Saturday Apr 10, 2021  
  21/08/2013: Serie A Preview: Part II
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After being only minutes, and a dodgy penalty, away from snatching the third and final Champions League spot from AC Milan the Della Valle brothers have made it clear that Fiorentina is back this year with the goal of achieving at least that third spot, if not challenging for the Scudetto. Some impressive signings in Gomez from Bayern Munich, Ambrosini from Milan, Joaquin of Malaga, the much sought after Ilicic from Palermo and the return of Giuseppe Rossi who was signed last year but struggled with fitness all through last season has brought further quality to an already strong side. Coach Montella is about to sign an extension to 2017 and harmony is the word describing the status within the club. Jovetic’s departure might be a blow for the side but with proper investment in new players the Viola will be ready to challenge the big boys. Only one worry remains though and that is in regard to Ljajic’s contract. The Serb scored ten goals in the final part of the previous season and Milan have been eager to sign the player. If Montella manages to get his players to fight for each other and maintain an equally sound approach to the games as during 2012/2013, Fiorentina will be the side to look out for outside the usual teams challenging for the top spots. One problem remains to be solved before the season kicks-off though; a new goalkeeper of similar class as the rest of the squad is needed and finding him might turn into a bigger problem than expected. Prediction: 4th


A well-known former Lazio player was the pick of President Preziosi when Ballardini was shown the door after a season that saw Genoa narrowly managing to hang on to Serie A football. Fabio Liverani makes his debut as head coach in the highest league and it is certainly yet another gamble from the club’s owner in an attempt to make the team a stable Serie A side again. Genoa have had enough quality between the numerous players owned by the club but in recent years the arrivals and departures have simply been too many to create stability in a side where turbulence is the least thing needed. Sometimes it has felt as if Preziosi works more for other teams and other presidents than for his own club and the many co-ownership deals the club has shows exactly this. The pre-season has been plagued with transfer rumours and in the first competitive game of the season, a Coppa Italia game against Spezia, Liverani’s men looked far from convincing and crashed out on penalties. Interesting arrivals for the Grifone are Lodi from Catania and Santana from Napoli, while the losses of Frey, Granqvist and Jankovic will surely be felt. So far important pieces in Kucka, Antonelli and Gilardino remain and these players will be the key to guarantee further Serie A football in at least half of the city of Genoa, where the local derby against Sampdoria is one of the Serie A highlights. Prediction: 19th


Not many would argue against Inter being the biggest disappointment of the 2012/2013 season and along that line Stramaccioni was asked to leave the hot seat in the summer. The club finished far from the Champions League spots, crashed out of the Europa League early on and missed the second rated European tournament altogether this year. As the club has been under heavy criticism due to lack of quality investments, mismanagement of the squad and players as well as being under economic pressure, Moratti has entered into discussions of selling the club to foreign investors. Not much has come out of those talks yet and meanwhile previous Napoli coach Mazzarri has been hired to bring the Internazionale back into the spotlight. The coach has his preferred tactics and the 3-5-2 that never worked under Gasperini is again being tested. A 4-0 win in the first game of the Coppa Italia against Cittadella is hardly a measure of quality and the coach quickly communicated that the team has only reached about 60% of their potential. Plenty still has to be done and as early as in the first press conference the coach asked for a stronger squad and a more united team ahead of the new season. At the moment Inter has been calmer on the market compared how things usually look with Icardi being the most well-known name signed, accompanied by Belfodil and Wallace they make up a trio of young players that have plenty of potential. The only big name leaving has been Cassano and it is hard to have an opinion on Inter’s strength and weaknesses this season. Prediction: 6th


After a few tough years Italy’s most popular club has returned to the top of the league and are currently back to back champions. The two Scudetti are to be followed by a historic third one if the club is to be believed and the owners have acted exactly in that fashion this summer. Conte already had the strongest squad in Italy and with Tevez, Llorente and Ogbonna the team looks even stronger. In that context it does not matter much that Giaccherini, who had an amazing Confederations Cup in the summer, has left and the squad looks so strong that players such as Immobile and Zaza are continuing to be kept outside the squad and loaned out to other teams. Conte has made it clear one or two attackers need to go and Matri as well as Quagliarella look set to leave before September 2. Juventus crushed Lazio 4-0 in the Supercoppa Italiana and if any conclusion can be drawn it is that the players looked far from satisfied with the trophies won in recent years and it is no secret that Juventus are looking for glory also in Europe this year. The culture of lifting cups is surely embedded in the club symbol and the Old Lady will walk into the season as clear favourites amongst bookies as much as amongst players and coaches in Italy. It will surely be a tough Serie A campaign for all teams involved this year but before it begins, Juventus look likely to defend the championship yet again. Prediction: 1st


If the Lazio fans were patient with Petkovic during his first year in Italy it surely looks like the expectations on the Bosnian tactician are higher this season. Apart from the historic and monumental Coppa Italia victory against Roma in late May the season that passed was no success as the Romans crashed out against Fenerbahce in Europa League and finished in seventh position in the Serie A standings. Lotito and Tare have been investing time and money into players that have to be seen as gambles; with Felipe Anderson and Perea the perfect examples of the hit and miss transfer strategy employed at the club. The latter is yet to be registered due to too many non-EU players already being in the squad, while the former has struggled with fitness levels and is far from being ready to be played. Also Novaretti, an untested 28-year old defender from the Mexican league, and Biglia have been brought in and if anyone is close to breaking into the starting eleven it is the Argentinean midfielder. Experts have been claiming throughout the summer that Lazio desperately need to strengthen the back as well as the attack and with less than two weeks left of the mercato the situation is the same. Klose is not getting any younger and the same can be said about Dias and Biava. Lazio has the potential to challenge for a Champions League spot on the best of days, but might also end up as a mid-table team. The crunch question though is if Petkovic will be around next summer or not..? Prediction: 7th
Author: Khashayar Kashefi
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