Serie A season 2011/2012 guide

[size=6]PART 1[/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]ATALANTA[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Stefano Colatuono[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 1st (Serie B )[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last seasons Serie B Champions return to Serie A this year and are looking likely for the drop after a 6 point deduction and a 3 year ban for skipper Christian Doni where the club and player were found guilty of being implicit in a match fixing scandal. There is a domestic based look to this team with the side consisting largely of Italian players. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The signings of Andrea Masiello from relegated Bari and Stefano Lucchini from another relegated side, Sampdoria, should provide a solid base to their defence, which had already boasted a miserly rearguard on their way to the Serie B crown last year. They also possess a reliable custodian in goals with ex Italy u-21 keeper, Andrea Consigli manning the posts. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]In midfield, new signing Maximiliano Moralez will be asked to provide the guile and creativity with Doni banned, he will be aided and abetted by the industrious Paraguayan international Edgar Barreto who had an impressive Copa America. The return of winger Ezequiel Schelotto will also bolster their attacking ranks Schelotto had a promising season last year in Serie A where he had spells with Cesena and Catania, there will be a lot expected this season from the youngster. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Scoring goals is likely to be Atalanta’s problem this season, they lacked a focal goal scorer in their side last year and they will find it much tougher this season. Manolo Gabbiadini will be asked to transfer his impressive recent form for the Italian u-21’s onto the upper tier of domestic football – but whether he is ready or not, remains to be seen. The youngster is likely to play second fiddle to ex-Sampdoria man Guido Marilungo and veteran Simone Tiribocchi.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Atalanta face a near impossible task in staying up and their inability to score goals may compound their problems. However, anyone going to Bergamo this year and viewing it as an easy place to pick up points will find a very organised outfit who will prove difficult to break down.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Edgar Barreto[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 20[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]BOLOGNA [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Pierpaolo Bisoli[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last Season: 16[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Bologna’s season kicks off with the loss of two of last years key players. Keeper Emiliano Viviano was lost after an embarrassing gaffe resulted in Bologna leaving a “0” out in their bid and lost the Italian international to Inter Milan in the blind action. Defender Miguel Britos has left for Napoli in a big money deal. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Jean Francois Gillet is the man Bologna have decided to replace Viviano with. The Belgian international joins from relegated Bari. Bari have brought in left back Luigi Vitale on loan from Napoli to further bolster their rearguard. Swede Mikael Antonsson and Spaniard Jose Angel Crespo are also recruited to the defence.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Bologna will be looking to the combative duo of Gaby Mudingayi and Diego Perez to provide the solid basis for their more creative players to perform. The duo struck up a fearsome and unmerciful partnership in midfield last season and will make it very difficult for opposition playmakers to perform. Albin Ekdal has departed but his loss won’t really be a huge factor for them this season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]In attack, skipper Marco Di Vaio will be the man Bologna will be looking to for their goals. They have also added former Italy u-21 striker Roberto Acquafresca and ex-Brescia and West Ham attacker Alessandro Diamanti who they will look to offer some creative impetus to the forward line.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Bologna should improve on last season’s position. They have suffered from an over-reliance on Di Vaio in the past but the significant signings of Acquafresca and Diamanti should ease the burden on the veteran. In the end, Bologna should survive this season without drama.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Marco Di Vaio[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 13[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]CAGLIARI[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Massimo Ficcadenti[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 14[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Cagliari’s season hasn’t even started and they already find themselves in chaos. First saw the supposed re-signing of David Suazo who had been released from Inter Milan, the transfer was then inexplicably called off, much to the bemusement of Suazo who had already been training with his new side. Then followed an even bigger scandal as Roberto Donadoni was ousted from his position as manager and replaced by Massimo Ficcadenti, this was then followed by mass protestations by fans angry at the sacking of the legendary Italian.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Goalkeeper Federico Marchetti has left for Lazio in a €6m deal. As he was effectively frozen out in Sardinia last season, his loss will unlikely be felt. One coup for Cagliari over the summer has been the acquisition of Davide Astori’s full ownership rights from Milan. The defender has been an integral part of the Cagliari defence in recent years leading to him being capped by his national side. Pisanu ,Ariaudo and Canini are likely to form up the defence with Astori[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Skilfull midfielder Andrea Lazzarri has left for Fiorentina, and will impose a greater onus on the talented veteran duo of Daniele Conti and Andrea Cossu. Albin Ekdal has joined as Lazzarri’s direct replacement. Davide Biondini and Raja Nainggolan will be tasked with carrying out the gritty side in midfield to let Cossu and Conti shine.