MILAN (AP) — Juventus has a new coach and a new style of play.
There might have been a feeling of déjà vu in Sunday's Derby d'Italia, which saw Juventus win 2-1 at Inter Milan: Gonzalo Higuain scored a late winner — just as he did at San Siro in 2018 — and eight-time defending champion Juventus moved to the top of the Serie A standings.
But there are definite signs that things are changing under Maurizio Sarri — Higuain's winner was pure "Sarriball."
There were 24 quick passes before the ball came to Higuain, who controlled it and drilled it past Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
"It came from the good feet of my players," Sarri said. "This is a team with a lot of talent, and when they're alert they can pass with fluidity and find ways to drive the ball forward."
Sarri has used his attacking style of play in all the teams he has coached, to varying effect.
His tactics helped Napoli push Juventus hard for the Italian title, but at Chelsea "Sarriball" became part of the vocabulary of vitriol in chants.
So far at Juventus, it is being met with approval, especially after years of no-frills winning under previous coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Sarri leapt to his predecessor's defense.
"If a team gets that many points I doubt they played that badly," he said. "The fact Juventus won with many matches remaining, so took their foot off the gas and made it seem like they were playing worse at the end, that can happen."
But it will perhaps serve as a warning to the rest of Serie A that Sarri believes there is much more to come from his attack-minded players.
"I respect a lot what this team did before me, but little by little I'm trying to add in new concepts," Sarri said. "We can improve, because I coach a team that is individually strong, with a bench where there is always so much quality.
"My ideas are always the same, but they have to be adjusted for the characteristics of my players."
Already struggling to cope without a slew of players, Roma's injury problem has increased.
Davide Zappacosta, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alessandro Florenzi, Diego Perotti and Cengiz Under were all sidelined for Sunday's match against Cagliari and Roma was held to a 1-1 draw to leave it with only one win in four matches.
Also, Edin Dzeko and Amadou Diawara both underwent surgery on Monday morning on injuries sustained during the match.
Dzeko fractured his right cheekbone in two places while Diawara tore the meniscus in his left knee.
The two are the latest to have surgery after Zappacosta ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during training on Friday.