Football Article

2011/12 Italian Serie A Club-by-Club Preview

The start of the new Italian Serie A campaign isn’t far away despite the delay due to the player strike so here’s Sports Pundit’s in-depth preview of the season ahead. ac milan zlatan ibrahimovic goal

AC Milan

Last season: Champions (24 wins, 10 draws, 4 Losses, 65-24)

Topscorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho & Pato (14 goals)

Most assists: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11 assists)

Manager: Max Allegri

Major Signings: Philippe Mexes (AS Roma – Free), Taye Taiwo (Olympique Marseille – Free), Marco Amelia (Genoa – Undisclosed), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (FC Barcelona - €24m Permanent), Stephan Al Shaarawy (Genoa - €10m), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Genoa - €7m Permanent), Antonio Nocerino (Palermo), Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool - Loan)

Major Departures: Marco Borriello (AS Roma - €10m Permanent), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus – Free), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa – €4m), Didac Vila (Espanyol – Loan), Alexander Merkel (Genoa - €4m), Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon – Undisclosed), Massimo Oddo (Lecce - Loan)

Max Allegri managed to get the best of Mark van Bommel, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Zlatan Ibrahimovic last term, and with better contributions from Brazilian pair Robinho and Pato this is a side who will be hard to stop. Thiago Silva was arguably Milan’s player of the season last term with his assured influence in defence. Adding Philippe Mexes and Taye Taiwo reinforces the backline.

Key player: Thiago Silva

Prediction: Champions

Inter Milanwesley sneijder inter milan goal

Last season: Runners-up (23 wins, 7 draws, 8 Losses, 69-42)

Topscorer: Samuel Eto’o (21 goals)

Most assists: Samuel Eto’o (9 assists)

Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini

Major Signings: Luc Castaignos (Feyenoord – Undisclosed), Emiliano Viviano (Bologna – €4.1m Co-ownership result), Ricardo Alvarez (Velez Sarsfield), Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid), Mauro Zarate (Lazio)

Major Departures: Victor Obinna (Lokomotiv Moscow – Free), Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala), Goran Pandev (Napoli – Loan), Davide Santon (Newcastle)

The departure of coach Leonardo, means there’s an unknown about Inter under Gian Piero Gasperini. Leonardo stabilised the club after Rafa Benitez’s brief but ordinary stint in charge. The loss of goalscoring weapon Samuel Eto’o is a huge loss too. Wesley Sneijder remains at the San Siro in a plus and he’ll need a big season if they can claim back the Scudetto. If Diego Forlan and Mauro Zarate settle in and score goals, they are a chance.

Key player: Wesley Sneijder

Prediction: Runners-up

Napoliedinson cavani napoli

Last season: 3rd (21 wins, 7 draws, 10 Losses, 59-39)

Topscorer: Edinson Cavani (26 goals)

Most assists: Ezequiel Lavezzi (12 assists)

Manager: Walter Mazzarri

Major Signings: Marco Donadel (Fiorentina – Free), Blerim Dzemaili (Parma - €9m), Daniele Mannini (Sampdoria – Free), Goran Pandev (Inter Milan – Loan), Gokhan Inler (Udinese)

Major Departures: Michele Pazienza (Juventus – Free), Fabio Quagliarella (Juventus - €10.5m Permanent), Victor Ruiz (Valencia), Luca Cigarini (Atalanta – Loan), Mariano Bogliacino (Bari)

The Azzurri were the surprise side of the 2010-11 campaign and they’ve managed to retain most of the key members of that team in Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Paolo Cannavaro and Marek Hamsik. They’ve added proven Serie A stars in Gokhan Inler and Goran Pandeva in a boost as they try to handle the additional pressure of the Champions League which will be a tough juggling act and could ultimately cause them to slide down the table.

Key player: Edinson Cavani

Prediction: 6th

Udineseantonio di natale udinese

Last season: 4th (20 wins, 6 draws, 12 Losses, 65-43)

Topscorer: Antonio Di Natale (28 goals)

Most assists: Antonio Di Natale & Mauricio Isla (7 assists)

Manager: Francesco Guidolin

Major Signings: Barreto (Bari - €3.5m), Gaetano D’Agostino (Fiorentina – Free), Danilo (Palmeiras - €2m), Gabriel Torje (Dinamo Bucuresti), Daniele Padelli (Sampdoria – Loan), Miguel Medina (Sport Colombia), Robert Pereyra (River Plate)

Major Departures: Simone Pepe (Juventus - €7.5m Permanent), Marco Motta (Juventus - €3.75m Permanent), Andrea Mazzarani (Modena – Undisclosed), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Cristian Zapata (Villarreal), Alexis Sanchez (FC Barcelona), German Denis (Atalanta - Loan)

The departures column in Udine has been filled with key players, including defender Cristian Zapata, midfielder Gokhan Inler and attacker Alexis Sanchez. They leave some serious voids to fill and it’s hard to see them repeating their heroics of 2010-11. Francesco Guidolin can still count on Antonio Di Natale up front, but with increased competition from other clubs, it’s hard to see them making the top four again.

Key player: Antonio Di Natale

Prediction: 7th

Laziolazio miroslav klose

Last season: 5th (20 wins, 6 draws, 12 Losses, 55-39)

Topscorer: Hernanes (11 goals)

Most assists: Stefano Mauri (9 assists)

Manager: Edy Reja

Major Signings: Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich – Free), Nenad Lulic (Young Boys - €3m), Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari)

Major Departures: Mark Bresciano (Al Nasr), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Mauro Zarate (Inter Milan – Loan), Sergio Floccari (Parma – Loan), Pasquale Foggia (Sampdoria – Loan), Stephan Lichsteiner (Juventus)

Edy Reja’s Romans produced a fine 2010-11 campaign and will be hoping to do so again, having bolstered their squad with veteran attacking duo Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse, who should complement Brazilian talent Hernanes. Lazio needed some genuine strikepower last term to keep their challenge going and these additions are shrewd. Federico Marchetti replaces Fernando Muslera in goals too. Lazio can do well this term.

