Another Serie A campaign and another walk into no man’s land: Italian football is set to live a “post scandal season” once again, with Juventus manager Antonio Conte suspended for ten months due to his knowledge of match-fixing at his former club Siena. “Scommessopoli” could hugely affect the champions, but in general they remain the team to beat.

Juventus’ main rivals from last season, AC Milan are facing a revolution which threatens to put them out of contention for some time. Milan lost ten players this summer, who had won all there is to win, and also decided to cash in on top players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, following the owning Berlusconi family’s drive to cut costs. At the San Siro this year a completely different team will now be on show. Meanwhile at rivals Inter, young manager Andrea Stramaccioni is still in his post as the Nerazzurri seek to return to the top. In truth, Stramaccioni is lacking in both midfield and attack.

The most interesting direction in which to look could be to the capital and Roma, where Zdenek Zeman is back in charge. The Czech manager is suited to the job and has a number of fine prospects in Erik Lamela and Mattia Destro (Italy’s new sensation) at his disposal. Udinese, Lazio and Napoli are the other contenders for Champions League spots and possible a surprise title tilt. Elsewhere, newly promoted Sampdoria, Torino and Pescara (back in Serie A for the first time since 1992/93) will battle Atalanta, Bologna, Siena, Cagliari, Catania and Chievo Verona to avoid the drop.

In another point of note, this will be the first Serie A season with five referees on the pitch. Also Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero and Alessandro Nesta will be absent. Without these modern legends, Serie A may feel like Star Wars without Darth Vader. We run down the clubs and their chances in 2012/13’s Serie A.


The team from Bergamo did well last year and stayed up despite a six-point penalty (this season they start with -2) for involvement in the first part of the “Scommessopoli” scandal. Again with manager Stefano Colantuono at the helm, Atalanta will battle bravely against relegation.

The side cannot count on veteran Cristiano Doni, the long-term captain and an Atalanta idol, who has been suspended permanently for his part in the match-fixing scandal.

Key arrivals: Carlos Matheu (Independiente); Facundo Parra (Independiente)
Key departures: Cristiano Doni (suspended)
Prediction: 15th


Striker Marco Di Vaio left Bologna this summer after many years and moved to MLS side Montreal Impact. Coach Stefano Poli plans to play three up front with Alessandro Diamanti, Roberto Acquafresca and Gaston Ramirez (though he could leave for Southampton), the favoured men. An unspectacular campaign should see the Rossoblu survive.

Key arrivals: Cesare Natali (Fiorentina); Marco Motta (Catania)
Key departures: Jean Francois Gillet (Torino); Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact); Gaby Mudingayi (Inter)
Prediction: 14th 


President Massimo Cellino is one of the most volcanic in Italian football. Last year he battled the municipality and transferred the club to Trieste for the final matches of the Serie A season. This time, Cagliari will start the new campaign at Quartu Sant’Elena, a local neighbourhood. There are plans for a new stadium in the city however.

Coach Massimo Ficcadenti should deploy an attacking 4-3-3, but will struggle to keep his team in the higher reaches of the league.

Key arrivals: Luca Rossettini (Siena); Danilo Fernando Avelar (Karpaty Lviv); Marco Sau (Juve Stabia)
Key departures: Michele Canini (Genoa)
Prediction: 18th     


Catania lost their manager Vincenzo Montella (to Fiorentina) this summer, but have not lost their “Argentine identity”. No less than six players from Argentina will be in the first team for the 2012/13 campaign. New coach Rolando Maran, who worked miracles in Serie B at Varese, will play attacking and intriguing football, with Gonzalo Bergessio and Alejandro Gomez the key players in his forward line.

Key arrivals: Alberto Frison (Vicenza); Lucas Nahuel Castro (Racing Avellaneda)
Key departures: David Suazo (released)
Prediction: 12th

Chievo Verona

The second club from Verona are ready for another season at the top table and in its own way this is a big achievement. United States international Michael Bradley may have left for Roma, but David Di Michele has come in from relegated Lecce; Di Michele is a striker who can solve many problems for Chievo, especially playing alongside Sergio Pellissier.

However, despite the positives, coach Domenico Di Carlo will have to work another miracle to keep Chievo in Serie A once again.

Key arrivals: Paul Papp (Vaslui); Patrick Farkas (Vaslui); David Di Michele (Lecce); Marco Rigoni (Novara)
Key departures: Francesco Acerbi (AC Milan); Michael Bradley (Roma)
Prediction: 17th


2011/12 was a bad campaign for La Viola. After a few months they had replaced coach Sinisa Mihajlovic with Delio Rossi, and then the latter, during a home match against Novara, struck young Serb Adem Ljajic, when the player was substituted and insulted the manager on his way to the bench.

This season the owning Della Valle family have decided to start again and brought in a number of good performers, such as midfielder Alberto Aquilani from Liverpool, striker Mounir El Hamdaoui from Ajax and goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano from Palermo via Inter.

