This is the first post in a series I will be writing about the current happenings and dark horses and fallen clubs in the 2007/09 season. Since I am Italian, I will start with my native Serie A. I’ll try not to be too biased towards Juventus.
It’s been 12 games only, and the forerunners are already evident. In defiance to the many doubters, Juventus have immediately bounced back and recovered from the Serie B, currently occupying 2nd place and 3 points behind league leaders Inter Milan. I, being a Juventus fan, never doubted the bianconeri‘s swift return to Italian soccer’s elite. However, I didn’t expect a title challenge and am thoroughly delighted. But the imminent retirements of Nedved and Del Piero and the transfer speculation surrounding Tiago has unsettled the club, and, after a few losses, morale has been damaged.
The defending champions are back in style, with many signings that have greatly aided them so far, Chivu and Suazo to name a few. Apart from a close-fought draw with Juventus and 3 other draws alongside 8 wins, the nerazzurri are dominating the Serie A, with Juve on their heels. They recovered from their worrying Super Cup loss magnificently, coming back to dominate. Unfortunately, I think it’ll be a third straight title of Inter.
AS Roma had an amazing season last year, challenging for the title until 3/4 of the season and gaining a respectable 2nd spot, establishing them as 1 of the new ‘Big 7’ of Italian football: Inter, AC Milan, Juve, Roma, Lazio, Fiorentina, and Udinese. They are still in the top 4 so far, but are failing to beat Juve in the standings. They sold a key player in Chivu, but replaced him with Juan and bought Giuly. I think 3rd place for the Romans.
Udinese have shot back after two highly disappointing seasons. After their appearance in the 2005/06 Champions League, they successively failed to qualify for both the 2006/07 and 2007/08 editions of the premier European competition. Having bought clinical striker Fabio Quagliarella from Sampdoria, I think they will be the 4th Italian team in the Champions League 2008/09.
Fiorentina have proved that there is life after Toni, and have shown this by challenging for a Champions League place so far this season. They have amazed in the UEFA Cup and will definitely challenge Udinese for that 4th Champions League spot. The thing most fans are still unsure about is Christian Vieri- the once great footballer has fallen dramatically, quite like Leeds United. Will he return to his former self? It remains to be seen…
AC Milan are performing like last year again, except it seems unlikely for them to win the Champions League this year and last year they had an excuse- deducted points. After a summer where the ‘big signing’ never arrived, AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi assured fans by saying that ‘Ronaldo is the real big signing.’ However, this hasn’t seemed true and this could be a major embarrassment for the rossoneri.
Lazio are in with a chance of qualifying for the UCL Round of 16 for the first time in their history, but are performing badly at home. Currently in 14th place, the biancocelesti are 15 points off the pace and it seems unlikely they will make a repeat performance of last year’s amazing 3rd place finish. But, anything can happen in football and they can make a spectacular comeback like AC Milan did last year.
At the end of the season we will see if my predictions are true, but now I’m just hoping that all 4 Italian clubs qualify for the UCL Round of 16 (which seems likely, except maybe Lazio) and that Juve can defeat the nerazzurri to become the first ever club to clinch the Serie B and Serie A titles back-to-back.
Next: Spain, 07/08.