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Up front Cagliari lack a real goal threat, ever since Matri departed for Juventus last season, the Sardinian outfit have struggled to score goals. The collapse of the Suazo deal has lead to Brazilian, Thiago Riberio joining on loan from relatively unknown Brazilian side Restintas. Moustaffa El Kabir has joined form Swiss club Mjallby and Argetine Joaquin Larrizey has returned from loan. The other striking option available to Cagliari is the Brazilian Nene.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Cagliari’s tumultuous pre-season isn’t helped by an opening round date with the champions and their squad looks pretty flimsy with the real lack of a noted goal scorer in its ranks. The Sardinians look set for a real battle with the drop this season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Andrea Cossu[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 16[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]CATANIA[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Vicenzo Montella[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 13[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Vincenzo Montella is the new man in charge of the Sicilian outfit, he takes over from former Inter & Lazio midfielder Diego Simeone. It’s been a busy summer for the new manager as he gears up for his first full season in Serie A.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Argentine goalkeeper Mariano Andujar will offer a reliable presence in goal but the defence will be significantly weakened by the departure of his fellow Argentine, Matias Silvestre to local rivals Palermo. Another Argentine Mario Pagilalunga has been recruited as Silvestre’s replacement. Potenza, Spolli and Ciro Capuano will be mainstays in defence. Some of you might remember Capuano’s outrageous 35 yard volley against Milan last season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Catania’s huge Argentine feel is no better represented than in midfield with Ledesma, Gomez and Llama being regulars in the Catania engine room. Spaniard Keko has arrived from Atletico Madrid, as has Portugese midfielder Paulo Regula who signed from Vitoria Setubal this summer.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]David Suazo is added to their attack. Gonzalo Bergessio is their most expensive signing of the summer, the striker cost €3m from St. Etienne. The ever-travelling Davide Lanzafame has also arrived from Palermo. They will all battle it out to partner the blonde bombshell Maxi Lopez.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]A difficult season is in store for the new Catania manager, the loss of Silvestre will be a huge blow for him as the Argentine was so impressive in defence for Catania the past few seasons. A big season will be required from ex-Barcelona man Maxi Lopez as how many goals he will get and how well he leads the line could well decide Montella’s and Catania’s faith this season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Maxi Lopez[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 17[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]CESENA[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Marco Giampaolo[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 15[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Cesena will be looking to consolidate their position in Serie A this season and they are leaving no stone unturned as they have being one the most active sides in the transfer market this summer.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli will turn 42 in the opening weeks of the season but he defied his age last season by putting in some wonderful performances for the seahorses. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Yuto Nagatomo completed his permanent move to Inter in the summer while Davide Santon and Felipe have returned to Inter and Fiorentina respectively, after loan spells at the club. They have strengthened their rearguard with the signings of experienced Fiorentina right back, Gianluca Comotto and Marco Rossi from Parma. Inter’s u-21 international Luca Caldirola could join the defensive ranks before the window shuts. Steve Von Bergen had an impressive season last year and the Swiss international will be looking to repeat that again this season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Midfield has seen some reinforcement as well, Antonio Candreva arrives from Udinese and will provide plenty of industry and flexibility in the midfield. Roberto Guana also comes in from Palermo. Marco Parolo will be looking to put in another impressive season and force his way into the national set up with the European championship taking place next summer.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Cesena struggled in front of goal last season but have been heavily boosted with the signings of Adrian Mutu and Eder who have joined from Fiorentina and Brescia. Emmanuele Gaccherini will provide another good presence up front, the striker has been linked with Juventus recently.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The seahorses should have enough about them to stay up this season, the narrow confines of Stadio Dino Manuzzi will be a difficult place to get a result out of and the added firepower up front should see them improve on last years finish.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Marco Parolo[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 12[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

