Serie A Team Of The Season

Another season of Serie A finishes, although Calcio is not going through its most glamorous years it has been a campaign packed with drama, excitement and some outstanding players making their mark on Italian football.

Picking my Serie A XI of the season was no easy task and I’m sure not all of you will agree with that, my XI is presented in a 3-5-2 formation as this formation as became popular around Serie A this season and has been very successful.

Goalkeeper – Gianluigi Buffon

The Italian and Serie A veteran has been the best goalkeeper to grace Italian football for some time, if not the greatest. The Juventus man seems not to weaken with age and the 2012-13 cseason was no exception.

Buffon has been at Juventus for 12 years now and it looks like he has certainly got at least three more seasons in him as Buffon as shown no signs of ageing on the pitch.

During the season Buffon kept an impressive sixteen clean sheets (the most in the league) in 32 games for The Old Lady while commanding the defense that conceded fewer goals than any other team in Serie A. What more could you ask for?

Centre Back – Andrea Barzagli

Andrea Barzagli, a man who only appears to get better with age. The Italian has been one of Juve’s stand out players since joining the side and the 2012-13 campaign followed in the same fashion.

Barzagli was Juventus’ ‘Mr Reliable’ for the Bianconeri, flawless in every game. Even despite the frequent absence of Chielinni, had Barzagli not had been at Juve then you would have struggled to see the Turin side win the Scudetto by such a margin.

Giorgio Chielinni was my initial intention to be included in the Serie A team of the season as he has been brilliant when he has played, but having only featured in just over half of Juventus’ I felt it would be unfair to include him at the expense of Barzagli who has played in all of but 5 of Juve’s games. An incredible feat for a man the wrong side of 30.

Centre Back – Marquinhos

Hi-res-164128410_crop_650

If we are to look at the statistics then you would ask me why have I included Marquinhos in my best XI. statistics do not always tell the story correctly. Roma’s defense has been brittle, but the side were managed under Zdenek Zeman who was sacked and then a caretaker manager.

Marquinhos at just the young age of 19 took to Calcio as if he was a Serie A veteran despite not even being 20 years of age. Initially brought in as a prospect for the future his quick maturity and raw talent meant he solidified a place in the Roma starting eleven regularly.

Marquinhos has been linked with most of Europe’s elite, so he must be doing something right.

Centre Back – Gonzalo Rodriguez

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

The Argentinian arrived in Serie A in the summer of 2012 from relegated Villareal and many doubted he would be able to cut it for Fiorentina.

He has proven to be a man who performs exceptionally under pressure, scoring more goals in one season than he did in his entire career at Villareal, most from free kicks. In defense his performances have been incredibly consistent. Often he done the heroics for Fiorentina with several goal line clearances and blocks.

Centre MidfieldMarek Hamsik

Marek Hamsik has often performed greatly but was in the shadow of Lavezzi and Cavani but since Lavezzi’s departure to PSG he has shone even more and his contribution has became well noted.

Hamsik became hugely influential to improve consistently and that he did. Having much a smaller squad than the clubs around them like Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina it meant someone had to step up and contribute even more, that man was Hamsik. He racked up eleven goals for Napoli, the clubs second top scorer only behind a certain Edison Cavani and 14 assists for the club.

With Edison Cavani looking likely to part ways with Napoli, Hamsik’s contribution will be needed even more next season.

Centre midfield – Arturo Vidal

Incredible,consistent and irreplaceable are the best ways to describe the Chilean who was phenomenal again for The Old Lady as they went to win their second successive Scudetto.

 He scored ten goals to finish Juventus’ top scorer and ultimately scored the title clincher goal. His defensive traits did not go unnoticed also, an excellent ball winner and always seems to position himself well to intercept the ball making him one of footballs very rare all rounders. Juve manager Antonio Conte had admitted that their has already been some clubs who have expressed their interest for the Chilean including Real Madrid. But he has committed himself to the Serie A champions for the foreseeable future.

Centre Midfield – Borja Valero

Borja Valero, a player full of class who has graced Serie A in the 2012-13 season as he pulled the strings for Fiorentina in his first season of Italian football.

The Spainard was brilliant in his first season of Serie A, his precision passing meant he was always somewhere in the mix when Fiorentina scored a goal racking up 11 assists. But often a rarity from a midfielder like Valero is that he is not afraid to the ‘dirty work’. A great ball winner he often won the ball back for his team.

Valero also proven the myth wrong that La Liga players can cut it in the Serie A since the likes of Jose Mari and De La Pena who were ultimately disappointing in Italian football.

Right Wing – Erik Lamela

The exciting South American youngster has had his real breakthrough season for Roma and he has done it in style.

After signing last season for Roma from River Plate he has now adapted to Italian football and became a key player for the giallorossi. He has shown frightening speed, skill, dribbling and goal scoring ability. Already looking a very complete player at his young age. Lamela struck 15 times in 33 appearances, including scoring in six consecutive games. Safe to say, the Argentinian has a bright future ahead of him.

Left Wing – Stephan El Shaarawy

Some of you may doubt my choice to include El Shaarawy in my team of the season due to his second half of the season as he only manged to score just two goals. But the whole reason his team is where they are is largely due to him alone.

In the first half of the season when Milan were looking worse than I have ever seen them in my lifetime El Shaarawy pulled them out of the dark and lifted them up the table scoring 16 goals in the first time half of the season. He was constantly fighting on his own it seemed sometimes and I believe the only reason his formed dropped is because of his efforts in the first half of the season he burnt out in the second half of  the season.

