Serie A Preview: Lukaku a distant memory as free-scoring Inter start in style

Inter has earned four wins and a draw in style and faces Atalanta next at the San Siro in its first clash with one of last season's top four.

Inter Milan has spread the attacking load between 11 players and eight strikes have been supplied by close-season signings Edin Dzeko, Joaquin Correa, Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco.   -  AP

Inter Milan has begun its Serie A title defence in free-scoring form, despite selling its top scorer from last season.

While Juventus struggles in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Italian champion has had no such trouble, netting 18 goals in five league games before Saturday's clash with Atalanta.

New Inter coach Simone Inzaghi was handed a complicated situation when he replaced Antonio Conte in the close season.

Striker Romelu Lukaku and influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi were sold to Chelsea and Paris St-Germain respectively, while Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 with his future in the game unclear.

That left many tipping Juve to reclaim the title, but after five games, Inzaghi's side is eight points clear at the top.

Inter has earned four wins and a draw in style while 13th-placed Juventus has struck five goals in four league games since Ronaldo joined Manchester United at the end of August.

READ | Ronaldo completes stunning move to Manchester United from Juventus

Only Bayern Munich, with 20 goals, boasted a better scoring record than Inter in Europe’s top five leagues after five rounds of matches.

The variety of Inter’s goals has also stood out.

The champion has spread the load between 11 players and eight strikes have been supplied by close-season signings Edin Dzeko, Joaquin Correa, Hakan Calhanoglu and Federico Dimarco.

“I'm lucky enough to be at a club that lost three important pieces in Lukaku, Hakimi and Eriksen and did not lose heart,” Inzaghi said.

“We worked hard and brought in important and functional players. We have had four wins and a draw and now all the talk is about Inter, unlike in the summer.”

TOOTHLESS ATALANTA

Inter faces Atalanta next at the San Siro in its first clash with one of last season's top four.

The Bergamo club has long been known as the most entertaining team in Serie A, but it has started the season looking uncharacteristically blunt in front of goal.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side has scored six times in the league so far and misses the clinical Luis Muriel who is injured.

“I think some of our problems have been ones of sharpness, because we keep making simple errors, like passes and lay-offs,” Gasperini said.

On Sunday, the Rome Derby promises to provide fireworks as AS Roma’s Jose Mourinho and Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri lock horns for the first time with their new clubs.

ALSO READ | Mourinho believes there is more to come from Roma despite perfect start

Roma began the season in superb form, winning six games in all competitions before a defeat by Hellas Verona at the weekend, while Lazio is on a three-game streak without a victory in all competitions.

Both sides, though, can return to winning ways on Thursday when Roma hosts Udinese and Lazio travels to Torino.

Elsewhere this weekend, unbeaten AC Milan, level on 13 points with Inter, travels to Spezia on Saturday, while Juve hosts Sampdoria on Sunday when third-placed Napoli, a point off the pace ahead of its visit to Sampdoria on Thursday, hosts Cagliari.

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