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Home   /   Serie A Review: Milan’s resurgence and how the teams performed

This Serie A season didn’t fail to disappoint. It was predicted to be one of the closest fights ever, and it was decided on the last matchday for the first time in 12 years. Milan had the best of their city rivals Inter, winning 86 points to 84. 

Napoli, who were in contention for the title for a long time, earned Champions League football in front of Juventus. 

The scrap for the remaining places was determined in the last games, with the Roman teams earning a Europa League qualification and Fiorentina peeping Atalanta for seventh and Conference League football. 

The relegation battle also went down to the wire and Salernitana performed a miracle escape, with Cagliari, Genoa and Venezia going down. 

Looking back on the premises made in the preview, which you can find here, the teams’ performances will be analysed. 

Milan: “Milan look to close the gap to city rivals Inter”

After finishing runners-up the previous year, Milan did close the gap, winning deservedly a title after 11 years of drought. 

With the four derbies (two in the cup) ending with a win apiece, and only two points separating the sides, it was Milan’s killer instinct in games, clinical performances, and consistency that made the difference overall, for what is Stefano Pioli’s first league title. 

Rafael Leao was superb, particularly in the second half of the season, often winning games himself with a spark, as Milan only scored 69 goals, the lowest for a title-winning side since 2011/12. But this wasn’t a synonym of weakness, as by winning 12 times with a goal margin and 10 times with a two-goal margin, Milan proved more capable at managing results than Inter did. 

They were consistent during the season, even if they lost four games between the end of November and the beginning of January. However, they went unbeaten for the last 16 games, delivering when it mattered the most.

Olivier Giroud was a super signing, scoring in the derby, as well as in a narrow win over Napoli that was the real moment Milan became title favourites. The Frenchman left his mark on the final game of the season, as Milan clinched their title despite talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic being out with injuries for large spells. 

Goalscorers: Leao (11), Giroud (11), Ibrahimovic (8), Kessie (6), Hernandez (5), Tonali (5), Messias (5)

Assisters: Leao (8), Hernandez (6), Ibrahimovic (3), Giroud (3), Calabria (3), Saelemaekers (3), Diaz (3)

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Inter: “Inter’s potential is very much intact”

With some people considering them as favourites, and some considering them as only top four contenders after severe key losses in the transfer window, it is hard to judge whether Inter’s glass is half-full or half-empty.

The Nerazzurri won the Coppa Italia but missed out on a title that really could have been theirs by two points. After coming back from seven points behind to register a +4 in January, they inexplicably stopped winning. 

The derby on Matchday 24 was pivotal, as the Nerazzurri could have moved seven points in front (with a game in hand) had they won, but they let Milan win 2-1 with a late comeback. 

This led to a run of seven points in seven games before Inter lost their game in hand which could have put them in the lead with an infamous error from backup goalkeeper Ionut Radu.  

Positive notes were Lautaro Martinez’s fine goalscoring form, with Simone Inzaghi frequently criticised for substituting the Argentinian after an hour in most games, and Ivan Perisic’s usual contribution on the wing.

After a flying start, instead, the contribution of Joaquin Correa and Edin Dzeko disappeared and this cost Inter points. Despite finishing as the best attack, Inter appeared like they struggled to score in just too many games. 

Goalscorers: Martinez (21), Dzeko (13), Perisic (8), Calhanoglu (7), Correa (6)

Assisters: Calhanoglu (12), Barella (12), Perisic (7), Dzeko (5), Dumfries (4)

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Napoli: “They will be ambitious”

Napoli were leaders for several chunks of the season and only a disappointing end, with some surprising results, denied them a realistic shot for the title. They infamously lost 3-2 against Empoli after leading 2-0 at the 80th minute on Matchday 34. 

In truth, it was the Partenopei’s best season in four years (they had finished second in 2018/19, but 11 points off). Luciano Spalletti’s side led for the first 15 games and again on Matchday 27, after which they lost the crucial head-to-head against Milan. 

Victor Osimhen’s injury mid-season did penalise them, but Napoli were left stunned by the lack of consistency. They enjoyed a return to Champions League football, but the run of one point between Matchday 32 and 34 left fans wordless and angry towards the club. 