Key arrivals: Emiliano Viviano (Palermo); Facundo Roncaglia (Boca Juniors); Gonzalo Javier Rodriguez (Villarreal); Juan Cuadrado (Lecce); Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool); Mounir El Hamdaoui (Ajax);
Key departures: Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan); Cesare Natali (Bologna); Valon Behrami (Napoli); Amauri (Parma)
Prediction: 6th


Having struggled to avoid relegation right up until the last day of the season, il Grifone will hope for better this time around. Turbulent president Enrico Preziosi expects more and is sure to have made that known. Genoa have signed the promising Ciro Immobile from Pescara and he could prove to be an important reinforcement in attack, alongside Alberto Gilardino.

Coach Luigi De Canio wants to play with a 4-3-3, but it will be difficult for him to maintain that attacking approach for the entire season.

Key arrivals: Michele Canini (Cagliari); Ciro Immobile (Pescara); Julìan Velazquez (Independiente); Nenad Tomovìc (Lecce); Daniel Tozser (Genk)
Key departures: Rodrigo Palacio (Inter); Kevin Constant (AC Milan); Cristobal Jorquera (Hamburg)
Prediction: 13th


In 2011/12, Inter changed managers three times, with Gian Piero Gasperini at the helm for only four matches, followed by Claudio Ranieri, who inspired a brief revival with a depressed team.

Then 36-year-old Andrea Strammaccioni, who won the Next Generation tournament with the youth team at the end of match, arrived – and Inter improved. The Nerazzurri were not able to grab a Champions League spot, but this year the acquisitions of Rodrigo Palacio up front and another Argentine, in defender Matias Silvestre, mean the team may well be in title contention.

Much more is expected from Wesley Sneijder this year, who is undoubtedly the most naturally talented player in the Inter ranks.

Key arrivals: Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa); Samir Handanovic (Udinese); Matias Silvestre (Palermo); Gaby Mudingayi (Bologna)
Key departures: Lucio (Juventus); Diego Forlan (Internacional)
Prediction: 2nd


After a season where Juventus surprised Serie A, winning the Scudetto with an unbeaten run of 38 matches, the Bianconeri have strengthened even more. Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla have both arrived from Udinese, while centre-back Lucio may prove a wise acquisition from Inter. Sebastian Giovinco has landed back for his second spell at the club.

A clear blow has come with the loss of coach Conte due to the “Scommessopoli” scandal and Massimo Carerra, who played for Juventus in the 1990s, will stand in. This season Juventus will find it much harder to win the league, with the Champions League to contest now too. They are however still favourites for the title.

Key arrivals: Lucio (Inter); Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese); Mauricio Isla (Udinese); Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Key departures: Alessandro Del Piero (released); Milos Krasic (Fenerbahce)
Prediction: 1st


After a successful time with veteran coach Edy Reja, there is a new manager at Lazio, Bosnian Vladimir Petkovic, who has landed from Swiss side Sion. Petkovic plans to play a 4-3-1-2 system, with new arrival Ederson behind the two main strikers, Miroslav Klose and Mauro Zarate, back after struggling in Milan with Inter.

Lazio still look to need reinforcing in defence if they are to challenge towards the top of the table.

Key arrivals: Ederson (Lyon)
Key departures: none
Prediction: 8th


This year is the first of the “big revolution” taking place at AC Milan. Many household names have left after much success and the club’s management also decided to bid farewell to Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, both sold to Paris Saint-Germain for multi-millions.

Milan are not flush with cash to replace those who have left and are still searching the market. They have brought in Riccardo Montolivo from Fiorentina to boost the midfield, but lack quality in defence and especially up front, where Ibrahimovic, Inzaghi and Maxi Lopez have all left.

Key arrivals: Francesco Acerbi (Chievo Verona); Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina); Kevin Constant (Genoa); Bakaye Traore (Nancy); Cristian Zapata (Villarreal – loan)
Key departures: Gianluca Zambrotta (released); Gennaro Gattuso (Sion); Alessandro Nesta (Montreal Impact); Mark van Bommel (PSV Eindhoven); Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain); Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain); Clarence Seedorf (Botafogo); Filippo Inzaghi (released); Maxi Lopez (Sampdoria)
Prediction: 5th


Napoli have lost the wizardry of Argentine forward Ezequiel Lavezzi this summer, but still have enough to improve during the season. The Azzurri played good football in the Italian Super Cup against Juventus and Valon Behrami should add more strength and quality in midfield.

Coach Walter Mazzarri will stick with his usual formation, including three at the back, and replace Lavezzi with Goran Pandev.

