Serie A 2012-13 season review

The 84th Serie A season signified the progression of a footballing dynasty, as Juventus clinched their second successive title under Antonio Conte. After leaving Siena, Conte guided Juve from 7th to 1st in his first season, and la vecchia signora strengthened almost immediately last summer to ensure this domestic success was maintained. The promising Frenchman Paul Pogba was ‘stolen’ from Manchester United, highly rated midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah was signed from Udinese (Asamoah was surprisingly, but effectively deployed at Left Wing Back this season), alongside his teammate Mauricio Isla (although this move proved to be unsuccessful),  and, er, Nicklas Bendtner (or Simon le Bon as some Tifosi nicknamed him) was loaned from Arsenal. Despite these signings though, it appeared Juve had missed out on their desired frontman (rumoured to be van Persie or Jovetic), and the signing of Bendtner (plus the fact that Conte was suspended from the touchline for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal) did send some fans into mumblings of discontent. However, Juve started the season in imperious form and continued for the rest of the season in that manner – bar the occasional blip (most notably a 3-1 home defeat to Inter which ended their 49 game unbeaten streak) – winning the title 9 points ahead of second placed Napoli. The league was another triumph for Juve, although the same couldn’t be said for the Champions League, where they were roundly beaten by eventual Champions Bayern. Europe is the next frontier that must be conquered.

 
Napoli had another enjoyable year under Walter Mazzarri, in what proved to be his final season. Rafael Benitez is taking over the reins at Stadio San Paolo, and he will inherit a team which comfortably qualified for the Champions League and on occasion looked as if it might challenge Juve for the title. Although seemingly on his way out, Edinson Cavani has secured legendary status in Naples, as he again wowed crowds with his skill and goal-scoring prowess- netting 29 league goals and indeed the Capocannoniere award, whilst Lorenzo Insigne filled the void left by PSG-bound Ezequiel Lavezzi. After winning the Coppa Italia last season, Champions League qualification was the realistic demand and this was achieved with ease. Gli Partenopei have much to build on this summer, as hopefully they mount a serious assault next season.

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Yes, we’ve noticed it too…

AC Milan’s season seemed to be spiralling out of control early in the season, as all hopes rested on 20-year-old Stephan El Shaarawy. After losing star names (Silva, Ibrahimovic etc.) and the old guard (Seedorf, Gattuso etc.) in the summer, and with the club in shocking debt, things were looking very gloomy for i Rossoneri early on, but, as Massimiliano Allegri impressed again, Milan’s fortunes experienced a thankful upturn – alongside the signing of Mario Balotelli. Milan surged up the table in the second half of the season – embarrassing rivals Inter in the process – snatching a 3rd Champions League spot from the clutches of Fiorentina. The future of Milan is far from gloomy now. With Balotelli for a whole season, and youngsters such as de Sciglio and Niang progressing well, I expect Milan to mount a serious title challenge next term.

 
Agonisingly missing out on the Champions League was the ultimate fate for Fiorentina this season – but they gained many fans and plaudits along the way. Playing an extremely attractive brand of football, Fiorentina shone across the pitch. Borja Valero proved to be a superb signing, as he linked up with the much improved Alberto Aquilani and David Pizarro in an exciting midfield three. Juan Cuadrado enjoyed somewhat of a breakthrough season at Wing-Back joining from relegated Lecce, as Adem Ljajic began ‘living up to his hype’ and Stevan Jovetic finally managed to stay clear of injury.
 
Udinese continue to punch above their weight on a minimal budget (Toto di Natale still managed to score 23 league goals at the age of 35) and finished an excellent 5th, whilst the Roman sides battled it out for 6th and 7th (and indeed the Coppa Italia trophy). Lazio won in the final, whilst Roma finished a solitary point ahead in the league. The Zeman experiment failed, Andreazzoli saw out the rest of the season, and Rudi Garcia will take charge next season. Lamela, Marquinhos and Totti stood out on the pitch – the 36-year-old grabbed 12 goals and 12 assists in Serie A this year. Serie A truly is the league for the 30+ forward! – as Lazio themsleves well know – Miroslav Klose scored 15 in 29 games!
 
Catania, Parma, Cagliari and Chievo all overachieved in mid-table, though the same can’t be said for Inter, who finished a torrid season in 9th place. After some baffling recruitment, and a drastic decline in form, poor Stramaccioni has been replaced by Mazzarri. Perhaps some stability and improvement is in the offing. 
 
Bologna, Atalanta, Torino, Sampdoria and Genoa all stayed up, but Zamparini’s Palermo performed well below expectations and the Sicilians will be plying their trade in Serie B next season. The same goes for Siena, and Pescara – I Delfini finished on a painful 22 points. 

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Heartbreak for Palermo.

 

Although we can look back on a season where the title race was overly-one sided, this was a very interesting Serie A season with fond memories for some (ie. Fiorentina and of course Juve). The same can’t be said for the likes of Inter or Palermo- I hope Livorno, Hellas and Sassuolo fare better. The Verona derby is one to watch out for next season – and who knows, donkeys might fly! 

 

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