Serie A sea­son’s highs and lows

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­LAN: Serie A has lost some of its al­lure in the last few sea­sons yet, with its un­pre­dictable club own­ers and the tac­ti­cal nous of its coaches, re­mains one of the most colour­ful of the big five Euro­pean leagues.

The fol­low­ing are 10 of the high­lights and low points of the sea­son which fin­ished on Sun­day:

UN­STOP­PABLE JU­VEN­TUS The Turin club won the ti­tle for their sixth suc­ces­sive sea­son, the last three un­der phleg­matic coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri.

They scored a pre-sea­son blow by sign­ing the top play­ers from their two big­gest ri­vals, Napoli striker Gon­zalo Higuain and Roma mid­fielder Mi­ralem Pjanic, and were al­most in­vin­ci­ble at home, win­ning 18 and draw­ing

one of their 19 matches.

PALERMO CHAOS

Volatile owner Mau­r­izio Zam­par­ini an­nounced he was sell­ing the club af­ter 14 years to a fund led by Amer­i­can-born busi­ness­man Paul Baccaglini, who opened his shirt to re­veal a Palermo chest tat­too dur­ing his first press con­fer­ence.

On the field, Palermo em­ployed five dif­fer­ence coaches and were rel­e­gated to Serie B.

MI­LAN DOL­DRUMS

AC Mi­lan fol­lowed in the foot­steps of neigh­bours In­ter as they were sold to a Chi­nese con­sor­tium in April but both teams had medi­ocre sea­sons.

Seven-times Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Mi­lan fin­ished sixth to sneak into the Europa League qual­i­fiers while In­ter em­ployed three coaches on their way to sev­enth place as they missed out on Europe al­to­gether.

GENOA

Eighth at the end of the Novem­ber, Genoa fin­ished four points clear of rel­e­ga­tion af­ter a sec­ond half slump.

Fans protested at one match by turn­ing their backs to the pitch while coach Ivan Juric was fired in Fe­bru­ary, only to be re­called in April af­ter his re­place­ment An­drea Man­dor­lini failed to stop the rot.

COACHES

Apart from Palermo, AC Mi­lan and Genoa, only Lazio, Pescara and Udi­nese changed coaches. Marcelo Bielsa had the short­est reign, quit­ting af­ter just two days at Lazio in July be­cause he said the club had failed to sign any of his trans­fer tar­gets.

CRO­TONE’S GREAT ES­CAPE Eight points adrift of safety at the start of April, Cro­tone spent the whole of their de­but Serie A sea­son in the rel­e­ga­tion zone un­til the very last day, when they beat Lazio 3-1 to pull clear and send Em­poli down in­stead.

The Cal­abri­ans won six of their last nine games, hav­ing won just three of their first 29.

RACISM

Serie A con­tin­ued to strug­gle with racism.

Lazio left back Se­nad Lulic was banned for 20 days af­ter say­ing that AS Roma de­fender An­to­nio Ruedi­ger was sell­ing socks and belts in Stuttgart, seem­ing to im­ply that the Ger­man, whose mother is from Sierra Leone, was once a street ven­dor.

Ghana­ian mid­fielder Sul­ley Mun­tari walked off in protest dur­ing a match for Pescara at Cagliari, say­ing the ref­eree had booked him for dis­sent when he com­plained about racist abuse from some fans.

DZEKO

Bos­nia for­ward Edin Dzeko re­dis­cov­ered his scor­ing touch for AS Roma as he ended the sea­son as the league’s lead­ing marks­man with 29 goals. He net­ted an­other eight in the Europa League and two more in the Coppa Italia.

NAPOLI

De­spite Higuain’s pre-sea­son de­par­ture, Napoli fin­ished third and set club records for the num­ber of points in a sea­son (86) and goals scored (94). They lost just four matches, three of them in Oc­to­ber, in a slump that ef­fec­tively cost them the ti­tle. Reuters

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