Key arrivals: Lorenzo Insigne (Pescara); Valon Behrami (Fiorentina)
Key departures: Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain)
Prediction: 3rd


Palermo’s most important acquisition is set to be on the bench. Giuseppe Sannino is one of the most interesting young managers in the Italian game and achieved much during spells at Varese and Siena. Now at Palermo, he has to work with one of the most volcanic and impulse presidents in Serie A, in Maurizio Zamparini, who usually sacks two managers a year.

Sannino must enjoy a good start and keep Palermo well away from the relegation zone, with which they flirted last year.

Key arrivals: Samir Ujkani (Novara); Egidio Arevalo Rios (Chivas Guadalajara)
Key departures: Matias Silvestre (Inter); Armin Bacinovic (Hellas Verona); Federico Balzaretti (Roma)
Prediction: 9th


President Tommaso Ghiradi was one of the big spenders of the summer at Parma. Coach Roberto Donadoni now has a promising team, with the arrivals of Marco Parolo in midfield and the re-signing of Brazilian striker Amauri, after a poor season at Fiorentina.

Donadoni had his side playing good football in a 3-5-2 last season and it should be expected that Parma will improve even more this time around.

Key arrivals: Marco Parolo (Cesena – loan); Amauri (Fiorentina); Dorlan Pabon (Atletico Medellin); Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos)
Key departures: Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus)
Prediction: 10th


The team from Abruzzo has returned to Serie A after a 20-year absence. Zdenek Zeman did a superb job at Pescara last season and his team played beautifully in Serie B – but now the veteran boss is at Roma and it is Giovanni Stroppa who is in charge; he has a big challenge at this level.

Stroppa will shift the team from a Zeman 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, but Pescara will still be an interesting team to watch. The side boasts many promising youngster and the football will continue to be played the right way, even if survival looks tough.

Key arrivals: Christian Terlizzi (Varese); Giuseppe Colucci (Cesena); Birkir Bjarnason (Standard Liege); Vladimir Weiss (Manchester City); Mervan Celik (GAIS); Elvis Abbruscato (Vicenza)
Key departures: Ciro Immobile (Genoa); Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli); Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Prediction: 19th


Zeman is back in charge of Roma after a 12-year absence and his reign will be one of the most intriguing projects of Serie A. The Czech boss now has a Serie A powerhouse once again and a team packed full of players with much potential. Daniele De Rossi remains a key player in midfield, while Zeman can also be backed to revitalise striker Francesco Totti. A good season should await the Giallorossi.

Key arrivals: Federico Balzaretti (Palermo); Michael Bradley (Chievo Verona); Mattia Destro (Siena)
Key departures: Simon Kjaer (Wolfsburg – loan return); Fabio Borini (Liverpool)
Prediction: 4th


The Blucerchiati have bounced back to Serie A after just one campaign in Serie B, although they will start on -1 points, due the involvement in the match-fixing scandal.

Sampdoria have a new coach, in Ciro Ferrara, who left his post with the Italian Under-21s to sign up for a new Serie A challenge. The side look strong, especially in midfield, where Maxi Lopez, Marcelo Estigarribia and Brazilian Eder look set to play.

Key arrivals: Maxi Lopez (AC Milan); Marcelo Estigarribia (Deportivo Maldonado – loan)
Key departures: none
Prediction: 11th


This season is set to be the most difficult challenge for Siena in their Serie A history. The club must start the campaign on -6 points, for their involvement in the match-fixing scandal.

New boss Serse Cosmi is probably the most suitable man for this hard work and performed well at Lecce last season, despite the side being relegated. Siena have lost one of the most talented Italian prospects in Mattia Destro though, in what is a blow.

Key arrivals: Matteo Rubin (Bologna); Guillermo Rodriguez (Belgrano)
Key departures: Mattia Destro (Roma)
Prediction: 20th


For Torino, this season is only about staying up. Since the mid-1990s, Torino have become a yo-yo team, with more seasons spent in Serie B than Serie A; they are another to start this year on minus points, with -1.

Coach Giampiero Ventura has plans to play with a “Brazilian” style 4-2-4, with new acquisitions Gianluca Sansone and Mario Santana looking key men up front.

Key arrivals: Jean Francois Gillet (Bologna); Matteo Brighi (Atalanta); Mario Santana (Cesena); Gianluca Sansone (Sassuolo)
Key departures: Mirko Antenucci (Catania)
Prediction: 16th


The Zebrette, under the management of Francesco Guidolin for another season, are desperate to achieve a third miracle in a row by qualifying for the Champions League.

Last year Udinese lost the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler and this season have sold Asamoah, Isla and solid shot-stopper Samir Handanovic. The Pozzo family, after acquiring Spanish side Granada, have now also bought English club Watford. As a result, spending at Udinese has been limited and the club’s fans are far from pleased.

Key arrivals: Luis Muriel (Lecce)
Key departures: Kwankwo Asamoah (Juventus); Mauricio Isla (Juventus); Samir Handanovic (Inter)
Prediction: 7th

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