2013-14 Serie A Superstars
After a stunning start by Roma to the 2013/2014 campaign, Juventus emerged as champions of Serie A; registering a record points tally along the way. Here are 5 players that stood out in a fascinating season in Italy’s top flight.
Arturo Vidal – Juventus
You will struggle to find a more hard working and dedicated player in Serie A than Arturo Vidal. The tenacious Chilean has had another outstanding season for Juventus and has played a key role in helping the Turin based outfit reach a record points total in Italy’s top division. It is not only his 11 league goals that have contributed to Juve’s success this season; his desire to get from box to box and play a part in both the attacking and defensive aspects of the game has made him a firm favourite with the fans. Vidal has an immaculate range of passing and an incredible engine. He has the skill and flair you would expect from most South American’s, but also the tackling and strength that you would not always associate with a player from that part of the world. Since signing from German side Bayer Leverkusen in 2011, Vidal has gone from strength to strength, season after season, attracting attention from a number of Premier League clubs in recent transfer windows. Although Juventus’ Champions League campaign ended prematurely, it is worth noting that Vidal netted 5 times in just 6 matches in the tournament (including a hat-trick against F.C Copenhagen), further proving himself as one of the world’s most sought after midfielders. It’s been a hugely successful season for Arturo Vidal and the 26-year-old will be hoping that he can take his scintillating form into this summer’s World Cup.
Mehdi Benatia – AS Roma
Roma’s defensive record has been exceptional over the course of the season and Mehdi Benatia has played a pivotal part in ensuring that Roma only let in more goals than champions Juventus this term. The French-born Moroccan international joined from fellow Serie A side Udinese prior to the start of the season and has formed a formidable partnership with Leandro Castan at the heart of the Roma defence. The Rome club began the season in unrivalled form, conceding just a single goal in their first 10 Serie A matches and setting a new record in the process, racking up 10 consecutive victories. Benatia looks to be the complete centre back; a commanding presence but also extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet. While marking and alertness to danger are among his most notable qualities, the towering defender is more than capable of breaking forward from defence and linking up efficiently with the midfield. The 27-year-old contributed 5 goals this season which is a healthy return for any defender, but can also claim a lot of the credit for Roma’s solitary home defeat this campaign.
Ciro Immobile – Torino
The 24-year-old has been immense for Torino this season; outscoring world class strikers such as Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain on his way to the top of the goalscoring chart in Serie A. Immobile started his professional career in Turin at city rivals Juventus, but only featured 3 times for the ‘The Old Lady’. Following unsuccessful loan spells at Siena, Grosseto and a more fruitful campaign with Pescara in 2011/2012, Immobile moved from Juventus to Genoa. After failing to make an impression at Genoa, it is at Torino this season where he has fulfilled the potential he had shown in previous campaigns. His 22 goals in 33 games has lead Torino to a hugely respectable 7th place finish in Serie A and has also gained him international recognition. Immobile made his debut for Italy in a recent friendly against Spain and has since been called up to Cesare Prandelli‘s provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup. His variety of goals has been eye-catching this season and his clever movement off the ball has made him a target for some of Europe’s top clubs. Torino fans will hope that after such a conducive debut season with the club, Immobile will not be distracted by attention from elsewhere, but will instead stay with the club and progress further on the road to becoming one of the best attackers in world football.
Paul Pogba – Juventus
The young Frenchman has been a revelation at Juventus since joining from Manchester United in 2012. Often referred to as ‘Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest mistake’, the 21-year-old has excelled this season under Antonio Conte’s guidance and looks to be just the type of player Man Utd have been crying out for all season long. Opportunities for first team action were limited at United and Pogba’s move to Juve has certainly been vindicated by the immense faith shown in him by his manager. Pogba has everything. A scorer of spectacular goals; he can create chances out of nothing and possesses a rifle of a shot. His skill can not only help him beat players one-on-one but can get him out of almost impossible situations. There were fears in the early stages of his career that he was ill disciplined, but this season he has shown great maturity and when club captain Andrea Pirlo was sidelined for a lengthy spell due to injury, Pogba looked accomplished filling in for the veteran and playing in front of Juve’s preferred choice of a back 3. It is when he is marauding forward that he is at his best however; close control and neat inter-play come naturally to the leggy youngster and his 7 goals from midfield have helped Juventus reach 102 Serie A points. If Pogba continues to progress as he has over the course of this season, it won’t be long before he will transform from a youthful talent into one of the world’s greatest players. With the World Cup fast approaching, he will undoubtedly be one of the most closely watched players at the tournament.
Juan Caudrado – Fiorentina
Columbian winger Cuadrado has been one of the surprise packages of this season in Serie A. He spent last year on loan at Fiorentina from Udinese, but since signing permanently at the beginning of the season, the explosive wide-man has exceeded all expectations and blossomed into one of Italian footballs most feared players. As well as his pin-point delivery of crosses which have lead to numerous assists over the season, he finished as the club’s second highest goal scorer with 15, only 2 short of the prolific Giuseppe Rossi. As well as adding goals to his game this term, Cuadrado seems to have found an extra yard of pace which makes him extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations with full backs. His trickery has proved nearly impossible to deal with at times this year and his versatility to feature in a more defensive role makes him an invaluable member of the Fiorentina set up. Cuadrado is one of many talented Columbians heading to Brazil for the World Cup and will be hoping do what he has done for his club on the biggest stage in world football.
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