2009-2010 Season Preview

INTER

Ibrahimovic was Inter's midfield and attack and while he coped admirably with this responsibility domestically the pressures of Europe proved beyond him so this divorce was best for all concerned. Inter have in effect replaced Ibrahimovic with two players - Sneijder and Eto'o. Sneijder will provide the Nerazzurri with the much needed creativity they have lacked since the not so glory days of Recoba and Djorkaeff. Eto'o is a serial goalscorer and, unlike Ibrahimovic, also knows where the goal is on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but can Mourinho keep his ego in check? Milito, Motto and Lucio, the captain of Brazil no less, are the other key arrivals. Milito is the archetypal penalty box striker and Motta is far superior to the lightweight Cambiasso. Lucio will prove to be a more than capable replacement for the ageing Materazzi and even if, like many of his fellow defenders, he is no stranger to the treatment table Inter's last line of defence also happens to the best the World's best goalkeeper - Julio Cesar. Mourinho has assembled a physically imposing team of champions. A record equalling fifth successive league title is a distinct possibility, some believe a formality.

Key Players : Lucio, Motta, Eto'o
Prospects : Champions/Runners-Up


JUVENTUS

Juve's transfer campaign was considerably more successful than their previous one. In Diego they have finally found a long-term replacement for Nedved. The club's obsession with DMs continues, Felipe Melo takes the number on their books upto four though he is arguably the best in the World. Grosso is an excellent left back but Juve still look weak at full back. The signing of Cannavaro was less than inspiring and while he remains Italy captain he will continue to get a free pass from referees but will be found wanting in Europe. Juve have three tall, powerful strikers and despite the fact that Trezeguet missed most of last season through injury there's no reason to suggest at 31 he's lost any of his predatory instincts. Del Piero and Giovinco are options of the bench. If there's one failing in this Juve team it's the lack of quality cover at centre back.

Key Players : Chiellini, Diego, Felipe Melo
Prospects : Champions/Runners-Up


GENOA

Genoa have spent the money from the sales of last season's star performers, Milito and Motta, wisely. Floccari may not possess the predatory instincts of Milito but is a hard running striker who was much in demand last season and represents somewhat of a coup and will be supported by exciting Boca Juniors winger Palacios, make his long overdue European debut. Less is known of the man signed to replace Motta, Alberto Zapater though he is a former Spanish U21 international. Crucially Milito and Motta were Genoa's only losses, the club can still count on the services of three of the best young defenders in Serie A and of course coach 'Gandalf' Gasperini. Criscito (22) and Bocchetti (22) are both on the fringes of the Italy squad and 21 year old Greek centre back Papastathopoulos is already a full international. Genoa's most intriguing signing is Moroccan attacking midfielder Houssine Kharja who arrives after a brilliant season at Siena. Gasperini has a superb squad at his disposal and there's no reason why his team can't improve on last season's fifth place and clinch a Champions League berth.

Key Players : Amelia, Criscito, Floccari
Prospects : Champions League, Europa Cup


FIORENTINA

Fiorentina's pre-season was dominated by the sale of Felipe Melo who, after teasing Arsenal, joined Juventus. Fiorentina were quick to replace him, bringing Cristiano Zanetti from Turin and while he lacks the Brazilian's power and energy he has a vastly superior range of passing. The only other notable arrival was Lazio's much hyped attacking full back Lorenzo De Silvestri who has long been hailed as one of the best prospects in the Italian game despite rarely featuring for Roman club. Fiorentina have failed to address their major weakness, a lack of options in attack. Mutu struggles for fitness leaving much of the scoring burden on Gilardino. Prandelli will be hoping Jovetic can maintain his promising start to the season. Fiorentina are a pragmatic side and their excellent defence should carry them to another top four finish.

Key Players : Frey, Zanetti, Gilardino
Prospects : Champions League, Europa Cup


NAPOLI

Napoli made some astute signings over the summer and crucially held onto their crown jewels i.e. Hamsik and Lavezzi. Former Udinese goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis arrives after two abortive years in Spain and Turkey. Colombian Zuniga is an exciting attacking full back but can't defend worth a lick. Luca Cigarini has long been hailed as the natural successor to Andrea Pirlo and has the quality around him in midfield and attack in which to shine. Quagliarella, a near 20 million signing from Udinese, is one of the World's most spectacular goalscorers though needs to up his strike rate. One area of weakness Napoli didn't really address was centre back, Campagnaro, a bit-part player at Sampdoria, is not the solution. Napoli have a top four squad but question marks remain over Donadoni. He may have stopped the rot after replacing Edy Reja on the Napoli bench late last season but results remain disappointing and after a poor, albeit unlucky start, he is already under pressure.

