This year’s Serie A season just came to an end. We’ve a lot of stuff to talk about.
All from a royal abdication to a historic Juventus and the Bergamo charm. I could be sitting here writing into infinity almost, but I’ll try limit myself. In part 2 I will also give you my Serie A-XI of the season. Eventually, in part 3, I’ll briefly touch upon how we performed betting wise.
Il Re di Roma
So, the time for Francesco Totti to end his career with the Giallorossi, was sadly here. We all knew that this time had to come sooner or later. I can only speak for myself, but I was prepared for some tough and emotional hours. Totti is one of the few players than represents what I cherish most about football and calcio. Not only did he stand for some magnificent football himself in terms of his technical ability, smartness and one of the footballing world’s greatest visions of play. But his endless loyalty and passion for the club of Roma captures my attention the most.
Just to have one thing clear, I don’t judge any footballers who want to make the most out of their careers economically as professional careers last for a very short period of time. With that in mind, the fact that Totti stayed in giallorosso colours for such a long time, makes it even more special to me. He could’ve chosen to play for even bigger clubs, and added some millions more to his bank account, but he stayed put. That shows me a man with the size of a heart for his club, that’s probably unimaginable.
This human being (if he’s actually a real human being or just a dream) has 28 years behind him in a Roma shirt. He made his debut in Serie A before a third of the current Serie A players were born. Er Pupone also has the record for the oldest goalscorer in the Champions League history. In total (youth included), he can showcase a total of 786 appearances from which he made a total of 307 goals.
To put it into perspective (the numbers and math are obviously not 100% correct, but it’s just to give a rough overview); 786 full matches are equal to 1 179 hours. Let’s say a footballer runs 9 km in average per game. That’d indicate a total distance covered of more than 7 000 km. If you were to run around the planet earth, the distance mentioned is about 1/6 of that. All these hours and kilometres have Totti dedicated to some random (and not random) green turfs. For the love of football. For the love of Roma. A true ROMAntic.
This season of Serie A will, of course, go into the history books as the season where one the finest and greatest player in Calcio’s time decided to take off his Roma shirt for the very last time, but it was also the season where Juventus became the first team in the Serie A history to win 6 consecutive scudetti. That’s an achievement which I don’t think everyone really understand the magnitude of.
In the 2006-2007 season, Juventus were relegated to Serie B due to the Calciopoli scandal that surfaced the Italian football. That resulted in their “biggest stars” leaving the club, whereas players like Buffon, Nedved, Camaronesi, Trezeguet and Del Piero went with La Vecchia Signora down. The Serie B visit didn’t last too lang, as they did get promoted straight away and were back in the more prestigious business the season after.
In 2011, former Juventus player, Antonio Conte was appointed new manager for Juventus. The two season before this, the Bianconeri ended on 7th place on both occasions. Conte wasn’t joking around. He won the scudetto in his first season in charge, not losing a single game. That’s the first time a team has managed to do so, since the league changed from 18 to 20 teams i 2004. First season in charge. Unbeaten. The start of something great.
He continued down the winning path, but left Juventus in 2014. His replacement goes by the name of Massimiliano Allegri. There were many Juventini who were, not surprisingly, a bit skeptical about this sudden change. The former Milan coach didn’t take long time to prove them wrong. In his first season in charge, he won the domestic double (lo scudetto and Coppa Italia). Add a Champions League final to that, and I think we all approve.
Juventus and Allegri won the domestic double again in the 2015/2016 season and after winning it once again this season, they broke another record. No team in the European top 5 leagues has never won the domestic double three seasons in a row.
My guess, if Juventus manage to capture their first ever Treble, I think we have to say goodbye to some great personalities at Juventus. I won’t go any further into that matter now, but it’s kind of layed out for some giant exits/retirements as I see it.
Atalanta and Gian Piero Gasperini have been all but boring to watch this season. That’s something very few would’ve thought after 4 losses in the first 5 matches. You’d maybe call it some sort of a crisis, but when Gasperini really got things going, it was a pure pleasure to watch.
The interesting part here is that Atalanta have this philospohy based in local values and well used resources. They’re not quite like Athletic Bilbao, but perhaps a more moderate organizational philosophy. If we take a look at the budget of the Orobici, they’d make a 15th place in the Serie A. Now, when the season’s over they were to find in 4th spot in the real table, which means showing teams like Lazio, Milan, Inter and Fiorentina the back.
