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Ryan Ross On January - 26 - 2012

Ross’s Team of the Season: Midfield and Attack



The Brazilian playmaker was undoubtedly Lazio’s best signing of last season. He has continued his excellent form into the new season, operating in the heart of Lazio’s midfield and supplying new-boy Miroslav Klose with the service that has helped him notch up 9 goals so far. If Lazio are to pursue success in the Europa League along with their ambitions to claim a Champions League spot then Hernanes will have to improve further still despite his already impressive record of seven goals scored and three assists this season.

Gokhan Inler

When Napoli signed Gokhan Inler last summer, it was thought that he would add depth to the squad, but more importantly, some much-needed bite to the midfield. As it turned out, he’s brought all this and more. Previously imperious in Udinese’s midfield, the Swiss player rejected Juventus’s overtures to sign for the Neapolitans and has become a key player since his arrival. It’s possible to describe him as the ‘midfield general’, an English football term that suits him perfectly. Not only is he tough in the tackle, but his distribution of the ball is also excellent. His standout showing so far was perhaps away to Manchester City in the Champions League. Against the stars of City, it was Inler who dominated much of the play in the centre of the park.

Claudio Marchisio

Il Principino, or Little Prince, as Juventus fans have dubbed him,  Claudio Marchisio has drawn comparisons with the legend, Marco Tardelli. Often deployed on the left side of midfield, the Italian prefers to play in the centre and it is here that his strong defensive and fine offensive qualities are most evident. Notching up six goals and an assist so far, Marchisio has attempted forty-one shots on goal thus far; a statistic indicative of the drive he has to surge forward. He’s played a significant role in Juventus’s unbeaten record so far this season that has helped them claim the title of ‘winter champions’.  He’ll be hoping that his fine form continues - along with that of his team - to ensure his place at Euro 2012 with Italy and to see his side lift the Scudetto in May.


Stevan Jovetic

Whilst Fiorentina have struggled to climb the table in Serie A this season, one man is single-handedly keeping them afloat; their number 8, Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin winger has returned from serious injury to become the key player for his team, becoming the team’s leading goal-scorer with 9 strikes to his name.  Not only has the winger got physical strength, but his trickery and two-footed approach make him a constant threat to the opposition. Now operating as a trequartista, he’s had to fill the void left by the departed Gilardino. On the international stage, Jovetic suffered heartbreak as Montenegro failed to qualify for Euro 2012. The Viola will hope they can keep hold of their young star who has attracted much interest from Europe’s bigger boys.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The man no one seems able to understand, the Swedish enigma, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Leading Milan’s charge in Serie A and in Europe, Ibrahimovic has netted nineteen goals in all competitions, demonstrating his predatory instincts. However, his manager, Allegri, has chosen to use the Swede in a deeper role this season. He now operates as much a creator as goal-scorer. Whilst a low total of three assists is not great, he has been involved with starting the attack, rather than claiming a direct assist. Milan relies heavily on him to net the winning goals too, and fourteen league goals is not to be sniffed at. But is in Europe that they need Ibrahimovic to make the difference; a tie against Arsenal seems the opportune moment. Expect Zlatan to emerge with a league winners medal around his neck this summer; he’s won 8 league titles in a row now and it could well be eight by May.

Antonio Di Natale

Udinese’s talisman, Antonio Di Natale, is still performing at the maximum of his capabilities, despite being aged 34 years old. Comparisons to Javier Zanetti should be made, given Di Natale’s longevity and how important he remains for his team. Tied alongside Ibrahimovic, on fourteen league goals this season, Di Natale refuses to dwindle. A long-standing knee problem, means he cannot train regularly with team-mates and he sticks to a rigid specialized schedule. His importance to the team was demonstrated last December, when he came off the bench to turn a match away to Lazio in Udinese’s favour, providing a marvellous assist to clinch a crucial 2-2 draw. With Udinese currently challenging for the League title, Di Natale will have a crucial say in where his side finish. Recalled to the Italy squad, the Italian will hope 2012 is a success for him too.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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