Serie A Renaissance: Season 2014-15 in review

Juventus' successful season is carving the way for a Serie A rebirth. Source: Getty Images.
Juventus' successful season is carving the way for a Serie A rebirth. Source: Getty Images. /

Italian football expert Francesco Pellegrino reviews the highs and lows of the 2014-15 Serie A season

The Italian Renaissance was one of the most prolific eras in human history and Serie A has taken upon itself to learn from its past.  This past season has seen the league made immensely significant strides in Europe with two Europa League semi-finalists  a potential Champions League winner in Juventus.

On that note, we review what we’ve learned this season and what it means for the future.

Juventus: Kings of Italy

Juventus are certainly one of the top three teams in the world.  Not only are Juventus untouchable domestically, but they  have been almost impenetrable in Europe as well.  Coach Maximiliano Allegri has done things with this club that his predecessor, Antonio Conte, was never capable of doing.

Of all the great achievements thus far, Allegri has been able to implement a different tactical approach, where the side is even more dangerous in attack without compromising their defensively rigid structure. They have been able to play without their traditional 3-5-2 structure and their success in Europe in reaching the final is testament to that. Keep in mind that Juve struggle to get out of the Champions League group stage as of last year.

Behind that facet is a list of stars who rarely get the limelight, and their success is a result of a prudent transfer strategy. They have coveted stars the likes of Paul Pogba, Alvaro Morata, Claudio Marchisio, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal.

The future is bright for both Serie A and specifically Juventus.

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Long way to the top for Roma

Roma were expected to be the main title challengers for Juventus.  However, after defeat to Juventus in October Roma never really regrouped.

Since January, they have found themselves teetering with the possibility of falling out of Champions League play and becoming completely irrelevant in the title chase.

So what happened?  Roma were in dire need of a centre forward and believed the answer was in Doumbia along with Ibarbo, but Sporting Director Walter Sabatini misread the situation completely.  Ibarbo was inherited while injured from Cagliari while Doumbia was completely out of form since the Russian domestic league hadn’t been in full-swing.

Roma’s defense was second best in Italy and was enough to see them hold on to second, but they will need to address their wing-back positions along with striking options for next season.

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Napoli never lost touch

But then again did they ever really find their touch?  Rafa Benitez isn’t exactly loved in the city of Naples and one cannot forget the shambles he left Inter Milan in when he departed.

Fact is, Napoli need to make some sales and should wholesale changes between goal and in front of goal.  Britos and Albiol could have easily been recognized as the worst defensive pairing in Serie A.

Up top Higuain, despite his stats, wasn’t the prolific striker that Edison Cavani was considering a chunk of Higuain’s goals came from the penalty spot.

The future of this club needs to be built around Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamsik, and Manolo Gabbiadini.  Should Napoli take an approach to bring out the best in these players they will reap the exponential rewards.

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Dark-horses Lazio create history

Lazio have qualified for Champions League for the first time since 2008.  For too long, they lived under the shadow of Roma.  Except this season they were the better story and more attractive team on the field lead by Stefano Pioli who was pulling the strings.

Klose is certainly on the out from Lazio, but the speculation in Italy is either Gignac of Marseille or Dzeko of Manchester City will be his replacement, both being high calibre strikers.  In those two players Lazio won’t lose up top.

Defensively they will be keeping hold of De Vrij while bringing in Hoedt from Holland.  A strong defense is now only getting stronger.  Felipe Anderson, the best friend of Neymar, has made strides to be remembered and catapulted this team along with the help of Antonio Candreva into the coveted third spot in Italy.

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Florence can’t catch a break

After losing to eventual Europa League winners in a 5-0 aggregate during the Semi-Finals of the tournament, Fiorentina were stumbling.  Head Coach Vincenzo Montella righted the ship and managed to spike Fiorentina from fifth in Italy to fourth and ahead of Napoli.

Where would Fiorentina have been if Giuseppe Rossi managed to stay healthy all year long? Chances are they would have finished third or better.  So, the expectations going into next season for the most attacking side in Italy will remain high.

Mario Gomez is likely to be the only major exit for Fiorentina and finding a replacement for him will be interesting unless they stick their faith in the young striker, Babacar.  The transfer market will be the tell-all story of Fioretina’s aspirations this summer.

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Sorry decline of Milan

The City of Milan and its clubs was once a majestic euphoria of enthusiasm.  Nowadays it’s more like sitting at the doctor’s office hoping to get called in ahead of the decrepid person sitting adjacent to you.

Both clubs are looking to remodel their image this summer.  Inter Milan had a strong message in the January transfer market and might have had the biggest acquisition in Shaqiri.  Lukas Podolski has since been sent back to Arsenal after a dreadful spell in Italy.

AC Milan also need a major change.  The talent pool is present and they have the young phenom of Hachim Mastour waiting to be called up for his first professional bow, but they failed to make it happen.  Rumors of the club being sold to Chinese billionaire consortium led by Mr. Bee is picking up steam.  Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti is the number one choice for current Club President, Silvio Berlusconi, to take over for Inzaghi, although that looks unlikely to happen.

Should Milan make that happen then consider the resurgence of A.C. Milan official.

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Serie A Renaissance?

There are other stories across the peninsula.  Sampdoria qualifying for the Europa League and Genoa hoping to have their appeal for a UEFA license approved in order to compete in Europe as well.  Torino, Sassuolo, Empoli, and Palermo were fantastic clubs on the field showing continuity with their coaches.  They are demonstrating what sort of projects they are developing by changing the usual story and sticking to their managers.

The quality of Serie A football has returned and the league was the talk of Europe this season.  Compared to the two more popular leagues in Europe Serie A faired extremely well.  Serie A had a total of 1024 goals (2.69 per game), La Liga had 1009 goals (2.66 per game), and the Premier League had 975 goals (2.57 per game).  The usual claim that Serie A is an ancient league is a false claim when you bring up statistics and over the past two season has averaged the most goals per game.  The rise and renaissance of Serie A isn’t even in full swing yet.