Previewing the Derby Della Capitale

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It’s only the first month of 2020 and there’s already a weekend with some great rivalry matches taking place. The Rome Derby is the first one, then, the Juve and Napoli match will be the second one. Both matches take place on Sunday. However, fans of Serie A will be spoiled for choice. So, let’s take a dive into the first match between Lazio and Roma. Here’s the preview!

ROMA

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Coming into this match, Roma has won 3 of their last 5 Serie A matches. They have a Champions League spot in their site for next season, as a result. Indeed, they’re currently fighting with Atalanta for that final Champions League spot. Unfortunately, for Roma, they’re missing such a key player that would be crucial in any match, especially for this match. That player is Nicolo Zaniolo. He got injured against Juve and will probably miss the rest of the season. However, with the way Roma has been playing, they shouldn’t be worried about this match. If they play their typical 4-2-3-1 against Lazio I believe it’ll definitely help them. Veretout and Diawara have shown that they’re very capable of shutting down opponent’s midfield as defensive midfielders. Also, by playing this formation, Roma is adding an extra dimension to their attack, which would help them against their rivals.

LAZIO

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If you would’ve told Simone Inzaghi that his club would’ve been in third at this point of the season and possibly challenging for the scudetto, I’m sure he would’ve taken that 100 % of the time. Lazio has definitely been in superb form, as they’ve now won all 5 of their last Serie A matches. That’s tremendous. It seems that everything is clicking for this squad. Francesco Acerbi has been a rock at the back for them. Their midfield has been superb, led by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. However, the thing that’s stood out the most has been their frontline. Immobile can’t stop scoring and is Serie A’s leading scorer so far with 23 goals. Even, Joaquin Correa has looked solid with him. However, derbies such as this tend to be more difficult to win and Simone Inzaghi will definitely meet his match in Paulo Fonseca. It’ll be interesting to see who’ll win tactically. If their match in September is similar to this one, it’ll be very exciting to watch.

What to Make of Inter’s New Signing, Ashley Young

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I have to admit that when I first heard the news that Inter would sign Ashley Young, I didn’t agree with it. However, as I started thinking about it, I realized he’s actually a decent signing for Inter. So, this may actually work out in Inter’s favour in the end. Here’s why signing Ashley Young may be beneficial for Inter this season.

WHY WILL ASHLEY YOUNG FIT INTO INTER’s SYSTEM OF PLAY?

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Like many, I thought that Inter signing Ashley Young would be ridiculous, considering his age. However, he has way more to offer than that. Right now under Antonio Conte, Interplays very tight and for the most part, their defenders lack speed and the ability to create in open play. Fortunately, Ashley Young can do that. He’ll provide an extra bit of creativity to Inter when they’re trying to create offence from the back. Ashley Young is fairly fast and is also a decent crosser of the ball, so, he’ll provide that extra boost inter needs going forward. That provides balance to this Inter side that doesn’t have many players at the back who can go forward with the ball as he can. There’s no doubt, Inter being tight at the back has worked for the most part under Antonio Conte. However, in modern calcio, a club needs defenders who can provide decent service going forward. The only drawback of Ashley Young other than his age is his vulnerability defensively. However, if he buys into Antonio Conte’s system, he should enjoy his time at Inter Milan.

WILL SIGNING ASHLEY YOUNG INCREASE INTER’s CHANCES OF WINNING THE SCUDETTO?

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I’m sure the biggest question that many Serie A fans are asking is whether Ashley Young can help Inter win the scudetto. I definitely think that if Ashley Young buys into Conte’s system, he’ll be of great assistance to Inter. The question here though is whether Ashley Young’s signing will actually increase their chances of winning the scudetto. Personally, I don’t think he’ll increase Inter’s chances of winning Italy’s most coveted prize. I believe he’s a good player, however, I don’t believe he’s a gamechanger. Maybe, ManU or even Inter fans will read this article and think that I’m completely wrong, which may be true. However, in my opinion, he’s not the calibre of play to instantly increase Inter’s chances of winning the Scudetto. He may provide balance to their very tactical squad, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll make the ultimate difference for them. However, I’m curious to see whether he makes a bigger impact on Inter than I think he will. We’ll begin to see the scope of his impact tomorrow at 9 am Eastern Time, when Inter squares off with Lecce.

