The season kicks off on Friday when Lazio visits the defending Serie A champions at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan.
AC Milan is expected to field a starting lineup that features mostly returners from last season, with the exception being midfielder Alberto Aquilani, who joins the club from Liverpool after spending last season on loan with Juventus. Aquilani takes the place of Andrea Pirlo, who ironically is taking his place with Juventus. Aquilani has been quick to point out that he does not want to be compared to Pirlo, even if they are playing the same position.
Lazio debuts its new attack with summer signings Djibril Cisse and Miroslav Klose.
Cisse has featured 40 times for France, and Klose has 14 career goals in the World Cup as a star for Germany.
Lazio is without new starting goalkeeper Federico Marchetti, who is suspended for the first match of the season. While Lazio has a chance to be a very solid side this season, AC Milan has a strong core returning, whereas the visitors are a work-in-progress.
Cesena has greatly improved its roster after barely surviving in Serie A last season. It should put up a tough fight in this match. Generally, smaller clubs tend to play well earlier in the season and then falter at the end.
But Napoli also upgraded its squad in the summer, and it looks be one of the top contenders to challenge AC Milan for the Scudetto.
The attacking trio of Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani are back together, which has many people in Naples very excited.
Siena returns to Serie A after just one season in Serie B. It made a big acquisition in getting Sicilian midfielder Gaetano D’Agostino to go along with Sicilian forward Emmanuele Calaio. Those two will certainly be motivated when they visit their home island on Sunday.
Catania has become known as the club of the Italo-Argentinians. Much of Catania’s roster is Argentinian and many people in Argentina are of Italian ancestry. Thus, a quick glance at Catania’s roster would confuse some as to which are Italian and which are not.
Vincenzo Montella takes over as the coach in his first permanent job since finishing last season with AS Roma.
Catania has kept much of its roster intact and has actually added veteran Sergio Almiron to the heart of the midfield, where he should do well. Catania generally does well at home and poorly on the road. Look for the squad to pick up three points.
Novara at Chievo
This is a battle of two smaller sides. Chievo is simply a well-oiled machine. This club always exceeds expectations. Sergio Pellissier is still the leader and captain of the side.
Novara hasn’t been in Serie A in over 50 years. But the side returns after admitting it had no expectation of making it to Serie A last season.
Novara has a few players that could make some noise. Chievo generally starts off well, and there is no reason to expect things to change this season.
In a battle of central Italian cities, Fiorentina owns the home-field advantage and a stronger roster; however, Bologna probably was the stronger of the two in the transfer market.
Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Gilardino are still with the Viola after many transfer rumors had them leaving Florence this summer.
Marco DiVaio is still the leader for Bologna, which has made some solid roster changes even though it lost goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano. Jean Francois Gillet takes his spot in goal after many years with Bari.
Atalanta is also back in Serie A after just one season in Serie B. It has been docked six points to start the season due to involvement in a betting scandal, so the pressure will be on to earn points early.
Genoa has a strong veteran defense and a fine goalkeeper. But Genoa’s midfield is a question mark.
Parma at Juventus
Parma has a nice squad once again. But Juventus has made great strides in upgrading its roster this offseason and should clearly be the favorite at home.
Sebastian Giovinco is still with Parma after having grown up with Juventus, and he is certainly motivated to show his former team that he is worthy of wearing their jersey. Expect the Juventus attack to be too much for Parma.
Udinese is already in fine form, even if it lost to Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League. Lecce is still trying to discover an identity as several new starters came into the fold late in the transfer window.
Antonio Di Natale is clearly the leader, and he should leave his mark on this match.
Prediction: 3-0, Udinese.
Inter at Palermo
Both of these sides did not improve themselves in the transfer market this summer. But Palermo shot itself in the foot and not just once. Gone is starting goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, starting central defender Cesare Bovo, starting right back Mattia Cassani, defensive midfielder Antonio Nocerino and attacking midfielder Javier Pastore.
Palermo President Maurizio Zamperini pulled the trigger on these moves and then fired coach Stefano Pioli before he could coach a single Serie A game for the club. Talk about chaos.
Inter did lose Samuel Eto’o, which is huge. But the club is still very strong even if new coach Giampiero Gapserini’s tactical setup is not ideal. This could be an ugly match.
Cagliari at Roma
Cagliari made fewer changes in the summer than did Roma, so Cagliari should be more acquainted with itself. Roma made a lot of interesting moves in the transfer window, and this club may not be clicking on all cylinders this early in the season.
Cagliari is strong in the back and in the midfielder positions, but question marks remain in the attack.
Look for an upset here.
Prediction: 2-1, Cagliari.
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