2014/15 Serie A Team of the Season

Another thrilling edition of the Italian top flight has concluded this weekend, with a flurry of goals across the board capping the season off with a bang. For the fourth consecutive time Juventus are Italian champions, with perennial second-placers AS Roma clinching the runners-up spot after a frighteningly poor run of form earlier in the year. Plenty of players have thrilled the crowds will stellar campaigns and personal achievements, making cases for inclusion into the coveted end-of-the-year Team of the Season. 11 players in particular have, throughout the course of the last nine months, stood out as the pinnacle of their respective positions, scoring and tackling their way into this year’s TOTS.

Goalkeeper: Albano Bizzarri (Chievo Verona, 37)

Even Gigi Buffon could not come close to having the same kind of impact on his team that Bizzarri had when he took over from Francesco Bardi between the sticks at the Stadio Bentegodi at the start of November. Thrusted into the first team setup by Rolando Maran following the appalling performances of Inter-owned Bardi, Bizzarri justified his transfer fee from Genoa and more nearly instantaneously. Keeping over ten clean sheets and conceding just 21 times in 27 starts, his inspired debut Chievo season likely staved off relegation for a club that was 19th with seven defeats in their first nine matches prior to Bizzarri’s takeover. Criminally, Tata Martino neglected to call him up to the Albiceleste Copa America squad, despite the veteran having the best campaign of all the continent’s, and probably the world’s, Argentinian shot stoppers.

Honourable mentions: Gianluigi Buffon, Luigi Sepe, Emiliano Viviano

Right Back: Dusan Basta (Lazio, 30)

The Serbian defender, while not the flashiest member of Lazio’s squad (that honour is reserved for Felipe Anderson), has nonetheless managed to be one of the most important in the club’s bid for Champions League football. Manning the right flank, he provided defensive cover for Antonio Candreva’s runs deep into enemy territory, while also restricting movement of opposition wingers and marauding full backs. Not a particularly flashy player, Basta tidily did his job when Candreva was caught out on the wing or a midfielder misplaced a pass on the right. Despite not being the top of any statistical charts, Basta’s seamless blending of a defensive approach to the fullback position and intelligence when contributing to attacking play has crowned him this season’s top right sided defender.

Honourable mentions: Stefan Lichtsteiner, Antonio Balzano, Matteo Darmian

Center Back: Stefan de Vrij (Lazio, 23)

The first of this season’s pair of crown central defenders was signed from Eredivisie runner-ups Feyenoord Rotterdam following a stellar season of club form that culminated with an inspired World Cup run with the Netherlands. The move was initially seen as a potential dud, with critics pointing out the difficulty of a transition from the Dutch to the Italian top flight. However, de Vrij blew his critics far away, becoming a key link in the armor that was Lazio’s defense for a big part of the season. The 23-year-old had less poor performances than a person has fingers on one hand, salvaging results and displaying maturity well beyond his years on a regular basis. It comes as no surprise that Manchester United are once again interested in de Vrij’s services, and Lazio could find themselves facing a battle to keep their Dutch star in a few weeks’ time.

Honourable mentions: Leonardo Bonucci, Kamil Glik, Daniele Rugani

Center Back: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus, 30)

Juventus’s stalwart central defender has enjoyed another trophy-laden and personally successful season, finding himself indispensible during this year’s domestic double under the management of Massimiliano Allegri, and key in the Bianconeri run to the final of the Champions League. The pinnacle of current Italian defending, Chiellini’s trademark distribution and crunching tackles have not faltered in quality season after season, while his partnership with Bonucci at the back has been frighteningly productive at keeping out goals. Combative with a fiery personality, the Italian isn’t concerned with going into a questionable challenge, but has also shown a great deal of restraint when he deems it necessary. Most nothing gets past him in the air or on the ground, and with no significant drops in quality over the past few seasons, Chiellini is looking like he will be a mainstay for years to come.

Honourable mentions: Leonardo Bonucci, Kamil Glik, Daniele Rugani

Left Back: Marcos Alonso (Fiorentina, 24)

Not many left backs did anything noteworthy this season, with right-sided fullbacks overshadowing their opposite numbers in both individual success and team contribution. Fortunately for Fiorentina, Marcos Alonso was an exception. The 24-year-old Spaniard was, unlike his club, in fine form throughout the season, despite a rotation system with Manuel Pasqual limiting his playing time to less than 20 Serie A starts. Though he did not feature much after the new year, his heroics in the opening half of the season and during Fiorentina’s Europa League run made Vincenzo Montella’s decision to drop him seem quite out of place. Patrice Evra has given the Real Madrid academy product a run for his money, however Alonso’s superior defensive work ultimately won out over Evra’s overall good-but-not-great overall attributes.

