We are so lucky to have an incredible circle of writers who have joined us in the years since 1999 and I’m delighted to call Peter Embleton one of them. Although Peter is a die-hard Mag and season ticket-holder he’s also something of a devotee of Italian football and holds something of a candle for Fiorentina where he’s even held a season ticket in previous years. Time was against us in getting this piece into the last issue of true faith but its far too interesting a piece to let slip through the net, so I’m delighted to bring it to you here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
So here we are in another season of Serie A my 25th year of actively following this great league. Last season I watched well over 150 matches on the television, this season 75 and counting, never tiring of the spectacle of the occasion and the pace at which the game is played, combing the high technical ability of the players, on show. After the completion of week 12, and with a third of the season gone it is lining up to be one of the closest and most exciting contests for Lo Scudetto, seen in years. Before I take stock of the season so far, I thought it would be opportune to do a quick review of last season, this will highlight the many changes in team fortunes through the 12 rounds that have been completed so far.
The Serie A season 2014-15 saw Juventus F.C S.p.a claim their fourth Scudetto in a row, now only one year shy of their record of five from 1931-1935. No other club in Italy has achieved four titles in a row, on two different occasions, whilst they were also the first club to do the domestic double (Serie A and Coppa Italia) three times, the other years were 1960 and 1985.
Max Allegri their manager is the seventh coach to win the Scudetto with two different clubs. He also won the Serie A trophy, at his first attempt with A.C Milan. One final point on last season, the departed Andrea Pirlo picked up his fifth consecutive Serie A winners medal, six in his career, 2 at A.C Milan and 4 at Juventus.
Juventus just failed to complete the treble, being beaten 2-1 by FC Barcelona in the Champions League final in Berlin.
A.S. Roma S.p.a and S.S .Lazio S.p.a qualified for the CL by finishing second and third respectively, whilst A.C.F Fiorentina, S.S.C. Napoli S.p.A qualified for the Europa League. U.C. Sampdoria SpA, took city rivals Genoas place, because they could not get a UEFA licence , to compete in the competition.
There were joint Cappocannoniere (League top individual scorers) with 22 goals, 37 year-old, Luca Toni (Hellas Verona F.C.), the oldest ever winner (shattering the previous record set by Dario Hubner who was 35 when he netted 24 goals for Piacenza in the 2001-02 campaign) and Mauro Icardi (F.C. Internazionale Milano S.p.A) the youngest winner, since Paolo Rossi in 1978. It is only the Argentinian, Icardis third season in Serie A, he joins fellow countrymen Hernan Crespo, Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta as winners of this award, not a bad list of players to join.
Promoted from Serie B were the two minnows Carpi F.C.1909, Champions by nine points and Frosinone Calcio SRL, the third club were one of Italy’s greats of the past, seven times Serie A winners Bologna F.C. 1909 S.p.A.
One final fact, Serie A, was the highest scoring league in Europe last season with an astonishing 1024 goals
This surely debunks the stereo-typical myth of the supposed defensive football played out in the Italian premier league, perpetuated by lazy British journalists and commentators who often have little fact, knowledge or comprehension of what is truly happening in Calico in Italy today
Serie A 1024 (2.72), La Liga 1009 (2.66), EPL 975 (2.57), Ligue1 947 (2.49) and the Bundesliga 814 (2.66). The final match week of the season saw an outrageous 47 goals scored. So much for boring, boring, Serie A tag that we are programmed to believe.
Serie A covers 38 weeks, Weeks 1-19 team fixtures are reversed starting week 20. So for example Fiorentina played Milan at home in week 1, away week 20, through to week 19 when they play Lazio at home, week 38 they play them away.
What I have also done is cover Serie A team by team, but starting with the team in 20th position working through 3 articles to the team in 1st. As there are no Serie A fixtures for two weeks this is a good opportunity to do this. What I have also done is for those little known teams, give a brief description of where they are situated in Italy.
