Serie A once criticized for being overly defensive is now one of the best Leagues in Europe for goals and excitement. After 120 games this season their has only been six 0-0 draws in Serie A. In Spain after 110 matches, 12 have ended 0-0, in France after 130 matches 11 games have a finished 0-0 whilst in England after 120 matches 12 have finished scoreless.
So now to the countdown from 14th to 8th, with the current standings in the Serie A season 2015-16 after Week 12.
14th-A.C. Chievo Verona-13 points –Region Veneto (known as Mussi Volant-flying donkeys)- Ground Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi-Cap-39,371-Manager Rolando Maran.
Seasons form- WWDLWDDLLLDL- The first 12 games have been spilt into two, 6 game spells, the first included 3 wins 2 draws and a loss, the second was disastrous with 4 losses and 2 draws. Chievo a modern football phenomenon, based in a Verona suburb of 4,500 inhabitants has one aim only that is to stay in Serie A, which they have done every year since 2000, apart from one season, this year is no different. Chievo teams are built around a sound defence, and solid midfield ,this season they have the solid pairing of Gamberini and Cesar who are resilient and tough to beat 12 goals conceded being the lowest outside the top 7 teams and in midfield the experience of Hetemaj and Isco has been vital in protecting the back four. They they have added an attacking intent with the signing of Paul Jose M’Poku and winger Lucas Castro, to join the talented goal scorerAlberto Paloshi and Roberto Inglese who is finally showing the promise he had within him. They are backed up by the veteran 36 year-old Sergio Pellissier who is always guaranteed to get important goals, when used these days mainly as a sub. After a really good start they have really tailed off, Chievo are now without a victory in seven, scrap, they need their forwards to start taking their chances or the pressure will really mount on their manager Rolando Maran.
13th– Empoli F.C SpA-14 points-Region-Tuscany-(known as I Azzurri -the blues)- Ground Stadio Carlo Castellani- Cap 16,800- Manager Marco Giampaolo.
Seasons form LLDWLLWLWDWL- losing their brilliant manager Maurizio Sarri and players Mirko Valdifiori and fullback Elseid Hysaj to Napoli was bound to cause disruption to the Empoli team. There is a lot of pressure on new coach Marco Giampaolo to keep them up, this being his seventh club in eleven years, points will have to be taken from teams around them, a good win against Genoa 2-0 in round 9 being the case in point. The club is building, around a quality midfield and attack through the signing of exciting young talent Krunic, Zielinski, Leandro Paredes, and Bouchel, backed up by the excellent attacking mid-field player Riccardo Saponara (4 goals) this season, who is being courted by a number of the top teams in Europe. In the 18 year old midfielder Assane Diousse they have one of the brightest new talents in Serie A. The need to improve upon their defensive record the 18 goals conceded in 12 rounds being nearly as bad as those teams in the bottom three. The important goals scored by the veteran Massimo Maccarone ,who seems to have not lost his pace and eye for goal, has given them a fighting chance of staying in Serie A. If he can continue to contribute these I think Empoli should stay clear of the drop.
12th– Unnione Sportiva Citta di Palermo SpAhtd–14 Points -Region Sicily-(known as Rossanero -pink-blacks ) Ground-Stadio Renzo Barbera-Cap 36.349- Manager- Davide Ballardini
Seasons form-WWDLLLLWDLLW- After starting well winning their first two matches, they lost four in a row. After four successive losses they got back on track with a win at bottom club Bologna, courtesy of a Franco Vazquez goal, the striker who formed a formidable partnership with Dybala (the talented Argentian sold to Juventus during the summer). Their 1-1 draw in round 9 at home against Inter, with the World Cup winner Alberto Gilardino scoring an equalizer, his eighth career strike against them, however 2 losses and a fortunate win against Chievo in Round 12 with again Gilardino scoring the 181st in his Serie A career helped steady the ship. However it did not postpone the inevitable sacking of manager Giuseppe Iachini (who lasted an eye watering two and a half seasons), the 30th manager in President and owners, Maurizio Zamparini’s tenure, covering 13 years. The list of managers he has desposed of is like the who’s who of Italian managers Gasperini, Malesani, Pioli, Dellio Rossi, Cosmi, Zenga, Colantuono, Guidolin, Delniri, Baldini and the list goes on. Davide Ballardini became his 31st appointment. Some boy Mr Zamparini.
The new Palermo Manager will need all the skills of their superb goal keeper Sorrentino, Valazquez, Gillardino and Swedish youngster Oscar Hiljemark bought for 2m euro, being one of the buys of this Serie A season, as well as Morganella and Djurdjevic at the back to keep an upward trajectory going, they need to find consistency to progress. If it does not, watch this space Mr Zamparini will strike again and manager 32 will be through the door.
11th- Torino-15 points – Region Piedmont-(known as I Granata The Maroons) -Ground Stadio Olimpico di Torino-(Cap 28,140)-Manager Giampiero Ventura.
