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Blighted by controversy, coloured by innovative formations and blessed with emerging talent, it couldn’t be anything else but a season in Serie A. We count down the campaign’s best XI with the help of, what else but a back 3?
Goalkeeper- Federico Marchetti (Lazio)
Marchetti saw himself on the fringes of the Cagliari squad upon his return from the 2010 World Cup with Italy, though his move to Rome has seen him return to the Azzurri such has been his form. 13 clean sheets in the league, as well as some solid performances as the Biancocelesti won the Coppa Italia.
Lazio also took points off the all conquering Juventus in Turin thanks to a fine performance from Marchetti, a superb flying save from Arturo Vidal being the highlight.
Centre-back- Hugo Campagnaro (Napoli)
The 32 year old Argentine has let his contract run out after four years in Naples and could be set to follow coach Walter Mazzarri to Inter Milan, though few Napoli fans can begrudge him his move after a superb season. Campagnaro made 29 appearances as the Partenopei finished runners-up in Serie A with just 36 goals conceded.
The no-nonsense defender made over 300 clearances at the back, as well as winning 61 of his 87 tackles.
Centre-back- Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
The 6 ft 1 inch defender is an imposing force at the back for the old lady, possessing overwhelming strength to shrug attackers off the ball and the height to win the majority of his headers, shown by a 68% success rate in the air.
As well as being formidable in defence, he also showed an elegant side of his game as he offered a good attacking outlet down Juve’s left and a 90% pass success rate indicates his prowess in helping Conte’s men build from the back.
Centre-back- Andrea Barzagli (Juventus)
If Chiellini’s great form wasn’t enough, he was partnered by Barzagli, the experienced 32 year old who made 34 appearances as Juventus steamed to the Serie A title with just 24 goals conceded.
Barzagli compensated for declining pace with supreme positional sense as Juve’s back-line remained firm throughout the campaign.
Left Winger- Alessio Cerci (Torino)
After signing for Torino from Fiorentina for a cut-price deal last August, the 25 year old left-midfielder looked to be on the scrap-heap, though Cerci’s season has been one of rejuvenation as he terrorised numerous defences to help Torino escape relegation.
He scored 8 goals and created a total of 60 chances in his 35 appearances, earning him a call-up to the Italian national team.
Right winger- Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Vidal’s 50 successful tackles shows how effective he was in protecting Andrea Pirlo but the Chilean midfielder was far more than that as he joined Juve’s attacks with energy and dynamism, scoring 10 goals (as he finished joint-top scorer) and creating 35 chances from the right side.
A fine mover of the ball, Vidal completed 84% of his attempted passes, as his versatility was vital to Andrea Conte’s ability to shift his side’s system.
Centre-midfield- Borja Valero (Fiorentina)
Similar to Cerci, Valero’s first season at his new club has been a revelation. The Spaniard showed assured technique in the heart of La Viola’s midfield, assisting 11 goals, creating a mammoth 74 chances and dictating play with around 1,800 passes in total.
His quality was essential to Vincenzo Montella’s free-flowing side, making 37 appearances as Fiorentina qualified for the Champions League.
Centre-midfield- Marek Hamsik (Napoli)
The Slovakian playmaker is blessed with superb vision and his ability to drop deep to pick the ball up from the midfield and spray passes around in attack was vital to Napoli’s return to the Champions League.
He scored 11 goals as well as assisting 14 from his slightly altered position on the left side of attack, as well as creating 100 chances for his teammates.
Attacking midfielder- Francesco Totti (AS Roma)
It is impossible to leave the evergreen Italian attacking-midfielder out as he shows no sign of slowing down with age. His 12 goals moved him up to second on the all-time Serie A goal-scoring list with 227, while his 12 assists helped Roma salvage a disruptive season to finish a respectable sixth in the league, as well as runners up in the Coppa Italia.
Despite reaching the ripe old age of 36, Totti still managed 33 starts for the Giallorossi and remains integral to their fortunes.
Attacking midfielder- Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
The Egyptian-born youngster celebrated breaking into the Italian squad at the start of the season with a brilliant campaign where he hit 16 goals and assisted 4 to help the Rossoneri into third place.
From his position on the left side of Max Allegri’s 3-pronged attack, the 20 year old demonstrated electric pace, confidence to take men on and assured finishing throughout, striking up a potent partnership with fellow youthful frontman Mario Balotelli.
Centre-Forward- Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
The 26 year old Uruguayan hit-man is courting interest from right across Europe this summer and rightly so after a season in which he struck 29 goals to fire Napoli back to the Champions League after a year’s absence.
Full of pace, power and unerring finishing, Cavani is arguably the best central-forward in Europe and Rafael Benitez has a fight on his hands to keep the league’s top scorer at the San Paulo with his ambition to win trophies consistently outweighing just last year’s Coppa Italia.
Manager- Vincenzo Montella (Fiorentina)
Antonio Conte saw his team march to a successive title by a margin of nine points whilst Walter Mazzarri and Max Allegri both negotiated choppy waters at their clubs to finish in the Champions League qualification spots. Though it’s the manager who claimed the fourth who wins this gong, Vincenzo Montella for forging a cohesive, fluent Fiorentina.
His midfield of David Pizarro, Borja Valero and Alberto Aquilani were all transformed from stalling careers to providing the elegant backbone to La Viola, providing some of the most entertaining football in the division.
Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic were excellent in attack, spearheading Montella’s 3-5-2 to a higher finish than the richer, more illustrious Inter Milan, Roma and Lazio.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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