Three Things Napoli Should Do to Turn Things Around This Season

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It’s no secret that Napoli hasn’t been stellar so far this season. Before the season started, I predicted that they’d be Juve’s number one title challenger this season. I was wrong and now for Napoli to qualify for the Champions League next season it’s next to impossible. As a result of this disastrous season for Napoli, I’m doing an article on three ways they can improve. So, get ready for me to be an armchair manager and armchair member of Napoli’s upper-management.

1. TRY TO SIGN A STRIKER IN THE WINTER TRANSFER WINDOW

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Like most things, this is way easier said than done. However, Napoli urgently needs a striker. Last summer and even the one before that, Napoli fans have been wanting their club to sign a proven striker. However, now that Mertens is out, it’s been even more noticeable. Milk has done pretty well and scored 7 goals in 10 game of action so far this season. But, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, and Hirving Lozano have only combined for 8 goals in total, so far this season. For players who play as either wingers or strikers, that’s absolutely pathetic! They’re also tied for 8th most goals scored this season as a team with 28 goals, which highlights their problems even more. Listen, there are only close to two weeks left until the January Transfer Window is done, but Napoli’s upper-management should make buying a striker a priority this month.

2. BENCH LORENZO INSIGNE OR REMOVE HIM AS CAPTAIN

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve admired Lorenzo Insigne as a player throughout his career. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. In this case, it holds true, as Insigne clearly hasn’t been near his best this season and maybe benching him will give him the motivation he needs to perform better. With only 4 goals and 3 assists so far this season, it’s obvious just how below par he’s performing. Also, by benching him and starting someone such as Hirving Lozano, it could improve their frontline and turn things around for them. One other thing that Napoli should consider is stripping his captaincy from him. Now, I’m not fully for this move, as it’s really drastic. But, ever since Hamsik left Napoli and the captain’s armband was given to Lorenzo Insigne, they haven’t performed how they should. There’s some food for thought for Gennaro Gattuso and other members of Napoli’s management.

3. PUT DI LORENZO BACK AT RIGHT-BACK

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Ever since 2020 began, Gattuso decided it’d be a good idea to place Giovanni Di Lorenzo at centre-back, instead of at right-back, where he seemed to be performing well. I understand that Koulibaly is injured. But, it’d be better to place Di Lorenzo at the position he was at before because he doesn’t look comfortable as a central defender. It’s only been a small sample size of two games, but Napoli clearly needs to string together some good results and this would definitely help. Luperto or Tonelli aren’t ideal options to replace injured Koulibaly for the time being. However, it’d be better to place players in that position that are used to playing as central defenders. If Gattuso implements this change, they may actually get the results they want and might actually move up in the Serie A table. Let’s hope Gattuso thinks about this before Napoli’s next match against Fiorentina

Previewing Roma Vs Juventus

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There have been some massive matches this season in Serie A so far, such as last week’s game between Napoli and Inter. However, not many matches get bigger than the one that’ll be played today at the Stadio Olimpico between Roma and Juventus at 2:45 pm Eastern Time. So, here’s my preview of this match for both clubs.

ROMA

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Paulo Fonseca has led Roma to heights that a lot of people have been surprised about. Coming into this match, they are in decent form, by winning their last 3 matches, losing a match, and drawing one. They do have a few injuries coming into this match, however, that shouldn’t faze them, based on their recent form. They will have a massive test against Juventus, who are currently competing with Inter for the scudetto. It’s possible, though, that being at the San Siro against this other Italian giant may inspire them to victory. However, a victory for them in this match for Roma would depend on how well they can contain Juve’s attack. That will be a monumental task for them, but maybe, Paulo Fonseca has something up his sleeve.