Season form-WWDWLWLDLDLL Torino have at present not maintained the improvement they made last year under the stewardship of veteran manager Giampiero Ventura, one of the most under-rated coaches in Italy who has been working on a limited budget. The Grantas recruitment policy has been to target in Ventura’s own words “players who demonstrate drive, humility and ferocious determination”. The team has been built around an outstanding defence marshalled by centre-half and captain Kamil Glik and the excellent Nikola Maksimovic, heir apparent in the Serbian team to Nemanja Vidic. Danielle Baselli 23 year old box to box midfielder, a summer recruit from Atalanta has made a great start to his Torino career contributing 4 goals so far. Very hard to beat at home, they have had three wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat including the notable defeat of high flying Fiorentina. Their away form is their Achilles heal only 1 win in six, this needs to improve to ensure the improvement they made last season is maintained. They have had no wins in their last six matches however there is real talent in the squad the likes of forwards Maxi Lopez, Fabio Quagliarella Andrea Belotti with midfielders Joel Obi Afriyie Acquah, which should enable them to climb the table. Torino is a well run club with a superb history, one my of my favourite teams in Serie A.
10th– U.C. Sampdoria SpA-15 points-Region Liguria-(known as iBlucerchiati-the blue ringed)-Ground Stadio Luigi Ferraris (also known as the Marassi)-Cap-36,599 -Manager-Vincenzo Montella.
Seasons form–WDWLWLDLWDDL- The circus that is Samp led by the chief ring leader President Massimo Ferrero is footballs equivalent of mad max. Zenga took over coaching duties from Mihajlovic and imediately got off to an horrendous start in the Europa League getting beat 4 0 at home against lowly Vojvodina probably the worst display I have ever witnessed by an Italian team in Europe.
To compound matters Ferrero had a hand in bringing maverick Antonio Cassano back to the club. The funny thing about Samp is they have got some brilliant players Eder, Muriel, Soriano and Fernando who can cause damage to any team in Serie A on their day. Consistency remains their problem, great at home where they play, brilliant attacking football, rubbish away, no wins on the road. Unfortunately they are so inconsistent, epitomised by their 2-0 defeat at Frosinone in round 8, then in round 9 they then demolish Hellas 4-1 at home and in the mid week round 10 fixture Eder rescued a point for them in a 1-1 draw at home to Empoli. Folowing 2 draws and a comprehensive defeat by Fiorentina in round 12 Zenga on the Tuesday after this match, was relieved of his managerial duties with Vincenzo Montella appointed as the new manager on the following Sunday. Sampdoria President Massimo Ferrero wrote on Twitter the morning of this announcement “Good morning Italy! Ferrero scored a goal and a star has arrived Vincenzo Montella” The circus continues.
9th -Lazio-18 points-Region Lazio-(known as I Biancocelesti-the white and sky blues)-Ground-Stadio Olimpico-Cap 73,000-Manager Stefano Poli.
Seasons form-WLWLWWWLWLLL – They have been hampered all season by a huge injury list. Three of their most influential players being the main casualties, the captain and one of the best playmakers in Italy/Europe Lucas Biglia, brilliant centre-half Stevan De Vrj and prolific scorer Miroslav Klose, there loss in particular, have been hard to replace.
Lazio have implemented a superb transfer policy, mixing the acquisition of brilliant young talent Ricardo Kishna, Damilo Cataldi, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Keita Balde Diao, Felipe Anderson with the proven quality of the likes of Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo, and Federico Marchetti , giving them an intoxicating mix of functionality and exciting players. When they have a full team out, I love watching them play, they are the epitome of the excitement of Serie A, games are inevitable end to end. The inconsistency brought about by injuries, has manifest itself in results so far 6 wins, 6 losses including against Chievo 4-0, Napoli 5-0 and Sassuolo 2-1, the loss at Atalanta in round 10 after leading typifies this inconsistency. Round 12 saw their most crushing defeat to City rivals Roma 2 nil. The two week break after round 12 could not come quick enough They have the talent, they have to find the consistency, this team should be in the top four.
8th-Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio S.p.A -18 points- Region Lombardy- (known as Nerazzuri black blues or the Orobici)-Ground Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia –Cap 26,562-Manager Edy Reja.
Seasons form LWDDWWLWLWLD -Veteran manager Reja (70), 35 years coaching has coaxed some great results out of his team which mixes a good blend of youth and experience Built on a sound defence based around Argentinian Gabriel Paletta and one of the most sought after goal-keepers in Italy the highly rated 23 year old Marco Sportiello, up front the combination of Mauricio Pinilla, Maxi Moralez and Alejandro Gomez back up by the tank like German Denis will cause most teams problems, 5 wins this season is already well on the way to beating last years poor total of seven wins. A win in round 10 against Lazio 2-1 ensures their superb home record is maintained where they have picked up 13 points from an available 15. Their away form needs to improve quickly they have had only a solitary win and 2 draws from 7 matches played whilst in the process only scoring 3 goals conceding 11. Atalanta, celebrate their 108 years anniversary this season. Also the city council have this week put the ground up for sale, it looks increasingly likely that Atalanta will become the fourth Italian team to own theirs if their offer is accepted by the council.
PETER EMBLETON – Follow Peter on @