Ashley Cole and 6 Players to Watch on the Opening Weekend of Serie A
Serie A returns this weekend after a long, painful absence, filling our screens with prime calcio on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
With the opening slate of matches full of excitement and potential drama, we've dissected the fixtures to bring you six players you simply have to keep tabs on for one reason or another.
Who joins Roma defender Ashley Cole on our list?
Ashley Cole, Roma
British eyes, of course, are going to settle upon Ashley Cole plying his trade for Roma in the 2014-15 season.
It's exceptionally rare for a Brit to travel outside the United Kingdom to play football—Jermaine Pennant being a notable example tells you exactly how little of it we see—and most will be wishing him well as he starts in the Italian capital as first-choice left-back.
He may have lost his place to Cesar Azpilicueta last year, but Cole still has plenty left to give.
Alessio Cerci, Torino
Alessio Cerci is the subject of late-summer interest, with Arsenal thought to be in the chase for the Italian hybrid forward, per the Metro.
He'd be an ideal striker for Arsene Wenger's system given his ability to dip between the lines and show a killer instinct, but until such a move occurs, he's busy preparing for life with Torino.
Their first game is a big one, hosting Internazionale. With many likely to tune in to see how Walter Mazzarri's troops get on, Cerci has another chance in the spotlight.
Paulo Dybala, Palermo
With Abel Hernandez's proposed move to Hull City moving through the gears, per the Hull Daily Mail, the focus will fall on Paulo Dybala this year at Palermo.
The Sicilian outfit will hand the 20-year-old the keys to the attack and likely play Franco Vazquez in behind him as a support striker.
Hernandez was far from a proven goalscoring commodity, but Maurizio Zamparini is convinced by Dybala's talent. "The new Sergio Aguero," he labelled the Argentine upon his unveiling, per Goal.com.
Jeremy Menez, Milan
How Milan cope without Mario Balotelli will be one of the biggest storylines of the Serie A opening weekend, so we're paying special attention to Jeremy Menez—his replacement, of sorts.
The Rossoneri are likely to press ahead with both Giampaolo Pazzini and Menez up front, with the latter dropping off the front line and linking play.
The Frenchman can be mercurial on his day, but he also frustrates with regularity due to his stroppy nature. How will he settle in at San Siro?
Angelo Ogbonna, Juventus
Angelo Ogbonna needs a big game and a big season, else he'll be looking for work in the summer of 2015.
He was once Torino's brightest prospect, but he chased money and titles over personal development. That decision led him to Juventus, not Milan, and now the left-sided centre-back is stagnating badly.
He's set to start against Chievo in the curtain raiser with Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli injured; he needs to make the most of the opportunity.
Simone Scuffet, Udinese
Simone Scuffet turned 18 years of age in May, yet he already has 16 Serie A starts for Udinese under his belt, per WhoScored.com.
He's firmly relegated former incumbent Zeljko Brkic to the bench and is firmly the first-choice 'keeper. The crowd adore him, as he's a true product of the club, born in Udine.
He's trained with the senior Italian squad on camp days to help early integration as the Azzurri look closely for a Gianluigi Buffon successor, so expect Scuffet to move from strength to strength starting Sunday.