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Three games in and it’s time to take a look at what’s happening in Serie A, by most pundits reckoning the third strongest league in Europe behind the Premier League and la Liga.
Bari, Parma and Livorno. At the start of the season they’re not doing too badly as all have picked up some points, with Parma the most successful with one victory over Catania, a draw against Udinese and one loss against Inter under their belts. They have a lot of experience in Serie A, although they’ve usually been at or near the bottom in recent years. Maybe this year will be a better one for the Ducali.
The ones to beat
The usual suspects headed by Inter, who will be looking to win five championships on the trot as well as eyeing the Champions League under the management of inspirational coach Jose Morinho. Although they lost star striker, Ibrahimovich to Barcelona, they gained Samuel Eto’o, a pot of cash, and also brought in Sneijder from Real Madrid. Trying to knock them off top spot will be a Rejuvinated Juve who have started the season well with a 100% record. The Old Lady has a new manager with Ranieri moving to Roma and ex-Juventus player Ferrara the new man. Look for them to give Inter, their biggest rivals, a run for their money this season – and with Juve providing eight of the national team squad in a World cup year, things look good. Roma, Fiorentina should be there of thereabouts, and AC Milan – despite a poor start, after being thrashed by derby rivals Inter 4-0 and drawing to new boys Livorno, will have a say in the championship.
You’d have to pick Fiorentina to do well as they’ve been hovering around the top three for the past three or four years. They are undefeated so far – except for a 1-0 loss to Lyon in the Champions League – and if they don’t take their eye off the ball because of the Champions League, they may crack the top three.
But my real dark horse is Napoli under Roberto Donadoni. They’ve brought in a hungry new Austrian striker, Erwin “the rocket” Hoffer, and could build on an impressive start last season after coming up from Serie B. It won’t be the glory days when Maradona graced their pitch, but they could cause people to sit up and take notice.
Champions League chances
Italian clubs always have a chance – just take a look at AC Milan, but recently they haven’t done so well. Juve, Inter, AC Milan and Fiorentina are in it, but I can only see Inter troubling the big Spanish and English clubs, who must still be favourites. Another poor year for Italian clubs I think.
Wikipedia trivia – Parma were originally called Verdi Football Club, after the great composer born in the city…
Under (their) belts – If you have something under your belt, you have already achieved, experienced or got something and it will probably be of benefit to you in the future
On the trot – In a row, successive
A pot of cash – A lot of money
Be there or thereabouts – Be in contention, near to something
Thrashed – Beaten by a large score, hammered
Hovering – In this case, always being close to the bottom, juts above something
Crack the top three – Enter the top three places, break into
Sit up and take notice – Be surprised and interested in something