Team of the Season 1999-2000
 
Shevchenko Batistuta
(Milan) (Fiorentina)
   
Nedved Veron Olive Fiore Sesa
(Lazio) (Lazio) (Perugia) (Udinese) (Lecce)
     
Sottil Nesta Thuram
(Udinese) (Lazio) (Parma)
 
Toldo
(Fiorentina)
 
Toldo : Received little protection from a weak defence so you can attribute
Fiorentina's relatively healthy goals against column to Toldo's heroics

Nesta : Maintained the high standards he set in the previous season despite
being on the end of some heavy defeats when injured against Roma and
Valencia in the Champions League

Thuram : Had a mixed season for Parma which I attribute to a lack of
motivation but is still one of the World's best

Sottil : Ok so he may not be best defender in the World but gave many
solid performances and weighed in with plenty of goals

Nedved : Despite an injury hit season Nedved was once again outstanding

Veron : Played out of this World football during the first 2 months of the
season, took 3 months off i.e. stopped trying and returned to form for the
crucial end of season run-in

Olive : Hard working, tough tackling, goalscoring midfielder. Perugia will
sorely miss his presence

Fiore : Parma reject Fiore blossomed into one of the most outstanding
midfielders in Round A, scoring and creating goals in equal measure

Sesa : Lecce were among the favourites for relegation but Sesa's partnership
with Lucarelli helped them to mid-table security

Shevchenko : In his first season in Round A playing in a team that starved
him of decent service he finished top scorer. Imagine what he would do in
a good team!

Batistuta : I keep writing him off but he keeps scoring. Was particularly
impressive for Fiorentina in the Champions League


2000-2001 Season

ATALANTA

One of THE perennial yo yo clubs are back in Round A. Ganz is good for around
15 goals a but Ventola has consistently failed to live up to expectations after
a bright start for Inter two seasons ago. Their partnership in attack will decide
Atalanta's fate as defensively, like most promoted clubs, they will struggle.

Key Players : Ganz, Ventola
Prospects : Relegation


BARI

Bari start in Round A for the fourth successive season and that is the limit to
their ambitions. Bari's biggest problem over the years has been a lack of goals
despite the presence of highly overrated Cassano, Phil Masinga and promising
youngster Enyinnaya. What the midfield lack in invention they make up for
with their workrate though Daniel Andersson is a real class act. With a
reasonable defence and good home record they should finish mid-table.

Key Players : Andersson, Mancini, Osmanovski
Prospects : Safety


BOLOGNA

After relying on the heroics of loan signings for their survival over the years
Bologna have finally got the cheque book out and made some excellent
acquisitions. Padalino arrives from Fiorentina to add quality to an already
solid defence, Olive will add bite to the midfield and Locatelli and Binotto
will create the chances for evergreen Signori and record signing Julio Cruz.
Could be the surprise team of the season.

Key Players : Cruz, Olive, Padalino
Prospects : UEFA Cup/Intertoto Cup


BRESCIA

Back in the top flight after two seasons in Round B. Brescia's survival is
dependent on the form of Roberto Baggio and how many penalties diving
twat Dario Hubner can win.

Key Players : Baggio, Calori, Hubner
Prospects : Safety/Relegation


FIORENTINA

Despite the loss of Batistuta, Fiorentina have what appears to be a well
balanced attack in the shape of Nuno Gomes and the highly rated Leandro
but more importantly they have managed to hold onto playmaker Rui Costa
and Francesco Toldo, arguably the best 'keeper in the World. Once again the
Viola have failed to strengthen a distressingly weak midfield and unless
the likes of Cois, Vanoli and Rossitto give support to Rui Costa, Fiorentina
can only look forward to a top seven finish.

Key Players : Nuno Gomes, Rui Costa, Toldo
Prospects : UEFA Cup


INTER

Same old, same old. Inter have spent a fortune, signed three more forwards
and Vieri and Ronaldo are still on the shelf. While Inter await the return Vieri
a lot will depend on the form of Frey and Vampeta. Frey is THE best young
'keeper on the planet and Inter have been crying out for a hard working
inspirational midfielder since the departure of Ince, Vampeta is the answer
but also brings a goal threat. With Inter already of the Champions League
Lippi simply has to deliver.

Key Players : Frey, Vampeta, Vieri
Prospects : UEFA Cup/Champions League


JUVENTUS

Defensively Juve are mess, particularly from crosses but their strengths lie
in midfield and attack. Davids has the responsibility of shielding the defence
and winning the ball, usually for Del Piero to weave his magic. With Zidane
continually flattering to deceive the highly talented Uruguayan Fabian O'Neill
could establish himself as one of Round A's finest playmakers, given the
chance. Euro 2000 Golden Goal hero David 'Trezegoal' Trezeguet will have
to fight hard to displace the much maligned Fillipo Inzaghi in attack. Once
again Juve's success will depend on the form of Del Piero if he can recover
mentally from his Euro 2000 nightmare.

