With Benitez sacked and Ranocchia all but transferred to Inter, the easy predictions for the New Year are already done. Here is a quick look at 10 other important points of debate and my look at how things might pan out in Serie A.
I am certain every fan would have their own view and I certainly look forward to your comments and feedback.
What are some other predictions in your opinion that will be the highlight of Serie A in 2011?
While no one will expect Cassano to take on Mr Berlusconi the same way he took on the Sampdoria President, Ricardo Garrone. Thst however doesn’t discount the possibility of an altercation with any of the array of stars and egos Milan have in their dressing room. For the national team’s sake, one hopes that Cassano can finally settle in and fulfill the promise he has always shown.
Napoli’s free flowing football has been a breath of fresh air in Serie A and anything less than Champions League football for next season will be viewed at as a major disappointment. Keeping hold of the majority of their squad will go a long way in helping Walter Mazzarri’s team to greater and better results.
Leonardo has risked his reputation and perhaps a few strained relationships with former colleagues when he took on the Inter job. Moratti seems much more favorable towards Leonardo even before he has managed a game and his willingness to open the checkbook will be a welcome boost for the reigning champions. Given the limited resources he had, Leo did a decent job at Milan and Inter fans would be hoping he can galvanize the team and make up the deficit at the top.
The debate on who will be the top scorer or the capocanoniere in Serie A is always a lively one. Antonio Di Natale has been on the top of the charts this season and is also the competition’s winner from last season. However I predict that the top scorer will come from either Ibrahimovic or Eto’o. It is too tight to call between the two but given their team’s dependency on them scoring, particularly in case of Eto’o, it seems safe to say that one of the two will emerge as the capocanoniere.
With Fiorentina languishing in 15th place just 4 points clear of the drop zone, the future of Mihajlovic is in serious jeopardy. Even after counting the injuries the squad has suffered, their current position and points haul is far too meager for a squad of their quality. If results do not improve, and improve quickly in 2011, Mihajlovic might well be out of a job sooner rather than later.
For all the glamour and news that this particular move is generating, the numbers simply do not add up. Inter are trying to balance the books and make themselves compliant with the Fair Play regulations that will kick in over the next couple of years and splashing out upwards of $40 million on a player who has injury and fitness doubts will be classified as high risk. Some how it seems more of a publicity stunt than a serious effort. Though, given that this is Italian Football, anything might still happen.
Some might disagree but in my opinion, all the 3 Italian teams have draws that they can easily win. Milan have too much experience in Europe and should be able to handle Spurs, barring a Maicon-esque outing for one of the Milan fullbacks. Roma would be thrilled with their tie against Shakhtar Donetsk which they will look at as being very winnable. Inter probably have the hardest tie but come up against a team that is struggling almost as badly as themselves in their domestic competition. A re-run of last season’s final and Bayern’s porous backline means that Inter have every chance of qualifying from this tie.
Juventus have shown far too much inconsistency over the season to be a threat to make it into the Champions League spots. They have a new manager and a squad that is still trying to gel together. A disappointing campaign in the Europa League only highlighted their deficiencies. Given current form and results, I predict a top 4 finish for Juventus as a bit of a struggle. Roma have shown with their win against Milan that they are capable of matching last season’s run. Inter under Leonardo with the full squad back to fitness will start getting results. Too many draws for Juventus might prove costly for the Turin side.
Teams often blossom in their first season o promotion and Bari was a fine example of this. The established teams do not know what to expect and the element of surprised together with a tremendous amount of excitement and enthusiasm that flows through newly promoted teams leads to an unexpectedly high finish. However, the same teams struggle in their second season as they are studied more thoroughly by the opposition. Their best players get signed by bigger teams and some of the drive and determination is lost from the first season. Relegation is usually what results and that seems a likely result for Bari.
This season’s title race is one of the tightest in years. All the teams at the top have shown weaknesses and even the mid-table teams like Chievo have shown that they can turn over any of the top guns on their day. Milan, Napoli, Lazio, Juventus and Roma all separated by just 7 points, and Inter have 2 games in hand and lie a further 6 points of Roma. I see the title race going down right to the very last day.
I might well get all 10 predictions wrong. But I look forward to your own top 10 predictions for Serie A.