Match fixing, fan protests and a team losing out on a player because they left out a ‘0’ from the fee. Sensational stuff.

Maxi Lopez seems to be enjoying a decent spell there at Catania. Has there been any interest from other clubs?

Some decent strikers there at the less fashionable clubs (Suazo, Maxi Lopez, Di Vaio, Aquifresca).

Being linked with Fiorentina if Gilardino goes. That’s about the only substantial link.

[size=5][font=Times New Roman][size=6]PART 2[/size][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]CHIEVO[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Domenico Di Carlo[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 11th[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The summer saw coach Stefano Pioli depart for Palermo and former manager Domenico Di Carlo return after an unsuccessful spell with Sampdoria less than a year after leaving the flying donkeys for the Genoa outfit.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Stefano Sorrentino has proved to be an able net minder in the past couple of seasons but the Chievo rearguard will be weakened with Andrea Mantovani joining his former coach at Palermo. With Mantovani departed, more pressure will be placed on the shoulders of Slovenian defender Bostjan Cesar who has had good two seasons since making the switch to Serie A. Ivan Fatic has returned from Cesena and Marco Andreolli and Gianluca Sardo should form a steady partnership along with Cesar[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The other big transfer out of Chievo this season has been the exit of Guinea international Kevin Constant. The energetic midfielder has moved to Genoa for a fee of €7m. Constant’s loss will be felt heavily by the Verona side as he turned in many impressive performances last season and Chievo are not really bristling with much midfield talent.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Up front they have pulled off something of a coup by getting Milan and Italy u-21 striker Alberto Palsochi in on loan. Paloschi has long being dubbed the new Pippo Inzaghi although he has failed to live up to that billing in yet. The evergreen Sergio Pellisier will once again be asked to lead the Chievo attack this season as he has done so superbly for the last number of years. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Chievo’s team has a familiar look about it but the loss of Mantovani and Costant and their inability to replace them could prove their undoing. Chievo have, in all honesty, overachieved the past few seasons. With a very bland midfield in place much will rely on Paloschi finally delivering on his reputation and their captain fantastic Sergio Pellisier contributing another mammoth season. The Chievo captain, now 32, who is a bit of a legend round these parts will know that the partnership he and Paloschi strike up will be vital if they are to survive. The relatively small and aging squad could also play a decisive role for Di Carlo’s men.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Sergio Pellisier[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 15[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]FIORENTINA[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Sinisa Mihajlovic[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 9[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]It was a rather disappointing first season in charge for Mihajlovic last year, stumbling to a 9[sup]th[/sup] place finish in the end. The loss of Stevan Jovetic for the whole of the season was certainly a contributing factor and the return to full fitness of the Montenegrin will certainly boost the confidence and expectations of the Viola faithful.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Sebastian Frey has been offloaded to Genoa which means the legendary Artur Boruc will be the Pole in the goal as the season commences. Gianluca Comotto has departed for Siena with Brazilian right back Romulo replacing him. Young Serbian centre back Nastija Nastastic has also joined.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Mario Santana and Marco Donadel have made the switch to Naples on free transfers while Gaetano D’Agostino has gone to Siena via Udinese. Houssine Kharja, Gianni Munari and Andrea Lazzari have come in. The big speculation though surrounds skipper Ricardo Montolivo, the Italian international had his best season yet last year and has entered the final year of his contract, refusing to sign a new one. Fiorentina have ruled out selling him to an Italian club so it remains to be seen whether he will be in Florence come the start of the season.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]There is also speculation up front with regards hit-man Alberto Gilardino. He is apparently disappointed with the ambition at Florence and has been linked with moves to France and Genoa. His loss would be a big blow but somewhat alleviated by the return of the majestic Stevan Jovetic. Alessio Cerci and Adam Ljajic also provide some skill and craft in attack while teenage African Khouma Babacar will be looking to continue his development.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]If the Florence outfit can retain the services of Gilardino and Montolivo and have the latter back to his best, then they should do enough to secure a Europa League position. Mihajlovic seems to be securing young talented players and I expect a lot more from them this season with Jovetic back.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Stevan Jovetic[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 7[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]GENOA[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Alberto Malesani[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 10[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Another season and another team for Genoa whose persistent change in personnel make Harry Redknapp look conservative in his dealings. Alberto Malseani is the new man at the helm in the port city.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Sebastian Frey is the new Genoa no.1, his predecessor Eduardo has been loaned back to Portugal with Benfica. Full backs Criscito, Konko and Rafinha have all departed. Swedish international Andreas Granqvist has joined from Gronigen and he is the sole addition to the backline, Mesto and Antonelli will provide plenty of support to their attack from fullback.