Why the Serie A Season is Already Decided
There has been a lot of debate about how exciting Serie A will be this season, with various comments about the transfer market successes of certain teams, preseason performances and other "obvious" indicators that point towards a hard-to-predict, excitement-filled season.
Unfortunately, this might simply be a pipe dream.
Preseason performances seem to show that Inter is the weakest of the three big Italian teams, but the season will be completely different. Milan will not put up much of a fight this year, there's simply far too much different about their team for them to completely flourish.
Of course, its entirely possible that Leonardo might just stumble across the recipe to success, but that's doubtful at best.
Lets not forget that he's a complete rookie. At least Ferrara has coaching experience under Lippi, but Leonardo is completely inexperienced.
There were actually doubts as to whether he would even get his coaching license in time for the new season—this is a big gamble by Milan, and as far as I'm concerned, it's just another part of their cost-cutting due to being massively in debt, as his salary is undoubtedly a mere fraction of Ancelotti's.
Juve have strengthened, no doubt, but not enough. Diego is an excellent player, and Melo is a good player, but neither of them filled the gaps that needed filling. A wing-back was needed, and Caceres isn't the solution to that problem. We've tried patching those holes with another "utility player", Brazzo (Salihamidzic), and that has hardly worked out brilliantly.
Cannavaro, aside from all accusations about his commitment to the Juventus cause, is over the hill. His best contribution in the preseason was his goal, not his defending. If Legrottaglie retains his starting spot, Juve will have a stronger defense.
The sale of Cristiano Zanetti is perhaps the most shocking part of the transfers, as Zanetti has proven time and time again that when the chips are down, he is one of the few players that can be counted on.
In the '07/'08 season, he was arguably the best passer in Italy, and alongside Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet, the reason behind the amazing third place finish post-Calciopoli.
Inter, despite their poor preseason showing, have been the best operators in the transfer market. Milito is a guaranteed goalscorer, Thiago Motta is both defensively capable and offensively creative (I'd honestly say he's a better player than Melo), and Samuel Eto'o needs no introduction.
Losing Ibrahimovic would have been a big blow, but the arrivals of Milito and Eto'o will see Inter practically recreate Barca's 2008/09 striking partnership by subbing in Milito for Henri. There will be goals galore, and now that Juve have sold Zanetti, the Scudetto has been won by Inter before the season even started.
If Inter manage to buy a playmaker like Cassano or another fantasista-type player, this season will take place only to determine who occupies spots 2-20 in the Serie A table.
At this point, Juve's only hope is to see all four attackers hit a season-long streak of excellent form. Amauri needs to live up to his 20 million+ transfer fee—four months of excellent performances followed by five months of mediocrity cannot continue.
Iaquinta needs to be given more starting opportunities, Trezeguet needs to stop complaining and start performing like every Serie A fan knows he can, and Del Piero needs to figure out a way to co-exist with a trequartista.
The midfield must hold together well, and most importantly, learn to pass. Sissoko and Melo are hardly the best passers on earth, and need to be more patient when holding the ball and more careful when going in to tackles.
Passing is the only way in which Juve might have a chance at taking the Scudetto back. It seems odd to say it, but Juve's chances in the Champions League are much better than their chances in Serie A.
People have mentioned the Seven Sisters, but the fact remains that Inter is the only complete team in Serie A, and will continue to dominate. Juventus should have enough to finish second comfortably much like Roma did in the immediate post-Calciopoli years, but will not mount a serious challenge to Inter past week 30.
Fiorentina should take third place, and Milan might not even make it into Champions League qualification, as others like Palermo, Napoli, and Lazio will be doggedly on their heels all season long.
As a Juventus fan, the word "frustration" cannot begin to explain what I am feeling at the moment.
Until Zanetti was sold, I was confident that Juve would be able to give Inter a serious run for its money, but now with players like Tiago and Poulsen staying with us despite poor performances and players like Zanetti, who was a season-saving player, leaving, I can't help but feel that all hope is lost.
That third stella will have to wait one more season.
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