So the current standings in the Serie A season 2015-16 after Week 12 are :-
Carpi is 37km north west of Bologna and 21 km north of Modena home to Ferrari, Pagani, De Tomaso and Maserati.
Seasons form -LLDLDLWLLLDL-promoted as Champions of Serie B after a rags to riches rise from Serie D (2000) they have found life difficult in Serie A. Carpi are using the Stadio of their great rivals Modena, as their home ground, as their own ground the Stadio Sandro Cabassi (Cap 4144) was deemed unfit for Italy’s premier league, due to minimum capacity rules. Two draws in the first five matches led to the popular coach Fabrizio Castori loosing his job, the first managerial casualty in Serie A this season, his replacement being the former Watford manager Sannino, who in his second match in charge procured their first win and only win so far in the top flight, an excellent 2-1 at home against Torino. They are going to find life tough at this level, not made easy by defeats against Bologna and Frosinone, 2 of the bottom 4 clubs. Defence is a major problem already conceding 24 goals through 12 rounds. Firm favorites at this point in time, for a quick return to Serie B. Sannino lasted a month before being replaced by the man he took over from, Fabrizio Castori who promptly lost his first match in charge in Round 12 one nil away to high flying Sassuolo. It could only happen in Italian football.
19th-Hellas Verona-6 points-Region Veneto-(known as Gialloblu yellow-blues)-Ground Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi-Cap 39,371-Manager Andrea Mandorlini.
Seasons form-DLDDLLDDLLDL-have suffered a huge loss, through the injury of last years Serie A joint top scorer Luca Toni, along with a string other first teamers and as a consequence are struggling to find a set team pattern and any form at all, being guilty in matches of not taking their chances. Pazzini, Toni’s strike partner has only managed 1 goal in 9 games. The team through 12 rounds has only scored 8 goals. Six draws and no wins so far have set the alarm bells ringing for Hellas, the need their injured players Toni, Marquez, Viviani, Romulo and Albertazzi back quickly, if not, they could be in for a long old season. It appears Mandorlini has survived a morale sapping defeat at home in round 12 against another bottom 4 club Bologna 2 nil, getting the dreaded vote of confidence from the club hierarchy to continue. The emergence of 23 year old mid-field player Jacob Saleh being the only bright spot in what is turning out to be shocking season so far for his club. The injury list needs to clear up quickly if not I fear the worst for this once great club.
18th-Frosinone Calcio SRL-11 points-Region Lazio-known as the Gialloazzuri (the yellow-light blues)-Ground-Stadio Matusa-Cap 10,000- Manager Roberto Stellone.
Frosinone is located 75 Kms south-east of Rome close to the Rome-Naples A1 motorway.
Seasons form-LLLLDWLLWLWLD-The club is one of three from the Lazio region (Lazio and Roma the other two). Playing in Serie A for the first time ever, results have been hard to come by however the atmosphere created in the small but atmospheric Stadio Comunale Matusa has been nothing short of brilliant enhanced by being surrounded on four sides by apartments. Their first win in the top flight, in their 103 year history, came here against Empoli 2-0 Federico Dionisi getting both goals. It was celebrated by players and tifosi alike, as if they had won the Scudetto, brilliant to watch. They again repeated the same score at home against Sampdoria in round 8 with Dionisi again on the score sheet. They are making a very good fist of staying-up, results against teams around them will be key. Round 10’s 2-1 win at home against bottom club Carpi bought them some time however a crushing 4-1 defeat at Fiorentina in round 11 followed by a 2-2 draw with 10 man Genoa in round 12 pushed them back into the bottom 3. Their home form will be the deciding factor in them staying up or going down. Great little club though.
17th- Bologna-12 points-Region Emilia Romagne -(known as I Rossoblu the red-blues)- Ground Stadio Renato Dall’Ara-Cap 38,279-Manager Delio Rossi.