Their defensive performances were also questionable. Napoli finished with the best defence, but nine of their 15 clean sheets came in their first 14 games, in which they only conceded seven goals, after which there was a drop. 

Goalscorers: Osimhen (14), Insigne (11), Mertens (11), Fabian Ruiz (7), Zielinski (6), Lozano (5). 

Assisters: Insigne (9), Mario Rui (6), Di Lorenzo (5), Lozano (5), Zielinski (5), Elmas (5)

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Juventus: “It’s hard to say if they improved”

For Massimiliano Allegri’s side, it was a disappointing overall season, continuing their downward trajectory by scoring eight points less than last year. 

However, considering how it started, with two points in four games and the Champions League places slipping as far as seven points, it is argued to be a success that they finished comfortably in the top four. 

Juventus went unbeaten for 16 games and looked to even potentially enter the title race at the last minute, but missed out with a defeat against Inter on Matchday 31 and other drops in the later stages. 

Missing out on Federico Chiesa due to injury had its consequences, and the Bianconeri bought Dusan Vlahovic in the winter to invest towards the future, thus securing a top four slot with six points over Lazio. 

Struggles at finding goals, registering only 57, the 11th best record, was a reason, as they failed to win any game by more than two goals margin. 

Goalscorers: Dybala (10), Morata (9), Vlahovic (8), Bonucci (5), Kean (5)

Assisters: Morata (7), Dybala (5), Cuadrado (4), Locatelli (4), Kulusevski (3)

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Lazio: “They appear to score goals with ease”

After a scintillating first couple of games, Lazio looked like Champions League candidates, but the team took time to adapt to Maurizio Sarri’s football and they paid the price of a poorer first round, ending in eighth place. 

They finished with the second-best attack, but conceded 58 goals, of which 39 just in the first 21 games. A few shocking defeats, plus the inability to win big games, cost the top four, but the Biancocelesti still secured Europa League football with a game left to play. 

Sarri’s football showed encouraging signs and it may be the right way forward, as Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic were once again the leaders for this side, who finished in a European spot for the sixth consecutive season: a club record under president Claudio Lotito. 

Goalscorers: Immobile (27), Milinkovic-Savic (11), Pedro (9), Felipe Anderson (6), Luis Alberto (5)

Assisters: Milinkovic-Savic (11), Luis Alberto (10), Felipe Anderson (8), Zaccagni (5), Pedro (5)

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Roma: “If Roma solve their defensive issues, they can be a threat”

Jose Mourinho’s side endured some positive periods, but in truth, despite going until the end in the Uefa Conference League, they just repeated last year’s domestic campaign. 

They only scored one more point and, likewise, only secured a place in the top seven on the final matchday. The defensive struggles did reduce, conceding 43 goals, 17 less than last year. 

Roma went 12 games without losing in the second half of the season, just after a shocking, yet so costly 4-3 defeat to Juventus after going 3-1 up, to challenge the Bianconeri for the last top four spot. 

Their hopes were cut short with a humbling defeat to Inter, which led to a period of five games without winning, and only a win against Torino on the last day, with Tammy Abraham shining, meant the Serie A season could not be considered as negative. 

Goalscorers: Abraham (17), Pellegrini (9), Mkhitaryan (5), Veretout (4)

Assisters: Veretout (8), Mkhitaryan (6), Pellegrini (5), Abraham (4), Shomurodov (4)

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Fiorentina: “The only way forward is up”

Perhaps, few expected Fiorentina to bounce up in such a way, after registering their worst-ever points tally the previous season. Vincenzo Italiano led his side to a +22, scoring 62 points to finish seventh with a win over Juventus on the last game. 

Fiorentina were amongst the most exciting teams in the league and were led by Dusan Vlahovic in the first part of the season, who scored 17 goals to keep them in sight of the top four all the way. 

They beat five of the seven sisters (Lazio and Inter the only exceptions) and competed for Europe, which said a lot about the new consistency and strength of Fiorentina.

