Archive for August 25th, 2007

Serie A 2007-08 – Season Predictions

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

 Lega CalcioSerie A

With the new Serie A season at our doorstep, it seems natural that I’d step on the bandwagon of pre-season prediction craziness, and post my picks for the Serie A rankings. I won’t go through each of the teams in detail, because that would take too long and there’s plenty of other sites for that. I will however give my picks for the Scudetto contenders and the spots for Champions League.

Let’s get started. :mrgreen:

Inter

This season is Inter’s chance to prove that last year’s Scudetto wasn’t a fluke. Inter’s big rivals Juventus are back, and Milan’s point deduction is no more, so the game is on!!

Inter hasn’t been overly active on the transfer market, but their big summer reinforcement seems to have integrated into his new team very nicely, I’m talking about Cagliari signing David Suazo. His partnership with Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been highly impressive in the pre-season, as these two have been responsible for most of Inter’s goals so far! In fact, it is very likely that the duo will be Mancini‘s starting line-up in front, since Adriano is still trying to find his form from the 2003-04 Parma season (in fact, there’s even rumors he might go back to his old club on a loan deal). Inter’s other major signing Christian Chivu is a nice addition to the squad, and will prove useful both as a central defender and left side-back (with the added bonus of being a free kick specialist). 

The Nerazzurri have always had an exceptional roster of players this past 10 years, yet they always seemed to ‘get lost’ at some point into the season, a factor which denied them the Scudetto on many occasions.  Last year however, with Milan and Juventus out of the picture (and Roma’s poor form), no one was there to keep the pressure on Inter, allowing them to take the title with a 22 point lead! So the biggest question for this season, is can Inter’s mental strength carry on all the way through the end?

Prediction: 1st or 2nd-placed.

Milan

Freshly decorated UEFA Champions League winners, the Milan team is looking at a strong come-back in the leading teams of Serie A. Their squad is strong, experienced, and has made of winning an habit (which is perhaps the biggest advantage they have over Inter).

Transfer-wise much like Inter, Milan hasn’t made any huge signings this summer, with the exception of young Brazil talent Alexandre Pato and veteran midfielder Emerson from Real Madrid. Both these players will be very useful for Ancelotti, even though Pato will not be able to play until January (Milan has reached the max. cap of non-EU players for the year 2006). However, if we add the transfers of Massimo Oddo and Ronaldo from January 2006, then no one can deny that Milan’s team has gotten even stronger this past year.

I expect the Rossoneri to be strong contenders for a repeat of their Champions League title, as well as being the prime candidates for the Scudetto this year.

Prediction: 1st or 2nd-placed.

Juventus

It’s the big return of the ‘Old Lady’ to Serie A! After a year of purgatory in the second division, the Calciopoli scandal and the Moggi shadow are far behind. It’s time for the Bianconeri to start anew, and in terms of pure motivation they will be perhaps the strongest team to contend with. All the veterans that stuck with the team in Serie B (Buffon, Nedved, and Del Piero in particular) have become absolute idols for the Juve supporters, and with their new stadium, we can rest assured that the home crown will give a huge boost to Ranieri’s men.

Juve have perhaps been the most active team of the ‘Big 4′ in terms of transfers. Balzaretti, Kovac, Tudor and Bojinov left, but many very good signings have come in their place. The addition of Grygera and Andrade will provide much-needed help for the Juve backline, and the arrival of midfielders Tiago and Almirón will try to re-create the Vieira-Emerson iron block of the pre-relegation era.  Finally, the purchase of Udinese striker Vincenzo Iaquinta should provide a nice addition to Juve’s offensive options, which already include seasoned stars such as Del Piero and Trezeguet.

The pre-season hasn’t been particularly brilliant for the Bianconeri, who showed they still had a lot of work to do (in defense especially) before being competitive. However, with the arrival of an experienced manager such as Claudio Ranieri at the helm, and the great history that follows Juventus in the Italian league, they will be a very strong force to be reckoned with. I don’t expect a Scudetto, but I definitely expect them to get a Champions’ League spot.

