The race for the Scudetto is heating up as we’ve passed the halfway mark and are heading for the home straight in Italy, with AC Milan leading the way but Napoli, AS Roma and Inter Milan are chasing.>
Bari Position; 20th’‘Grade; D’’
Record; 3-5-14 (Home 2-3-6, Away 1-2-8) Leading scorer; Barreto (4 goals) Most assists; Edgar Alvarez, Sergio Almiron & Emmanuel Rivas (2 assists) Star player; Andrea Masiello Key player; Stefano Okaka Chuka
It’s looking grim for Bari who sit well adrift in last spot on the Serie A table. They don’t possess their impressive defensive record of last season, and are struggling for goals in attack. In fact they’ve got the worst attacking and defensive record in Serie A. The pressure is really on Giampiero Ventura and it’s hard to see Bari or the boss surviving.
Bologna Position; 14th’‘Grade; B-‘’
Record; 7-7-7 (Home 5-4-1, Away 2-3-6) Leading scorer; Marco Di Vaio (13 goals) Most assists; Federico Casarini, Gaston Ramirez & Marco Di Vaio (2 assists) Star player; Marco Di Vaio Key player; Albin Ekdal
If it wasn’t for Bologna’s three-point deduction they’d be sitting pretty up in 10th at this stage. It goes to show the steady job Alberto Malesani has done with the Rossoblu this season. Marco Di Vaio continues to inspire up front, scoring 13 of their 23 goals this term.
Brescia Position; 19th’‘Grade; ?’’
It’s been a season of turmoil for newly-promoted Brescia who sacked Giuseppe Iachini in December, replacing him with Mario Beretta, only to sack him in January and re-instate Iachini. All the while, the Rondinelle are struggling in the drop zone. They lack firepower and need more from Alessandro Diamanti, while the defence is struggling against top-class opponents. The loss of Gilberto Martinez to Sampdoria is another blow and they may struggle to avoid the drop.
Cagliari Position; 9th’‘Grade; B’’
Record; 8-5-9 (Home 6-1-4, Away 2-4-5) Leading scorer; Alessandro Matri (11 goals) Most assists; Andrea Cossu (10 assists) Star player; Andrea Cossu Key player; Robert Acquafresca
After last season’s dramatic end to Max Allegri’s rein, Cagliari have got back to fine form this term despite their slow start and November dismissal of Pierpaolo Bisoli. New boss Roberto Donadoni has managed to take Cagliari on an impressive run of results up to ninth from 19th when he took over. But he faces a new challenge following the loan of topscorer Alessandro Matri to Juventus. Goals aren’t Cagliari strong-point this term, although they have tightened up at the back.
Catania Position; 16th’‘Grade; C’’
Record; 5-7-10 (Home 5-4-3, Away 0-3-7) Leading scorer; Maxi Lopez (5 goals) Most assists; Cristian Llama (3 assists) Star player; Matias Silvestre Key player; Marco Biagianti
Marco Giampaolo’s stint in charge of the Elephants ended with his removal from his post by mutual consent in January. Former Argentina international Diego Simeone replaced him but the results haven’t drastically improved yet. To make his job harder, attacker Giuseppe Mascara has left for Napoli and he needs forward options as his side are proving goalshy this term with 18 goals in 22 matches. Their home form is what is keeping them out of the bottom three.
Cesena Position; 18th’‘Grade; C+’’
The newly-promoted Seahorses started off brightly in Serie A but they’ve quickly lost their surprise factor and come back to reality. The man who guided them to promotion, Pierpaolo Bisoli, left prior to the season so it’s been a tough gig for Massimo Ficcadenti but he’s done okay considering his squad. They’ve only won three games since mid-September, so he’s brought in some players including Inter’s Davide Santon and Zenit winger Alessandro Rosina. More firepower needed to survive but fighting.
Chievo Verona> Position; 10th’‘Grade; B’’
Record; 6-9-7 (Home 3-6-2, Away 3-3-5) Leading scorer; Sergio Pellissier (9 goals) Most assists; Sergio Pellissier (4 assists) Star player; Sergio Pellissier Key player; Bostjan Cesar
Chievo remain a stable Serie A club despite their lack of resources, with new boss Stefano Pioli doing a neat job with the Little Donkeys this term. Striker Sergio Pellissier’s attacking play is a cornerstone of their success, but defensively they remain very sound with keeper Stefano Sorrentino in fine form again this term.
Fiorentina Position; 13th’‘Grade; D’’
Record; 6-7-8 (Home 6-2-2, Away 0-5-6) Leading scorer; Alberto Gilardino (7 goals) Most assists; Alberto Gilardino, Adem Ljajic & Alessio Cerci (2 assists) Star player; Alberto Gilardino Key player; Riccardo Montolivo
Sinisa Mihaljovic’s tenure at the Viola remains precarious after an awful first-half of the campaign. The big issue is 21 goals in 21 games, while their away form is almost a joke as they remain winless on the road this term. Italy striker Alberto Gilardino has been decent but lacks support. The Adrian Mutu saga hasn’t helped but that’s hardly an excuse for a dismal season so far.
Genoa Position; 12th’‘Grade; C’’
Davide Ballardini remains under plenty of pressure at the Grifone after an underwhelming campaign, but after a big-spending January the results will be expected sooner rather than later. Genoa have only managed 20 goals this season so the addition of Mauro Boselli is important to support Rodrigo Palacio, after the departure of Luca Toni. Finding a regular goalscorer will be a key, as their defence has been sound with Domenico Criscito leading the way but keeper Eduardo hasn’t been overly convincing.
