The Doctor is back. Fearless prognosticator Hadi ‘Dr. Z’ Zogheib, who broke down every group at World Cup 2010 this summer, returns to forecast the new Serie A season in Italy. With the start of the Calcio just a few days away, here’s a look at some notable transfers and what to expect in the coming campaign.
In – Mancini ( AC Milan), Nicolas Burdisso (loan return, Roma), David Suazo (loan return, Genoa),
Out – Mario Balotelli ( Man. City), McDonald Mariga (Parma), Luis Jiminez (Parma)
No major changes to last season’s treble winners and, after last season, why change? The loss of Balotelli is more a loss of potential, but this squad will once again rely on guile and experience in attempting a repeat of last season’s success. The big question is how the players respond to new manager Rafa Benitez after Jose Mourinho’s defection to Real Madrid. Nonetheless, the Nerazzurri will once again be the team to beat.
In – Fabio Simplicio (Palermo), Guillermo Burdisso (Rosario Central)
Out – Nicolas Burdisso (Inter, loan return)
Cash-strapped Roma have so far failed in their attempts to re-sign Argentine international Nicolas Burdisso (although there is still time), so little brother Guillermo will have to do for now. Fabio Simplicio was a wonderful coup, given his talent and recent success at Palermo. The club that pushed Inter all the way to the end last season will hope Francesco Totti and co. can utilize their wonderful team chemistry to have another successful season in the capital.
In – Simone Pepe (Udinese, loan), Marco Storari ( AC Milan), Leonardo Bonucci (Bari), Niccolò Giannetti (Siena, loan), Milos Krasic (CSKA Moscow), Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool, loan)
Out – Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Tiago (Atletico Madrid, loan), Christian Poulsen (Liverpool), S. Almiron (Bari)
Big changes in Turin as Juve hope to bounce back from a dismal 2009/10 campaign which saw them finish seventh. Storari will carry the load in goal until Gigi Buffon is fit again, while Italian international Pepe will provide the width and speed that were lacking last season. Can Milos Krasic be the next Pavel Nedved? Juve fans certainly hope so.
In – Luciano Zauri (Lazio, loan), Nicola Pozzi (Empoli), Simone Zaza (Atalanta), Daniele Dessina (Cagliari, loan return), Paolo Sammarco (Udinese, loan return)
Out – Luca Castellazi (Inter), Daiele Padelli (Bari, loan), Robero Soriano (Empoli, loan)
Last season’s surprise outfit will have a tougher time finishing high in the table this season as it they’ll have to battle on multiple fronts (Serie A and Europa League). Giampaolo Pazzini and Antonio Cassano formed one of Serie A’s most lethal strike forces last year and they will have to reproduce their form if they have any hope of another top four finish. Once again, home results should carry Sampdoria to the top half of the table.
In – Kevin Prince Boateng (Genoa, loan), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Mario Alberto Yepes (Chievo), Marco Amelia (Genoa, loan)
Out – Marco Storari (Juventus), Marcus Paixao Diniz (Parma, loan), Mancini (Inter, loan return)
Lots of big names leaving, but so far none are coming the other way. Dzeko and Ibrahimovic remain transfer targets, but unless they land a big name or two in the coming week, look for another so-so season for the Rosseneri.
In – Cristiano Lucarelli (Parma), Edinson Cavani (Palermo, loan), M. Bogliacino (Chievo, loan)
Out – German Denis (Udinese), Matteo Contini (Zaragoza), Luca Cigarini (Sevilla, loan), Jesús Alberto Dátolo (Espanyol, loan)
The southerners will be stronger as a result of their off-season moves, especially the additions of Lucarelli and Cavani. Poor finishing cost this team a Champions League berth last season, so the greater scoring punch of these new additions could see them make a significant move up the table.
In – Ezequiel Muñoz (Boca Juniors), Francesco Benussi (Lecce), Massimo Maccarone (Siena), Mauricio Pinilla (Grosseto),
Out – Simon Kjaer (Wolfsburg), Mark Bresciano (Lazio), Roberto Guana (Chievo), Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Fabio Simplicio (Roma)
Palermo will have a tough time repeating last season’s fifth place finish, especially with the loss of defender Kjaer, midfielders Simplicio and Bresciano, and striker Cavani. These pieces are simply too tough to replace, and the men in pink will suffer as a result.
Dr. Z’s Serie A Predictions:
1 – Roma
2 – Inter
3 – Napoli
4 – AC Milan
5 – Juventus
6 – Sampdoria
7 – Palermo