JUVENTUS

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So far this season, Juve has had a huge challenge trying to win Serie A’s biggest prize, once again. Inter has been challenging them for the title throughout the season and this match against Roma just adds to the tough season. However, coming into this match Juve should be motivated to win, as this will probably be one of Juve’s toughest matches over the whole season. Juve will have to be on their game if they want to get a result in the Eternal City. The key to the game for Juventus is being clinical and converting their chances. There’s a good chance they will get a lot of chances in this match, so being clinical would give them the edge. This will prove to be a big test for this Juve squad.

MATCH PREDICTION

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This match should be a very close one. I don’t see either club blowing out the other. As much as Roma is in decent form and are really coming into their own under Paulo Fonseca, I see Juve winning this match 2-1. Just because upfront, they’re on a roll and I don’t see how Roma can contain their frontline.

Ways Serie A Clubs Can Increase Their Attendance at Stadiums

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Serie A is a very attractive league to watch. However, in regards to attendance numbers at stadiums, it’s still behind other top football leagues such as the EPL (England Premier League) and the Bundesliga. So, I decided that it’d be a good idea to compare the EPL’s average attendance numbers to Serie A’s numbers. Also, I want to write about ways Serie A clubs can increase their attendance at stadiums. So, let’s get it done!

EPL’s AVERAGE STADIUM CAPACITY AND ATTENDANCE NUMBERS THIS SEASON

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To start off, I got each individual club’s stats from https://www.soccerstats.com in order to write this article. Then, added the numbers from each club. After that, once I got the total numbers from each league, I divided it up by the number of clubs that are in each league. That’s how I was able to get the average attendance, stadium capacity, and the average percentage of seats being filled from both leagues. From my calculations, so far this season, the average number of fans that are attending EPL matches this season is approximately 39,295. The average capacity of English Premier League stadiums close to 40, 546 people. Finally, the average percentage of each stadium in England’s top-flight that has been filled this season is 96.6%.

SERIE A’s AVERAGE STADIUM CAPACITY AND ATTENDANCE NUMBERS THIS SEASON

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To calculate Serie As average attendance and stadium capacity numbers, I used the same method as I did above. Serie As average numbers in these categories are lower, which means they need to improve. So, here are the numbers. Based on what I calculated from the https://www.soccerstats.com website, Serie As average stadium capacity is approximately 39, 331 people. Also, Serie A’s average attendance so far this season is about 26, 641 attendees. To cap off Serie A’s average attendance and capacity numbers, approximately, 71.7% of the league’s stadium capacities have been filled.

SO HOW CAN SERIE A CLUBS INCREASE THEIR ATTENDANCE NUMBERS?

1. BUILD NEWER STADIUMS/RENOVATE OLDER ONES

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This solution is a very difficult one to implement, as it would have to go through a lot of political barriers as well as major planning. Also, some club owners would be hesitant just because there are a lot of costs associated with this. Permits, building costs, and more would be part of those costs. However, in the long-term, I believe that it would attract more fans to attend Serie A stadiums each week. Personally, if I were to go to any Serie A stadium, it’d be a dream. However, some fans would love to go to stadiums that are newer and aren’t crumbling apart. One of the big factors as to why Stadiums in the EPL have a high number of fans attending their matches each week is because of a lot of stadiums being newly built or renovated.

2. ELIMINATE THREATS OF VIOLENT AND DISCRIMINATORY BEHAVIOUR WITHIN THE STADIUMS

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Unfortunately, sometimes Serie A gets a bad reputation because of some people within the stadium who look to cause physical violence as well as displaying discriminatory behaviour towards fans as well as players. Serie A needs to crackdown on people who display this type of behaviour in the stadium because first of all, it’s wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated at all. We are all human beings who shouldn’t be threatened by violence or discriminated against in any shape or form. Second of all, if fans feel that they’re in danger by going to a stadium and watching their team play, it’ll result in them not wanting to go. Therefore, Serie A needs to crack down on these types of actions within stadiums.