Key Players : De Sanctis, Hamsik, Lavezzi
Prospects : Champions League, Europa Cup


SAMPDORIA

As usual Sampdoria's notoriously tight fisted owners failed to make any high profile signings but at least the with the arrival of wingers Semioli and Mannini the magnificently gifted Cassano has support from midfield. Sampdoria's right flank in particular is very strong, Semioli shares it with the team's giant Lithuanian full back Marius Stankevicius. Curiously Samp have loaned out two of their most promising youngsters, Guido Marilungo and Mattia Mustacchio which limits the teams options in attack to ageing midget Bellucci, 24 year old Pozzi and of course Pazzini who alongside Cassano forms the best front two in Serie A. Two seasons ago Pozzi appeared to be fulfilling his potential until a cruel injury brought a premature end to his campaign, now he has a chance to get his career back on track. The clubs other new arrival was of course coach Luigi Del Neri who performed miracles at Chievo before a disastrous spell at Roma. He has since rebuilt his reputation at Atalanta and will be aiming for a Europa League spot.

Key Players : Palombo, Cassano, Pazzini
Prospects : Europa Cup


PALERMO

New coach Walter Zenga's claims that Palermo can challenge for the title are wide of the mark but a Europa Cup place is a realistic target. Giant Romanian centre back Dorin Goian gives Zenga more options and some much needed experience to a defence that features one of the games rising stars, The Great Dane Simon Kjaer. The clubs fantastic crop of youngsters is further strengthened by the arrival of 20 year old Argentinean playmaker Javier Pastore who will add height to the excellent midget midfield of Nocerino, Liverani and Simplicio. Palermo's major weakness is a lack of options in attack. The Uruguayan Van Basten, Cavani, and Miccoli form a lethal little and larger partnership but Miccoli, the explosive, underrated Robbie Williams look-a-like, has struggled with fitness in recent years. Journeymen strikers Budan and Succi are not adequate substitutes and the other options are little known teenagers Hernandez and Mchedlidze who, if nothing else, will ensure the club's obsession with tall strikers continues.

Key Players : Kjaer, Miccoli, Cavani
Prospects : Europa Cup


MILAN

Milan's transfer campaign was an abject failure and thus so to will be their season. Although the sale of Kaka' represented good business Milan, thanks to Galliani's trademark incompetence, lost his ready made replacement, Gourcuff, to Bordeaux. Berlusconi's misplaced faith in Ronaldinho will have catastrophic consequences. He still has the talent but not the belief and mental strength that once made him the World's best player. Milan lack invention in midfield, Pirlo remains lazy and inconsistent, and depth on the bench. The inexperienced Leonardo is already at loggerhead with the board, has made no secret of the fact that he needed reinforcements at fullback, which will do wonders for team moral, and his un-inspiring post match comments highlight a distinct lack of charisma, of personality. An inevitable, early exist from the Champions League should force Berlusconi's hand in the transfer marker when the window re-opens in January and by then Mancini or Van Basten could well have replaced Leonardo on the Milan bench.

Key Players : Nesta, Flamini, Pato
Prospects : Europa Cup, Mid-Table


ROMA

The Giallorossi are another of the Italian giants in turmoil. To the surprise of absolutely no one president Rosella Sensi failed to find a buyer for her cash strapped club but there was some good news. Future Italy full back Marco Motta's move from Udinese was made permanent and Roma managed to offload the injury prone Aquilani for a ridiculously inflated fee to Liverpool. The tactically nave Luciano Spalletti is replaced on the Roma bench by the less tactically nave Claudio Ranieri. Roma have an average goalkeeper, a reasonable defence, if Juan ever gets fit, are a soft touch in midfield and too dependent on the rapidly ageing Totti in attack and have limited options on the bench. Apart from that things are great. If there's one area in which Ranieri excels it's the building of teams other coaches put the finishing touches to. Given Roma's lack of resources Ranieri should have plenty of time to work his magic with whatever Roma's famed youth team can throw at him.

Key Players : Mexes, De Rossi, Totti
Prospects : Europa Cup, Mid-Table