Serie A Previews: Atalanta – Fiorentina
In a country that thrives on conspiracy and intrigue, there are only days until Serie A kick-off. Here is part one of The Sport Review’s essential club-by-club guide to the new campaign.
Coach: Angelo Gregucci
Last Season: 11th
The Nerazzurri go into the new season with a new man at the helm. Angelo Gregucci has arrived in Bergamo from Serie B side Vicenza. He immediately made two astute acquisitions bringing in Under 21 starlet Roberto Aquafresca from Genoa and Simone Tiribocchi from relegated Lecce. Gregucci will hope his new strikers can bring the goals to improve on last season’s eleventh place finish. The whole side will still revolve around club legend Cristiano Doni playing in the fantasista role so his fitness will be key.
Prediction: Another mid table finish for the Bergamascans.
Coach: Giampiero Ventura
Last Season: Champions Serie B
Serie A new boys Bari have had a turbulent summer. After clinching promotion as Serie B champions they promptly parted company with coach Antonio Conte bringing in Giampiero Ventura as his replacement. Having lost last season’s star player Stefano Guberti to Roma, Ventura brought in the experienced midfielders Edgar Alvarez and Antonio Langella. It remains to be seen how the Biancorossi will cope in the big league, but having secured a new benefactor may well propel the club into the new season where survival is the only priority.
Prediction: Survival but only by a whisker.
Coach: Giuseppe Papadopulo
Last Season: 17th
The euphoria of last season’s great escape seems a million miles away for the Rossoblu, with summer’s takeover wrangling disrupting Papadopulo’s pre season campaign. A last minute change of heart by an Albanian businessman has left the club in limbo with its American owners desperate to find new investment. On the field, the club has kept hold of its prized asset, striker Marco Di Vaio whose 24 goals last term went some way to keeping the club in Serie A. Goalkeeper Emilio Viviano has arrived from Brescia but it promises to be a long hard campaign that could ultimately end in relegation.
Prediction: No great escape this time.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri
Last Season: 9th
After a disastrous start last season when the club lost their opening five games, the season finished on a high for the Sardinians as astute coach Allegri almost guided the club into the Europa League. The Rossoblu have been quiet on the transfer market this summer but the nucleus of last year’s squad is still intact. Watch out for the impressive ginger haired Davide Biondini in midfield alongside skipper Daniele Conti, and the Brazilian striker Jeda who chipped in with 12 goals last season and will hope to improve on that this term. A possible top six finish is certainly within reach this time.
Prediction: Europa League qualification could be achieved this time around.
Coach: Gianluca Atzori
Last Season: 15th
As Coach Walter Zenga jumped ship and went to Sicilian rivals Palermo, former number two Atzori returned to the club from Ravenna to embark on his first season as a top flight manager since 2003. It looks set to be another season of consolidation for the islanders but with Japanese striker Takayuki Morimoto hitting form towards the end of the last campaign and during pre season, Gli Elifanti will look to break into the top 10 this time around.
Prediction: A consistent campaign with a mid table finish.
Coach: Domenico Di Carlo
Last Season: 16th
When Di Carlo was brought in to replace Giuseppe Iachini before Christmas last season the Flying Donkey’s looked doomed. But a wonderful second half to the campaign saw the club secure their Serie A status for another year. The revival in form of striker Sergio Pellesier was crucial as his goals almost single handedly kept Di Carlo’s men in the top flight. Uruguayan Pablo Granoche has returned from a loan spell with Triestina to partner Pellesier in attack this season. The impressive Mario Yepes will marshal the back four as the division’s smallest club looks to survive another season in Serie A.
Prediction: A possible improvement on last year’s final placing.
Coach: Cesare Prandelli
Last Season: 4th
The Tuscans will be looking to fight it out on all fronts this season, Prandelli has made no secret of his desire to improve on last season’s disappointing European campaign. The effect this will have on their domestic form remains to be seen. Alberto Gilardino will again lead the line and will want to equal last terms 19 league goals. Just how Adrian Mutu will be affected by his court battle with Chelsea is a cause for concern for the Viola. The arrival of Juventus duo Marco Marchionni and Cristiano Zanetti will add strength to the midfield, but the loss of Felipe Melo to the Bianconeri is a big blow.
Prediction:– A top four finish yet again.