Leniency, with four defeats in the last six games of the season, cost Europa League football, but for them, it is already a success to return in Europe after struggling for years and missing out for five seasons. 

Arguably, had Dusan Vlahovic not joined a direct rival for the top four, there may have been an even better outcome.

Goalscorers: Vlahovic (17), Gonzalez (7), Torreira (5), Biraghi (4), Bonaventura (4)

Assisters: Gonzalez (6), Bonaventura (5), Saponara (3), Maleh (3)

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Atalanta: “Atalanta fans may dream of a surprise title”

For the first half of the season, Atalanta were marching on, looking, as usual, like a dangerous that scored goals and points. After exceeding 90 goals for two seasons in a row, they only scored 65 and they lost the long-term run for the top four, as well as for Europe. 

After the Christmas break, the team wasn’t the same anymore and long-term injuries to Duvan Zapata and Robin Gosens (then departed for Inter), left them without two of their talismans. The absence of a striker, with the sole Luis Muriel taking the role, also cost points. 

Years ago, Atalanta fans would have been extremely happy with an eighth-place, but Gian Piero Gasperini raised the standards and that means it is the first time in six years that they finish the season without qualifying for European football. 

What happened was rather inexplicable, as la Dea were only two points off Milan in December, but ended up scoring just 22 points in the last 21 games to drop down, never scoring consecutive wins after the new year. 

Goalscorers: Pasalic (13), Zapata (10), Muriel (9), Malinovskyi (6), Koopmeiners (4)

Assisters: Muriel (8), Pasalic (6), Miranchuk (5), Zappacosta (5)

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Hellas Verona: “Their string of top 10s may soon come to an end”

For the third consecutive time, Verona exceeded expectations, finishing in ninth place. However, this was a result of a quick reaction from the club, which soon sacked Eusebio Di Francesco after three pointless games to bring in Igor Tudor. 

Tudor completely overturned the way Verona played. After only scoring 47 and 45 goals respectively, with Juric, conceding just 48 and 51, this season Verona scored a lot. 

The Gialloblu’s front trio was unstoppable, at times, with Giovanni Simeone finally picking his career back up and Gianluca Caprari finding his best habitat. 

They scored 65 goals, conceded 59, and missed out on European football by nine points. Who knows, perhaps had Tudor coached in the first three games, Verona could have been even further up.

Goalscorers: Simeone (17), Caprari (12), Barak (11), Tameze (4), Faraoni (4), Kalinic (4)

Assisters: Caprari (7), Lazovic (7), Faraoni (6), Simeone (5), Barak (4), Ilic (4), Lasagna (4)

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Torino: “Can the new coach push them back up?”

Ivan Juric appeared to finally invert the negative trend which saw Torino threatened by relegation for consecutive seasons. The Granata challenged for the top 10 until the end, concluding the season with the fifth-best defence. 

It was perhaps disappointing not to see Andrea Belotti score as much as usual, in what might be his last season for Torino. Juric’s side was only twice beaten by more than a goal margin and had a positive home record, scoring 29 of their 50 points, to register a +13 on last season. 

They surely built a good basis, with defender Gleison Bremer the top player, winning the “best defender of the season” award. 

Goalscorers: Belotti (8), Brekalo (7), Sanabria (6), Lukic (5), Pobega (4)

Assisters: Lukic (4), Singo (4), Pobega (3), Vojvoda (3), Ansaldi (3)

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Sassuolo: “Will Sassuolo keep performing with Dionisi?”

After two consecutive eighth-places, Sassuolo lost their top 10 streak, losing out to Torino on head-to-head results. Following Andrea De Zerbi’s departure, they relied on Alessio Dionisi as manager, who played similar football. 

Sassuolo scored a lot and conceded a lot, 64 and 66 respectively, valorising the talents of Domenico Berardi, Gianluca Scamacca, and Giacomo Raspadori, who were so well-spoken out throughout the season. 

Hamed Traore also shone, as Sassuolo started slowly to climb as up as ninth in the latter part. 

European football, this time, wasn’t an option, but for such a small club, Sassuolo showed that their business and philosophy are working just fine, finishing 20 points above the relegation zone. 

