Could Rudi Garcia’s Roma break the hegemony of Juventus in the Italian Serie A?
There is less than a month to go until the next Serie A season commences.
Everyday TuttoMercatoWeb, like the other major Italian media outlets, has been doing predictions of the starting 11s for all 20 teams for the 2014/15 Serie A season. If the league started on August 1, this is what the teams would look like.
So if the league did start today, where would the teams finish? Here are my predictions for the season based on the current outlook of the Serie A squads. Today’s post will feature the Top 10 and tomorrow’s post will include my predictions on the bottom half.
Serie A Top 10 for 2014-15
Roma had an impressive campaign under Rudi Garcia. It only finished second last season because Juventus was very strong and players like Kevin Strootman, Francesco Totti and Mattia Destro weren’t always fit.
The giallorossi have been busy early in the transfer window signing Ashley Cole, Seydou Keita and Juan Iturbe as well as getting Davide Astori on loan. Destro could leave for German club Wolfsburg if it puts in a large bid for the 23-year-old.
Garcia’s team has enough depth in all positions and sporting director Walter Sabatini has made some fine signings. This is a great chance for the giallorossi to win their fourth Serie A title.
The Napolitani have not been very active during the summer transfer window. Michu has arrived on loan from Swansea City but they have struggled to get German midfielder Christoph Kramer from Bayer Leverkusen.
Napoli needs a goalkeeper to replace Pepe Reina but it seems that a defensive midfielder is more of a priority. Valon Behrami is set to go to Hamburg but the options to replace him are Kramer, Lucas Leiva from Liverpool and Belgium’s Marouane Fellaini.
Coach Rafa Benitez has the players to fit into his 4-2-3-1 formation but he could try different formations and he has the players to do so. If they the vital additions and they fit into the team quickly, they can push Roma for the title.
Massimiliano Allegri has replaced Antonio Conte as Juve coach and he will need to make a positive impact quickly.
Allegri was not a popular choice to replace Conte. The former Milan coach made some obscure choices during his time with the rossoneri whereas Conte lead Juve to three scudetti and he encouraged his players to fight as well as play a pressing game.
Mirko Vucinic has left and there have been rumours of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba leaving the club. Juve will need to adapt to Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 tactics but if Vidal and Pogba left, the bianconeri will have a huge decline this season.
Not having a full-strength attack was the Viola’s downfall last season and the defence was very leaky as well.
Holding onto Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado will be vital for Fiorentina, and if he does leave, he would need to be replaced properly. Even so, Montella might give youth a chance depending on the formation. Italo-Australian youngster Joshua Brillante could be the right wing-back in the 3-5-2 or Federico Bernardeschi could play as a right-winger in the 4-3-3.
Vincenzo Montella’s team play a possession-based game, and if Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez stay fit, then Fiorentina should qualify for Europe again with very little issues.
Walter Mazzarri’s team is starting to have a blend of youth and experience in it. There is still a lack of genuine world-class players in the team and the youngsters need to keep progressing.
Yann M’Vila and Dodo have arrived at Inter but current youngsters Mauro Icardi and Mateo Kovacic will need to make more of an impact. Nemanja Vidic brings quality and experience to the defence.
Inter does lack a star in his prime. Pablo Osvaldo has joined from Southampton but the Nerazzurri need players like Chilean defender/midfielder Gary Medel and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez if they want to pose a bigger threat than they did last season.
6. AC Milan
The rossoneri should not be expected to be a title contender like the AC Milan teams of old. New coach Filippo Inzaghi must be allowed to work without a large budget give kids a chance.
Inzaghi is expected to give more playing time to players who did not play regularly last season like Riccardo Saponara and Andrea Poli and he can also count on having a fit Stephan El Shaarawy in attack. Alex and Jeremy Menez arrived on free transfers and buying them probably won’t bring much joy.
Keep an eye on youngsters Bryan Cristante and Hachim Mastour if they get matchtime this season. If they do well, it gives Milan more reason to play kids.
There has been speculation as to whether Mario Balotelli stays or goes but regardless of what happens to the enigmatic striker, Milan will likely have a tough season ahead of them. It would be better to have short-term pain for long-term game, especially if more youth team players have to play.
Zdenek Zeman is the new coach and Tommaso Giulini is the new president so expect a different Cagliari this season.
Astori has left for Roma but that could mean that young defender Simone Benedetti could become a star. Also keep an eye on left-back Nicola Murru. Lorenzo Crisetig is a youngster that has been added to the midfield and Samuele Longo has become a part of the attack.
The hallmarks of Zeman teams will be apparent once again, and more experienced players like Marco Sau and Victor Ibarbo could thrive under ‘Il Boemo’, not just the youngsters mentioned above.
As with all Zeman teams, the one thing that will stop this team from climbing-up the table is the defence. There will be too much focus on attack at Cagliari but that will be the reason for the Sardi improving on last season’s results.
Massimo Ferrero has replaced Edoardo Garrone as president and so far there has been more smoke than fire on the transfer market.
Plenty of big names have been linked to the club but Gonzalo Bergessio is the only significant signing that Samp have made so far. Colombian defender Mario Yepes and Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano could arrive soon. Viviano is expected to replace Sergio Romero, who starred at the World Cup for Argentina.
Even with the current squad, a mid-table finish is possible, especially if the Doria’s young players can keep improving. With better support though, the doriani can finish higher.
Ciro Immobile has left Toro and Alessio Cerci is expected to leave next. If he is sold and not adequately replaced, Torino will struggle this season.
The Granata have brought in midfielders Marco Benassi and Antonio Nocerino as well as full-back Cristian Molinaro. Fabio Quagliarella has replaced Immobile in attack but the Cerci scenario will be vital to how Torino’s campaign will turn out.
Giampiero Ventura’s side could struggle because of its participation in the Europa League. This will really test Torino’s depth and despite recruiting some good players, juggling Serie A action and playing in Europe could be too much for Toro.
The Flying Donkeys have been very active in the transfer window since it opened and should survive relegation with greater ease.
When Coach Eugenio Corini left after the 2012/13 season, it was because the club was not going to bring in new players. This time Chievo has not made a mistake and it has added some good Serie A-standard players to the team.
Youngsters Cristiano Biraghi and Francesco Bardi have arrived from Inter but Chievo has also brought experienced players from other Serie A clubs such as Mariano Izco, Valter Birsa, Maxi Lopez and Riccardo Meggiorini.
Obviously these guys aren’t superstars but they suit a small club like Chievo and the Flying Donkeys have had a habit of bringing the best out of unknown or average players. Corini could make this team competitive and surprise anyone who takes them too lightly.