Can Domenico Berardi perform more magic for Sassuolo this season?
Yesterday I posted my Top 10 Serie A teams if the league had already started and today’s post will feature the teams that I predict will finish in the bottom assuming that the teams stay as they are.
Some teams have improved their rosters and there are others that really need to improve if they are going to do well this season.
Aside from Cagliari, Sampdoria and perhaps Chievo, most of the teams in the Top 10 should actually finish in that position.
The teams feature in today’s post could finish in the Top 10 but it won’t be easy. I am also predicting the mid-table and the relegation battles to be very tight this year.
Here are my predictions of the bottom as of today. There will be a 2014-15 Serie A preview just before the season starts and hopefully most teams have strengthened their rosters.
Claudio Lotito remains as president despite calls from Lazio’s ultras for him to resign but the biancocelesti do have a new coach as well as some new additions.
Lazio has appointed Stefano Pioli as the coach and also joining him are defenders Dusan Basta and Stefan De Vrij, midfielder Marco Parolo and striker Filip Djordjevic. Right-winger Antonio Candreva has also been bought outright from Udinese. The biancocelesti do have a good youth system and Greek-Australian Chris Ikonomidis could be another player to come through the ranks depending on his pre-season form.
Pioli has had some credible campaigns at Chievo and Bologna but coaching Lazio will be different. He will be working with a stronger squad but he must prove that he is good enough for a club that should aim for the Europa League.
Eusebio Di Francesco’s side survived relegation last season but with more experience under their belt and if Domenico Berardi can score on a more consistent basis, Sassuolo has the potential to become a mid-table side.
The neroverdi have an up-and-coming attacking trident consisting of Berardi, Simone Zaza and Nicola Sansone and they have bought full-backs Sime Vrsaljko and Federico Peluso from Genoa and Juventus respectively.
Another centre-back and a playmaker – possibly Atalanta’s Luca Cigarini – could come handy but if their midfield stays fit and their attackers can keep progressing, the neroverdi could be more than just a team battling relegation.
The crociati could have another fine campaign or they could be less impressive than they were last season. Keep in mind that most of Parma’s players punched above their weight in 2013/14.
These players who overachieved include the likes of Alessandro Lucarelli, Gabriel Paletta and Antonio Mirante and players such as Raffaele Palladino and Ezequiel Schelotto were able to play roles whenever they came off the bench. Midfielders Parolo and Walter Gargano have departed and the loss of the former could hurt Parma.
If Parma can help Antonio Cassano keep his cool again and also recruit a prolific centre-forward, another Top 10 finish is possible but other rosters look stronger or they have better coaches than Roberto Donadoni.
The grifoni are choosing quantity over quality once again. They usually procure lots of players during the European summer but they usually do not improve the roster greatly.
Gian Piero Gasperini has a pre-season to work with this squad after returning to Genoa last season but he needs to make new signings like Armando Izzo, Leandro Greco and Diego Perotti fit into his tactics. Alessandro Matri could be decent replacement for Alberto Gilardino because he won’t have the same expectations that he would have had an Juve and AC Milan.
Genoa will probably struggle again unless Gasperini can make a competitive team out of the players at his disposal.
No major signings have arrived at Atalanta but there have not been any major departures either for Stefano Colantuono’s side.
The Orobici have youngsters Davide Zappacosta and Marco D’Alessandro on their books and they could emerge like Daniele Baselli has done but keeping left-winger Giacomo Bonaventura is vital if they want to climb into the top half of the table. Gaining full ownership of Cigarini is excellent news for Atalanta too.
Atalanta should survive relegation but keeping key players and buying more players of exceptional quality are necessary if they want to be more than a mid-table team.
The rosanero are back in the Serie A after a season in Serie B and despite winning the cadetti title with ease, I am not expecting too much from the Sicilian side for now.
Palermo’s midfield and attack looks good but its defence is not that outstanding for Serie A. Giuseppe Iachini has good central midfielders like Enzo Maresca, Edgar Barreto and Luca Rigoni and he also has Swedish prodigy Robin Quaison at his disposal.
The forward line has youngsters Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala in it as well as Uruguayan international Abel Hernandez. Iachini has asked for Sampdoria striker Eder, a player he coached at Brescia and Samp.
To climb up the table, better defenders would help but a useful purchase for the attack would not be a bad thing.
Andrea Stramaccioni has replaced Francesco Guidolin as coach and he can count on Antonio Di Natale firing in the goals for at least another season.
Guidolin was excellent when he was working with what he had at his disposal but coaching Udinese will test Stramaccioni after struggling at Inter. ‘Strama’ has some youngsters to work with but none standout more than Simone Scuffet, who made his Serie A debut last season at age 17.
Don’t expect the Friulani to qualify for Europe and expect more struggles. If Di Natale can keep scoring for one more season and Scuffet performs more heroics in goal, Serie A survival is likely.
18. Hellas Verona
Andrea Mandolini’s side is a team that I expect to drop off. The gialloblu probably won’t get relegated but the other rosters look stronger so far.
Aside from recruiting Greek internationals Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Verona’s recruiting has not been that impressive. Brazilian forward Nene has arrived from Cagliari and Uruguayan defender Guillermo Rodriguez has arrived from Torino. Verona has sold Juan Iturbe to Roma and Romulo will be heading to Juventus.
Luca Toni had a career revival last season scoring 20 goals but depending on his support cast this time and how his body feels, he might not reach those figures this time. To do well again, Verona should consider looking for a quality centre-back and a good winger.
The cavallucci marini have been recruiting many defenders and the overall roster has the right mix of youth and experience.
Pierpaolo Bisoli’s side has plenty of central midfielders and lacks a quality attacking midfielder. This could be Cesena’s downfall as well as the lack of a quality striker. AC Milan striker M’Baye Niang has been linked with Cesena and moving to the Emilia-Romagna could help him gain valuable match experience.
The forward line has some youngsters on the wings like Gregoire Defrel and Luca Garritano but Bisoli needs Guido Marilungo to finally realise his potential after struggling with knee injuries.
At the moment there is a lack of quality throughout the pitch in this Empoli roster but it does contain two veterans in Francesco Tavano and Massimo Maccarone leading the attack.
Tavano and Maccarone were excellent in Serie B but will they have the stamina and skill to compete with the defences of Serie A? Empoli also has a lot of youth in other parts of the team.
If Empoli is to stand a chance of survival, defenders and midfielders with decent Serie A experience are required. Out of the current bunch, youngsters Daniele Rugani and Simone Verdi need to shine in defence and midfield respectively after making an impact in Serie B.