– Arvind Balasubramanian
Internazionale won an unprecedented treble last season. Title rivals Milan and Juventus struggled to provide any sort of resistance to the Nerazzuri juggernaut; Roma put up a fight, but it was not enough. Inter still look the strongest team on paper.
Position Last season: 1st – 82 Points
Expectations from the Season: Scudetto
In: Jonathan Biabiany (Parma), Luca Castellazzi (Sampdoria), Phillippe Coutinho (Vasco da Gama), Nicolas Burdisso (Roma)
Out: Marko Arnautovic (Werder Bremen), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Francesco Toldo (retired), Rene Krhin (Bologna), Mario Balotelli (Man City)
Strong rumours: Giuseppe Sculli (Genoa), Cristian Ledesma (Lazio)
Inter have concluded their most successful season in history by winning the treble. This season, including the supercups, Inter will be playing for six trophies. In spite of other challengers strengthening themselves, the squad remains the strongest in Italy by a comfortable margin. Treble winning coach Jose Mourinho broke quite a few hearts by announcing his departure to Real Madrid, and his successor Rafael Benitez will have huge boots to fill. The expectations of the fans are nothing less than the nineteenth Scudetto, plus a decent run in Europe.
The core of the team which won the Scudetto has been retained. For Rafael Benitez, the task is even tougher. A failure to win the Scudetto will most likely mean that he will no longer be counted among the list of elite European coaches, not to mention a very likely sacking that will follow.
Coutinho is a highly rated youngster
The squad will retain its first XI in entirety, with the talented problem child Mario Balotelli being banished to Manchester City. The real challenge for Rafa will be to retain the hunger for trophies in a squad which has now won everything.
Position last season: Second 80 Points
Expectations from the season: Scudetto
Ins: Adriano (Flamengo), Fabio Simplicio (Palermo), Gullerimo Burdisso (Rosario Central), Ahmed Barusso (Rimini)
Outs: Marco Motta (Juventus), Luca Toni (Genoa), Nicolas Burdisso (Inter)
Strong Rumours: Nicolas Burdisso
Roma are the only team in the Top-4 which has retained the coach from last season. At one point Roma did look like winning the Scudetto, before a home loss to Sampdoria handed back Inter the initiative. This season fans expect the club to go one better.
Despite positivity on the field, off-field issues are dominating the headlines. The Sensi family which owned the club lost ownership when the creditors took possession, and are now in the process of finding buyers for the club. This has a big impact on any major transfer plans; all three transfers have been either free ones or loan deals.
Claudio Ranieri has managed to keep most of his squad intact with the exception of Nicolas Burdisso, for whom they haven’t been able to agree a fee with Inter. This season, however, Roma has the added pressure of competing in the Champions league. Unlike the poor cousin UEFA cup, Champions league is a money spinner for a cash strapped club. Given their squad depth, the progress in Champions League is likely to be at the cost of their league campaign.
Adriano poses with Roma owner Rosella Sensi
Among new transfers, Adriano comes back to Europe a bit overweight, but with a lot to prove. On paper he can form a devastating combination with Francesco Totti. But then for that, to happen he will have to keep himself out of Roman nightclubs. If he can regain his 2004-06 form, he has the abilities to carry Roma to the Scudetto.
Position last season: 7th 55 Points
Expectations from the season: Scudetto
Ins: Leonardo Bonucci (Bari), Jorge Martinez (Catania), Marco Motta (Udinese), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Marco Storari (Milan), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool)
Outs: Fabio Cannavaro (Al Ahli), Martin Caceres (Barcelona), Claudio Immobile (Siena), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Christian Poulsen (Liverpool), Christian Molinaro (Stuttgart), Tiago (Atletico Madrid)
Strong Rumours: Salvatore Bocchetti/Benoit Tremoulinas
Season Synopsis: Last season the Old Lady had the worst season in over two decades. So bad was the performance, that game after game the team was booed by their own fans.
The management acted very swiftly and lured Coach Luigi Del Nieri and director Giuseppe Marrotta from Sampdoria. They have decided to go for a complete overhaul of the playing squad, and brought in Leonardo Bonucci and David Lanzafame, two of the most exciting talents in Italy. In addition they have signed full back Marco Motta from Roma and Simone Pepe from Udinese. There is a lot of speculation about a swap between Edin Dzeko and Diego. If that happens, a new midfielder is also likely to arrive. A lot of old heads have been let go, with Fabio Cannavaro leading the procession out.
