Serie A: Close Battle Expected in Calcio Based on Summer Acquistions
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Important signings show that defending champions aim to challenge on all fronts
Defending champions AC Milan have signalled their intentions by strengthening their title winning squad with some important signings in the current transfer window. The Rossoneri signed experienced French centre half Philippe Mexes from AS Roma, marauding Nigerian left back Taye Taiwo from Marseille and the talented young trequartista Stephan El Shaarawy from Genoa.
Meanwhile, existing loan deals for Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ghanaian Kevin Prince-Boateng and Italian goalkeeper Marco Amelia have all been made permanent.
Will Gian Piero Gasperini's dynamic 3-4-3 formation work at the San Siro?
With a fearsome front three supported by midfield dynamo Inler, Napoli appears intent on building on last season's fairytale.
Will Pirlo and Vidal revive the flagging hopes of La Vecchia Signora?
A club that is trying to be, in the words of keeper Gianluigi Buffon, an “important team again,” Juventus have reached into their storied past for a new manager, signing former Bianconeri star Antonio Conte as the man to lead the charge.
Juventus, who have won Serie A a record 29 times, are struggling to achieve those heady heights of a generation ago when they routinely challenged Europe's best on all fronts.
Determined to signal the a new dawn at the Stadio Olimpico, club legend Conte has wasted no time in leaving his mark on Serie A's most successful team. Felipe Melo, Momo Sissokho, Thiago Mendes and Hasan Salihamidzic have all being transferred, while Alberto Aquilani has returned to Anfield.
The arrivals of legendary playmaker Andrea Pirlo, midfield dynamo Arturo Vidal (pictured), solid schemer Michele Pazienza, rampaging right back Stephan Lichtsteiner and left back Reto Ziegler have signaled a busy summer so far for La Vecchia Signora's transfer guru Giuseppe Marotta.
But while the the old lady of talian football is also progressing well in their bid to land Copa America winner and Uruguayan centre back Diego Lugano, one key spot remains vacant. The fact they have still not landed a left winger of note is beginning to threaten and undo all of the good work that has been done since the transfer window swung open.
With a good and experienced spine present in Turin, the likes of Milos Krasic and Alessandro Matri getting to grips with life at Juve, buying a left winger of quality and the recent arrivals integrating well, Juventus can definitely be in with a shout when the destination of the 2011-2012 scudetto is being decided.
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Will Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose fire Lazio back into the UEFA Champions League?
After a highly successful season where they exceeded many expectations, Lazio will attempt to build on the great work done by the class of 2010-2011.
Lazio, despite having European obligations, may surprise if Eddy Reja continues to place his trust in the magical feet of Brazilian playmaker Hernanes; at times last year the Brazilian was simply unplayable but he needs to become more consistent to be considered truly world-class.
The team from Rome will need their brilliant Argentine Mauro Zarate to be on his best form throughout and to hit the ground running. The extremely gifted South American should excel in a deeper role behind one of or the two new signings.
Cisse and Klose, despite approaching the twilights of their respective careers, are proven goalscorers in Europe; the two imports are expected to play important roles in Lazio's season both domestically and in Europe.
Expect Lazio to challenge the more expensively assembled squads in the Serie A in much the same vein as they did over the last campaign.
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Lack of Squad depth a major worry
A worry for Reja will be a lack of quality depth outside of his first 11. Lazio should be extremely competitive with all the teams in the league but they will struggle when injuries and suspensions invariably set in.
Will Luis Enrique be able to instil the breathtaking Catalan style in the eternal city?
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