References:

https://www.soccerstats.com/attendance.asp?league=italy

https://www.soccerstats.com/attendance.asp?league=england

Three Reasons Why Zlatan Ibrahimovic Will Help AC Milan

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For the past couple of years, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been rumoured to be rejoining AC Milan. However, that hasn’t happened until now! On January 3rd, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was once again presented to Rossoneri fans. Since this signing, a lot of people have given their opinions on him. So, here are the three reasons why I think he’ll be a good signing for AC Milan!

1. He’ll Bring Leadership and a Winning Mentality to this Group

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For some people, Zlatan Ibrahimovic can seem arrogant. Despite that, you can’t deny that he’s a natural winner. He’s won league titles in four different countries. He’s also had six seasons throughout his career where he’s scored 25 goals or over. So, it’s no secret that he has a proven track record of success. I don’t think that he’ll lead AC Milan to a Champions League place for next season. But, I do believe that he’ll elevate the level of the squad and be a great leader for them. Once other players on the squad see his work ethic and his motivation to be the best, it’ll rub off on the squad very quickly. His presence should significantly improve their place in the Serie A standings.

2. The Club Will Make Revenue Off Him

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It’s easy to see why Ibrahimovic is a good signing on and off the pitch. Off the pitch, he should definitely help AC Milan make tons of revenue. There are so many ways for them to make more revenue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Merchandise with his name on it should sell out like crazy ticket sales should also definitely increase significantly. Also, he should be able to increase AC Milan’s following on all of its Social Media platforms. That increase in the following will also lead to more companies wanting to advertise themselves on AC Milan’s Social Media platforms. Therefore, it will pull in more revenue for AC Milan right now.

3. He’ll Help Improve the Rossoneris Results

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Coming into this season, AC Milan were expected by many to compete for a spot in next season’s Champions League. However, this season has become a complete mess for this iconic club. But, Zlatan Ibrahimovic can change that. There’s a very small chance that AC Milan will compete in a European competition next season, based on the current table. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic can definitely somewhat save this season for AC Milan. I don’t think he can fully save it. But, if they play in the Europa League next season, it’ll turn out to be a decent season for them. It’ll be interesting to see if he can somehow elevate their game.

Three Current Players I’d like to see Play in Serie A

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It’s official! Franck Ribery, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Romelu Lukaku will all be playing against each other in the same domestic League for the first time ever! That league is, of course, the wonderful Serie A. As a result of these players joining Serie A at the same time, I’m writing about three other ones I’d like to see play in Italy. So, enjoy!

1. KYLIAN MBAPPE

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The legend of Kylian Mbappe keeps growing at a fast rate. At 21, he’s already won the World Cup as well as three Ligue 1 titles with both Monaco and PSG. He definitely boasts an impressive resume for his age. That is exactly why I’d love to see him play at a Serie A club. Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, and Kylian Mbappe playing in the same league. That’d be something remarkable and I hope it happens. However, the big limitation to trying to buy the player is his price. He was purchased by PSG in 2017 for 145 Million Euros plus 35 Million Euros in bonuses. Also, he keeps getting better by the day, so, I’m not sure which Serie A clubs can afford to buy him without selling many of their key players. But, it’s a dream of mine for this young star to grace the calcio fields of Italy.

2. LIONEL MESSI

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As of now, it’s very difficult to see Lionel Messi going to another club other than Barcelona. Indeed, the loyalty he has for the club seems unbreakable. However, in 2005, Inter were nearly able to sign the young Lionel Messi. That’s in the past now, but, I’d still love to see him play in Serie A, not just because of his technical abilities or dribbling technique, but also because it’d be cool to see him pursuing a new challenge in his career. What better challenge than to play in Italy? Lionel Messi would also join many other Argentinean legends by playing in Italy. However, it is still only a dream, as, like I mentioned earlier, I can’t see him ever leaving Barcelona to go to another club.

3. KEVIN DE BRUYNE

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It’s an interesting thing to say, but, compared to the other players in this article, I’d say Kevin De Bruyne is the most likely to make a move to Serie A. His price would be crazy. However, he would definitely be cheaper than the other two players. Also, while, he has won a bunch of silverware for Manchester City, I feel like he’s the type of player to want a new challenge. Maybe, if Manchester City plateaus with their current group, he’ll want higher level trophies such as Europa League or even Champions League trophies. A move to Serie A for Kevin De Bruyne would depend on if Man City keeps achieving the level of success that they have for the past couple of seasons. Hopefully, this move happens in the near future.