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Genoa have done well to hold on to the sought-after Slovak international Jan Kucka, the tough tackling midfielder has been linked with both Milan clubs and is the key component in the Genoa midfield. Kevin Constant adds extra energy and drive to the midfield and Genoa will also be looking for Miguel Veloso to deliver after a disappointing first season. Chilean pair Jorquera and Seymour have also been added to the midfield. Young German prospect Alex Merkel has also arrive from Milan.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]In attack Genoa have plenty of options, Rodrigo Palacio is tireless worker whose constant movement and energy levels are the bane of many defences. Lucas Pratto has arrived from the wonderfully named Universidad Catolica in Chile. Ze Eduardo has joined from South American football kingpins Santos and the most eye catching of all is the bosman arrival of Valter Birsa who was so impressive for Slovenia at last years World Cup. Sebastian Ribas has also arrived after a couple of impressive seasons in the French Ligue 2.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]While Genoa do contain plenty of options in attack, they still lack that proven goal scorer, the acquisition of a Gilardino or Borriello could greaty enhance their chances of a good season. It is also worth pointing out that they are notably weaker in defence this season but should more or less hold their own in the top half of the table. That goal scorer signing would jump them up a few positions though.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Jan Kucka[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 8[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]INTER[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 2[sup]nd[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Gian Piero Gasperini is Inter’s new manager and he will look to revolutionise the way they play. The former Genoa tactician will bring his free flowing 3-4-3 to Inter and play a style that has not been associated with the rather bland Inter for quite some time.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]With the injury to Viviano, Julio Cesar will start as Inter’s no.1. There have been no additions in defence but the return of Walter Samuel from injury is a welcome boost. The rapidly improving Andrea Ranocchia will be partnered by Lucio beside him, the decision Gasperini will need to make is who gets the nod on the left of the defence with Samuel and Chivu battling it out.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Inter’s new system should bring out the best in wing back Maicon who endured a difficult campaign last year round. The Brazilian will miss the start of the season as will the exciting Japanese international Yuto Nagatomo. Cambiasso, Motta and Stankovic will battle it out for the central midfield positions, each offering a steady and combative presence in midfield. Footballing legend Javier Zanetti offers the versatility to cover all positions across the midfield and defence. One problem for Inter is Wesley Sneijder, if the Dutchman stays he will force the coach into a dilemma. Sneijder does not fit into the system preffered by Gasperini – but the pressure to accommodate him into the line-up if he stays will be overwhelming…[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]With Eto’o set to leave this summer, the responsibility in attack will rest on the wonderful Giampaolo Pazzini. The no.7 will lead the attack and will likely be supported by the skilful and rangy Ricky Alvarez on one flank, with Pandev, Obi, Milito and the very promising Luc Castaignos battling it out for the other berth. I also suspect Inter to bring in another big name in attack before the transfer window closes.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Inter’s title aspirations hinge on the sale of Sneijder and the acquisition of another option in attack and midfield. If they manage to get rid of Sneijder and get two players of quality in the aforementioned positions then I would make them favourites. As they have not done that yet, I will err on the side of caution and proclaim them runners up to their city rivals again.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Maicon[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 2[sup]nd[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]JUVENTUS[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Antonio Conte[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 7[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Antonio Conte is the man stifled with the task of bringing the old lady back to old glories this season. The ex-Juve captain replaces Luigi Delneri after his ill-fated campaign last year.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Swiss full backs Reto Ziegler and Stephan Lichsteiner have arrived this summer will offer much more reliability than that displayed by last year’s incumbents Grosso and Motta. Ziegler will face a battle for the left back spot with the fit-again Paolo De Ceglie. The unconvincing Leandro Bonnuci will likely partner the colossal Giorgio Chiellini in defence, a position Juventus are currently monitoring Chelsea’s Alex and Fenerbahce’s Diego Lugano.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Midfield has seen an overhaul for the Bianconeri with Pazienza, Piro and Vidal arriving while Juventus have also exercised their option to sign Simone Pepe on a permanent deal. Left side of midfield still remains a problem position for Juventus, Marchisio and Pepe have previously occupied the left side but neither have convinced there. Word on the street is Juventus will bring in Elia or Perotti for this position before the deadline closes. Vidal and Pirlo should form a partnership that have got it all in the midfield and if Krasic manages to get some consistency to his game, good times beckon.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Up front Quagliarella and Matri have been tied up on permanent deals while Mirko Vucinic (traitor scum) has traded Rome for Juventus. Vucinic and Matri will likely lead the line and look like a strikforce with plenty of goals in them. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The next week will tell a lot about Juvetus for the coming season. The purchase of a solid centre half to partner Chiellini and a comfortable option for the left wing will propel Juventus from CL hopefuls to title challengers. Injuries played a big role in the black and white’s terrible season last time round, they will be hoping for a clean bill of health this time. A rejuvenated Mirko Vucinic could have a lot to say about the title’s destination[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Mirko Vucinic[/font][/size]
[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 3[sup]rd[/sup][/font][/size]

