Another fantastic season of Serie A football is in the books so it’s time to look at the Serie A team of the season. There will be some surprises and some big name omissions. But it is important to remember that quality, not name alone, get you into the team of the season. Before we start though, let’s take a look at some interesting Serie A details, like who made it into Europe and the Surprise of the season.
Serie A Team of the Season 2018/19
Final Day Frenetics
When the final day began there were four teams jockeying for the final two Champions League positions. Atalanta and Inter Milan were in on 66 points, with AC Milan on their heels at 65 and Roma just behind them on 63. Atalanta, Inter and Roma all faced relatively easy games at home, while Milan had to travel for their final day.
It’s impossible to capture the drama of this truly wild final day in Serie A. As it went, Atalanta and Inter Milan will head into next season’s Champions League, and Empoli will go down to Serie B. AC Milan and Roma are your Serie A Europa League representatives. But how we got there is so much more interesting than that.
However, all of it pales in comparison to the glorious send-off for Daniele De Rossi. The 35-year-old is leaving Roma after this season after the club decided not to offer him a new contract. But De Rossi, forever the Romanista, has not mentioned that publicly once. As he said in his goodbye letter, we will see him in stands soon, with a sandwich and a beer.
Surprise of the Season
Could there be any other team here than Atalanta? The tiny side from Bergamo has been punching well above their weight for a few seasons now. But this season they had some incredible knockout punches. They knocked Juventus out of the Coppa Italia in spectacular fashion. They’ve beaten Inter, Napoli and Roma in Serie A this season.
But its the how well they attacked that has stolen the show this season. Serie A’s top scoring side is always one of the big boys, except this year. To beat out a free-scoring Napoli team and a Juventus side that added Cristiano Ronaldo is no small achievement.
Disappointment of the Season
As is usually the case, it is easy to pick the most struggling big boy and name them the biggest disappointment. For example; Roma and AC Milan both failed to reach their own objectives this season. But they still made it into Europe. The team that has to be the most disappointed with their season is Fiorentina.
On March 1st, Fiorentina sat comfortably mid-table, having just played a 3-3 draw with Atalanta in the first leg of the Coppa Italia Semi Final. They hadn’t lost a game since Boxing Day and were just outside the fight for European football next season. But then it all fell apart. Flashforward to April 7th, they haven’t won a game since February 17th, and just lost 1-0 at home to 19th-place Frosinone.
Their manager, Stefano Pioli, resigned after that game. He felt the team needed a new voice to right the ship, and fast. But things have only gotten worse for La Viola since Pioli resigned. They replaced him with Vincenzo Montella, a notoriously awful midseason hire, and have picked up just one point in the seven games he has been in charge. They managed to keep themselves afloat with a final day draw, but Fiorentina expects better.
Team of the Season
Let’s get into what we came here to discuss; the Serie A team of the season. Now we can’t pick a team without first picking a manager, and who else could it be but Gian Piero Gasperini. The Italian coach has guided one of the smallest clubs in Europe into the Champions League. There is no way to overstate how incredible an achievement that is.
So in his honour, this team has been built in a 3-4-3 setup. But before we get to the outfield players, we need to pick a goalkeeper. There were plenty of strong performances in net this season but one player has finished this season standing out above his competition.
GK Samir Handanovic, Inter Milan – Once again the rock of Inter Milan, Samir Handanovic wore that mantle in more ways than one. The 34-year-old Slovenian had one of the best seasons of his career, .92 goals against per 90, .736 save percentage, and a career-high 17 clean sheets. But most importantly, when Mauro Icardi was stripped of the captaincy, Handanovic stepped in adequately and kept Inter’s season from going off the rails.
CB – Milan Skriniar, Inter Milan – Handanovic was not the only eastern European to have a massive impact on Inter Milan’s season. The 24-year-old Slovakian has posted his second consecutive world-class season marshalling Inter’s backline. He fits the mould of the classic Serie A defender; he’s big and strong, with a natural awareness of what’s happening around him. Plus he has a tonne of speed for a 6’2” centre-back.
CB Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli – Napoli have finished second in three out of the last four Serie A seasons. The constant through all that winning has been Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese international has been in Naples since moving from Genk in the summer of 2014.
While there he has made himself into one of the world’s’ top Centre-backs. That quality has made him the subject of multiple offers from Europe’s elite, however, Carlo Ancelotti and Aurelio De Laurentiis don’t plan on losing their superstar defender.
CB Armando Izzo, Torino – Torino had an incredible season equaling their best Serie A finish in the last twenty years (seventh). There are multiple reasons for them taking that next step, Walter Mazzarri, a great defensive coach, chief among them.
But another huge reason has been Armando Izzo. The 27-year-old came over from Genoa this summer and instantly installed himself into Mazzarri’s back three. From that moment on he was rock solid, even earning his first caps at the Italian national team.
RM Hans Hateboer, Atalanta – If there was ever a player that defined Gian Piero Gasperini’s style, it would be Hans Hateboer. The Dutchman has played most of the season as Atalanta’s right wing-back, constantly bombing forward down the right wing. But recently he has found himself on the right side of the back three due to injuries.
One might be surprised to find him still popping up on the right wing throwing in crosses to Atalanta’s prolific front three. But nope, in some recent games against Genoa, that’s exactly what he was doing.
CM Rodrigo De Paul, Udinese – For the entire 2018/19 Serie A Campaign, Udinese scored a measly 37 goals on 29 assists. Rodrigo De Paul has nine goals and assists each this season. That’s almost a quarter of his team’s goals, and over a third of his team’s assists. Oh, but the best part is, he did all of that playing central midfield. He originally came up with Inter and Valencia as a winger but has since transitioned into the only reason Udinese stayed in the top flight.
CM Remo Freuler, Atalanta – All of the glory that goes Atalanta is because their team is beautiful chaos. They play at a crazy pace and with even crazier ambitions. Without someone to hold the team down, their brand of chaos couldn’t make it this far. That someone is Remo Freuler, the Swiss defensive midfielder has anchored Atalanta in every aspect. His defensive work is what has allowed those three great attackers so many opportunities this season.
LM Aleksandar Kolarov, Roma – Aleksandar Kolarov has always been known for having one of the best left feet in world football. Over the years he has scored world-class free-kicks, outstanding volleys and top bin rockets with that famous left season. But this season at age 32 was probably his most impactful. The Serbian international a career-high eight league goals this season, crucial one’s for Roma to push for the top four.
RW Duvan Zapata, Atalanta – Obviously he isn’t a right wing but this is the team of the season so we have to shoehorn a guy that got 23 goals into this lineup. Zapata was lightening for Atalanta this season. A player brought over on a quite loan deal from Sampdoria, Zapata has really taken to Gasperini’s system. And his seven assists show well of a fit he has been. He most likely won’t be at Atalanta next season, so it’s important to recognize a great piece of both scouting and coaching.
ST Fabio Quagliarella, Sampdoria – The top scorer in Italy is a 36-year-old from the south of Italy, who has scored over 20 goals in a season for the first time ever. Fabio Quagliarella has played all over the country; he’s won titles with Juventus and promotion with Torino. But even the man known as Mr Dreamgoal couldn’t have dreamt a season like this. He’s bagged 26 goals and got eight assists for Sampdoria this season, numbers that truly speak for themselves.
LW Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus – If any other player came to Serie A at the age of 34 and scored 21 goals while grabbing eight assists they would be defied. Such is the standard that Cristiano Ronaldo has set over the last decade, that those numbers are seen as a down year. The Portuguese superstar played well and bagged some key goals on Juventus run to the Serie A title.
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