Serie A returns this weekend with Juventus looking to win their 10th straight league title, but teams such as Inter Milan, Atalanta and Napoli are confident they can give them a real run for their money this time around.
We’ve spent a good part of this week looking into our crystal ball here at Power Tower, to come up with six things we think you’re bound to witness over the next nine months in Italy’s top-flight.
I AM ZLATAN
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has spent most of the summer break denying that he’s been hopping in and out of the sack with DAZN Italia’s football anchor Diletta Leotta.
One look at the scrumptious Diletta and one could forgive the Swede if he started the campaign a little slowly.
A quick peak, however, at Zlatan in pre-season training doing a 1000 press-ups using only his index finger and there’s no denying that the old stager will once again be showing Milan’s young pups how it’s done.
Ibrahimovic has been quick to point out that his relationship with the showgirl is purely platonic but, regardless of his off-field shenanigans, expect the big man to lead from the front once again as the Rossoneri look to get back into the Champions League in 2021-22.
“NON MANGIA IL PANETTONE”
Such is the precarious life of a Serie A manager the Italians have come up with a wonderful phrase to describe it; “Non mangia Il Panettone” or ‘he will not eat the Christmas cake’.
Whilst Andrea Pirlo will be given time to bed into his new role in charge at Juventus and Inter will continue to put their trust in Antonio Conte, some of the bosses a little lower down the pecking order will be happy to get to the winter recess with their jobs still intact.
By the time Santa slips down the chimney, expect at least three Serie A sides to have already dispensed with their coach’s services before realising that the new man in charge is just as hopeless and reinstating the one who they started the campaign with.
If you’re looking to put a cheeky little fiver on the men likely to be out of work over the festive period then look no further than Crotone boss Giovanni Stroppa, La Spezia’s Vincenzo Italiano and Torino’s Marco Giampaolo.
RONALDO LINKED WITH JANUARY EXIT FROM JUVE
At the moment all looks rosy between new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo and star man Cristiano Ronaldo, but let’s see how their relationship is at the end of next month.
CR7 has been the undisputed top dog in Turin since his arrival two years ago, but now that number one son has taken over at the helm it will be fascinating to see if the dressing-room at the Allianz Stadium is big enough to fit both egos inside.
The first time Pirlo leaves Ronnie out citing that he needs a rest, the Italian press will go into overdrive and start linking the Portuguese legend with a move back to Real Madrid.
The whole scenario will be played out over a couple of months before CR7 gets his way and gets his contract amended so that he has to start in every first-team fixture.
Add to this a 12-month extension to his current deal and another substantial pay rise then you can guarantee he will go on to reclaim the European Golden Boot.
RAMSEY’S WARM-UP ROUTINE
Welsh international Aaron Ramsey has been left out in the cold in Turin so in the great tradition of big-name players from his country, expect to see plenty of shots of the former Arsenal midfielder sat on the bench or warming up on the sidelines, without ever realistically expecting the call to get ready for action.
Should the player remain in Italy after the transfer window has shut in early October, his new guvnor will come out in front of the media explaining that he’s an important part of his plans, which basically means he’ll start in the Coppa Italia and in the non-important Champions League group matches.
UK viewers normally get the chance to see the Old Lady live every weekend so keep your eye out in the bottom of the screen for our intrepid hero going through his paces to primarily keep out the Northern Italian chill.
THE NAPOLI CHRISTMAS CALENDER
One of the most eagerly anticipated moments in the Serie A season is when Napoli launches its now-famous Christmas calendar.
With movie mogul Aurelio Di Laurentiis calling the shots at the Southern Italian giants, every yuletide he gets out his director’s chair to produce a piece of fan merchandise that is the (apparent) envy of every other club in the peninsula.
Normally based on a theme, the past few years have seen the likes of club captain Lorenzo Insigne stripped down to his buster browns posing as a Greek god and Belgian striker Dries Mertens looking like something from the Anthill Mob (ask your parents).
Most observers think that central defender Kalidou Koulibaly has his heart set on the Premier League to have a chance at winning a major piece of silverware, when really his main reason for getting away from the port city is to prevent him having to dress up looking like an erotic version of one of the Three Kings.
Like that scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when about three thousand Roman soldiers go searching a room that’s no bigger than an outside toilet, Serie A grounds have the uncanny knack of managing to get the same amount of club officials to fit into its dressing room area.
Take a look this weekend and as the two teams emerge from the tunnel and try to keep count of how many extra bodies all suited and booted and wearing face masks, come out at the same time resembling worker ants fleeing the nest from a hungry predator.
The easiest way of gaining entry to a Serie A game played behind closed doors is to buy a second-hand Armani suit, a face mask from the host club and a lanyard with an old ticket inside it, then just saunter into the players’ area about the same time as the team coach pulls in.
Once you’re out on the pitch no-one will question why you are there. I once knew a guy in Rome who watched an entire season with AS Roma dressed as a steward behind the goal for the meagre price of a tabard.
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