Prediction: 3rd or 4th-placed.

Roma

Despite their performance this decade has brought home only 1 Scudetto (and 3 Coppa Italia’s), Roma have been strong competitors for the title almost every season since their 2000-01 Champions spell. There is no doubt that the Giallorossi possess incredible technical baggage, and the presence of a certain Francesco Totti as playmaker will inspire fear in many Serie A defenders. All they need is a cohesive game plan to bring it all together, something the Roma fans are hoping coach Luciano Spalletti will provide.

The departure of Chivu to Inter has been a fairly big blow in Roma’s roster, despite the arrival of experienced Brazil center-back Juan from Leverkusen. Philippe Mexès has been in great form in the pre-season, but he may yet not be enough to provide Spalletti’s team with the reliability they need. However, the latest transfer of Cicinho was an excellent operation for the Giallorossi, and even though he’s more of an offensive side-back, he’ll be a great addition to Spalletti’s roster. 

In addition to captain Totti, Roma’s midfield can count on the energy of Daniele De Rossi and the skill of Alberto Aquilani, as well as the great speed of Mançini, Taddei, and new arrivals Giuly and Esposito on the wings. What Roma seems to be lacking however is a strong target man at the front, something Vucinic can’t really provide.

When Roma ‘turn on their game’, run for cover (see Inter’s 2-6 defeat in Coppa Italia final last season)! The key for the Giallorossi is to keep their game ‘on‘ for the entire season, something easier said than done given the team’s record.

Prediction: 3rd or 4th-placed.
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Outsiders

Without going too much into detail, there’s certain teams that always seem to lurk close to the zone of European cup qualification, so it’s interesting to take a short look at those.

Ever since their Scudetto in 1999-2000, Lazio have pretty much always been there at the top to contend for a CL spot. Last year was a very good season for the Biancocelesti, who finished 3rd despite their initial point deduction! Ok it was only 3 points :razz: but still! The likes of Pandev and Rocchi are always dangerous in front, so I expect Delio Rossi‘s team to be at the doorstep of Champions League or at the very least qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Sampdoria are the team which I predict to be the real surprise of the season, especially because of the excellent signings they made in offense. Ok, Quagliarella has gone to Udinese and Flachi is suspended for 2 years for cocaine consumption, but look who’s there to replace them: Vincenzo Montella, Andrea Caracciolo, and Antonio Cassano! If Cassano can keep his head in check, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Samp finish in the top third.

Finally, a few words on Fiorentina, Palermo, and Udinese. All these teams did well last season, but I expect it to be much harder for them this year. Luca Toni‘s transfer to Bayern (as well as Reginaldo‘s to Parma) will leave a huge gap in the Fiorentina offensive options, something that I doubt over-ripe Christian Vieri will be able to fill. As for Palermo, they signed Fabrizio Miccoli from Juve (a great buy!) to pair up with Amauri, but lost key players Corini, Caracciolo, and Di Michele. Udinese will have the same problem with the departure of Iaquinta, Muntari, and De Sanctis. Quagliarella was a great signing, but will he be enough?

Prediction: 5th: Lazio
6th: Sampdoria
7th: Fiorentina
8th: Udinese
7th: Palermo

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Ok so enough babble, here’s the full table of my predictions. :) We’ll see how close I was in 9 months!

If you want a complete analysis of each team individually, check out Fox Soccer Channel analyst Bobby McMahon’s article here. McMahon isn’t exactly a Serie A expert, but he’s very erudite on all soccer in general and his opinions are often spot on.

Marco’s Serie A 2007-08 predicted ranking

1. Milan
2. Inter
3. Juve
4. Roma

5. Lazio
6. Sampdoria
7. Fiorentina

8. Udinese
9. Palermo
10. Torino
11. Napoli
12. Parma
13. Atalanta
14. Livorno
15. Empoli
16. Genoa
17. Reggina

18. Cagliari
19. Catania
20. Siena