the first thing worth reading in TFks history

Bang on TASE

Great stuff :clap:
Assuming he can get one or two more in and they have better luck with injuries, club legend Antonio Conte can be the man to break the Milanese stranglehold on the scudetto and get ‘La vecchia signora’ singing once again. The 7/1 could look very big by the Christmas break

Outright Betting(Boyles) 6/5AC Milan 7/5Inter Milan 7/1Juventus 11/1Roma 22/1Napoli 50/1Udinese 80/1Fiorentina 80/1Lazio 200/1Genoa 200/1Palermo 750/1Cagliari 750/1Parma 1000/1Bologna 1000/1Cesena 1000/1Chievo 1000/1Atalanta 1000/1Lecce 1000/1Siena 1000/1Catania

[size=6][font=Times New Roman][font=times new roman]PREVIEW SPECIAL (PART 1)[/font][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=Times New Roman]10 PLAYERS TO WATCH THIS SEASON[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=5]ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC [/size][/font]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]AC Milan[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Striker[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]29[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]The giant Swede goes for his 8[sup]th[/sup] tile in a row this season. His presence in the Milan side is vital this coming season, Ibrahimovic is capable of winning matches at any juncture in a game. Blessed with supreme technical ability and a powerful build that would bully any defender Ibrahimovic is the premier striker in world football today.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]His early season form picked up valuable points for Milan enroute to the title, the no.11 popped with many wonderful goals that nobody in the game would be able to replicate, making him a unique and precocious talent. He will however want to start the season better than he ended it last year which was marred with disciplinary problems.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]EZEQUIEL LAVEZZI[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Napoli[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Forward[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]26[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]“El Pocho” was granted an extended summer break as Napoli hope to have him firing on all his cylinders in what is a massive season for the Partenopei. [/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Blessed with a beautiful poise and balance on the ball, Lavezzi has become a god to the locals who romantically liken him to his Argentine counterpart and footballing legend Diego Maradona. The Argentine has struck up a fruitful partnership with Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik, with the link-up play and fluid football unlocking defenders up and down the peninsula.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]THIAGO SILVA[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]AC Milan[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Centre back[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age:[/size][size=4] 26[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Silva has established himself as the best centre back in the world in his two seasons at the San Siro. Blessed with supreme athleticism, as astute tactical brain and wonderful technical skills, the Brazilian could be world class in any position on the pitch.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Silva’s presence in the Milan defence with the veteran Alessandro Nesta is every bit as valuable for the Milanese giants as Ibrahimovic’s up top. Like most Brazilian defenders, Thiago Silva loves to step forward with the ball and nobody does it better.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]RICARDO MONTOLIVO[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Fiorentina[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Central midfield[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]26[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Montolivo has long been tipped as the man to lead the Azzurri midfield and last season was the first time he looked like living up to that billing. The midfielder brings a considerable degree of control and elegance to the midfield, he possesses a wonderful range of passing and awareness. He is also capable of getting beyond the defence and chipping it with the odd goal as he recently displayed expertly against Spain.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Hopefully Montolivo’s performance won’t be affected by ongoing issues with the club. Montolivo, in the final year of his contract is refusing to sign a new one and has been stripped of the captaincy as a result. The Italian will also be looking for another solid season to cement his place in the national midfield.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]RICKY ALVAREZ[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Inter Milan[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Winger[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]23[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Alvarez is a summer signing for Velez Sarsfield and the winger is an exciting prospect. He will be looking to make a similar impact to that of his countryman Javier Pastore who took Serie A by storm in his 2 years in Italy.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Alvarez possesses wonderful dribbling ability, powerful running and a rocket of a left foot. Alvarez should also be a good fit with new manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s offensive 3-4-3 formation. Alvarez is able to play off either flank and is in particular very dangerous cutting in from the right onto his trusty left foot. Gasperini will empower a degree of freedom in him and with will be up the Argetine to make the most of it.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]SEBASTIAN GIOVINCO[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Parma[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Attacking midfielder[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]24[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Finally away from his damaging stint at Juventus, the “atomic ant” looked rejuvenated at Parma last season. Despite resembling a 12 year old in physical build Giovinco is well able to handle himself. Long been an underage star for the Azzurrini Giovinco finally brought that form to Serie A last season chipping in with 7 league goals.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Another facet of Giovinco’s game is his dead ball qualities, reminiscent of his former team mate Alex Del Piero. Giovinco’s artistry is not just limited to his set plays as he is as elusive and tricky a customer as you will find. His jinks and feints leave many defenders in a heap and will certainly stand out as one of the most exciting talents in the league this season. In an age where physicality has dominated football, it’s refreshing to see a talent like Giovinco shining.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]MIRKO VUCINIC[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Juventus[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Forward[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]27[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Vucinic leaves Rome for Turin and the Montenegrin will be eager to make up for a poor season last term. “Vuci” will return to his more natural position as a striker in Conte’s new look Juventus. Vucinic has all the qualities of a modern day striker – rangy, strong, quick, nice feet and capable of the spectacular. The problem that has followed him throughout his career is his streaky nature. One game he will be scoring audacious match winners, the next he can’t hit the target from 5 yards (we saw this side of Mirko too much last year).[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Vucinic has started pre-season in impressive form for the old lady and following his divorce from Roma where he endured a troublesome relationship with the ultras, he will be looking to make up for lost time and at the very least deliver the Turin giants back in to Champions League football.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]MAARTEN STEKELENBURG[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Roma[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Goalkeeper[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]28[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Roma may well have pulled off the bargain of the season this year in getting the Dutch international for a fee of just €6m. The ex-Ajax man is up there with the best keepers in the world, if not the best and with a rather shaky looking defence in front of him his presence could be worth up to 10 points to the Giallorossi.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Stekelenburg will replace the Brazilian’s Doni and Julio Segio who have been offloaded by new coach Luis Enrique. His cat-like reflexes and assured decision making have made the lack of interest in him this summer all the more surprising. The Giallorossi faitful will be thankful for this wonderful piece of business by Sabatini when the flying Dutchman is scraping goal bound shots away from his goal.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]STEVAN JOVETIC[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Fiorentina[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Foward[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]21[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Jovetic is the second Montenegrin in the list and that is some accomplishment for a nation with a population of just over 500,000. Curtailed by a cruciate knee ligament injury last season, the youngster saw no action. Despite his relative young age Jovetic plays like a seasoned veteran, his awareness and positional sense defy his age and despite his inactivity and rustiness, these key mental attributes won’t leave him.[/font][/size]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]Dropping off the striker, Jovetic’s role is much more about creating goals than scoring them and that he does with aplomb. Fiorentina are the dark horses in the league this season and the return of the Montengrin is not only a timely boost to his club but also to his nation who have surprised many with their strong showing in qualification thus far. A good showing this term will set the permed youngster up for a move to one of Europe’s more illustrious clubs next year, maybe even sooner.[/font][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]FRANCESCO TOTTI[/font][/size]

