It’s finally here – the Serie A strike has come to an end! The Italian Players’ Association (AIC) and the club owners have reached an interim agreement that will expire June 2012. As the season begins, here are some predictions for the year:
It will most likely be a very tight race to the scudetto this year with AC Milan, Internazionale FC, and SSC Napoli being the strongest of the contenders. Finishing in first place and retaining last year’s crown will most likely be AC Milan as they are all-around the best team in Serie A at the moment. Not far off from first place should be their cross-city rivals, Internazionale FC, with their strength and depth in attack helping them to stay close. Finishing comfortably in third place should be SSC Napoli. The Neapolitans have reinforced their squad with the addition of key signings (Pandev and Inler) who increase the quality of the team. Finishing fourth in Serie A this term should be a toss-up between Lazio, Juventus, and Roma. Lazio should be the better pick of the three since they were in title contention for most of last year’s campaign. The Laziali have kept hold of their main players and have significantly strengthened their frontline with the acquisitions of Djibril Cissé and Miroslav Klose. Together, Lazio should be a goal-scoring machine this season. It remains unknown whether Juventus and Roma can push for a Champions League spot. Juventus, fresh from two consecutive seven-place finishes in Serie A, have once again completely revamped the squad bringing in a new and inexperienced coach in Antonio Conte as well as several new signings. Pirlo, the most notable signing, will show his class on the pitch. But will Elia, Estigarribia, Lichtensteiner, Vidal, Giaccherini, and Vucinic make that step up in quality which the Old Lady of Turin has needed since their return to the top flight? AS Roma, now owned by Thomas DiBenedetto, are also coached by the inexperienced Luis Enrique and have made some key signings as well before the transfer market ended obtaining players with high calibre – Bojan Krkic, Erik Lamela, Fernando Gago, Gabriel Heinze, Pablo Osvaldo, Miralem Pjanic, youngster Fabio Borini, and Simon Kjaer in defence. It will be surprising to see Lazio, Juventus, or Roma end the campaign better than fourth place. My pick: Lazio – although fourth spot no longer qualifies for the Champions League.
Top 4 picks:
1) AC Milan
2) Internazionale FC
3) SSC Napoli
4) SS Lazio, Juventus FC, AS Roma
I predict AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the leading goal scorer this season and Daniele De Rossi of AS Roma will receive the most cards.
Here are some of the key matches of week two:
Milan v Lazio – this is will be a tough test for the defending champions to start off the season. Lazio has beefed up their forwards with the purchase of France International Djibril Cisse, and Germany International Miroslav Klose.
Palermo v Inter-Milan – this will be a very tough match for inter. The Sicilians have always been strong on home turf. But how well will they cope with the loss of Javier Pastore?
Juventus v Parma. The Old Lady will face the team that started their downfall last season. This time around, they will aim to impress in their new stadium. I predict Lecce, Novara, and Cesena to be relegated to Serie B.
Here are my predictions for week two:
Milan v Lazio – Milian wins.
Parlermo v Inter – Tie.
Juventus v Parma – Juventus wins.
Chievo v Novara – Chievo wins.
Genoa v Atalanta – Tie.
Roma v Cagliari – Upset of the week = Cagliari wins.
Cesena v Napoli – Napoli wins.
Catania v Siena – Catania wins.
Fiorentina v Bologna – Fiorentina wins.
Lecce v Udinese – Udinese wins.
Good luck to those who play ProLine!
That’s the last word on Soccer.
Twitter me @lastwordfrank