Serie A 2012-13 Season: Game-by-Game Guide to the Opening Weekend
The Italian peninsula is nearing another nine months of drama, outstanding action and hopefully not scandal as the Serie A season is set to kick off on Saturday evening.
Juventus open their title defense amidst a flurry of controversy that could throw the race of the Scudetto wide open despite the Turin club having been thought hands down set to repeat their triumph from 2011-12.
Other clubs such as Fiorentina and AC Milan have sold off stars and are looking to new look sides to carry them back to the top. Sampdoria and Torino both have returned to the top flight this season and will hope to stake their claim to a place in Serie A once more. Each sides return also marks the rebirth of both the Turin and Genoa Derby's.
All in all the opening weekend of the Italian season is certainly one we have all been waiting for.
Fiorentina vs Udinese
Fiorentina have made possibly more moves than any other club in Italy this summer in the transfer window. The active Florentine side are hoping that additions such as Alberto Aquilani from Liverpool and AS Roma's David Pizzaro will ignite their midfield following the departure of Ricardo Montolivo.
Udinese on the other hand once again hope that their aging striker Antonio Di Natale continues to ripen like a fine Italian wine.
Both clubs will expect a victory but they are likely to share the spoils.
Players to Watch: Alberto Aquilani and Antonio Di Natale
Match Prediction: 2-2 draw.
Juventus vs Parma
Juventus are hoping that the Calcioscommese does not completely over shadow all of their season. If they are a glowing success with the consequences then it will looks as though no one should have ever doubted the club. However, if they fail, then the club is doomed to hear of the controversy for the rest of its existence.
Parma on the other hand will hope that their former young starlet, Sebastian Giovnico does not come back to haunt them after selling him this summer. Additions of Amauri and Sotiris Ninis come highly recommended.
Players to Watch: Andrea Pirlo and Sotiris Ninis
Match Prediction: 3 - 1 to Juventus.
AC Milan vs Sampdoria
AC Milan has put their best foot forward in trying to rebuild their squad. Although the sales of Thiago Silva and Zlatan IBrahimovic have brought much funding to the club, it is not likely to be used to bring proven talent to the side.
Rather it is time for the youngsters and those that are capable to rise to the occasion and prove their worth.
Sampdoria returns to the top flight after their shock relegation in 2009-10. The Genoa based club will be hoping to make sure they survive to really have a chance at reinvesting in hopes of rebuilding for the Serie A.
Players to Watch: Stephan El Shaarawy and Maxi Lopez
Match Prediction: 2 - 1 to Milan.
Chievo vs Bologna
Chievo will hope to build on a solid tenth place finish last season as a push for continued Serie A existence continues to be their main goal.
Bologna also will be struggling this early summer as the impending sale of Gaston Ramirez to Southampton, Liverpool or Tottenham according to Metro the English Premier League truly puts a damped on their midfield and aspirations for the season.
Players to Watch: Marco Rigoni and Gaston Ramirez
Match Prediction: 1 - 1 draw.
Genoa vs Cagliari
Genoa and Cagliari face off in what is certain to be a heated battle for a place just above the relegation zone of the Italian table this coming season.
Genoa will hope that they can push closer to the middle of the table after a disappointing 17th place finish last year. The club had a busy summer, but there are no real major additions by name.
Cagliari finished just about Genoa in 15th last year and will hope that there rather inactive summer does not cause them to slip down the table.
Players to Watch: Alexander Merkel and Nene
Match Prediction: 2 - 1 to Genoa.
As Roma vs Catania
AS Roma have had a good summer despite the offloading of Claudio Pizzaro to Fiorentina and the loss of Fabio Borini to Liverpool. Having signed United States international, Michael Bradley it has already proven to be an interesting midfield between the American, club veteran Danielle de Rossi and young Erik Lamela.
The Giallorossi will be looking to make their way back to the UEFA Champions League places this season after a frustrating seventh place finish in 2011-12. Defensive additions of former Corinthians player Marquinhos and Palermo defender, Federico Balzeretti will for sure have an impact at the back.
Catania on the other hand has done little to strengthen their side this summer and will hope to stave off a determined side from the Eternal City.
Players to Watch: Erik Lamela and Marco Biagianti
Match Prediction: 4-2 to Roma.
US Pescara vs Inter Milan
Pescara moved up to the top flight this season, but they face a determined opponent in Inter Milan in their opening fixture of their Serie A return. A solid summer in the transfer window with signings such as Vladimir Weiss from Manchester City will be sure to help their case for survival in the long run.
Inter Milan are another beast all together after what was one of the most disappointing seasons in the club's recent history as they failed to reach a European birth of any form for the coming campaign.
However, a year to rebuild might be a good thing for the club as they have tinkered and retooled with hopes of returning to the top four of Italy in 2012-13. Not having the extra games of a European campaign could see them stay more healthy and fit and produce a better result in the ending table.
Players to Watch: Vladimir Weiss and Wesley Sneijder
Match Prediction: 1 - 3 to Inter Milan.
Atalanta vs SS Lazio
Atalanta finished in a comfortable 12th place last season and look to be searching for another result in the same realm this season. A clam summer has seen them have faith in their current squad after a decent 2011-12 campaign.
SS Lazio will be looking to continue their rise to the top of Serie A despite also having little movement in the transfer window so far. The return of Mauro Zarate from his loan to Inter Milan will be a major boost to the attack as will the addition of Ederson from French side Lyon.
Players to Watch: Moussa Kone and Miroslav Klose
Match Prediction: 2 - 3 to Lazio.
Palermo vs Napoli
Palermo have been a selling and loaning club this summer with multiple players heading out of the Sicilian side while very few have made their way to the end of the peninsula.
Napoli likewise have been more of a selling club this summer with their big offload that of Ezequiel Lavezzi to Paris Saint Germain.
Big names in Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik remain and the Italian Tim Cup winners will hope to continue their run of recent success.
Players to Watch: Abel Hernandez and Edinson Cavani
Match Prediction: 3 - 2 Palermo with the upset at home.
Siena vs Torino
AC Siena survived their Serie A return last season finishing a respectable 14th. This season they will hope to avoid the familiar sophomore slump that hits many promoted teams.
Opening their campaign they face another club that is returning to the top flight in Turin's other club, Torino. The heated rivals of Juventus will be hoping to ride their second place finish Serie B campaign high as far into the new season as possible.
Players to Watch: Simone Vergassola and Rolando Bianchi
Match Prediction: 1 - 2 Torino surge back into the Serie A.