Inter Milan Position; 4th’‘Grade; B-‘’
There’s no doubt after last season’s treble, it’s been a bit of a disaster of a season for Inter. Rafa Benitez’s short rein ended in December, but things have improved under new boss Leonardo and the title race is far from over. Samuel Eto’o has been in fine form, but the performances of Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder haven’t matched last season’s. Getting keeper Julio Cesar back from injury will be important, while Giampaolo Pazzini looks a good new signing.
Juventus Position; 7th’‘Grade; C’’
There’s a growing sentiment of dissatisfaction at the Delle Alpi as Luigi Del Neri’s men continue to fail to convince. The team are not genuine title contenders and lack conviction. Del Neri remains positive about the club but the fans are feeling different. The Old Lady have got firepower, with 36 goals this term, but are shipping too many hence why Andrea Barzagli has been signed. Alessandro Matri is an interesting signing too, to bolster their frontline.
Lazio Position; 3rd’‘Grade; A-‘’
Edy Reja’s Lazio have surprised many with their fine start to the campaign, but they’ve continued the surprises by hanging in there until now. They are beginning to lose ground, as their squad – which lacks depth – begins to tire. Brazilian Hernanes has been exciting but Lazio’s defence has been impressive with keeper Fernando Muslera and defenders Andre Dias and Giuseppe Biava doing well. They won’t have the longevity to go all the way, but a Champions League spot isn’t out of the question.
Lecce Position; 17th’‘Grade; C’’
Record; 5-6-11 (Home 4-4-3, Away 1-2-8) Leading scorer; David Di Michele (5 goals) Most assists; Ruben Olivera (3 assists) Star player; Guillermo Giacomazzi Key player; Nenad Tomovic
Serie B champions Lecce have had a tough return to the top flight, as they have the worst defensive record in Serie A at this stage. But boss Luigi Di Canio has the Wolves out of the bottom three for now after a reasonable run of results. The arrival of Serbian defender Nenad Tomovic has helped as they remedy their defensive issues, but they do need more from talented forwards such as Daniele Corvia and David Di Michele.
AC Milan Position; 1st’‘Grade; A’’
Milan boast the best attacking and defensive record in Serie A and are deserved leaders at this stage. But that’s not to say they’ll claim the Scudetto, as they haven’t totally convinced everyone and have brought in players like Mark van Bommel to consolidate their position. But with Robinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano and Pato all firing, they will be hard to stop. Veterans Gennaro Gattuso, Christian Abbiati and Alessandro Nesta provide the steady leadership which suggests they can be champions.
Napoli Position; 2nd’‘Grade; A’’
Walter Mazzarri’s Azzurri are playing brilliant football and winning games doing okay. It’s fantastic stuff, but is their squad deep enough to keep it alive and push for the Scudetto? That’s the million dollar question, but there’s plenty of doubters. Napoli’s attacking trio of Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani have been outstanding, while in defence Napoli have done well keeping plenty of clean sheets lately. Mazzarri has also just signed Giuseppe Mascara to bolster his squad for the final part of the campaign. Not without a chance at the title.
Palermo Position; 8th’‘Grade; B+’’
Delio Rossi continues to do a fine job with the Rosanero, as they have been producing some top-quality football, although they might feel they should be a little higher placed in the league. Argentine attacker Javier Pastore has had his best Serie A season to date, while Slovenian youngster Josip Ilicic has impressed too, easing the burden on veteran Fabrizio Miccoli in attack. Palermo still are conceding too many goals, but keeper Salvatore Sirigu has impressed at times, along with the rampaging Federico Balzaretti and assured Ezequiel Munoz. Should make Europe.
Parma Position; 15th’‘Grade; C+’’
Record; 6-7-9 (Home 4-5-2, Away 2-2-7) Leading scorer; Hernan Crespo (8 goals) Most assists; Angelo (3 assists) Star player; Sebastian Giovinco Key player; Valeri Bojinov
New Parma boss Pasquale Marino has a few worries as his side hover above the relegation zone. They’ve been thereabouts most of the campaign and haven’t convinced. Their issue of scoring goals isn’t totally resolved, but Hernan Crespo partnered by new signing Amauri is promising. Valeri Bojinov, though, could hold the key. Cristian Zaccardo and Antonio Mirante have been mainstays at the back.
AS Roma Position; 5th’‘Grade; B’’
Claudio Ranieri’s Roma had a woeful start to the campaign but have worked their way into the Scudetto race. Ranieri’s approach continues to provide the platform with few goals conceded, in fact they’ve only conceded eight at home this campaign as they’ve gone undefeated at the Stadio Olimpico in the league. But David Pizarro’s injury woes haven’t helped their title case, nor has the form of off-season signing Adriano who has been a flop. More is needed from Jeremy Menez if they are to genuinely challenge.
Sampdoria Position; 11th’‘Grade; C-‘’
After finishing fourth under Luigi Del Neri last term, this season has been a different story for Sampdoria under Domenico Di Carlo. The departure of key players Antonio Cassano, Giampaolo Pazzini and Guido Marilungo has hardly helped but they are on the slide. They’ve added Massimo Maccarone in a bid to score more goals after 20 from 21 matches. They literally are a different side to last term and it’s frustrating the fans.
Udinese Position; 6th’‘Grade; A’’
Many have been impressed by the approach of Udinese boss Francesco Guidolin this term. The Zebrette have been producing fine football with some fluent attacking play created by brilliant Chilean Alexis Sanchez and finished off by prolific Antonio Di Natale. If they can tighten up in defence, than anything’s possible, including a top four finish.