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An antipodean’s (updated) guide to Serie A

[This time last year, by way of preview of the new Serie A season, I produced a handy (with all due modesty) guide to all 20 clubs in the Italian top-flight in the hope that it might assist readers looking for a team to support discover their favourite club. Obviously since then some things have changed. For starters, there have been two transfer windows and we’ve had three relegated clubs replaced by three newbies promoted from Serie B. I therefore thought it might be worthwhile bringing my guide up to date for 2013/14 and reposting. The most depressing thing is I only had to delete six words from last year’s intro – “famed for his all-out attacking style”. Sigh.]

Coach Osvaldo Bagnoli celebrating Hellas Verona's one and only scudetto in 1985.

Coach Osvaldo Bagnoli celebrating Hellas Verona’s one and only scudetto in 1985.

Italian football’s Serie A starts this weekend and I, for one, am even more excruciatingly excited than usual. Why? Because my beloved Roma have a great new coach and, what’s more, he has some exciting new young and ultra-talented signings at his disposal. This might just be our year!

But wait! There’s more! For those of you poor sad antipodean saps who are new to Serie A, just because this really is the sweet and wonderful kind of person I am, I have magnanimously decided to compile a completely unbiased (yeah right) wee guide to help you choose a team to support. Below you will find everything you always wanted to know about the 2013/14 Serie A clubs that Wikipedia could have told you but you probably can’t be arsed looking up yourself.

If you decide that Roma is not for you, fear not. Don’t let the disappointment of failure in your first season put you off. Just remember – It’s character building.

1qr8d2wyepavsp3l50ckehw4uAtalanta – From Bergamo near Milan. Nickname is La Dea (The Goddess). Key derby is with Brescia (currently in Serie B). Best player is Germán Denis, the Argentinian international scored 15 goals last season. Fantasy Serie A value = €9 million They are cool because it’s fun to taunt Inter by calling Atalanta “the real nerazzurri” (black and blues). They are uncool because they are always going to be a rather boring mid-table sort of team, seldom good enough to make Europe, seldom bad enough to get relegated. Yaaaawn. You might be an Atalanta supporter if your other interests include scrabble, long walks in deserted car parks, and the many restorative properties of vanilla essence.

fl9hy6j9oy6ird2qtc6rjekfhBologna – From Bologna in the region of Emilia Romagna. Nickname is the Rossoblù (red and blues). Key derby is with Parma (derby d’Emilia – derby of Emilia). Best player is Italian national team striker Alessandro Diamanti. Fantasy Serie A value = €8.5 million They are cool because I tend to think with my stomach and the city of Bologna is famous for its yummy mortadella sausage and scrummy cheesy tortellini. They are uncool because The Rossoblù’s recent history has been somewhat tumultuous with several ownership changes. Might not be in Serie A much longer. You might be a Bologna supporter if you consider pasta one of the major food groups.

1ianseq4hpm669hg449dg5ahbCagliari – From the island of Sardinia off Italy’s Mediterranean coast. Nickname is the Isolani (Islanders). Key derby is with Palermo (currently in Serie B) (derby delle Isole – derby of the islands). Best player is Daniele Conti – son of former Roma great and 1982 World Cup winner Bruno. The little snot always scores against Roma, damn him to hell… Fantasy Serie A value = €7 million They are cool because being from Sardinia makes them a bit quirky and different. They are uncool because I REALLY hate Daniele Conti…You might be a Cagliari supporter if in Judas Iscariot’s shoes, you’d have probably settled for ten pieces of silver.

o4i4gh0r9f4zucr8jmebn0eezCatania – From the island of Sicily. Nickname is the Elefanti (Elephants). Key derby is with Palermo (currently in Serie B) (derby di Sicilia – derby of Sicily). Best player is… Not a lot to choose from here, especially since the sale of some of last season’s wonderful performers such as Alejandro Gómez and Francesco Lodi. Former Italian international central defender Nicola Legrottaglie is my pick. Fantasy Serie A value = €6 million – bargain! They are cool because they perform like a late model high spec Toyota Corolla – swift, agile, reliable and true, but with the aesthetics of a 1978 Lada. Particularly difficult to beat at home. They are uncool because there is nothing very fashionable about Catania, a real battler’s club, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might be a Catania supporter if you are a sucker for a good underdog.

