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

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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!

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The Carrick Preponderance

“Hard to believe it’s not Scholes”

Michael Carrick. He’s not Paul Scholes. The song is fun, and most of us (United fans, myself included) love it. However, anyone dubbing Carrick “the new Paul Scholes” needs to take a step back. He’s not the new Scholesy. He’s the new Michael Carrick.

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So what exactly resulted in Carrick making the step-up, and proving himself as one of the most influential players in the world, not just Manchester, in recent years? Back in 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson urged Carrick to be “pivotal” for United. This followed some impressive form in domestic and European games. Back then, he was the silent hero, United’s “Batman”, if you will. His imposing form continued. Unsurprisingly, Ferguson noticed. A year after telling Carrick to be pivotal, Sir Alex Ferguson said “Carrick is the key player”. He continues to be the key player, and many people would agree that he is a frontrunner for United player of the season.

Xabi Alonso recently said of Carrick: “In English football sometimes it seems hard for people to rate those who instead of shining themselves make the team work as a collective. For example Michael Carrick . . . who makes those around him play.”

With Xavi-like performances from the heart of United’s midfield, he is the rock, the pivot and the fulcrum of Ferguson’s device. He makes the defence play better and he feeds the attack. Michael Carrick is one of the world’s most consistent footballers – and consistency is the key to dominance, especially at the European level. Carrick has only missed one League game for Manchester United this season, which displays exactly how influential he is. Van Persie’s gifts and goals may have grabbed many of the plaudits for the Reds this term, but Carrick’s quiet and unassuming performances have been just as important to United’s overall team demeanour. His calm and assured distribution provides the base for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to grip games and the 31-year-old has demonstrated a variety to his passing which suggests he’s much more than a “short, back and sideways” man.

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The stats don’t show much of an improvement for Carrick this season from previous seasons – his passing accuracy and total passes, as well as possession and successful tackles is nearly the same now as it has been previously – which shows that Carrick’s rise to prevalence as a United player comes with his humble style, his pride; his off-the-ball play. Carrick’s vision off the ball is second to none this season. Many players are gifted with excellent ability to pick a pass when they have the ball at their feet – the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez, and Andres Iniesta – but Carrick sees the game in a very different way. He oversees his team mates; their movement; where they’re running to; what they’re attempting to do. He most probably spends more time picking his pass before he gets the ball than he does with it – and the best part? The opposition can’t do anything, at all, to stop it. No tactical play of any kind could stop a player from seeing the game around him.

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Michael Carrick, who, at the time of his signing, was United’s 5th most expensive signing ever, has proved his worth this season, following impressive form in the past few years. He is the new Michael Carrick. He has come into his own.

“Michael’s biggest quality is to move play from defence to attack and win the ball. Because of him, other players play better.” Former Spurs boss Martin Jol, February 2007.

By @JamesBrowning96 – Feedback is appreciated!