Serie A – 2012/13 Season Review

The 2012/13 Coppa Italia final was expected to be one of the best, most exciting games contested in the competition’s history. The Coppa drew capital rivals Roma and Lazio in the third and final showing of the Derby della Capitale at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday. It didn’t turn out to be the entertaining match that everyone anticipated it to be, but there were still plenty of storylines.

Lazio winger Senad Lulic, an apparent Juventus target, had the first real opportunity of the game. He managed to find a small amount of space near the penalty area and released a shot, but Bogdan Lobont got his fingertips to it, however it landed in the path of Miroslav Klose. The German flubbed his chance, though, sending the ball wide into the side netting.

Michael Bradley, who was Roma’s best player in an otherwise dire team performance, then replied to Lulic and Klose’s efforts with one of his own. Bradley sprinted forward, as he usually does, made his way into the opposing box, shot, but missed wide from the right side of the area from six yards out. Mattia Destro arguably had the best chance of the match, arriving at the end of the first half. He had a free header which ended up flashing past the right post. Destro got the nod up front over the controversial Pablo Osvaldo, who appears more likely to leave the Giallorossi in the summer as the days pass.

Federico Marchetti, was, once again, one of the standouts for Lazio on the night. He stopped Francesco Totti twice in the second half to keep the game scoreless.

Finally, on 71 minutes, the breakthrough arrived from Lulic. Antonio Candreva sent in a cross which Lobont intercepted ahead of his own defender, Marquinhos, which ended up in front of the Bosnian, who made no mistake from close range to deliver the only goal of the match. It was the hammer blow for Roma considering that Destro once again failed to capitalize on a brilliant opportunity, scuffing a shot that ended up safely in the hands of Marchetti, which could’ve easily been smashed into the back of the net.

Following four minutes of stoppage time, the Biancocelesti commenced their celebrations. Coach Vladimir Petkovic walked over with Lazio’s famed eagle, Olimpia, towards the club’s ultras. Players carried the Coppa, snapping photos of them kissing and hoisting the trophy in front of their supporters. It’s the club’s sixth cup victory, and what’ll make it sweeter is that they denied their rivals at the chance to win their tenth. Thanks to Sunday’s triumph, Lazio will face Juventus in August’s Suppercoppa, which will most likely be staged in the USA.

2012/13 Season Review

Italy Soccer Serie A Juventus Vidal

In what was a walk for the majority of their season, Juventus came out on top, claiming their 29th Scudetto, finishing with a nine point advantage over second place Napoli. Despite failing in their quest for a “top striker”, the Bianconeri were the third highest scoring club in Serie A this year with 71 goals, two back of the Partenopei.

Standout performances from Arturo Vidal, Andrea Barzagli, and Gianluigi Buffon led the way in Juve being the most defensively sound team in Italy. They conceded 25 goals, 11 less than the second lowest total. Now with their pursuit of the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, and Stevan Jovetic, The Old Lady will only get stronger heading into the next campaign.

Napoli came the closest to dethrowning Juventus, but in the end came up short. The Partenopei’s 1-1 draw against them in March ultimately ended their chances of a Scudetto, but they won’t have many complaints. Following a fifth place finish last year after a tiring Champions League campaign, the Neapolitan side will get a chance to prove that they can balance both domestic and European competition and stay in the hunt at the top of the table from August to May in Serie A.

Napoli’s second place finish is a huge success. However due to their solid performance, they’ve lost their manager, Walter Mazzarri, who’s Inter bound following Andrea Stramaccioni’s sacking. Rafa Benitez will be confirmed as the replacement in the next month or so as the agreement can’t be made official until he’s released from Chelsea. The other dilemma is the future over Edinson Cavani, will he stay or go? His €63 million release clause gives the advantage to his club, but if a team such as PSG or Manchester City come calling, the scenario changes. It’ll be a very interesting summer for the side from the peninsula.

AC Milan squeaked into third place thanks to a soft penalty and a quick follow up from Philippe Mexes, but they accomplished the impossible given what happened to them in the summer. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Alessandro Nesta, and Clarence Seedorf were just a few of the key departures, yet the Rossoneri still have a chance to feature in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition.

Milan lost just three games from the end of October, which is the lowest number amongst any other team in Serie A. The dip in form of Stephan El Shaarawy and the lacklustre defence are two worries for the club to address in the summer, but that’s the beauty of preseason. Either way, Massimiliano Allegri’s lads should be pleased with where they finished.

Fiorentina were heartbroken on the final day of the season. Their 5-1 demolition over Pescara was all for not given AC Milan’s result that same evening. However the Viola went from a side battling relegation last season to nearly qualifying for the Champions League the very next year. The resurgence of Adem Ljajic was a particular highlight. The Serbian forward netted 11 goals and showed the potential his club saw in him when they snatched him from under Manchester United’s nose.

The downside is that due to Fiorentina’s failed quest at the Champions League, the squad may be chopped and changed. Juan Cuadrado is going to be sought after just as much as Stevan Jovetic, although the fee received will be higher for the Montenegrin attacker. Arsenal and Juventus are the two sides linked with Jovetic the most, but with the January acquisition of Giuseppe Rossi and the rumours of Galatasaray’s Burak Yilmaz arriving in Jovetic’s place, the summer may not be as depressing as the supporters think.

Udinese defied the odds yet again and finished near the top of the league and got back into European competition. It wasn’t a Champions League berth that the Zebrette have clinched the last two seasons, but a Europa League spot is just as rewarding for the small Fruilano side. Their eight wins in a row was the deciding factor, but with yet another new squad coming together, things look promising for a team that’s usually content with staying in Serie A. That may no longer be the case given their recent success. Italy may have her new emerging contender.

Two hundred Roma supporters were seen throwing objects at the team bus following the Coppa Italia loss. It’s a symbol for yet another failed season in the capital. No European competition yet again means two steps back after taking one step forward. The club’s sixth coach in four campaigns is most likely on the way with Massimiliano Allegri dubbed as the favourite to take the hot seat in Rome. One thing is for sure, another disappointing year won’t be tolerated by anyone, success is necessary and it starts by a strong finish in the table.

The sky blue half of Rome will be far more content with their 2012/13 season. A Coppa Italia triumph delivered the first piece of silverware in the Vladimir Petkovic era. The Swiss tactician of Bosnian descent was an unknown in July 2012, but is now beloved by many Biancocelesti supporters. Despite the seventh place finish, Lazio’s deep Europa League run and, at one point, their pursuit of Champions League football will be viewed as positives from the board’s perspective. If there’s added depth over the summer, Lazio may be able to make that next leap.

Describing Inter’s season in 100 words is difficult, but here’s an attempt: It was disastrous, shambolic, dreadful, and disappointing. Not one of these synonyms can be used by itself because that’s how poor the campaign went for the Nerazzurri. Ninth place with 16 defeats (the lowest since 1947/48) is all that needs to be said to put the year into perspective for those that didn’t follow it. The need for depth in quality at almost every position will be a herculean task for new manager Walter Mazzarri, but it’s something that must be done if the club wants to return to the heyday of Jose Mourinho, a man that’s yet to be replaced in terms of the success he brought.

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