Krasic has been likened to Pavel Nedved
For the fans of a club like Juventus, their team not fighting for scudetto is sacrilege. Juventus also face the disadvantage of competing in the not so glamourous UEFA Cup. This season, with the race for coefficients between Bundesliga and Serie-A, even UEFA cup performance carries a premium for the league.
Expectations will be high. However, question marks remains on the ability of Luigi Del Nieri. In short, a Scudetto might be a bit too high a mountain to climb for a young and newly assembled Juventus squad, especially this season. Expect the Old Lady to closely follow Inter/Roma in the race for the Scudetto.
Position last season: Third 70Points
Expectations from the season: Champions league Qualification
Ins: Marco Amelia (Genoa), Mario Yepes (Chievo), S Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Kevin-Prince Boetang (Genoa)
Outs: Matteo Darmian (Palermo), Giuseppe Favalli (out of contract), Marco Storari (Juventus)
Strong Rumours: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The Rossoneri were in the race for Scudetto for three quarters of last season, before spectacularly collapsing at the end. In an ideal world, the fans would expect the club to do one better and challenge for the title. However the Powers to be at Milan are holding on to their purse strings tighter than ever. This means that for the second season in a row, the ageing squad is not getting refreshed.
Coach Leonardo was sacked at the end of last season, and new coach Massimilano Allegri, who had done very well at Cagliari, has been roped in as his replacement.
Berlusconi & Galliani pose with Milan’s new signings
Milan’s success last season was built on two foundations. One an increasingly injury prone Alessando Nesta managing to keep himself fit for majority of the season, and secondly Ronaldinho rediscovering his abilities with a view to secure his place in World Cup 2010. While Nesta staying fit cannot be guaranteed, Ronaldinho surely has lost the biggest motivation he had.
Mario Yepes has been signed up to shore up the defence, but it might be a case of too little. Massimilano Allegri has his task cut out in working with a squad with so many identified gaps. Officially the club has adopted a stance of bravado announcing that they will fight for the Scudetto; however, pessimism prevails among the fans. The realistic expectation for most of them is to finish in the top four, which will enable the club to play Champions league next season.
Realistic expectations for me from Milan would be to finish in top 3, win at least 1 of the derbies, be on top of Serie A table at least for one matchday FFS, its been more than 4 seasons already if am not wrong & get as far as possible in UCL, would prefer quarters as of now.
& I would be more than surprised if Roma could finish in top 4.
My early prediction would be:
Sad to see once the best league in Europe turning to the worst league in Europe….the charm of Serie A has left(Jose)…..Think Inter will retain the scudetto…Juve will come 2nd…Roma 3rd & Fiorentina 4th.
Serie A had enough charm before the two seasons Jose came & will continue to have it after he left. Good/great coaches in Serie A are a tradition…
2)Roma or Milan (considering Adriano shines else the rossoneri shall prevail)
4)Juve- god knws but i hope they finish 4th
@ author- Juve challenging for scudetto????? what did u smoke last night??? no way boi no way…
inter still have the strongest squad so far so they have got to be favourites to retain……
we, milan ve been linkes with both ibra and vdv….if either of those deals go through i think we will be able to give inter a run for their money……as for juve imo they have spend too much money on not too many so good players, they along with napoli and genoa will fight with roma for the ucl spots….
forza milan 🙂
Juve are nowhere ready to challenge for scudetto and they will find it very hard to even challenge for UCL places with teams like napoli and genoa looking just as strong. Milan will struggle as well most probably if key attacking players like pato get injured. Dont think defensive injuries would be too big an issue for the rossoneros considering that they have quite a lot of defenders.
Juve or napoli or genoa all are solid for this spot
Inter is fav again and under Rafa they have a good chance in CL as well. I hope they slip this time again like previous year so other teams will get fair chance to challenge
I’ll be happy for any team winning this time but no more Merda this time please i believe they have already filled their Silverware cabinet for next 50 years now there priority should be cabinet’s maintenance and new Stadia :P.
We have done great improvement in our back line as compared to previous season but the main concern will be the futility in front of goal, I hope we sign Ibra and get rid of either Borriello or Huntelaar.
btw we can finish in the top 3 😉
@ Mr. Somnath: yaah Italy have produced many good defensive coaches….but no1 had the charm & charisma as a certain Mourinho had…
You oboviously have no idea who Zdenek Zeman or Giovanni Trapattoni was…
@ not a devil- how bout a certain Mr. Arrigo Sacchi…..u will rarely find a manager/coach who could match his intensity on the pitch and in the dressing room…
@ som –
define delusion: yaah Italy have produced many good defensive coaches….but no1 had the charm & charisma as a certain Mourinho had…:D
Few points i would like to make:
1) 1 and only 1 thing(person) can stop Inter retaining the Scuttedo.. yes u guessed it right FSW!!
