The football gods are finally smiling on the calcio faithful. We have made our way through a player strike and a whirlwind transfer window to finally get to the start of actual football matches. Serie A begins Friday, and normalcy will at last return…well, as much as we can ever consider Serie A to be “normalcy”!!
So let’s have a little preview of some of the most intriguing matches on the fixture list for the upcoming opening weekend. My interest for these matches lies primarily in what I consider the “new teams”. Not the teams promoted from Serie B for this season’s campaign, though there are some interesting story-lines with those teams as well. No, by “new teams” I am referring to those top clubs who have made the most changes to their squads during this past summer’s transfer window. And in Serie A, we have quite a few clubs who fit that description.
The first game on this weekend’s delicious menu is Friday’s season opener at the San Siro, as A.C. Milan takes on Lazio. Milan made only a few changes this summer, but they were likely the favorites for the scudetto even if they didn’t do any business at all. However, despite Milan’s deep trophy-winning squad, the Rossoneri made some smart additions which can make them even better.
It is hard to tell whether or not he is the elusive Mister X for this year, but Alberto Aquilani has been brought in on a season-long loan form Liverpool. He should provide a presence and some depth into a midfield which recently lost Mathieu Flamini for most of the season due to injury and Andrea Pirlo to Juventus on a free transfer. The club also added left-back Taye Taiwo and defender Philippe Mexes, among others. As the home team, and a championship team which will mostly be back together to defend their title, Milan will be expected to hit the ground running.
But it is the visiting side who will attract the most curious onlookers, myself included. Lazio may not have made the wholesale changes like Juventus or Roma have, but they certainly have turned some heads with the acquisitions of strikers Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose. The two both bring a wealth of experience, and many goals as well. Can they form the kind of deadly partnership Lazio will need to push them towards the top of the table?