How Serie A Clubs Will Do in the Champions League Knockout Round

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Something remarkable has happened in the Champions League this season! That something, is the fact that there will be three Serie A clubs in the round of 16 this season in the Champions League. For Serie A fans, it’ll be more fun than usual to watch. So, here’s how far I think the Serie A clubs will do in the round of 16.

ATALANTA

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Earlier this week, Atalanta qualified for the Champions League in a triumphant fashion against Shakhtar Donetsk. It was absolutely amazing, to say the least! There were videos of Atalanta fans as well as players and staff celebrating this remarkable accomplishment. Now, they will be in the round of 16 for the first time in their history. They are coming in hot, as well. Based on the way they’re playing right now, many clubs should be scared to face them. However, I don’t think they’ll make it past the round of 16. I understand that they’re in pretty good form right now, however, I feel that their lack of experience in this type of situation is why they won’t advance past the round of 16. Sorry, La Dea fans!

NAPOLI

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There’s been a lot of drama surrounding Napoli lately. The players reportedly rebelled against Aurelio De Laurentiis and Carlo Ancelotti got sacked this week as well. So, it’s been an interesting few weeks for Napoli. However, fans will be happy that they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage and are now in the round of 16. Yes, Gattuso isn’t experienced as a manager at all with a club in the Champions League. However, based on how they’ve performed in the Champions League this season, no top club will want to face them. They’ll be a tough squad to beat, especially this season. That’s why I think they’ll make it through to the quarterfinals this time.

JUVENTUS

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If you didn’t know too much about Juventus and you based your knowledge off of what Bianconeri fans and pundits say, you’d think Juventus are doing terrible and they’re in a crisis. However, that’s not the case at all. Yes, they currently sit in second in Serie A and still have deficiencies in their Midfield, but, they went undefeated in the Champions League Group Stage. They also came in first in their group. Which, leads me to believe they’ll make it far in this competition. In my opinion, there’s no reason why Juve shouldn’t at least make the semifinals. I actually predict they’ll make the Champions League finals this season. Despite, their deficiencies in the midfield, I think they’ll continue to improve over the season under Sarri and should find themselves in Istanbul on May 30, 2020.

Here’s a video of Atalanta Fans Celebrating after they qualified to the round of 16! Video Credit: YouTube-Light Yagami

The Most Disappointing Serie A Clubs So Far This Season

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Last week, I published an article of who I thought were the most impressive Serie A clubs so far this season. However, in this article I will be writing about who I think have been Serie A’s biggest disappointments this season. So, here they are! Enjoy!

SAMPDORIA

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Sampdoria’s start to the season was worst than I think anyone could’ve imagined. They had only won 2 matches in their first 8 under Di Francesco. After that horrible run of form, Eusebio Di Francesco got sacked and in came Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri has only earned two wins so far as Sampdoria’s managers. However, they’re steadily improving. Their place in the standings is not where they should be at all, despite their improvement. They currently sit one point above the relegation zone in 17th, which is disappointing, considering at the beginning of the season, I thought they’d be able to challenge for a spot in a European competition. It could still very well happen, however with Quagliarella not scoring like last season, I don’t see anyone bailing them out enough for that to be possible.

UDINESE

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For me, at least, coming into this season I would’ve thought Udinese would fight for a midtable place in the Serie A. However, fast-forward to their current situation and they sit in 16th, only being 4 points from relegation. Their current position is very surprising, considering, some of the talent they have. For example, a player like Rodrigo De Paul is very underrated, in my opinion and may very well leave Udinese soon if they are this low in the standings down the road. However, there are rumors linking him with a January move to Inter. I’m hoping that this iconic club stays up. But, if they continue to play the way they are, I don’t see it. Indeed, they’ve developed some great players such as Dino Zoff, Alex Meret, Antonio Di Natale, etc. It’d definitely be a tragedy if they were to go down to Serie B.