Goalscorers: Scamacca (16), Berardi (15), Raspadori (10), Traore (7), Frattesi (4)

Assisters: Berardi (14), Raspadori (5), Kyriakopoulos (5), Frattesi (3)

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Udinese: “They will look to thrive even without De Paul”

Udinese had a scintillating start, but Luca Gotti only secured a win between Matchday four and 16, which led the management to replace him, even though the team wasn’t in a dangerous situation.

Caretaker Gabriele Cioffi did a fabulous job, changing the way the team played, to a more risky and exciting football, which valorised Isaac Success, Gerard Deulofeu, and youngsters Destiny Udogie and Nahuel Molina. 

They eventually registered their highest points-tally since 2012/13, with 47. In Cioffi’s spell, they had the fourth-best attack and proved that the absence of Rodrigo De Paul wasn’t too costly.

Once again, they escaped relegation, which was the season’s target. 

Goalscorers: Deulofeu (13), Beto (11), Molina (7), Udogie (5), Pussetto (4)

Assists: Success (7), Deulofeu (5), Pereyra (5), Udogie (4), Pussetto (4)

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Bologna: “Bologna will expect a step up to enter the top 10”

The Rossoblu were top 10 contenders in the early stages, but in the second part of the season they were off slowly and only registered the 16th best score. 

They took away points from most of the top sides and were also decisive in the title battle, handing Inter a surprise defeat which allowed Milan to consolidate their first place. 

There were positive notes, and despite Sinisa Mihajlovic receiving complications from his illness, they could be pleased that the move to bring in Marko Arnautovic worked out. 

They secured another Serie A season, but will be disappointed that they missed out on an achievable top 10 by just four points. 

Goalscorers: Arnautovic (14), Barrow (6), Orsolini (6), Hickey (5), Svanberg (3), De Silvestri (3)

Assisters: Barrow (6), Soriano (4), Dominguez (3), Orsolini (3), Svanberg (3), Sansone (3)

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Empoli: “Empoli are expected to do better than other newly-promoted sides”

They did. The Tuscan side comfortably secured a place in the Serie A for next season, despite living a very disappointing second half, with just two wins. 

Aurelio Andreazzoli led his side to surprising wins against Juventus and Napoli, to which they did the double, but the drop in form was worrying, as the side went 16 games without a win after finding itself in eighth place. 

What was important, was to achieve safety, which was done comfortably, but surely there will be some disappointment for the Azzurri, who dreamt of a top 10 finish for multiple months. 

On positive notes, there was Andrea Pinamonti’s breakthrough, as well as some talents like Kristjan Asllani and Szymon Zurkowski shining throughout. 

Goalscorers: Pinamonti (13), Bajrami (6), Zurkowski (6), Di Francesco (5), Cutrone (3)

Assisters: Bajrami (5), Henderson (3), Bandinelli (3)

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Sampdoria: “History can repeat itself for Sampdoria”

Sampdoria were expected to not challenge the top teams, but to stay up. It was a disappointing season, as the Blucerchiati never were relatively comfortable and also parted ways with Roberto D’Aversa early on. 

D’Aversa was sacked after 22 games, as Sampdoria won just two of the first 12, albeit entering the relegation zone only once throughout the season. 

Marco Giampaolo was expected to turn the situation around, but Sampdoria got just four points from eight away games, and marginal wins against relegation contenders Venezia and Genoa kept them up. 

It was a troubled year, with President Massimo Ferrero also arrested and then released from his position. The only good note for the fans was the relegation of city rivals Genoa. 

Goalscorers: Caputo (11), Candreva (7), Gabbiadini (6), Quagliarella (4), Sabiri (3), Thorsby (3)

Assisters: Candreva (10), Caputo (5), Yoshida (3), Quagliarella (3), Bereszynski (3)

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Spezia: “Spezia are still dark horses”

Thiago Motta completed the job, as Spezia survived a consecutive season in the Serie A after their first-ever promotion. They struggled initially, and the coach was on his way out, but a clause that would mean the club had to pay more if the Italian was sacked before the end of the year, convinced them to stick with him. 