[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Club: [/size][size=4]Roma[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Position: [/size][size=4]Forward[/size][/font]
[font=Times New Roman][size=4]Age: [/size][size=4]34[/size][/font]

[size=4][font=Times New Roman]No list about football talent would be complete without the footballing legend and unique talent that is Francesco Totti. The Roma talisman was written off in the early quarters of last season but by its conclusion he had almost single handedly brought Roma to Champions League football, whipping out a t-shirt proclaiming “the King of Rome is not dead” after late goals to purge Champions League rivals Udinese in April, the great man had made his point.[/font][/size]

[font=times new roman][size=4]Alas it was not enough but Totti surpassed Roberto Baggio’s 206 goal tally in Serie A, a record even more remarkable in that he has spent most of his career creating chances than scoring then. It was a lesson that you should never right “Il Gladiatore” off. The legs may be weary but the brain and mind are still there and Totti is a once-off, lets enjoy him while we still can because there will never be another. A man who never seeks the headlines, who provides for his teammates and serves for his city and fans. He truly is the greatest.[/size][/font]

Great write-ups Totti. I must say I have them formatted beautifully on the frontpage of the site.

I’m expecting big things from Juve. As I said here before I really rate Matri - think he’s an excellent player. They’ve done very well in securing the future of a few they had rights on and they’ve bought well too. Whether they can break up the Milan duopoly remains to be seen but they should certainly be more competitive.

On the players - good choices. Hadn’t realised Jovetic is still only 21. Serious talent.

I am going against Rocko and Totti to say that I don’t rate Matri.

Sadly for football, it doesn’t say much about Serie A if a shit Arsenal side(currently 25/1 for the prem) can outperform the likes of Udinese on their home soil. Bearing in mind that on all known evidence La Liga is streets ahead of the Premiership, the Italian game looks in serious critical condition

Udinese are 6th or 7th favourites for Serie A and, similar to Arsenal, lost key players during the close season - Zapata to Villarreal, Inler to Napoli and Sanchez to Barca. I thought that was a good and even tie over the two games.

Point taken. Twas an excellent contest over the two legs between two team who looked a bit unsure of themselves at this early stage of the season. Unwise perhaps to read to much into it beyond that.

I see Jueventus are being linked with Florent Malouda this morning to solve their left wing problems

