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Season review: Italy

Published: Monday 27 May 2013, 12.28CET
Juventus confirmed their status as the dominant force in Italian football with a second consecutive Scudetto, while there was silverware for Vladimir Petković in his first year at S.S. Lazio.
by Paolo Menicucci
from Milan
Season review: Italy
Juventus lift a second consecutive Scudetto ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Monday 27 May 2013, 12.28CET

Season review: Italy

Juventus confirmed their status as the dominant force in Italian football with a second consecutive Scudetto, while there was silverware for Vladimir Petković in his first year at S.S. Lazio.

If Juventus surprised many in 2011/12 with their success after finishing seventh in the two previous seasons, the Vecchia Signora comfortably confirmed their status a top dogs this time around, transforming the campaign into a one-horse race, or a "triumphant march" to use Antonio Conte's words. S.S. Lazio lifted the Coppa Italia after an all-Rome final, beating city rivals AS Roma 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico.

Champions: Juventus
The Bianconeri went unbeaten for the entire campaign when they won the Scudetto in 2011/12 during Antonio Conte's first season on charge but despite suffering five defeats this term, their triumph rarely looked in doubt. The 3-1 home defeat against FC Internazionale Milano in early November, which ended Juve's 49-match unbeaten streak in Serie A, probably took a weight off the Vecchia Signora's shoulders. They slightly changed their approach after, seeking more victories instead of trying to avoid defeats in order to prolong that streak and Conte's side lost twice against UC Sampdoria, but still secured the title with four games to spare, ending nine points clear of second-placed SSC Napoli

Cup final: S.S. Lazio 1-0 AS Roma
Relatively unknown in Italy when he was appointed by the Biancocelesti in the summer, Vladimir Petković did not waste time in bringing a trophy to his new club. An aggregate 3-2 victory against Juventus in the semi-final set up a first ever all-Rome final, against old rivals AS Roma. A close-range strike by Senad Lulić 19 minutes from time was enough for Lazio to win a closely-fought contest and lift the trophy for the sixth time in their history.

European places*
Juventus – UEFA Champions League, group stage
SSC Napoli – UEFA Champions League, group stage
AC Milan – UEFA Champions League, play-off
S.S. Lazio – UEFA Europa League, group stage
ACF Fiorentina – UEFA Europa League, play-off
Udinese Calcio – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
If this Juventus team's strength is more collective than individual, Arturo Vidal is arguably the player who stood out during the 2012/13 campaign. A box-to-box midfielder, the Chilean was the first Juve player to reach double figures in terms of goals when he scored the only strike of the game in the victory against US Città di Palermo which clinched Juventus the Scudetto. The week before he had opened the scoring in the 2-0 win against city rivals Torino FC. The 27-year-old also scored three times in the UEFA Champions League, including the first of the Bianconeri's campaign in the 2-2 draw at reigning champions Chelsea FC.

One to watch: Erik Lamela (AS Roma)
Several young players had the chance to show their talent this season, including three 20-year-olds in the shape of Juventus' Paul Pogba and Milan's Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy. AS Roma centre-back Marquinhos, 19, has already been labeled by some as the new Thiago Silva, but it was his team-mate Lamela who shined the brightest. The 21-year-old Argentinean forward scored 15 goals during the campaign and in doing so, showed great vision, immaculate technique and a great personality throughout. "He is destined to become one of the best in the world," said former Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri. 

Surprise package: ACF Fiorentina
After finishing 13th the previous season, Fiorentina flirted with UEFA Champions League qualification until the final minutes of the last match under new coach Vincenzo Montella. Eventually a top-three finish eluded the Viola but they still managed to qualify for the UEFA Europa League and did it by playing arguably the most entertaining football in Italy. With the quality of Borja Valero, David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani in midfield, the pace of Juan Guillermo Cuadrado and the creativity of young forwards Adem Ljajić and Stevan Jovetić, Montella built a team which was a pleasure to watch throughout. 

Leading scorer: Edinson Cavani, SSC Napoli, (29)

Relegated: Pescara Calcio, AC Siena, US Città di Palermo

Promoted: US Sassuolo Calcio, Hellas Verona FC, AS Livorno Calcio

Number: 20
For the fourth consecutive time Udinese Calcio veteran striker Antonio Di Natale has scored more than 20 goals in a season. Josè Altafini was the last player to achieve such feat in Serie A between 1958 and 1962. His 23 strikes helped Udinese to a surprise UEFA Europa League spot, with his volley against AC Chievo Verona on 7 April a strong candidate for goal of the season. 

Quote
"My goal is to come back stronger than before. I have just had to change my tires after so many miles." FC Internazionale Milano were unlucky with injuries this season and not even evergreen captain Javier Zanetti managed to avoid a serious one as he ruptured his achilles tendon. Retirement, however, is not an option for the 39-year-old captain.

Last updated: 14/06/13 11.46CET

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