Seasons form- LLLWLLLLWLWW-newly promoted from Serie B under new owners American Joe Tacopina and Canadian Joey Saputo (yeah I know they sound like Holywood B movie actors) appointed experienced Serie A boss Delio Rossi as manager. They have blended a mix of old more experienced players, like goalkeeper Antonio Mirante, centre-halfs Luca Rosssetini and Daniele Gastaldello with youngsters of potential of Lorenzo Crisetig, Godfed Donsah, Amadou Diawara and big money signing Mattia Destro. Unfortunately this progressive club, has not had the results they had expected, resulting in only two wins under the stewardship of Delio Rossi, beating fellow newcomers Frosinone 1-0 and in round 9, Carpi away 1-2, most of their 8 defeats have been by a one-goal margin exemplified by a narrow 1-0 loss to Inter in the round 10. Scoring goals, has been a major failing, a grand total of 6 through 10 rounds said it all. As expected Delio Rossi was relieved of his duties and on October 28th Roberto Donadoni was appointed as his replacement.This had an immediate effect 2 wins out of 2 with 5 goals scored and 2 clean sheets building his team around a rejuvenated Emanuele Giaccerini 2 goals in 2 games, Mattia Destro and Godfred Donsah. Great start for Donadoni a manager held in the highest regard in Italy.
16th-Udinese Calcio Spa-12 points-Region Friuli-Venezia -Giulia -(known as the Zebrette the little Zebras)-Ground Stadio Friuli-Cap 25,144- Manager Stefano Colantuono.
Seasons form- WLLLLWDDWLDL -one of the three clubs in European Leagues owned by the Pozzi family, the others being Watford in the PL and Granada in La Liga. The big question being asked of the family, have their spread themselves too thinly? especially with regards to Udinese. It was looking so, over the first five matches with one win and four straight losses however a 2 wins and 2 draws in the next 4 matches seemed to suggest that their season was back on track, however 2 losses in their last 3 matches has increased the pressure on manager Colantuono. They are relying on the experience and driving forces of Brazilian Danilo at the back and Sivan Widmer in midfield and winger Edenilson to provide the right service to the likes of forwards Duvan Zapta and the veteran striker Antonio Di Natale who captains the team and is (one of Italys all time top scorers 206 goals in all competitions, sixth highest scoring Italian ever). They need reinforcements in the January transfer window, if they are to keep clear of the relegation zone.
Udinese are one of only three clubs in Italy who own their grounds (the others being Juventus and Sassuolo), the redevelopment of the Stadio Friuli completed in the summer looks magnificient
15th-Genoa C.F.C-13 points- Region Liguria-(known as I Rossoblu-the red-blues or I Grifone-the Griffin) -Ground Stadio Luigi Ferraris-Cap 36,599-Manager Gian Piero Gasperini.
Seasons form-LWLLLWDWLDDD- the oldest club in Italy established 7 September 1893.Very much the surprise package of last season when manager Gasperini continued to perform miracles utilizing the 3-4-3 to great effect to play attractive flowing football. Currently they are floundering near the bottom of the table. The transfer of, the players of the caliber of playmaker Bertolacci, and top scorers Falque and Matri during the summer, hasn’t helped and the loss during early rounds of the season, of the young brilliant Italian keeper Mattia Perrin to injury was a huge hammer blow to their fortunes, alongside injuries to a long list of key players. Their home form, is responsible for nearly all their points, 3 draws and 4 defeats on the road from 7 matches played, is an indication of where their troubles stem. Their inability to find the back of the net has been a worry, in the first 12 rounds only 12 goals scored, however a thrilling 3-3 draw at Torino in round 10 proved that they can score despite missing a string of players. Genoa also suffered from playing three of last years top four teams in their opening fixtures. I feel with the players Gasperini potentially has at his disposal, including the brilliant Argentinian Diego Perotti, Goran Pandev, Leonardo Pavoletti and Darko Lazovic it will only be a matter of time before they are moving back up the table, they need to sort out their away form though.
PETER EMBLETON – Follow Peter on @PEFIORENTINA