Spezia went on to win four games in five, across the new year, of which prestigious ones against Napoli and Milan, as Thiago Motta was elected coach of the month. 

If anything, the Aquilotti collected less than they could have, showing exciting football that didn’t always convert in points, with 12 of their 22 defeats coming by just a goal margin. 

Goalscorers: Verde (8), Gyasi (6), Manaj (5), Bastoni (3), Agudelo (3)

Assisters: Verde (6), Kovalenko (4), Bastoni (3), Maggiore (3), Ferrer (2), Reca (2)

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Salernitana: “Serie A may just be too much”

Salernitana looked to inevitably be relegated, before Davide Nicola went unbeaten in a seven-game streak towards the end of the season, which shot them up from dead last to a surprise 17th, against all odds. 

It looked like they would struggle from the getaway, and so it was, only scoring eight points before Christmas. A Covid outbreak postponed games and this ended up to be their fortune. These matches were played in April and May when their form suddenly picked up out of nowhere.

Federico Bonazzoli finally had his time, leading Salernitana along with revelation Ederson and captain Milan Djuric, as this will be considered one of the greatest-ever escapes. It is also the first time the club achieves safety after a Serie A season. 

With just 15 points after 30 games, nobody could ever believe they would stay up. 

Goalscorers: Bonazzoli (10), Verdi (5), Djuric (5), Ederson (2), Coulibaly (2)

Assisters: Djuric (3), Ribery (3), Zortea (2), Mazzocchi (2)

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Cagliari: “Cagliari will want to push for the top 10”

Everything went wrong for the Sardinians, who couldn’t pick themselves up after a disappointing previous campaign. They looked to narrowly stay up but were overtaken late on by Salernitana. 

What was disappointing was that, with 31 points, Salernitana were the side who stayed up with the lowest amount of points ever.

Cagliari replaced Leonardo Semplici with Walter Mazzarri after just three games, but he only registered a win in the first half of the season. Things appeared to change when they scored 13 points in eight outings after Christmas, but only five points in the final 11 games set their downfall. 

Joao Pedro’s goals went missing and the team had a decrease in performance, with missed chances in May, as they failed to win games against Salernitana and Venezia. 

Goalscorers: Joao Pedro (13), Pavoletti (5), Pereiro (4), Deiola (4), Keita Balde (3)

Assisters: Marin (5), Joao Pedro (4), Grassi (2), Nandez (2), Pereiro (2), Bellanova (2), Dalbert (2)

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Genoa: “They may be condemned to struggle”

It had to happen, at one point, that Genoa’s miraculous survivals would leave the scene to relegation. The Grifoni escaped too many near misses in the past and this season they were a permanent presence in the relegation zone. 

They changed four coaches, something usual at this club, which in the 21st century has had 37 different managerial spells. Alexander Blessin was the only one who could build something and give some hope. 

Picking them up after just a win and 12 points in 22 games, the German registered eight unbeaten games, despite only winning one, as they carried their hopes until the penultimate game of the season. 

They only scored 27 goals, by far the worst record and, despite having the 13th best defence, too many 0-0 and narrow defeats cost them a place in Serie A. 

Goalscorers: Destro (9), Criscito (6), Fares (2) 

Assisters: Cambiaso (4), Rovella (3), Ekuban (2)

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Venezia: “Venezia’s path towards survival is very hard”

At one point, Paolo Zanetti’s side were almost making it look easy. The Lagunari, inspired by Spezia’s miracle the season before, tried to implement their philosophy of football, which, at times, worked just fine. 

Venezia qualified through the play-offs and this often means quick condemnation and little hope of permanence. What cost was a poor second half, as after scoring 17 points in the first round, they only went on to score 10 in the second. 

Despite a transfer window spent to invest, there came 10 straight defeats between February and May to relegate them towards a desolate last place. 

Goalscorers: Henry (9), Aramu (7), Okereke (7), Crnigoj (3), Ceccaroni (2)

Assisters: Aramu (5), Ampadu (3), Henry (3), Busio (2), Johnsen (2)

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April 2024