Key Players : Davids, Del Piero, Van der Sar
Prospects : Champions/Champions League


LAZIO

It may have taken 200 million but nearly man Sven Goran Eriksson finally
won Lazio Lo Scudetto more due to luck than judgement (Perugia V Juventus).
Lazio's formidable squad is even more formidable with the addition of Claudio
Lopez and Hernan Crespo though the loss of Conceicao weakens Lazio's right
side and the defence is over-reliant on the awesome Nesta. Like neighbours
Roma, Lazio's squad will be decimated by South American World Cup
qualifiers, investing so heavily in Argentineans could prove very costly indeed.

Key Players : Nesta, Nedved, Veron
Prospects : Champions/Champions League


MILAN

Pre-season gripes over a lack of big name signings have been forgotten
following the teams solid displays in the Champions League. Milan have
the best collection of young players in Italy thus Redondo's arrival causes
more problems than it solves. Shevchenko still lacks quality support from
midfield but Comandini or Jose Mari could prove to be better strike partners
than Bierhoff. Milan's defence is still their achilles heel, Roque Junior has
mistake written all over him, Maldini and Chamot are the wrong side of 30.
If Zaccheroni takes risks and bloods more youngsters the team could put up
a serious title challenge but given his past that's unlikely.

Key Players : Abbiati, Coco, Shevchenko
Prospects : Champions League


NAPOLI

Back in Round A after a painful two year absence, Napoli have entrusted the
tactically challenged Zednek Zeman with the task of retaining Round A status.
he excellent playmaker Sesa arrives from Lecce and one of the stars of
Portugal's Euro 2000 campaign, Vidigal from Sporting Lisbon. The rest of
the team isn't so hot. Free scoring Napoli should survive based on their home
record because away from home, like all of Zeman's teams they ship goals.

Key Players : Amoruso, Sesa, Vidigal
Prospects : Safety


PARMA

Following Lazio's title triumph Parma will be convinced that throwing billions
of lira around will buy success. More so than the acquisitions of any other
team Parma have spent wisely and strengthened every area of the squad
particularly where they needed it most in midfield and in attack. Indeed
Parma's midfield looks particularly mouth watering - Almeyda, Conceicao,
Lamouchi and Micoud although why they immediately loaned Alex to
Flamengo is a mystery. Despite the arrival of Milosevic, the immensely
talented Patrick Mboma has a real chance to shine in a great team. Parma
must overcome their travel sickness and now trademark slow start.

Key Players : Amoroso, Micoud, Thuram
Prospects : Champions/Champions League


PERUGIA

You could be forgiven for thinking Perugia's management are determined to
see the club return to Round B given they have sold every single of their
influential players with the exception of goalkeeper Mazzantini - Alenitchev,
Calori, Olive and Rapajc. Unless new signings Jung-whan and Ma Mingyu can
emulate the success of Nakata, Perugia are going down.

Key Players : Amoruso, Mazzantini
Prospects : Relegation


REGGINA

Reggina surpassed expectations last season and finished in a highly
respectable 12th place largely due to the performances of loan signings
Baronio, Pirlo and Kallon. They have returned to their former clubs and
adequate replacements have not been signed. Fortunately Reggina have
managed to hold onto their brilliant coach Franco Colomba.

Key Players : Possanzini, Taibi
Prospects : Safety/Relegation


ROMA

Spurred on by the success of their bitter city rivals Lazio, Roma have broke
the bank to prise Gabriel Batistuta from Fiorentina and Emerson from
Leverkusen. Emerson will miss the first two months of the season but Roma
are reasonably strong in midfield and even stronger in attack. For Roma's
sake new signing Walter Samuel better be the second coming of Allessandro
Nesta because the rest of the defence is the pits. The exceptionally gifted
Totti can probably look forward to another outstanding individual season
but will be helpless as the tactically nave Capello and shocking defence
comprise the team's chances of a long overdue scudetto.

Key Players : Batistuta, Emerson, Totti
Prospects : UEFA Cup/Champions League


UDINESE

For once Udinese have managed to hold onto most of their star players for
this season at least - Fiore, Jorgensen and Giannichedda. Admittedly they
haven't spent well and could use more cover in attack. Dodgy passports aside
Udinese can look forward to another comfortable season.

Key Players : Fiore, Muzzi, Sosa
Prospects : UEFA Cup/Intertoto Cup


VERONA

Verona finished 9th, claimed famous scalps at home and played some of the
best football in Round A last season. So obviously they tried to build on last
season's success? No. Inspirational coach Claudio Prandelli has left, Frey has
returned to Inter joined by midfield sensation Claudio Brocchi and inexplicably
the hard running, match winner extraordinaire Fabrizio Cammarata has been
sold to Cagliari in Round B! Can you say relegation?

Key Players : Ferron, Laursen, Mutu
Prospects : Relegation


VICENZA

Back in Round A at the first attempt and if their last Round A campaign was
anything to go by I wish they stayed in Round B! Awful defensively and even
more useless in attack. To be fair Vicenza have spent well bringing in Longo
from Parma and the excellent forward Mohammed Kallon from Inter.

Key Players : Kallon, Longo, Zauli
Prospects : Relegation

Summary

Just so you can use this against me at the end of the season in alphabetical
order :

Top Four : Juventus, Lazio, Milan, Parma
UEFA Cup : Bologna, Fiorentina, Inter, Roma
Relegation : Atalanta, Perugia, Verona, Vicenza