I think It’s time I rekindle my Passion for juventus…

[size=6]PART 3[/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]LAZIO[/font][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Edoardo Reja[/font][/size][size=3] [/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 5[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Lazio have built on last seasons 5[sup]th[/sup] place finish with an encouraging transfer window. Edy Reja’s charges have brought in a plethora of player who should allow Lazio to compete competitively in Europe as well as domestically.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Federico Marchetti replaces Nelson Muslera in goal. The Uruguayan departed for Galatasaray after helping his nation to the Copa America this summer. Stephan Lichsteiner has left for Juventus with Konko and Stankevicius being brought in to compete for the right back. Andre Dias had an impressive season for Lazio in defence and the eagle scum will be looking for more of the same this season.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]In midfield, Lazio have added Lorik Cana and Senad Lucic. There are plenty of competition in this sector of the pitch for Lazio. Henrnanes and Mauri will be the likely starters with Gonzalez, Ledesma, Matuzalem, Brocchi, Cana and Lucic battling it out to get some playing time beside them in what is arguably the most impressive supporting cast in the league.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Mirsolav Klose and Djribil Cisse have been added to the Lazio attack and should prove to be two very astute signings. There is a lot of confusion over the future of Mauro Zarate. The ‘Zarate kid’, as the light blue fuckwits refer to him as, was left out of their recent Europa League qualifier and it is widely believed Lotito is trying to cash in on him. If Zarate stays it will further propel Lazio’s hopes for this season. Floccari, Sculli, Rocchi and Kozak are further options available to the Lazio attack.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]With the extensive summer recruitment Lazio look to have the squad that will allow them to compete over the course of a season, after a promising start last term they fell away, this season they look to have accounted for that and if the inventive Hernanes can kick on from last season then the eagles should be in for another prosperous season. Lazio are also reportedly in the market for another centre back which would further aid their ambitions of the coming season. One possible problem facing Reja is how he will manage to keep such a big squad happy, this will be a real test for the manager and his presence in the dressing room.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Hernanes[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 4[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]LECCE[/font][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Eusebio Di Francesco[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 17[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Lecce just about managed to survive last season but whether they will be able to this season is another question. Di Francesco is the new coach in charge of the Salentini and faces a difficult task in charge with little to no funds available at his disposal.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Julio Sergio arrives on loan from Roma and the Brazilian keeper should be worth a few points to the Puglia minnows this season. Lecce have had to rely, almost entirely, on loans in the summer transfer market. Defenders Tomovic and Esposito arrive on loan from Genoa while Columbian right back Cuadrado arrives on loan from Udinese. Moris Carrozieri arrives from Palermo on a free transfer, he spent most of last season banned for being a coke-taking scumbag.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]In midfield they have got the African duo of Rodney Strasser and Christian Obodo (who also arrived on loan) from Milan and Udinese respectively. Experienced Uruguayan Ruben Olivera is still around to act the prick and get Italian football legends sent off, he will also be looked on to provide some guile to the midfield. Captain Giacomazzi will enter his tenth season with the club and was reinvigorated last term. Lecce will need him to put in a similar showing this campaign. Confusion still surrounds whether young Roma prospect Bertolacci will be joining the Salentini.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]The attack will be led by Serie A journeyman David Di Michele. Nigerian forward Ofere and ex-Roma youth product Daniel Corvia complete in what is a rather insipid looking attack.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]It’s very difficult to see Lecce amassing enough points to stay up this season. A dramatic collapse by Sampdoria last season pretty much kept them up and they don’t seem any better this season, while they have proven to be a difficult opponent to break down, the lack of cutting edge and goals in their side means they will most likely be playing Serie B football next season[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Julio Sergio[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 19[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]MILAN[/font][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Massimiliano Allegri[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last season: 1[sup]st[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Milan kick off the season as champions for the first time in 7 years. It had been a long wait for the rossoneri and they can be thankful to the mercurial Swede giant up front for his wonderful early season form in the previous season. The summer has been a rather disappointing one for the Milan fans who were hoping for much more than the dealings laid forth by Galliani. As of yet, none of the signings made will likely displace those currenlty holding down starting XI places.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Christian Abbiati established himself as the top keeper in Serie A last season and Milan have also secured the permanent signing of deputy Marco Amelia and the bosman signings of defenders Taye Taiwo and Philipe Mexes (traitor scum). Much will depend on whether Nesta and Thiago Silva can remain fit this season – although Mexes (when he returns to fitness himself) should prove to be an able deputy. Taiwo has had an indifferent pre-season which included a red card and an injury which will keep him out of the start of the season. Zambrotta would likely have started the season as first choice left back anyway.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Midfield is Milan’s area of concern, doubts about whether the likes of Van Bommel, Gattuso, Seedorf and Ambrosini can last the course of another season with their creaky limbs is debatable. Flamini has failed to impress with Milan and is regularly injured, youngsters Merkel and Strasser have been dispensed. Last years signing of K.P. Boateng proved to be inspired and they will be looking for a similar impact from what is seemingly an impending transfer – the little prince, Alberto Aquilani.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Up front Allegri finds a dangerous balancing act. Zlatan misses the start of the season, Pato has had injury problems in the past as well. The volatile genius that is Antonio Cassano seems to have problems controlling his weight if not playing regularly and unless Allegri chooses to start him regularly, he could prove to be the ‘enfant terrible’ yet again. Pippo Inzaghi is still hanging around ready to punish whoever with whatever minutes he gets. The patchy Robinho is favoured by Allegri and will most likely partner Zlatan when fit.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Milan’s depth is rather fragile looking and this could provide problems for them this season. Galliani has been penny pinching in the transfer window and this could backfire. An overreliance on the wonderful Zlatan is also another issue, expect Milan to move for young Santos star Ganso in January to add some freshness to their midfield as a tense title showdown is in store.[/font][/size][size=3] [/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 1[sup]st[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]NAPOLI[/font][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Manager: Walter Mazzarri[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Last Season: 3[sup]rd[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]A truly wonderful season last year for the Naples outfit secured Champions League football. What’s more is that it was done playing a wonderful brand of expansive attacking football coupled with some amazing last minute wins in front of their San Paolo faithful.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Morgan De Sanctis had a steady season last year and not too much has changed in front of him. New signing Miguel Britos will replace the hapless Aronica on the left side of defence. Federico Fernandez has also strengthened the defence. The younger Cannavaro and Campagnaro are certainties in the Neapolitan defence.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]In midfield, last years partnership of Pazienza and Yebda is replaced by Swiss pair Inler and Dzemaili. This will certainly improve the middle area for Napoli. Christian Maggio, Andrea Dossena and Juan Zuniga will offer options for the flanks, while new signing Marco Donadel, Uruguayan Walter Gargano and the talented but misfiring Luca Cigarini provide more midfield options.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]In attack, the magical trident of Lavezzi, Hamsik and Cavani will once again look to deliver fantasy football for their passionate fans. Lavezzi in particular makes the azzurri tick and his fitness is absolutely vital. The back up options in attack are pretty uninspiring – Santana, Lucarelli and Mascara are nowhere near the quality of their counterparts. There will be big pressure on Cavani to repeat last years sensational goal return, maybe it might be too big an ask as the second season syndrome kicks in for the Uruguayan.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]It’s great to see Champions League football back at the San Paolo but it will come at a cost, the lack of alternatives in attack will hurt Napoli who face some very tricky ties off the back of their Champions league matches.[/font][/size][/size]