Key player: Hernanes

Prediction: 5th

AS Romadaniele de rossi as roma goal

Last season: 6th (18 wins, 9 draws, 11 Losses, 59-52)

Topscorer: Francesco Totti (15 goals)

Most assists: Francesco Totti (8 assists)

Manager: Luis Enrique

Major Signings: Marco Borriello (AS Roma - €10m Permanent), Maarten Stekelenberg (Ajax Amsterdam), Gabriel Heinze (Olympique Marseille), Bojan Krkic (FC Barcelona), Erik Lamela (River Plate), Fabio Borini (Parma – Loan), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid – Loan), Miralem Pjanic (Olympique Lyon), Simon Kjaer (VfL Wolfsburg), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Espanyol)

Major Departures: Philippe Mexes (AC Milan – Free), Andrea Bertolacci (Lecce - €500k), John Arne Riise (Fulham), Mirko Vucinic (Juventus - €15m)

Luis Enrique has arrived in the Italian capital with plenty of expectations and he’s used his contacts to add to the side’s already strong squad with a Spanish flavour. Bojan Krkic is an exciting young prospect to add up front, while there’s a number of signings who’ll offer quality. The big-money loss of Mirko Vucinic to Juve has enabled Enrique to spend and he’s done well. How quickly he can implement the style and tactics he wants is the big question for Roma but they can do very well this term.

Key player: Daniele De Rossi

Prediction: 4th

Juventusandrea pirlo juventus

Last season: 7th (15 wins, 13 draws, 10 Losses, 57-47)

Topscorer: Alessandro Matri & Fabio Quagliarella (9 goals)

Most assists: Milos Krasic (6 assists)

Manager: Antonio Conte

Major Signings: Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan – Free), Mirko Vucinic (AS Roma - €15m), Reto Ziegler (Sampdoria – Free), Michele Pazienza (Napoli – Free), Alessandro Matri (Cagliari - €15.5m Permanent), Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli - €10.5m Permanent), Simone Pepe (Udinese - €7.5m Permanent), Marco Motta (Udinese - €3.75m Permanent), Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen), Emanuele Giaccherini (Cesena), Marcelo Estigarribia (Deportivo Maldonado – Loan), Eljero Elia (Hamburg SV)

Major Departures: Sebastian Giovinco (Parma - €3m), Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool – Loan Return), Felipe Melo (Galatasaray), Mohammed Sissoko (Paris Saint-Germain), Albin Ekdal (Cagliari), Sergio Almiron (Catania), Jorge Andrés Martínez (Cesena - Loan)

The chequebook has been out during the European summer for Juventus, who have endured two seasons of failure. Subsequently there’s a new boss in Turin, with club legend Antonio Conte taking over. He’s grabbed some talent too, with Andrea Pirlo, Mirko Vucinic and Arturo Vidal among their many signings. It’s remains to be seen the impact these additions make, but Juventus should certainly improve given their concerted effort to do so and the pressure mounting in Turin.

Key player: Giorgio Chiellini

Prediction: 3rd

Atalanta Bergamosimone tiribocchi atalanta

Last season: Champions in Serie B (22 wins, 13 draws, 7 Losses, 61-35)

Topscorer: Simone Tiribocchi (14 goals)

Manager: Stefano Colantuono

Major Signings: Stefano Lucchini (Sampdoria), Maximiliano Moralez (Velez Sarsfield), Andrea Masiello (Bari), German Denis (Napoli – Loan), Matteo Brighi (AS Roma – Loan), Luca Cigarini (Napoli - Loan)

Major Departures: Leonardo Tolamonti (Rosario Central), Edgar Barreto (Palermo - €5.3m), Cristiano Doni (banned)

Serie B champions start the new season with a six-point deduction for match-fixing and the expectations will be low for their campaign. Survival is the goal and following the sale of Edgar Barreto that won’t be easy, although they’ve added some experienced quality in Brighi, Cigarini and Denis.

Key player: German Denis

Prediction: 17th

Bolognamarco di vaio bologna

Last season: 16th (11 wins, 12 draws, 15 Losses, 35-52)

Topscorer: Marco Di Vaio (19 goals)

Most assists: Riccardo Meggiorini & Diego Perez (3 assists)

Manager: Pierpaolo Bisoli

Major Signings: Jean-François Gillet (Bari - Free), Federico Rodriguez (Genoa – Free), Nico Pulzetti (Livorno), Alessandro Diamanti (Brescia), Mikael Antonsson (FC Copenhagen), Luigi Vitale (Napoli), Robert Acquafresca (Genoa – Loan), Panagiotis Kone (Brescia – Loan), Simone Loria (AS Roma), Andrea Raggi (Palermo)

Major Departures: Emiliano Viviano (Inter Milan – Co-ownership result), Manuel Britos (Napoli), Francesco Della Rocca (Palermo - €3.5m)

After a disappointing stint at Cagliari last year, the appointment of Pierpaolo Bisoli is an interesting one. He’s lost some quality players in Viviano and Della Rocca, but has brought in Diamanti and Gillet from relegated Brescia and Bari and they should add enough value, alongside Marco Di Vaio who’ll get the goals once again.

Key player: Marco Di Vaio

Prediction: 15th

Ben somerford
Ben Somerford Sports Pundit staff writer

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