By Petar Todorovski
With one third of Italian Serie A finished we can start doing analysis of what happened till now, and make predictions of what we can expect. It was easy to do in the last few seasons, when it was almost clear which one or two teams had a chance for winning the Scudetto, but this year it isn’t so.
The reason is simple – Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese genius created a monster of Inter. With him they won two titles with ease, although the first one was gained in the last round due to loosing form, but they had already made great advantage in the points column. Now when he is gone to do miracles with Real Madrid, Inter was left to Rafael Benitez. Fans have never been impressed by the playing style he prefers, but he managed to get results. He succeeded a well built team, with superstars in all lines. Rafa could do nothing but to continue where Mourinho stopped. With the same line-up and tactics the “special one” used, he succeeded in his debut and won the Italian Super Cup against rivals Roma. But, few first team players got injured soon. Diego Milito, Esteban Cambiasso, Goran Pandev, Maicon, and now Julio Cesar are just some of them. And most important, the healthy Wesley Sneijder isn’t the same player as last season. He looks too tired and unmotivated to play his game again. So, the Spaniard lost direction and team started to loose points. Now they’re nine points behind leaders AC Milan, sitting in sixth place, with only five victories in 13 games. Conclusion: Inter reached the peak last season and now they could do nothing but descend.
Unlike them, their city rivals AC Milan are rising. Nine victories out of 13 gamesis a respectable score, but the winning fashion is more interesting. They do it easily, it seems that even if the team doesn’t play well all they should do is to give the ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The season started bad, they even lost against newcomers Cesena. Later, after the demoralizing draw against Real Madrid, intolerance between some of the players showed off. Then the coach Massimiliano Allegri stepped up and resolves the issues, putting Ronaldinho on the bench and giving rejuvenated Seedorf a first team spot. It paid off, as the Dutch and Zlatan collaborate excellent on the field. We could announce Rossonerri as early favorites, but we still haven’t the answer of the question: is defense reliable? Thiago Silva is the only young centre back. Nesta is one of the best in the world when he is in shape, but his advanced years mean that it’s questionable if he can play a whole season on high level. Mario Yepes is also here, but as Nesta, he is 35 and sometimes could make the defensive line shaky.
Roma is another title challenger. The team slowly climbs the table after disappointing start. Ranieri consolidated the team, they’re winning, currently with long unbeaten row and secured 2nd round spot in Champions League. The only problem they haven’t solved yet is winning outside Stadio Olimpico. Having in mind that the only away victory is against Lazio, all games are won on their own turf. This team could do much better than its showing. I expect them to go further with winning and promote themselves as main Scudetto contenders together with Milan.
Early season’s surprise Lazio is showing first signs of crisis. Or maybe we shouldn’t look at that as a crisis. Simply, that’s the quality the team posses. They made a dream start, but after the city derby defeat all went down. Only two victories in last five games, with four scored and conceded respectively, means fight for Champion League spot, nothing more.
And last, Juventus, probably a team with no capacity of winning Scudetto this year. Over-dependant on creative force Milos Krasic, Champions League spot would be their goal for this season. They play very unpredictable: first they beat AC Milan with excellent play, right after fail to beat mediocre teams.
There are some other teams which try to fly high, like Napoli and Palermo, but they’re not champions tailor. After all, I think that Milan, Inter and Roma are the main title contenders. They have excellent quality, coaches capable winning the league and the required mentality. I don’t believe that Milan will retain the present form for a long time, so Inter and especially Roma will challenge them for sure. Should they do that, an exciting season is waiting for us.