With Juventus, FC Internazionale Milano and AC Milan all having changed coach over the course of the summer, Italy is waiting to see which of the new men will hit the ground running as the Serie A campaign kicks off over the weekend.
Saturday's game between Udinese Calcio and Genoa CFC will mark the beginning of the season, with the first of the big three clubs – Juventus – kicking off at Bari at 18.00CET on Sunday. Seventh last season, La Vecchia Signora had a major footballing refit over the summer, with the advent of a new president, Andrea Agnelli, coinciding with the appointments of sporting director Giuseppe Marotta and coach Liugi Delneri, who led UC Sampdoria to fourth place last time out.
The new regime have brought wholesale changes on the pitch too, with defenders Marco Motta and Leonardo Bonucci, midfielders Alberto Aquilani and Miloš Krasić and strikers Davide Lanzafame and Simone Pepe introduced, though 35-year-old captain Alessandro Del Piero will still lead the line. "It's hard to say what we can go with this group," said 'Pinturicchio'. "Many things are changing here but we all have one thing in common: we want to do our best." If they can make a good start in the absence of injured goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as well as strikers Amauri and Vincenzo Iaquinta, this could yet be their year.
Milan's summer was less turbulent than Juve's, with defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos and midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng the only major newcomers on the pitch. Coach Massimiliano Allegri will take on US Lecce in his first Milan game at 20.45CET on Sunday, with team stalwarts like Alessandro Nesta, Thiago Silva, Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo still very much in his plans, though he is hoping to bring even better performances out of Ronaldinho.
The 30-year-old's form has fluctuated since his move from FC Barcelona in 2008, but former Cagliari Calcio coach Allegri, 43, feels the Brazilian has plenty left to offer. "There is no doubting his technical ability; we just have to do our best to make him find his best shape," he said.
Inter – winners of the last five titles – are not in action until Monday, returning from competing in the UEFA Super Cup to play Bologna FC in their first Serie A game following Rafael Benítez's arrival and José Mourinho's departure for Real Madrid CF. However, the Spanish coach is less concerned about Milan and Juve than he is about last season's runners-up AS Roma, even though his side beat Claudio Ranieri's Giallorossi 3-1 in the Italian Super Cup last weekend.
"Roma are a great team," said the former Liverpool FC manager. "They have a good coach and quality players. They also signed Adriano and we'd better not underestimate them."
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