I can promise you one thing, players like Kessié, Conti, Petagna and Caldara, to mention a few, will be carrying fatter payday bags in the future. Their perhaps most outstanding player alongside with Kessié in the first part of the season, Gagliardini, was bought by Inter in January for €28 millions + bonuses. Roberto Gagliardini is born in 1994 in Bergamo. He made his debut in Serie A as late as in May last year.
Atalanta president, Percassi, has already sold Mattia Caldara (born in 1994) to Juventus for a fee of €15 million, rising to a potential €25 million with add-ons. He’ll though stay on loan at Atalanta the coming season to mature even more. And yes; he’s born in Bergamo too.
Another guy, who is very likely to be heading out of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia is Franck Kessié. He’s an Ivorian-born (1996) midfielder who has bought by Atalanta in 2014 for €300k. He’ll go for a sum that’s in the region on €30m. As I’m writing this, Kessié’s undergoing his medical in Milano, for the Rossoneri.
I’d call that business.
Points of interest?
– Napoli had their best season in regards of points and goal scored last season with 82 and 80 respectively. This season they improved in both categories as they obtained a total of 86 points and scored 94 goals. Think about that for a while. Before this season they sold Gonzalo Higuaín, who broke the goalscoring record of all time in Serie A. His replacement was Arkadiusz Milik. When he then injured his knee and was expected to be out for several months, who’d take charge in front of goal then? Yes. Dries, Dries, Dries Mertens. The Belgian, should though, not get all the spotlight here. There’s a quite football intelligent guy who likes to smoke now and then, that needs to be given some credit. Just look at the way Napoli are playing. I’m totally in love with Maurizio Sarri and his Napoli. There aren’t many teams around who can boast a more beautiful football than them.
– It’s now official that Roma and Luciano Spalletti part ways and it seems like the latter will become Inter’s new coach. Spalletti leaves Roma in a better state than when he arrived in January last year. Although he did fail to qualify for the Champions League, their domestic results have been great. Under the guidance of this bald man from Florence, Roma did manage their best ever season in the Serie A (most points and goals scored) this term. There are rumours that Sassuolo coach, Eusebio Di Francesco, will step in to lead the lines for the Giallorossi. I think we’d be looking at some exciting times in the near Calcio future. Spalletti, if he chooses Inter, could be a nice move for both parts, and Di Francesco as Roma coach is potentially very intriguing. The Sassuolo man has shown that he’s not afraid of letting young players onto the pitch and his 4-3-3 system may suit Roma well.
– The Calabrese alibi in Serie A, Crotone, overcome what seemed like an impossible task. Before the last round, they were dependent on two things to happen if they were to stay in the Italian top flight for another year: 1) they had to beat Lazio at the Stadio Ezio Scida and 2), Empoli had to drop points away to Palermo. Lazio would’ve, with a win in Calabria, leapfrogged Atalanta and ended on 4th place. Palermo had in reality nothing but their pride to play for at home in Sicilia. The final scores in the matches ended in favour of Crotone as they beat Lazio at home and Palermo outscored Empoli 2-1 at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
As a result of the aforementioned happenings, Crotone and Nicola secured their Serie A status for the next year with a total of nine wins. Six of those wins came in the nine last games of the season.
– The Milano based clubs. The Nerazzurri and the Rossoneri. If there’s one key to bring the Italian football up amongst the greatest again, it is the need for Inter and AC Milan to get their shit together again.
The main and rough differences between the two teams are that Inter clearly have the player material for fighting in the top, but neither Frank de Boer nor Stefano Pioli were able to pull it off. Some may say Inter have their weaknesses in the defence. This might be true, but it does not explain finishing almost closer to Serie B than winning the title.
Milan on the other hand, have a quite mediocre team as I see it. I think Montella has done a reasonable job thus far. He signed for Milan last summer, and on 23rd of December, he secured the club’s first title since 2011, beating Juventus in the Supercoppa. Montella also led this team to more points and goals this season, than the season before. Because of their 6th place they now have the possibility of playing in Europe for the first time since 2013-14, after finishing 8th, 10th and 7th in the previous three Serie A seasons.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I give you my Serie A XI of the year!