[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Key player: Ezequiel Lavezzi[/font][/size][/size]
[size=6][size=4][font=Times New Roman]Prediction: 6[sup]th[/sup][/font][/size][/size]

[size=5][font=Times New Roman]NOVARA[/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Manager: Attilio Tesser[/size][/font][/size]
[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Last season: 3[sup]rd[/sup] (Serie B )[/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Novara return to Serie A for the first time in 55 years after successive promotions. A ferocious battle to keep Serie A football at the Stadio Silvio Piola (capacity of little over 10,000) ensues.[/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Their goalkeeper is Albanian international Samir Ujkani – who I know little about, in fact I can say this about most of their first team as the majority of them haven’t played in the top flight before. Paolo Dellafiore has joined from Parma and Santiago Garcia arrives on loan from Palermo. Veteran Massimo Paci has arrived from Parma and will provide some invaluable Serie A experience. German full back Gemiti will provide a supportive force from left back.[/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]In midfield, players of note are absent, but there is sure to be a very workmanlike culture in their ranks, this group of players have gained two successive promotion which would certainly show that they won’t be overawed by the occasion of playing in the prestigious ranks of Serie A. Utility right-sided player Andrea Mazzarini comes in on loan from Udinese and should provide and attacking threat out wide. Nicola Rigoni has been a solid performer in Serie B for years and finally gets his chance at the top level.[/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Takayuki Morimoto has been snapped up in attack from Catania. Tipped as “the Japanese Ronaldo” the youngster has struggled in Serie A after a bright start. They will need him to show some of his qualities and live up to his reputation if they are to have any chance. The average duo of Pablo Granoche and Riccardo Meggiorini have joined on loan from Chievo and Genoa respectively. The only good thing I can say about this pair is that they have Serie A experience. [/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Novara are certainly lacking in recognised quality but will be playing without fear and the plucky Northerners might just spring a few surprises along the way. Still, it is a big ask for them to stay up, it’s very rare for a team with such an unknown quality winning promotion to Serie A. Another plus for their new boys is their home stadium - where they only lost two games last season - it is the only synthetic surface in the league and this will sway to their advantage.[/size][/font][/size]

[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Key player: Takayuki Morimoto[/size][/font][/size]
[size=6][font=times new roman][size=4]Prediction: 18[sup]th[/sup][/size][/font][/size]

Gazetta Della Sport has published details of player salaries today. Interesting stuff:

Flamini and Boriello are ridiculously overpaid while Jovetic, Isla and Zlatan should be on 3 or 4 times what they are currently earning

I will be posting my 4th part tomorrow lads, on the eve of the new season.