After another off season that featured Euro 2008, Italy’s Serie A returned this past weekend. I was excited to see Roma being televised on Fox Soccer channel on Sunday. Unfortunately, Sunday, 6am came, I sat down by myself, a coffee in hand and damned if it was not AC Milan versus Bologna. I was upset after seeing Roma advertised.
All was not lost, it was good to see one of the perennial four teams that should be near the top of the table all season long, AC Milan. That team is LOADED from the back line to the front line. Especially with the addition of Shevachenko and Ronaldaniho, as well as Mattheu Flamini and Zambrotta. The talent is somewhat mind boggling, but the bigger question will be can the Rossoneri play as a TEAM?
There are many great individual players from Kaka to Pato, to Sheva and Ronny, but when all are healthy (Kaka was missing) there will have to be some hard decisions made as to the starting XI and who the offense will be centered around. Pirlo has run the Milan offense in past years, it will be interesting to see what sort of command that Ronny has on the field next to Pirlo or up front.
I think AC Milan will have chemistry issues, especially if somewhat is not getting the ball or or the playing time. We have seen it before on other teams that loaded with talent (Man U, Chelsea, Real Madrid, etc). This is why I don’t think AC Milan will raise the scudetto this year.
AS Roma returns with a few off season changes including John Arne Riise, Julio Baptiste and Jeremy Menez coming in on transfer which should solidify an already strong team. Now if Totti would stay healthy for a full season, they could truly challenge Inter for the scudetto. One thing Roma has is chemistry. They have not brought in high dollar transfers, but players who will fix a role for Roma. One part of their game that still lacks is their bench depth. Many young and inexperienced players who will need to play very well when called upon.
As for the other contenders I watched both Inter Milan and Juventus, both of whom drew this past weekend 1-1 to Sampdoria and Fiorentina respectively. I was not too impressed with the performances of either. I know Inter will be very tough as they have been in past years. I don’t see this draw to start the Mourinho era a blemish on their record. New manager, new system and a few new faces and Inter will be tough to take down.
Juventus continues rising to the challenge coming out of Serie B after being relegated due to scandal. They won the ‘B’ and were promoted and played well last year. This year they return a great squad with one of the best keepers in the world in Gigi Buffon. Solid on the offensive part of the game, but their defensive might be cause for suspect.
Regardless of what allegiance you have, mine is to Roma, it will be a great Serie A season I am looking forward to the thrills and excitement of the 2008-2009 season. As for the NFL…eh, not so excited.