Honourable mentions: Patrice Evra, Lorenzo De Silvestri, Senad Lulic

Defensive Midfielder: Lucas Biglia (Lazio, 29)

The third Lazio player to feature in this team of the season, Biglia’s second campaign with the capital club solidified his status as both a key player and a fantastic purchase. A midfield enforcer, the Argentinian nonetheless remained a major cog in the Biancocelesti attacking play, just as likely to dispossess an onrushing striker as he was to send an accurate pass to an awaiting Candreva or Anderson. Rarely failing to show up when needed to, Biglia consistently came up during big games, playing a huge role in victories such as the memorable 4-0 drubbing of Fiorentina and January’s 3-1 besting of AC Milan. On top of that, he was a crucial component in Lazio’s two-month win streak from February to April, a run of results that catapulted the team into the Champions League spots.

Honourable mentions: Mirko Valdifiori, Paul Pogba

Central Midfielder: Allan (Udinese, 24)

Flying relatively under the radar as a star midfielder since signing for Udinese in 2012, Allan has nonetheless been both one of Serie A’s most consistent and parallelly Udinese’s most important players. Though Udinese finished dangerously near the relegation zone, this occurred despite, rather than because of, Allan’s performances. A hard worker and a star man for the Zebrette even when his team was losing (which unfortunately for them, happened often this season), he and timeless forward Antonio Di Natale teamed up to save the 2000 Intertoto Cup winners from the embarrassment of plunging down to Serie B. Despite not being the first name on the lips of Serie A fans, top European teams have taken a serious interest in his services, with clubs as varied as Chelsea, Wolfsburg, and Juventus all reportedly desiring to add the Brazilian to their midfield.

Honourable mentions: Marco Parolo, Franco Vasquez, Antonio Candreva

Central Midfielder: Claudio Marchisio (Juventus, 29)

After a slightly lackluster campaign during Antonio Conte’s final season as manager of Juventus, under the command of master tactician Massimiliano Allegri Marchisio blossomed to never before seen heights. Playing a part in nearly every match during this potential treble year, he brought a much needed consistency in midfield amidst the rotation of Pirlo, Vidal, and Pogba. The Italian international cemented himself as the rock in the center of the pitch from which Juve would both launch attacks and coordinate defensive strategies. Much like Allan and many others in this team of the season, his personal successes have not failed to attracted foreign interest. However, any bidders will be hard-pressed to make Juventus sell their prized player, particularly considering the immense amount of money the club looks set to make with the sale of Paul Pogba.

Honourable mentions: Marco Parolo, Franco Vasquez, Antonio Candreva

Right Forward: Paulo Dybala (Palermo, 21)

This past summer, few people expected Palermo to do much more but wobble around the relegation zone and maybe pick up a few wins against big sides during their first campaign since re-promotion from Serie B. However, under the leadership of head coach Giuseppe Iachini and the stellar campaigns of South American duo Franco Vasquez & Paulo Dybala, the Sicilian side finished a very respectable 11th, even flirting with European qualification at certain moments during the season. Dybala, who netted 13 times and assisted a further 10 goals, was arguably the most important player in the club’s exceeding of expectations. Effectively his breakout year in the big leagues, the Argentinian’s thrilling personal success and selfless attitude when it came to his teammates not only added a new dimension to his game but shot him up to being one of the most sought-after youngsters in the world. Even club president Mauro Zamparini conceded that he wouldn’t be able to keep hold of his star past the end of the season, and everything seems to be set for the youngster to make a big move to Juventus in the summer.

Honourable mentions: Manolo Gabbiadini, Domenico Berardi, Jeremy Menez

Left Forward: Carlos Tevez (Juventus, 31)

The fourth and final Argentinian player to make the team of the season, Tevez built on his ruthless combination of scoring and setting up goals as he finished two strikes off joint-capocannonieres Luca Toni and Mauro Icardi. Coming up huge in both Serie A and Juventus’s unexpected run to the final of the Champions League, Tevez has now scored 39 goals in under 60 league starts for the Old Lady, a huge return on what at the moment of his purchase seemed like a risky deal. With memorable match-winning performances against the likes of AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Roma, his ability to find the net did not falter as the quality of opposition increased. Unfortunately, despite his Italian renaissance following a dire final two years in England, Tevez seems to be on the move once again. It is being reported that the striker will leave Juventus should the Serie A giants win the Champions League, with a return to Argentina being touted as a likely possibility. Nonetheless, he will surely be fondly remembered by the Juventus faithful as one of the clubs’ top forwards in recent years.

Honourable mentions: Felipe Anderson, Mauro Icardi

Striker: Luca Toni (Hellas Verona, 38)

A real-life Benjamin Button, Luca Toni has continued to wow the world as his goalscoring antics at an age when many players sit on the bench studying for coaching qualifications have resulted in the veteran being crowned joint-top scorer alongside Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi. His 22 strikes built on a debut Hellas Verona campaign that saw him lose out on the capocannoniere title to Ciro Immobile by just one goal last season. A lethal finisher, Toni’s ability to punish the opposition on the ground or in the air made him a very tough player to defend against. Indeed, his phenomenal form has not only seen him emerge Verona’s key to staying up in Serie A but acts as the World Cup winner’s last hurrah before hanging up his boots for good. However, should similar form continue, there is no reason why Toni cannot keep banging them in when he’s in his 40s, particularly since he has not yet lost many attributes key to his game.

Honourable mentions: Mauro Icardi, Iago Falque, Fabio Quagliarella

The team:

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