This weekend sees Italy's finest kick-off what promises to be another fascinating campaign in Serie A. Italian Calcio blog has provided you with a club-by-club guide to the new season...
Atalanta start a new era with Luigi Del Neri at the helm. The studious tactician adds great experience to the bench and the club's faithful will hope the coach will be able to repeat in Bergamo city, all that he achieved at Chievo. The Atalanta team has seen many changes this summer, but the pillar of the team, Cristiano Doni, remains, and it is he that will likely dictate whether the season is a success; or not. Langella's arrival gives added quality to the midfield, but it is their defence that could prove to be an Achilles heel.
Many big players have been sold (Suazo, Langella, Esposito) and they have been replaced by starlets, who have talent but need to time to mature and appreciate Serie A's idiosyncratic mentality. Acquafresca and Matri will have the difficult job to replace Suazo and Esposito and although they did good things in Serie B last season, in Serie A it will be a different proposition.
A second consecutive Serie A season for the Sicilian side. Last year, after a sensational beginning, they had a sudden fall and only secured salvation on the last day. Pasquale Marino left to join Udinese and his departure will be sorely felt. Silvio Baldini's team has practically remained the same as last season, with Jonathan Spinesi charged with the task of topping the goalscoring charts. The signings of the experienced Terlizzi and Giacomo Tedesco in midfield should stand them in good stead.
Coach Luigi Cagni has made clear in the pre-season that his players are not to be distracted by the Uefa Cup. A European experience will be great for them, but the main priority remains Serie A. Empoli may have lost their jewel Almiron, but they have secured three interesting young players from Juventus. Cagni, in particular, looks to be a decent acquisition.
Having lost Luca Toni, Fiorentina will have to demonstrate their capabilities without their top goalscorer over the past couple of seasons. They have signed Christian Vieri but the ageing striker will likely struggle to hold down a regular place. Viola coach Cesare Prandelli prefers to lend his faith to Mutu and the talented Pazzini. As for their other strengths, Semioli has arrived to give quality on the wings. Prandelli has good squad players and alternatives in all positions, with a decent campaign anticipated in Florence.
Genoa return to Serie A after a long absence and they do so with big expectations. For a few players it will be a new experience, as it is for coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who has never previously coached in the top league. Rossoblu have strengthened with a few important arrivals and not only in attack. Papa Waigo and Borriello will have the weight of goalscoring expectations on their shoulders, while the defence will count on Bovo. A weak point may be their excessive attacking inclinations.
To an already strong group, President Massimo Moratti and coach Roberto Mancini added only a few players but they are all important acquisitions. The likes of Chivu, Suazo and Jimenez are all expected to star this season. Inter are surely the team to beat this term, and not only because they won the last Scudetto. Inter start with the aim of trying to win either the Italian title or the European Cup. The only problems that Mancini will be asked to solve is how to appease all those players that feel they should be starting.
After a season in the hell that is Serie B, for their involvement in the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus are back in the top league and are expected to be involved at the business end of the table. However, talking about the Scudetto is forbidden in Juve's dressing room. New coach Claudio Ranieri said that they are a work in progress, with reference to the problems showed by his defence in pre-season. They have, though, kept the likes of Buffon, Trezeguet, Camoranesi and Nedved, all players who are ready for a big stage. Add to that list the likes of Grygera, Salihamidzic, Tiago, Andrade and Iaquinta, and it is no surprise why they are tipped for the top.
Lazio start the season with a problem between the posts. They signed Juan Pablo Carrizo this summer, but due to his problems in obtaining an Italian passport, they remain without a number one. Despite this blow, otherwise, Delio Rossi has worked the market well with the signings of Scaloni, Meghni and the talented forward Del Nero. The bookies are predicting Lazio will be improved this year, and if they get off to a good start, they might just be proved right.
The departure of Cristiano Lucarelli has been criticised a lot, but President Aldo Spinelli and coach Fernando Orsi have worked tirelessly to build a competitive side. They decided to give Tristan a possibility to shine after a barren spell, and offered another chance for Tavano too. However, fans' favourite Lucarelli will be difficult to replace.
Emerson and talented youngster Alexandre Pato's arrivals will help appease a set of supporters that have endured a disappointing summer. The Brazilian duo are their only big name signings but Milan are undeniably already a world class side. Their dream was to recruit Ronaldinho, but Barcelona gave them short shrift. Carlo Ancelotti will have to get the best out of Ronaldo if they are reclaim the European Cup, and the Brazilian striker will be desperate to prove he is still one of the world's finest.
Napoli look set to rely on the nucleus of the side which won promotion last season. Big things are expected from coach Eddy Reja's promising young team but inexperience could prove to be a problem should they not get off to the best of starts. Reja has added a number of new faces to his ranks including Hamsick, Lavezzi and Gargano but the key could be keeping in check the expectations of a passionate Napoli faithful.
The major changes at Palermo concern the club's attack, with new coach Stefano Colantuono having brought in the talented but inconsistent Miccoli. The Italy international is a class act on his day, but how often he peaks remains a subject of conjecture. Jankovic's capture from Mallorca gives the midfield guile, while Amauri's return from injury could be crucial.
Parma are not the side they once were and their coach Domenico Di Carlo lacks any top flight experience, which on paper, does not make for a great season. However, the likes of Falcone, Gasbarroni, Morrone and Zenoni all have genuine quality and collectively, they should have enough to stave off any relegation fears. Budan and Reginaldo show plenty of flair in attack, but neither scores enough goals.
Reggina's Massimo Ficcadenti is another coach without Serie A experience and he starts his first campaign without key man Rolando Bianchi, who has decamped to Manchester City. Bianchi was undeniably Reggina's top dog last season and should he not be adequately replaced, then it will be club's supporters howling.
Roma, led by their favourite son and talisman Francesco Totti, will start the season as one of the favourites and should new signings Juan and Giuly settle down quickly, then the Scudetto could end up with Luciano Spaletti's side. The Roma fans are some of the most demanding in Italy and they will be well that the forthcoming campaign represents perhaps the best chance of success in recent years.
Sampdoria are a side brimming with talented players, who perhaps have lost their way somewhat. The likes of Cassano, Montella and Bellucci all have points to prove and should they hit it off, then new coach Walter Mazzarri will be deemed a magician. If, on the other hand, they fall out and fail...
Andrea Mandorlini's Siena have used the pre-season to work on a defence not deemed the most reliable last season. Loria has been brought in to shore up a leaky rearguard, as have Grimi and Lucarelli. Buchi, the club's last signing of the summer, will be expected to weigh in with his fair share of goals.
Torino have been one of the most active clubs in Serie A this season, with arrivals and departures abound in equal measures. A midfield duo of Corino and Barone guarantees a certain quality in the club's engine room, while coach Walter Novellino will place the goalscoring burden at the feet of Ventola and Bjelanovic.
Udinese's season will likely depend on whether they have adequately replaced their chief marksman Iaquinta. The arrival of Quagliarella and the talented Floro Flores has excited the club's fans and potentially, they could make a formidable pair. Their defence remains practically the same but the main problem for coach Pasquale Marino could be his midfield. Pinsi, D'Agostino and Boudianski have undoubted spirit but a lack of creativity emanates from the trio.
Source: C4 Football Italia / UEFA / Sky Sports