Striker – Edison Cavani

The Uraguyan has been incredible this season and it would be absolutely criminal not to include him my team of the season and his being linked to most of Europe’s elite.

Cavani has scored an incredible 29 goals in Serie A this season for Napoli, even more incredible when you consider the  Capocannoniere winner went on a 729 goal drought at one point. The best player to grace Napoli since Diego Maradona many would say. His work ethic, strength and finishing have been his biggest strengths in arguably his best season yet.

Striker – Antonio Di Natale

Di Natale, Serie A’s good guy. Everyone seems to love the veteran and it is no surprise as his attitude and performances in the 2012-13 season have followed in the same manner.

For the fourth consecutive season Di Natale has broken the 20 goal barrier netting 23 goals in 32 appearances. He has received praise from outside the club and inside the club.  “Before him there was Zico,” Udinese owner Giampaolo Pozzo said. “Now he has replaced him in the fans’ hearts because every year he does amazing things.” The veteran lead his team to a remarkable fifth place finish, assuring them of European football next term, despite Udinese languishing in 15th place after seven matches.

Honourable Mentions:

Below is a list of players who have also impressed in the 2012-13 Serie A campaign but did not quite make the cut.

Goalkeepers – Samir Handanovic, Federico Marchetti, Antonio Mirante

Defenders – Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci,Mehdi Benatia, Maurizio Domizzi, Davide Astori, Mattia De Sciglio.

Midfielders – Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Pirlo, Hernanes, Antonio Candreva, Alessandro Florenzi, Paul Pogba, Roberto Pereyra Giacomo Bonaventura.

Strikers – Francesco Totti, Gonzalo Bergessio, Marco Sau, German Denis, Rodrigo Palacio, Victor Ibarbo, Mario Balotelli, Innocent Emeghara.

By @NoPirloNoParty – Feedback always appreciated, grazie!

Advertisements

A German Uprising – Champions League Final Preview 2013

25th May 2013 sees the two heavyweights of German football descend upon London to battle for supremacy at Wembley – to be crowned  as Europe’s top club side. As we know already, Bayern have been dominant this season, winning the  Bundesliga title earlier than any team in history, but they also set records for the most wins, fewest defeats, the fewest goals conceded, most clean sheets and best goal difference whilst having also scored in every league match. Quite a feat in lague bustling with talent.

Bayern have managed to continue this form in Europe, having won all four of their quarter and semi-final matches, scoring 11 goals, with their greatest achievement so far surely being the 7-0 aggregate thrashing of Barcelona. A special mention should be made however to the departing coach  Jupp Heynckes, as this Champions League final will be his last game in charge before he hands over the torch to Pep Guardiola. Having lost the final in 2010 to Inter Milan and then to Chelsea on penalties in 2012 in their own backyard, Bayern will be looking to amend their own final form, as well as give their departing coach something to celebrate.

22736700-1098

Borussia Dortumund however go in to this one seeking some revenge on Bayern, who recently announced the purchase of Mario Gotze back in April for €37 million (£30 million) and Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp admits that ” The timing could have been better” and that losing a player of Gotze’s ability is a massive blow. Futhermore, this has undoubtedly raised eyebrows concerning Gotze’s fitness, due to the fact he has pulled out of the final against his new team.

This could also reportedly be striker Robert Lewandowski‘s last game, as he is apparently set for a summer move to possible rivals Bayern Munich following team mate Mario Gotze. Speculation such as this has led Jurgen Klopp infuriating officials at Bayern by classing them as ” James Bond Villians” and also quoting that “Every football neutral in the world” wants a Dortmund win.

Klopp is a firm believer that his side should play an attractive brand of attacking football, however they have failed to beat Bayern in any of their four meetings this year, and will be looking for redemption.

Juergen-Klopp

Possible team line-ups for the first ever all-German Champions League Final:

Borussia Dortmund:

Weidenfeller

Piszczek • Subotić • Hummels • Schmelzer

Gündogan • Bender

Błaszczykowski • Reus • Großkreutz

Lewandowski

Kevin Großkreutz is expected to take the place of the injured Mario Gotze  in the XI, with Marco Reus shifting into the centre of the attacking trio behind Robert Lewandowski.

 Mats Hummels is expected to shake off a minor ankle injury to feature against his former club.

Bayern Munich:

Neuer

Lahm • Buyten • Dante • Alaba

Martínez • Schweinsteiger

Robben • Müller • Ribéry

Mandžukić

Toni Kroos remains sidelined after picking up a muscle injury in the quarter-final first leg against Juventus, so Arjen Robben will continue on the right, with Thomas Muller lining up behind lone striker Mario Mandzukic, who is expected to get the nod ahead of striker Mario Gomez.

The only other question for Bayern is who will partner Dante at the back, Daniel Van Buyten and Jerome Boateng have been rotated at the heart of defense, but the Belgian is the more likely to start the final.

What do I think the result will be? I expect Bayern to have the edge over Dortmund in this one; I think this season they have shown that they as a club, want success more than anyone else, and I expect them to be too strong for Dortmund. I feel that Mario Gotze will be a massive loss for Dortmund in their hopes of winning the Champions League, so I’m going for a Bayern win, however stranger things have happened… as for the scoreline, I’ll leave that one for yourselves!

470310-1680x1050

Written by @Adam_Longsden feedback is welcomed!

Follow @Vantage_Futbol on Twitter!