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Calcio Italia 2011-2012

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The Italian Football league is shaping up to be a dramatic race this season, with quite a few teams seeming to be potentially strong enough to take the prize and many certainly ready to fight for European positions. 


Napoli has come out of the gates looking strong despite a disappointing road loss to Chievo Verona. They have a solid squad lead by a dynamic, young trio up front in Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik. They are strong from goalie, defense and midfield and in addition picked up dangerous attacker Goran Pandev over the summer. Last season’s third place finisher got stronger. 

Napoli’s squad has an experienced veteran core with most of the starting midfield and defense in their prime years between 25 and 30 years of age. De Sanctis has been a reliable starter in goal for the last several years. The starting defense line features tough central defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica with serviceable wide fullbacks Hugo Campagnaro and Andrea Dossena. The industrious and experienced midfield features Walter Gargano, Gokhan Inler, Christian Maggio, and Marco Donadel in addition to young starlet Marek Hamsik. 

Injuries could reveal a lack of depth for the long haul, but the team is strong and competitive against the traditional Italian powers as was demonstrated by Napoli’s 3 to 1 victory over AC Milan. 

Inter Milan 

Inter got off to a terrible start under complete failure coach Gasperini who came in to town with a system that had no room for his best player, Wesley Schneider. Why was Gasperini so blind as to try to force a system that may have produced results with second echelon Genoa, but obviously was not a good fit for the personnel at his disposal in a totally different level of club at Inter? Will his replacement Ranieri prove to yield better results? Well, they could hardly be worse and Inter is still Inter with a strong cast of players that could still turn things around and produce a winner. 

The central defense is strong with goalie Júlio César and central defenders Lucio and Samuel still one of the most rugged and efficient pairings in the world. The rest of the squad is strong both defensively and offensively with a star studded cast that should be capable of driving the team to compete for the Scudetto as well as deep into the Champions League. Maicon is still world class at right defense, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Thiago and Muntari form a robust defensive unit through midfield and Forlan, Milito, Pazzini, Schneider and Stankovic should provide plenty of offense as long as Ranieri doesn’t tinker them out of competition. One question mark will be whether talented Mauro Zarate will be a net addition or subtraction to the team as his offensive individual skill could be set off by his selfish play and inconsistent locker room personality. 

AC Milan, 

Who is going to create goals for this team now that Pirlo has been deemed replaceable? Milan’s display against Napoli was not convincing. The team is still studded with stars, but many are on the downward side of 30. Nesta still ran like a young colt so worries about aging stock may be more relevant to long term sustainable development than to this year’s push for the Scudetto. 

Strength in the central defense is still core with Abbiati in goal and Nesta and Silva in central defense bolstered by Mexes (potential long term replacement for Nesta), Bonera, and Yepes (who is probably in his final year at the top level). Wide fullbacks Abate, Zambrotta, and Antonini are serviceable, but not spectacular. Zambrotta is also in his latter days of top flight status. 

A physical midfield features old guard Gattuso, Van Bommel, and Ambrosini fortified by younger hard men Flamini and Boateng. Aquilani and Seedorf provide some ball control and creativity to support a strong front line of scorers like Ibrahimovic, Pato, Cassano, Robinho and maybe developing youngster Stephan El Shaarawi. 

A solid nucleus remains in this aging team of stars and this will keep Milan in the Scudetto race, but it remains to be seen if they will remain top of the class or are beginning a downward cycle. In addition to challenging for the Scudetto, Milan should get at least to the Champion League quarter finals. 


Juve fell short last year and finished 7th in Italy, but player and coaching acquisitions over the summer should strengthen the team greatly. New coach Antonio Conte has brought some fire and grit to the team and so far, it has helped. 

The central defense remains the same dependable quality with Gigi Buffon still in the nets and Chiellini, DeCeglie, and Bonucci in the central defense mix. Lichsteiner is expected to settle the instabilities at right fullback that have been an Achilles heel over the past couple of seasons. 

Andrea Pirlo brings his creative magic to the Juve midfield and is joined by a strong cast of Marchisio, Simone Pepe and Milos Krasic. Del Piero is back for yet another season up front and he has been reinforced during the off season by the talented Mirko Vucinic, acquired from Roma. Iaquinta and Quagliarella are strong scorers and if either Amauri or Luca Toni can regain some of their former flair, the Juve offense could be awesome. 

Will Juventus be strong enough to win the Scudetto? Possibly. The lack of European competition will keep the players stronger for domestic play. Juventus could easily challenge for top 3 in the Scudetto. 


Roma dipped in form last season but may have made changes over the summer that could put them back challenging once again for the Scudetto. Ne w coach Luis Enrique has the pedigree coming from the Barcelona system and he seems to have intelligent ideas and enough personnel charisma and strength as a former player himself to command some respect in an arena where Francesco Totti remains as the Emperor of Rome. Although there have been reports of initial squabbling, it appears that Totti has gotten in line behind his coach and is actively throwing his powerful weight in support of the Spaniard and is rallying the troops to the unifying cause. 

One of the key additions during the summer was the acquisition of Dutch national goal keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who should stabilize the goal. Danish youngster Simon Kjaer was brought in from Wolfsburg to replace Philip Mexes in the central defense after Mexes departed for the glories of AC Milan. Kjaer has impressed in both Serie A and the Bundesliga and should settle in at Roma for the next decade. Burdisso and Juan remain to plug up the central defense, Cassetti and Cicinho are still on the right flank and Gabriel Heinze arrived with his calm professionalism and committed fearless effort on the left to replace departing John Arne Riise. 

Long time Roma midfield stalwarts Perrotta, Taddei, De Rossi, Pizzaro and Simplicio have been joined by highly touted youngsters Miralem Pjanic (Bosnia) and Erik Lamela (Argentina) who came from clubs Lyon and River Plate. Up front, Francesco Totti still holds sway and still has the talent to score goals and with European competition already out of the picture, might be durable enough for an all domestic action season. Along with Totti, Marco Borriello has proved strong and productive enough to feature regularly for the giallorossi, but what will be interesting to see is how newcomers Bojan Krkic and Pablo Osvaldo fit into their new club and whether they fulfill their enormous potentials. 

The various ifs and Totti’s ability to remain injury free and supportive of the new skipper could make the difference between a serious Scudetto challenge or a mid table finish. 


Lazio has been consistently competitive and finishing in the upper part of the table over the past few seasons and it will be interesting to see if the additions of Miroslav Klose and Djibril Cisse to the front line will be enough to push them to the top. More likely than not, they will be part of the bottleneck fighting it out for a Europa League spot at the end of the season. 


Udinese lost two of its premier players in Alexis Sanchis and Gokhan Inler, but still have one of the top scorers in Italy in Antonio Di Natale. Top four will probably be out of reach this year, but Udinese could challenge for a Europa League spot. 


Palermo finished strong last season, but like Udinese, probably won’t finish as high as resurgent Juventus and Roma push teams out of the top part of the table. 

Fiorentino, Genoa and Parma should round out the fight for the last spots in the Europa League.

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