Straight from the dark heart of Italy
So another Serie A season comes kicking and screaming to an end – and once again Inter lord it over one and all although all credit to AS Roma for at least making it an exciting run-in.
And keeping with traditional it is time to unveil the Serie Aaaaargh XI of the year so as quickly as Jose Mourinho can high-tail it to Madrid, let’s getting going.
There has to be a formation of course and we will bow to the Special One and go for a 4-2-3-1 line-up which gives us plenty of opportunity to select a good mix of flair and power just like good old Jose does.
The goalkeeper position saw the usual suspects - Gigi Buffon and Julio Cesar - drop below their usual high-standards but certainly the future looks in safe hands with both Federico Marchetti and Salvatore Sirigu enjoying breakthrough campaigns.
However, it is another Julio who has really caught the eye: Julio Sergio. The AS Roma keeper was nothing more than a bench-warmer until Alexander Doni picked up an injury and then lost all confidence in his ability.
Not particularly tall and generally incapable of catching a high cross which is no major defect in Italian football, the Brazilian’s reflex saves provided some of the stand-out moments of the year – the most memorable being the penalty save against Lazio.
Right-back has been something of a movable feast this season with a number of midfielders converted to a deeper role such as Christian Maggio at Napoli.
Another potential member of the Italy World Cup squad Mattia Cassani has been solid but for sear dynamism not to mention an eye for goal then we can look no further than Douglas Maicon.
The Inter man was of course part of the meanest defence in the land so it is no surprise that Shrek-a-like in the heart of defence will be at least one of his team-mates: Lucio has had his moments but Walter Samuel has not only been a wall but an absolute rock.
Thiago Silva held Milan’s aging backline together and how they could do with a youngster such as Simon Kjaer of Palermo. Cannavaro had a good season – no not Fabio, but brother Paolo down at Napoli.
However, it is another unheralded player and an Argentine as well who lines up alongside Samuel – and that is Nicolas Burdisso.
Discarded by Inter like an old cardboard box, the South America turned out to be as tough as teak to fortify Roma’s previously porous defence, so he edges it ahead of his more classy team-mate Juan.
Fabio Grosso’s exclusion from Marcello Lippi’s preliminary 28-man squad for South Africa should see Domenico Criscito make the Italy left-back position his own but the Genoa youngster is probably more at home as a wing-back.
John Arne Riise has become something of a cult hero with the Roma fans but lacks a bit of pace for our liking unlike another lesser name for many: Federico Balzaretti.
It seemed that after leaving Juventus and then failing to impress at Fiorentina, Palermo would be the end of the line, but his forays along the flank, neat touch and excellent positional sense are more than worthy reasons for his inclusion.
There are enough candidates in the Inter team to anchor the midfield and while Esteban Cambiasso and Thiago Motta have spoilt many a free-flowing attack, Javier Zanetti stands head and shoulders above the rest with an unruffled approach to match his hair-cut.
Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo have both suffered from pushing their bodies to the limit over the last four years and as they run out of steam so Angelo Palombo has kept going in the Sampdoria engine room.
With the defence and midfield firmly anchored to repel any storm further ahead we can that much more creative.
It certainly has been a year for the return of the vintage trequartista – Javier Pastore at Palermo, Cagliari’s Andrea Cossu, Clarence Seedorf during the first half of the season, Jeremy Menez at Roma in the second, but unfortunately not Diego.
Wesley Sneijder, on the other hand, only needed two minutes into his debut for Inter in the derby to demonstrate that Real Madrid must have lost all sense of reason in allowing the Dutch master to leave.
The diminutive number 10 has the freedom of the park through the middle and there is an abundance of talent who can operate down either flank as well interchanging positions with the main striker.
So whom to pick?
Samuel Eto’o has shown versatility; Fabrizio Miccoli has been at his pigeon-toed best; Antonio Cassano’s late-season form was what we expect from the Bari Bawler while Ronaldinho was at times an exclusion zone in his own little area out on the left but still capable of flashes of blinding skill.
They all deserve special mention but we need a little more zip and goals to boot so it is Antonio Di Natale on the right and Mirko Vucinic on the left.
They can switch flanks with ease or drift inside in a heartbeat; Vucinic picked up the pieces as Francesco Totti fell apart while how can you leave out someone who scored 29 goals for Udinese no less?
You can’t, not when you have a main striker who is going to draw this array of talent to him.
That man of course can only be Diego 'The Prince' Milito – the league’s most clinical finisher and an unselfish runner who brings others into the game.
So there you have it: a team that would give the best from the English Premier League and La Liga a run for their money.
Of you may not think so and as you sip your cappuccino or coffee feel free to come up your own team of the year.
Goalkeeper: Julio Sergio (AS Roma)
Defence: Douglas Maicon (Inter Milan), Walter Samuel (Inter Milan), Nicolas Burdisso (AS Roma), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo)
Midfield: Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria)
Midlfield/Trequartista: Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Mirko Vucinic (AS Roma)
Attacker: Diego Milito (Inter Milan)
Thiago Silva over Burdisso; Julio Cesar over Sergio.
I so badly want to also include seedorf but there is no place for him. He is the perfect balance between palombo and sneijder but unfortunately does not have the work rate of the former or as much creativity as the latter.
So just those two changes from me
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