5gzh3vhhshdpteumm7m3owas1Chievo– From Verona. Nickname is Mussi Volanti (Flying Donkeys). Key derby is with Hellas Verona (derby Della Scala – named after the Della Scala princes that once ruled Verona). Best player is another tough one to pick but I’m going for prolific French striker Cyril Théréau. Fantasy Serie A value = €7.5 million They are cool because their nickname came from taunting by rival Hellas Verona fans who had a banner that said “you’ll be in Serie A when donkeys fly!” They are uncool because they are a tiny club that apart from the whole underdog thing are difficult to find the beauty in. You might be a Chievo supporter if after reading ‘The Ugly Duckling’ you felt let down by the ending.

dzte7053fk19cxjbc7sfmgt6hFiorentina – From Florence. Nickname is la Viola (the purples). Key derby is with Juventus. Best player is Mario Gómez. Securing the German marksman’s services over the summer was a real coup. Fantasy Serie A value = €9 million They are cool because Florence is a showy renaissance city that is one of the world’s finest centres of art and culture. Its cool aspects have traditionally rubbed off on its football team, albeit with limited success on the pitch. They are uncool because right now is not a particularly good time to be a Fiorentina supporter. Having recently boasted the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Rui Costa, and Luca Toni, they look a wee bit uninspiring at the moment. You might be a Fiorentina supporter if you drive a really nice car but only when there is no chance of getting it dirty.

luoxh8kjedoif2nyerzxiu00wGenoa – From Genoa. Nickname is the Grifone (Griffins). Key derby is with Sampdoria (derby della lanterna – named for the lighthouse in the bay of Genoa).  Best player is Francesco Lodi – Catania’s loss is Genoa’s gain! Fantasy Serie A value = €7.5 million They are cool because Genoa is the oldest club in Italy and they have won Serie A 9 times. Only Juventus, Milan and Inter are more successful. They are uncool because their last title was in 1924. You might be a Genoa supporter if you were alive in 1924.

f9ctcqmk5a2nlunkp3jfqdvluHellas Verona (strictly speaking just ‘Verona’) – From Verona. Nickname is the Mastini (Mastiffs). Key derby is historically with Juventus, but from now on I’d say it will be with Chievo (derby Della Scala – named after the Della Scala princes that once ruled Verona). Best player is one name stands out here (it’s the only one I’ve heard of) former Roma, Fiorentina, Roma, Bayern Munich, Roma, Juventus, Roma, Azzurri and Roma megastar Luca Toni. Getting a bit long in the tooth now but still a fav. Fantasy Serie A value = €5.5 million They are cool because they come from the home of Romeo and Juliet. They are uncool because They allowed themselves to be usurped by Chievo… You might be a Verona supporter if you’ve ever had your girlfriend stolen by Homer Simpson.

cl833mzfmzejrwq7prvbzugm8Internazionale – From Milan. Nickname is the Nerazzurri (black and blues). Key derby is with Milan (derby della Madonnina – named for the little statue of the Madonna that is on top of the Milan Cathedral). Best player is Walter Samuel won a Scudetto at Roma so I will grudgingly admit that Inter has one player on the books that I like… Fantasy Serie A value = €6 million They are cool because… sorry, nope, coming up with something cool about Inter would go against every fibre of my being. They are uncool because they cheat and they play dirty. You might be an Inter supporter if you kill small, cute and fluffy animals for the fun of it.

