Serie A Season Review 11-12

June 28, 2012 in Serie A

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Whilst Italian football remains shrouded in controversy, the season gone is one that will surely be remembered, especially by those in Turin. After a brief scare from rivals AC Milan, Italy’s most successful club Juventus regained their crown as Italian champions as they claimed their (as recognised by the FIGC) 28th Scudetto. Managed by former player Antonio Conte, the Old Lady secured victory in some style, going through the entire campaign unbeaten and becoming the first Italian side to do so in a 38-game league season.

It wasn’t an easy ride for the eventual winners; a dip in form at the halfway point in the campaign allowed Milan to leapfrog them into top spot. However, defeat for the Rossoneri at lowly Fiorentina saw Juve lead the division once again with just eight games to go. Despite top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impressive goal tally of 28 for AC, Juventus hung on to finish the season top on 84 points, just four ahead of Massimiliano Allegri’s men. Andrea Pirlo, released by Milan last summer, signed for Juventus on a free transfer, and the midfield maestro was a revelation in the middle of the park. Playing all but one match, he was Serie A’s top creator of goals with an impressive 13 assists.

The race for the coveted Champions League spot went right down to the last game of the season as four teams remained in contention to finish in third place. Lazio beat Inter, but it wasn’t enough to overtake third-placed Udinese, who were victorious away at Catania. The other side in contention were Napoli, who finished three points behind the Little Zebras. Edison Cavani and co. will play in next season’s Europa League along with Lazio and notably, Inter, a team more familiar with the Champions League, having won the tournament only two seasons ago.  In March, positioned eighth, manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked, and the club installed youth coach Andrea Stramaccioni in a bid to salvage their season. The change proved fruitful as they won the majority of their remaining fixtures, ending the season in sixth.

Just like Inter, Roma are a team synonymous with European competition. However, they missed out this term as they finished the campaign in seventh place, just two points off the last Europa League spot. Another side who have enjoyed European football in recent years is Fiorentina, but a disappointing season  left them finishing closer to the relegation places than the European berths, ending the campaign in 13thplace, just 10 points above the dreaded drop zone.

There were no real shocks down at the bottom as the season came to a close. Despite boasting former Parma hotshot Adrian Mutu and on-loan Vicenzo Iaquinta up front, Cesena could only manage four wins all season and subsequently finished bottom with a paltry 22 points. They were joined in relegation by Leece and recently promoted Novara.

The 2011/12 season was also to be the last for one of Serie A’s most revered stars. Having become Juventus’ most capped player with well over 500 appearances, scoring over 200 goals in the process, Alessandro Del Piero played his last game in the black and white of Juventus. The striker signed off with a goal against Atalanta on the final day of the season before being substituted in the 59th minute. A hero of the Old Lady, Del Piero was given an emotional farewell from the fans that he had entertained for nearly 20 years. Leaving having not been offered a new contract by Juve President Andrea Agnelli, Del Piero has since been linked with a move to the U.S., but could also sign for an English side, having spoken of his love for the Premier League.

Fans of AC Milan also had to wave goodbye, as a number of the old Rossoneri rearguard departed. Members of the side that claimed the 2007 Champions League, such as Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso all left for pastures new. Manager Massimiliano Allergi has a job on his hands replacing such a talented group.

But not all fans were sorry to see end of the campaign; Ultras at Genoa were so incensed with the sides’ poor performance that they raced onto the pitch and forced those they deemed unworthy to remove their shirts.

So, after a brief sabbatical, Juventus are once again top of the pile. However, a great season may yet be ruined as the match-fixing scandal still hangs over the league like a dark cloud. And whilst doubt still surrounds the transparency of Serie A, football purists will hope that this is the beginning of a major clear-up in the Italian game.

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