No-one does passion quite like the Italians, which is one of the reasons that Serie A is one of the most exciting leagues in the world. Here’s an anteprima veloce of the 2012-13 Serie A Season.
Serie A is Italy’s premier division
, also known as 'calcio'. It sees twenty teams compete for the impressive Scudetto (that’s "little shield").
Serie A’s most successful side is the Turin-based Juventus who have amassed a staggering 28 titles (and 20 runners up finishes). Despite Juventus’ record, Turin is not the most prolific city in Serie A. With a little help from Torino’s 7 titles, the city has seen 35 Serie A victory parades, yet the numero uno city in Italy for Serie A trophies is Milan, with an excellent 50/50 split (OK technically 18/18) between Internazionale and AC Milan. What’s all the fuss about?
Serie A has provided the biggest number of European Cup finalists, footy fans have seen Italian clubs reach the Champions League’s final
on a record twenty-six different occasions and win the title twelve times, including 2011’s win for Internazionale. What’s more Serie A is ranked 4th among European leagues according to UEFA (behind the “big three” of the English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and the German Bundesliga) and is ranked 5th globally according to the IFFHS rating. Great Expectations
The big guns of the Juventus are back (with a bang) after winning their first title for nine years last season, it was no fluke as they went through the 2011-12 season without a single defeat although they only finished four points ahead of second place Milan.High hopes
Juventus are understandably favourites to win the league this season at 6/5 and 19/100 for a top three finish, but as Juventus now have to play in the Champions League and their home league performances may well suffer (as we saw with Napoli last season).
Milan seem to be prioritizing balancing their books rather than having a crack at the title, and have relinquished nine senior members, leaving their squad somewhat thin on quality, experience and leadership. Milan are 4/10 to record a top three finish and 5/2 to win Serie A, but neither bet turns this handicapper’s head.
I’m expecting great (well decent) things from Atalanta who had a fantastic 2011-12 season, having started in Serie A last season with a six-point deduction they finished in 12th but without the points deduction would have made 9th. They are an unlikely 500/1 to win Serie A, but worth a loose change bet on a top four finish at 107/50
The Nerazzurri (FC Internazionale Milano) have decided to invest heavily after what was a disappointing campaign in 2011/12 and having installed a young buck (Andrea Stramaccioni) as manager and are a decent shout to win a trophy (maybe the Europa League).Uphill struggles
Bologna will find 2012-13 a tricky Serie A season after losing so many of their stars and could well be left fighting relegation next season.
Cagliari can count themselves lucky to have avoided relegation last season, but may not be so fortunate in this Serie A campaign. They’ve lost the few good footballers and seem unable to bring any in, which threatens (whisper it) relegation.
Elsewhere Pescara were the most exhilarating team in Serie B last season, but they have lost their most exciting talents and the gaffer who made it work. It’s a cherry boy (virgin) season for Pescara in Serie A but it may be a one night stand, unless they reinvest the money from their recent transfers back into the club.Safe bets
2012-13 sees Udinese aiming for a top three spot but will need good fortune to finish there, the bookies have them at 49/10 to finish third (or 28/1 to win Serie A). A place in the top six is practically guaranteed for them, but the Gods of football might decide that they deserve a “friendly” run of the green.
Another sleeping giant, Lazio may cause a little upset in Italy. New manager, Vladimir Petkovic aka The Doctor (who?) may be an unknown quantity but is doing a good job in winning over his squad already and may bring the club back to very rude health and a strong top-half of the table finish is odds on for the Biancocelesti. As an aside they are 7/5 on a top four finish.Predictions:
Juventus might take time to adjust to their return to European competition and Milan looks to be having a “holding pattern year” it could be Inter who step up a steal the title. They’re third favourites to win the league at 4/1, with the sportsbooks, but I reckon they’re a decent punt to cause an upset