2) Juve had the worst seaon last year and now they expect to win the whole darn thing, yeah and i wanna be the king of the world.
3) lol at Inter fans, from one of the worst managers to one of the worst!!
3) my bad from one of the best to one of the worst!! 😛
@Sir Alex: So who won back to back European trophies?
@Not a Devil: Uefa Cup against Marseille… MASSIVE!!!
Yes lets ignore the fact that Marseille had Barthez, Drogba & Flamini in thir team, what are you a muppet ?
and also ignore the fact that he inherited a squad which reached two back to back champs league final….
Flamini!! my god… i m afraid cant argue with that, he is the same guy who doesnt get games in a sh*t Milan side. 14 appereance for Marseille with a awesome total of 0 goals. The legend Flamini has 3 international caps. Randomly throw 3 names and call other names, is that ur best shot?
Please dont get me started on Barthez!!
Who are Marseille anyways, won a European cup in the early 90s… Uefa Cup is a nothing trophy anyways. But that shouldnt stop you from being a moron
Who judges the fact that UEFA Cup is a nothing trophy ? You ?
Oh & bdw winning against Marseille is better than winning against Celtic & Monaco..precisely the great achivements of the greatest manager ever 😀
bdw Please start on Barthez, if I’m not wrong he played 2 WC finals & won 1 Euro..just because he was a failure in Man Utd makes him crap ?
And Marseille has won more European Cups than Chelsea & Arsenal put together, gues the same “who” are they are also valid for them..just like it was valid for Man Utd before 1999.
Marseille played in 2 EC finals in that period too…
While quite a few stuff is being said over here, the strange part is that not many seem to follow the league on a weekly basis.
First of all… nowhere has it been said that Juventus will challenge for the title. Only that Juventus fans expect their team to fight for the title Though the squad itself might find the challenge a bit too much this season.
Secondly it is easy to diss Roma which people are doing. What everyone is forgetting is that if not for the horrible start under Spaletti, Roma might have finished even stronger. They have had stability and a few new signings. In fact among all the 4 teams, it is Roma who can really challenge Inter for Scudetto
Finally a point on Milan. Has anyone even taken a look at their current aging squad. Their defense is simply pathetic. Thiago Silva a good defender nevertheless appears blank and lost if Nesta isn’t around. Sokratis and Yepes can provide depth, but it is woefully inadequate. While Bonera and Oguchi are walking disasters. For their Fullbacks they have Zambrotta, Kaladzhe, Jankulovski, Oddo, Anotnini and Abate. Again too much quantity and too little quality
Midfield – aging inconsistent players. Defense – too dependent on Ronaldinho. Though I have to agree that Ibrahimovic will give them a totally different dimension.
There are 4-5 teams in Italy at the same level as Milan with Napoli, Fiorentina and Genoa leading the pack. Milan finishing out of top 4 has also happened in recent past in 2007-08. I have a feeling it can happen this season too.
A Point on Benitez. While I fully subscribe to the fact that any coaching change from Jose Mourinho would be a step down. It would be pertinent to note that Benitez is the only coach in the league with a league title under his belt (at Valencia). Here he will be facing a situation very similar to what he faced at Mestalla rather than the Anfield situation where he had too much freedom (and failed to do the main thing properly)
A settled team – Check
Not responsible for player signings – Check
Not responsible for academy – Check
So there are reasons to believe he can do well. Plus for the sake of Inter, I hope he understands that this is his last chance to restore his reputation.
Oguchi is not a disaster..didnt you see how well her performed against the best attack in the world ie Ingurland…
@arvind: agree totally, Rafa has been given everything on a plate. Best trust Rafa to somehow screw it up 😉 , i hope Milan put up a better show i have soft spot for them among the Serie A clubs.
@arvind: agree totally, Rafa has been given everything on a plate. But trust Rafa to somehow screw it up 😉 , i hope Milan put up a better show i have soft spot for them among the Serie A clubs.
Hahaha… Rafa is back…. 😉
Inter has started losing….
Rafa has already started weaving his magic…the super cup is lost…glad he is not at anfield anymore
Inter fans shud keep their fingers crossed. A draw at lowly Bologna, after the Super Cup loss, Rafa is the man that could turn this team around.