AC MILAN

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At the start of this season, many thought that while AC Milan was going through a rebuild, they’d Challenge for a Champions League spot. However, as of now, they are in 10th place and their performances this season have been consistently underwhelming. Yes, they seem to be improving under Stefano Pioli, however, they’re still not performing as expected. Gennaro Gattuso may have said why he resigned as the rossoneri’s manager last summer. But, now many are starting to realize what he said about the players was true. There’s still a long way to go before the season is done and dusted, however, they need to improve immensely before the end of the season. A signing of a certain someone in January may help them. That someone would be Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

NAPOLI

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If you were to look at Napoli’s results in the Champions League this season, you’d think they’d be scudetto contenders. However, it’s not been like that at all. They’ve been very disappointing this season. So much so that they fired Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week and replaced him with Gennaro Gattuso. There are many reasons people think as to why this has been a disastrous season for Napoli, so far. A big portion of the blame is going to some of the core players that have been underperforming. There are also several other reasons why they’re underperforming. However, if Napoli want to be scudetto contenders this season, they’ll have to improve immensely. With the squad that the club has, there’s no excuse not to finish in the top 3, in my opinion.

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The Most Impressive Clubs So Far This Season in Serie A

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Like every season, there’s been several surprises so far. However, it seems as though there has been more surprisingly overachieving clubs than usual, this season. Here’s who I think have been the most impressive Serie A clubs, so far this season.

HELLAS VERONA

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Many Serie A fans would’ve thought that coming into this season, Hellas Verona would battle relegation throughout. However, they’ve proved so many wrong and may challenge for a spot in a European competition if they continue like this. They currently sit in ninth in the standings. The interesting part of Hellas Verona is the fact that they don’t possess any notable players. But, they’re getting the job done and that’s what matters the most. Well see if they can avoid a relegation battle throughout the rest of this season.

CAGLIARI

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When Nainggolan was loaned to Cagliari, it seemed as if his biggest motivation was to prove Inter wrong. So far, him and Cagliari are doing just that. Yes, Cagliari sold their star player last season, Nicolo Barella. However, they’re boasting players such as Joao Pedro, Giovanni Simeone, and of course Radja Nainggolan, who are taking the league by storm. Also, they boast some decent veterans such as Ragnar Klavan and Luca Cigarini as well. All in all, they’re a very underrated squad and at this rate, they have a good chance of being in the Europa League next season. They’re also challenging for the Champions League, so watch out for this squad.

LAZIO

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So far, Lazio looks like a very tough club to face. Ciro Immobile has scored the most goals out of all players in Europe’s top 5 leagues, this season. Once again, he is feeling it. They also sit 3rd in the Serie A table and are an exciting club to watch. They play a very offensive style. Also, unlike past seasons, it seems they’ve found a defender who can be a rock for them at the back. Right now, that’s Francesco Acerbi. They also possess Joaquin Correa who plays as a forward. Him and Immobile seem to complement each other’s games. They also a boast a midfield that has the highly touted? Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, as well as Luis Alberto, who is massively underrated. It’ll be tough, however if they can keep being this consistent, we’ll see them in the Champions League next season.

INTER

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Inter has a very good manager in Antonio Conte at their disposal. However, despite that, I predicted they’d finish in third before the season started. But, Inter is definitely proving me wrong by a wide-margin. Antonio Conte has gotten this squad to play how he wants them to already. Also, although Barella and Sensi are currently injured, they’ve been a massive part of this midfield that has dominated many other Serie A sides. Upfront, with Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, they’ve been pretty good, as well. That midfield is a big part of it, in my opinion. Not to take away either from Martinez or Lukaku, but the service that midfield has provided to those two is a big part of why they’re playing tremendously right now. As for their backline, nothing needs to be said. Many expected that backline to be a wall and it has lived up to that, so far. We’ll see if they’re able to get enough points to win Serie A’s iron throne this season. One thing is for sure, it’ll be a tough fight, but one they’re winning as of now.