Picking an Early Serie A Team of the Season
In three days, a true early-season favorite in Serie A will emerge from the top-of-the-table clash in Turin between Napoli and Juventus.
If you aren't aware of the bad blood that's brewed between the two clubs over the last several dramatic meetings, stop watching that soap opera. This is much better entertainment.
After only seven games, it’s difficult to conclude much, but the teams that have ascended to the very top and those that have descended to the very bottom of the standings seem likely to remain there.
Juventus, Napoli, Lazio and Internazionale appear to be a class ahead of the rest of the pack while Palermo and Siena are likely to be season-long occupants of at least two of the relegation places.
The muddle in the middle consists of a surprising Fiorentina, a steady Catania, an inconsistent Roma and the declining AC Milan and Udinese.
While it is way too early to pick a team of the season, here's what my Serie A starting XI would look like today.
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Samir Handanovic (Inter)
Look no further than the current Serie A table for proof of Handanovic's value. His new club, Inter, is fourth with five wins from seven games and they've only allowed six goals against. His former club of eight years, Udinese, is 14th with one win from seven and eleven goals against.
Luca Antonelli (Genoa)
Andrea Ranocchia (Inter)
Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli)
Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan)
Ranocchia and Campagnaro have been real standouts. Ranocchia and Inter held on to a 1-0 shutout victory earlier this month in the Milan derby.
Meanwhile, on a three-man defensive line that was much maligned a year ago, Campagnaro has played superbly for the Partenopei. See their decisive 3-0 win over third-placed Lazio, for example.
Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Erik Lamela (Roma)
Hamsik has done well adjusting to a new, deeper position in Walter Mazzarri’s revamped 3-5-1-1 formation. Hernanes has maintained the stellar form which saw him emerge as one of the league’s best players in the second half of last year, with four goals for Lazio.
Pirlo, the consummate professional, doesn’t show any sign of his age as he remains the tempo-setter in Turin, the league’s finest player and one of Europe’s best.
Meanwhile, Lamela’s raw talent is taking form for Roma, in a squad that shows signs of a bright future. Whether it’s this year or not remains to be seen.
Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
Stevan Jovetic (Fiorentina)
Cavani leads the scoring table with six goals, with Jovetic one behind. Amongst the best a season ago, it’s not necessarily surprising to see them first and second in the early race for the Capocannoniere. Whether they'll maintain their goal-scoring pace, considering both lost important offensive partners in the offseason transfer window, remains to be seen.
Napoli's Ezequiel Lavezzi left for PSG, while Jovetic lost Valon Behrami to Napoli and Riccardo Montolivo to AC Milan.