t37mtox7h22z9ac3o15lf7g6jJuventus – From Turin. Nickname is La Vecchia Signora (The Old Lady). Key derby is with Inter (derby d’Italia – derby of Italy). Best player is Gianluigi Buffon, best goalkeeper in the world. Fantasy Serie A value = €8.5 million They are cool because there has to be something admirable about a club that inspired the sort of loyalty from players like Buffon and Del Piero that they were prepared to play a season in Serie B when the club was demoted for match fixing. They are uncool because they got caught red handed paying off referees, yet they still insist that the two championships that were stripped from them remain theirs as of right. No class. You might be a Juventus supporter if your gold medallions are only outweighed by your sense of entitlement.

gj6glhkvsogvtht4eado4h3flLazio – From Rome. Nickname is the Biancocelesti (white and sky blues). Key derby is with Roma (derby della capitale – capital derby). Best player is Brazilian midfield maestro Hernanes. Fantasy Serie A value = €9 million They are cool because they are the second best Serie A team based in the best city in the world. They are uncool because most of their supporters are openly fascist. You might be a Lazio supporter if you think Benito Mussolini was tragically misunderstood.

wd3remx36bfxfxhpfd3bov7gqLivorno – From the Tuscan coastal city of Livorno. Nickname is the Amaranto (Dark Red). Key derby is with Pisa (currently in Lega Pro 1) (derby del Tirreno – derby of the Tyrrhenian Coast). Best player is their top goal scorer last season was veteran midfielder Luca Belingheri, with a career high total of 14, perhaps proving that life begins at 30? Fantasy Serie A value = €5 million They are cool because the city of Livorno is the birthplace of the Italian Communist Party and Livorno supporters wear their leftist politics proudly on their sleeves. They are uncool because they haven’t been the same since their talismanic forward Cristiano Lucarelli, to Livorno what Paolo Di Canio was to Lazio, left for greener pastures. Unlikely to last long in the top flight. You might be a Livorno supporter if you think Arsene Wenger is wasted as a football manager and should instead be put in charge of a medium sized Latin American dictatorship.

nwfgf6g3d2ut2c2q2sopm6sjeMilan – From Milan, obviously. Nickname is the Rossoneri (red and blacks). Key derby is with Inter (derby della Madonnina – named for the little statue of the Madonna that is on top of the Milan Cathedral). Best player is probably my favourite player full stop at the moment – Mario Balotelli. Fantasy Serie A value = €12 million They are cool because they were originally founded as a cricket club. They are uncool because their owner is the vile former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. You might be a Milan supporter if you are a bandwagon jumper who also supports Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

ig0qxnu0hsyvb5eugex7k50uhNapoli – From Naples. Nickname is the Partenopei (Neopolitans). Key derby is with Roma (derby del sole – derby of the sun, named for the highway of the sun that connects Rome with Naples). Best player is lots to choose from here but it’s hard to go past Slovakian creative genius Marek Hamšík. Fantasy Serie A value = €11 million They are cool because a powerhouse of Italy’s much maligned but misunderstood South, they used to be the club of Diego Maradona. They are uncool because their supporters can be a little annoying. Notoriously one-eyed and very vocal – bad combination. You might be a Napoli supporter if you start each season thinking you will win the champions league whether you’ve qualified for it or not.

2pmj9op719we21egqmybehggsParma – From Parma in the region of Emilia Romagna. Nickname is the Ducali (Duchies). Key derby is with Bologna (derby d’Emilia – derby of Emilia). Best player is the mercurial, enigmatic and temperamental yet brilliant Antonio Cassano. Fantasy Serie A value = €8 million They are cool because they are from the home of the best cheese in the world, Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham). They’ve also won a lot of European trophies (two UEFA Cups and a Cup Winner’s Cup) for a small provincial club. They are uncool because their president, Tommaso Ghirardi, is a bit too trigger happy for most people’s liking. They change their manager more often than some people change their underwear. You might be a Parma supporter if you’re a bit cheesy and like to ham it up! (See what I did there?)

eezkjfmm1m7mmg9nm5t0075nhRoma – From Rome. Nickname is the Giallorossi (yellow and reds) or Lupi (Wolves). Key derby is with Lazio (derby della capitale – capital derby).  Best player is Francesco Totti of course! Fantasy Serie A value = €9 million They are cool because for a completely unbiased view on this, see my previous lengthy writing on the subjectThey are uncool because don’t be ridiculous. You might be a Roma supporter if you are awesome in every way imaginable.

