The new season of Serie A soccer kicks off tomorrow with Verona against AC Milan as the first match.
This season promises to be one of the most interesting yet, certainly for a long time, as sides bolstered with intriguing signings go head-to-head for the Scudetto. Italian football has had its fair share of problems in bygone years. However it’s time for the once great league to show the world it’s back. That Calcio is back.
Below is a club by club guide to the 2013-2014 Campeonato.
Last Season 15th
The Bergamo based club rarely, if ever, trouble the true heavyweights of Serie A; nonetheless they’re a club with a proud tradition in the league and their ability to produce their own players often sees them through campaigns. It is often seen as a feeder club and players such as Alessio Tacchinardi and current captain and long-serving defender Gianpaolo Bellini have either served the club with honour or moved on for a hefty price and bigger things. Manager Stefano Colantuono will most probably look to another season of consolidating their position in the top tier, though a fairly impressive orobici squad including Andrea Consigli and Marko Livaja may look to improve on last year’s 15th placed finish. Striker German Denis will be expected to grab the goals at Stadio Atleti with the likes of Luca Cigarini and Giacomo Bonaventura also expected to play their part. Veteran defender Mario Yepes is also a welcome addition to the squad.
One to watch: Giacomo Bonaventura. The midfielder has recently been capped by Italy.
Last Season 13th
Again, Bologna are a side not accustomed to mixing it at the top end of the table toward the business end of the season. A powerhouse in the 20s and 30s it’s been a long time since they’ve won anything of note. That won’t change this season either. A position of last year’s 13th position may be deemed a success again this time around by boss Stefano Pioli. The rossoblu boast new signing, ex Man City striker Rolando Bianchi, who replaces the exciting Manolo Gabbiadini and veteran Alberto Gilardino up front. He joins a squad with the likes of Robert Acquafresca and Rene Krhin at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. The departure of Saphir Tadir to Inter is a blow, his energetic style of play would have been a great boon to the side.
One to watch: Rolando Bianchi. The experienced striker will be the focal point.
Last Season 11th
Continuing in the same vein, Sardinian club Cagliari also can’t be accused of getting amongst the big boys on any consistent level. Indeed, a solitary title in 1970, inspired by the legendary Gigi Riva is their only success to date. Last season saw a fairly strong mid-table finish and it would be some achievement if they could replicate that this time around. However there are well-documented problems with their stadium, Stadio Is Arenas has been shut down and the club will play in Trieste. Gaffer Ivo Pulga keeps the chassis of his squad together, with striker Thiago Ribeiro the only real loss. Players like Radja Nainggolan and Davide Astori have been linked to moves to bigger clubs but remain. A boost for the rossoblu if they are to maintain their progress.
One to watch: Davide Astori. A solid centre-half, he’ll be crucial
Last Season 8th
An excellent season for the rossazzurri last season saw the club miss out on European football only because of a poor run-in. Nonetheless the Sicilian club were mightily impressive and it would be a fantastic year for them if Rolando Maran can repeat the same result. Again, Catania have never really won anything of note, but there’s no reason the good work cannot continue and the elefanti start building for European qualification. An incredibly Argentine player heavy roster at the Stadio Angelo Massimino has been augmented by the arrivals of the returning Maxi Lopez and Sunderland target Gino Peruzzi.
One to watch: Sebastian Leto. The new striker must bag some goals if Catania are to succeed.
Last Season 12th
One of those clubs that seem to be perpetually in Serie A without doing anything of any mention. It seems the target at the start of every season is merely to remain in it. The mussi volanti will be under no illusions that this will be the case again, and they’ll do it too. They’re known for their, ahem, dull style of football and under new coach Giuseppe Sannino, Chievo fans could be forgiven for hoping for better fare; but 12th again will do nicely. No matter how it’s done. Signings at the Stadio Bentegodi include the loan deal of winger Boadu Acosty from Fiorentina and full back Manuel Pamic.
One to watch: Boadu Acosty. It may be that the loanee puts some spark into the Verona based club.
Last Season 4th
We come on to one of the more vaunted clubs in the league now with Fiorentina. Expectations are high at Stadio Artemio Franchi and the viola will be hoping another 4th place is achievable, though this may be unlikely with the strengthening done by other clubs. The departure of Stevan Jovetic to Manchester City is a blow but his fee will let the Florence based club strengthen. In his place comes hugely experienced Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich. He’ll be relied upon to fire them to success, he has to frankly. Though they are studded with some big names alongside him, namely Giuseppe Rossi, Adem Ljajic and fellow new signing Joaquin. Striker Rossi desperately needs a good season after a terrible injury ruled him out last season. By and large, coach Vincenzo Montella has a very good squad to call upon and they’ll do well but not as well as 2012/2013.
One to watch: Giuseppe Rossi. A feared marksman, this year is so important
Last Season 17th
Last season was one to forget for Genoa fans; a last day, seat of the pants dice with relegation was avoided and they live to fight another season. That will be very much in effect this season too, because fight they will have to. The grifone have appointed a new, untested coach in former Parma and Lazio midfielder Fabio Liverani and their squad hasn’t been especially strengthened over the summer. This, added to the departures of seasoned keeper Sebastian Frey and Italian u21 international Ciro Immobile namely mean the odds could be stacked against them as they bid to survive again. However there is the return of Alberto Gilardino which may mean a goal threat at Ennio Tardini. He will have to call upon his experience if they are to have a sniff at more than a great escape. The rossoblu though may be staring down the trapdoor to Serie B, which will be sad predicament for the 9 time champions.
One to watch: Mattia Perrin. The 20 year old goalkeeper is highly rated and will get his chance.
Last Season 9th
It hasn’t been a good time for the blue half of Milan in recent seasons, none more so than last campaign. Their 9th place finish was the worst in nearly 20 years and the club has been in rapid decline since the seemingly other lifetime tenure of Jose Mourinho. Andrea Stramaccioni has been replaced by Walter Mazzarri and with his arrival comes a number of very shrewd signings. Out go long serving Dejan Stankovic and mercurial Antonio Cassano and in their place come the exciting Mauro Icardi from Sampdoria and Saphir Tadir from Bologna. A newer, younger and more vibrant team seems to be the remit of the regime at the San Siro and it would take a brave man not to at least back Inter to improve massively on 9th. However a European finish should be the least expected of the nerazzurri. Though those halcyon days of 2009 are a long way past now, Inter still retain the likes of Esteban Cambiasso, Diego Milito and Javier Zanetti. Their vast experience will be crucial alongside other arrivals, powerful striker Ishak Belfodil and the solid centre back Hugo Campagnaro.
One to watch: Mauro Icardi. A big season awaits the undoubtedly talented attacker.
Last Season 1st
The Old Lady of Turin have set the standard in recent years, having done nothing but strengthen since their return to Serie A in 2007; there is a galaxy of talent at the disposal of manager Antonio Conte. Simply put, they’re the best Italy has to offer and are getting better; a title win last season will surely be repeated and with their new Juventus stadium, the Turin based club is more than likely gearing up for an assault on the Champions League now. The bianceroni are well stocked in every department, legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon is protected by a wealth of top defenders, the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leo Bonucci and new arrival Angelo Ogbonna. ‘MVP’ ( Marchisio, Vidal and Pirlo) is still one of the most effective midfield trios in the world, backed up by Paul Pogba. An attack that was already full with Sebastian Giovinco, Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic and Simone Pepe is joined by Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez. It truly is a frightening prospect. The team that finishes above Juve will win the title, it’s that simple.
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