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Football Italiano’s Serie A club predictions for 2011-12


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By Football Italiano

Monday 12 September 2011

A selection of the contributors to Football Italiano have compiled their thoughts and predictions on the upcoming season. This is what they have concluded;


Scudetto


Milan
Last season’s champions Milan enter the new campaign as favourites and there are strong reasons for this - especially their summer transfer activity. The arrivals of Alberto Aquilani, Antonio Nocerino, Philippe Mexes and Taye Taiwo have strengthened the team in areas that needed it most. For many I Rossoneri boast the strongest attack in the division with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio Cassano, Robinho, Alexandre Pato and the now fit again Pippo Inzaghi all offering diverse options to break down the sternest of opposition. However the strongest asset Milan hold based on last season’s performance is Massimiliano Allegri. The former Cagliari boss has built a strong side, sound in defence, patient in attack and with the credentials of a championship already under his belt his ability to understand what is required to be victorious over the course of a season could be of huge importance. This is in stark contrast to the numerous changes of coach at rival clubs, who will face the task of having their new sides adapt to different styles and methods - most notably city rivals and last season’s runners up - Inter.


The surprise over achievers


Fiorentina
After a poor season where la Viola finished in ninth place, expect something of a renaissance from the Florence outfit. Keeping hold of key players who were expected to depart - most importantly Riccardo Montolivo - could prove to be a vital uplift to their season following the pessimism felt in May. Of huge importance is the return of Stevan Jovetic who will energise the Tuscan outfit’s options if he can replicate the form had produced before his injury in the 2009/2010 season. It is not only the boost of retaining and the returning of key talent that look to offer Fiorentina a strong basis for a solid season – new singings Mattia Cassani, Andrea Lazzari and Houssine Kharja will add far more depth ensuring challenging for European football will be the minimum of expectations this season.


The top four


Milan
The champions have had a summer of quiet summer with improvements across key areas of their squad. In contrast to their major rivals they have also had a summer of stability which could offer a huge advance. It if a team is going to finish above Milan then it is most likely that side will finish the season with the Scudetto.


Juventus
The Old Lady will be looking for a strong improvement on last season’s inconsistent performances and hope their exciting young players like Milos Krasic, Arturo Vidal and Eljero Elia can do just that. The arrival of the experienced Andrea Pirlo coupled with the exciting nature of their young starlets offers the Turin club plenty of optimism for the upcoming season however question marks remain over new Coach Antonio Conte’s capability to quickly gel it all together and their ability to improve on a defence that leaked double the amount of goals champions Milan did last season. If they can there will be a vast improvement on the final position in May for the Bianconeri.


Inter
Inter enter the new season with a third new boss in the space of a year in the shape of Gian Piero Gasperini. A gamble has been staked at the San Siro on the exciting coach. It is the ability of the talented squad to adapt to his unique tactical requirements could make or break the domestic campaign for I Nerazzurri. The pre-season has been less than inspiring for the Milan giants – suffering defeat in the Supercoppa Italiana and the departure of key man Samuel Eto’o yet with the arrival of Diego Forlan and Mauro Zarate to join the impressive Giampaolo Pazzini up front there is certainly enough quality to remain comfortably in the elite of the peninsulas clubs.


Roma
As at Inter and Juve change has swept through the yellow and red half of the eternal city. The Di Benedetto era is well underway with the appointment of Serie A outsider Luis Enrique shaking up the Roman club. While going out of the Europa League so early may not have been the start the Spaniard would have wanted - the focus on the league could prove to be a useful asset against fellow Champions League contenders Udinese, Lazio and Napoli who all face difficult European campaigns. The new arrivals Erik Lamela, Fernando Gago and Bojan Krkic will add much needed quality to complement stalwarts Francesco Totti and Daniele de Rossi. Roma will be looking to return quickly to the level they obtained prior to their downturn last season and with their already strong squad bolstered an improvement will be expected at the Stadio Olimpico.


The bottom three


Cesena
Last season they surpassed expectations staying up by seven points however the club from Romagna will do well to survive a second season in the top-flight. The new arrivals will look to bring more quality but there will be a concern that it could destabilise a side that had preformed so admirably last season.


Siena
Newly promoted Siena have had a turbulent summer. After losing Antonio Conte who had guided them to promotion last season it is the task of rookie Giuseppe Sannino making his Serie A debut to keep them in the top flight. Gaetano D’Agostino is the strongest of the summer signings after making the short trip from Florence. The strongest concerns for Tuscan club is in a defence which has not been strengthened sufficiently and a lack of a prove goal soccer at the highest level. Siena will be hoping their stay in Serie B was only for a season but it will prove just as difficult this year as it did in 2010 when they were last relegated.


Lecce
Last season’s escape from relegation was bordering on miraculous and this year it will be even tougher for Lecce to avoid the dreaded second-season syndrome. New boss Eusebio Di Francesco like his counterpart at Siena arrives as a novice to Serie A and this coupled with a summer of departures it ensures a long year lays ahead for the side for side from Puglia.


The Coppa Italia winners…


Roma
The squad may take a while to settle down under Enrique and a challenge for the Scudetto seems unlikely but the former Barcelona star will be eager to end his first season in charge with some silverware and the Coppa Italia provides the perfect opportunity. Roma have a history of success in the competition and have participated in more finals than any other club, six of which have come in the last decade. They have the team to beat anyone on their day and will not be distracted by a European campaign having been unceremoniously dumped out of the Europa League before the group stages.


The European hope…


Title favourites Milan will be Italy’s strongest challenger in Europe this term. Expectations are huge for the peninsular most successful club in Europe and the desire to return to their spot at the pinnacle continental football as been fuelled by Inter’s recent success in Madrid in 2010. This summer’s recruitment and the ability to use the players cup tied in last season’s exit to Tottenham Hotspur ensures Allegri’s side are certain to be a much stronger outfit in the Champions League this season and the semi finals will be the minimum expected. If the European Cup is going to return to Italy for a 13th time – it is most likely it will be painted red and black.


The biggest flop…


Napoli enjoyed a spectacular season last term. Up until the remaining last few weeks of the campaign they were still in the running for lo Scudetto until a defeat to Milan signalled the end of their hopes. This time around the price of success may prove too much. Playing in the Champions League in a group which contains Villareal, Manchester City and Bayern Munich will test Neapolitan side’s resources severely and could damage their ability to make a strong start to the campaign. The biggest failings last season was their inability to record success against the stronger sides and with the improvement of Juventus, Lazio and Roma to contend with the two Milan sides - it will be harder for the Partenopei to storm up the table as they did last season. The fanatic support is the clubs strongest asset – coupled with their sublime strike force – however should this seasons high expectations fail to be met immediately expect a rocky ride for Walter Mazzarri, not least from the increasingly outspoken fan in the boardroom Aurelio De Laurentiis.




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