4hzy4bpfcsjjuhtmd1pt0zmicSampdoria – From Genoa. Nickname is the Blucerchiati (blue rings). Key derby is with Genoa (derby della lanterna – named for the lighthouse in the bay of Genoa). Best player is Spanish age-group international Pedro Obiang who at only 21 years old has already made 56 appearances for Samp. Fantasy Serie A value = €6 million They are cool because they have the most stylish shirts in the league. They are uncool because their logo is supposed to be a sailor but instead it looks like a Star Wars bounty hunter with a tobacco pipe shoved through its schnozzle. You might be a Sampdoria supporter if you are so stoned that the logo really does look like a sailor…

US_Sassuolo_Logo.svgSassuolo – From the town of Sassuolo on the outskirts of Modena in the Emilia Romagna region. Nickname is the Neroverdi (black and greens). Key derby is with Modena (currently in Serie B). Best player is Gee I love a challenge but this is ridiculous… Virtually no Serie A experience in this squad… There must be something that makes Francesco Magnanelli good if they made him captain… That’s all I got. Fantasy Serie A value = €5 million They are cool because of their unique black and green vertical stripes that came about when they borrowed a kit from Lancaster Rovers in 1922. They are uncool because the rise of this tiny, unfancied, club of nobodies is a real fairy tale, and fairy tales are getting so common in the upper reaches of Italian football these days that they have lost all their novelty value. Cliché. Yawn. Likely to be yet another flash in the pan. You might be a Sassuolo supporter if your music collection contains any or all of: Bachman Turner Overdrive, Right Said Fred, Baha Men, Soft Cell, Chumbawumba or Vanilla Ice.

rdgcmhe9zcjh5tuwbu8s0sea4Torino – From Turin. Nickname is the Granata (Pomegranates) or il Toro (the Bull). Key derby is with Juventus (derby della Mole – derby of the Mole, named for the Mole Antonelliana, a famous building in Turin). Best player is fringe Azzurri international winger Alessio Cerci. Fantasy Serie A value = €8 million They are cool because a bit of a romantic’s choice, they have struggled ever since their nigh on unbeatable ‘Grande Torino’ squad was killed in the Superga Air Disaster in 1949. The working class choice of Turin. They are uncool because if you want to support Torino, you had better get used to a long hard slog of soul destroying wretched suffering. You might be a Torino supporter if after 20 years of abject misery, you still enjoy watching the New Zealand cricket team.

3g2fy5sbljbeegc2f8o1qh1nxUdinese – From Udine near the border with Slovenia. Nickname is the Zebrette (Little Zebras). Key derby is with Triestina (currently in Serie D). Best player is talismanic Italian international forward Antonio (Toto) Di Natale. Fantasy Serie A value = €10.5 million They are cool because they do incredibly well with the limited resources at their disposal, kind of like the Everton of Italy. They are uncool because they are often thought of as something of a poor person’s Juventus. You might be an Udinese supporter if you prefer the Monkeys to the Beatles, the Android to the iPhone, and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Puccini.

Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

7 replies

  1. Very interesting and funny guide, you should take over from Marcotti at Espn!!!!! keep it up and Grazie Mille Mate!!!!!!!

  2. Some of the best football writing I have seen in a long time – the best guide possible for a novice looking for a team. ESPN…. I am finished with you.

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