, Frosinone isn’t last in the Serie A standings as it has two more points than Chievo Verona, which was deducted three points for false accounting. Chievo is appealing the decision.

PIATEK POWER

There was one bright note for Genoa in its 4-1 defeat at Lazio — Krzysztof Piatek found the back of the net yet again.

Piatek is the first player to score five goals in his first four Serie A appearances since Andriy Shevchenko in 1999.

The 23-year-old Piatek, who made his first appearance for Poland earlier this month, also scored four goals in his first official match for Genoa — a 4-0 win over Lecce in the Italian Cup in August.

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