Pitchside Europe

Italian football year in review: Juventus, Boateng, spies in the bushes

Italian football expert James Horncastle takes a look at the best and worst of 2013 in Italy.

2013 in 140 characters

Juventus made it back to back titles and may three-peat while Roma re-emerged from defeat to Lazio in the cup final as a major contender.

Hero

Feels like a long time ago now, but Kevin Prince-Boateng at the beginning of the year for taking a stand and walking off after Milan’s black players were racially abused during a friendly against Pro Patria.

Villain

This should probably be plural. The owners of Palermo, Genoa and Cagliari deserve an annual mention. Mister X and Mister Y in the latest phase of the Calcioscommesse scandal too. But let’s go with FIFA. I mean, Switzerland seeded ahead of Italy?! Pot X?! A review is required.

Funniest moment

Samp finding Genoa’s youth team goalkeeping coach Luca de Pra dressing in camouflage spying on their first team training session ahead of the Derby della Lanterna in September. Their decision to set him free came under scrutiny after Genoa won 3-0:

Best goal

Thanks be to Parma. Massimo Gobbi volleyed a well-worked set-piece in from outside the area away to Palermo at the end of last season. Antonio Cassano then volleyed a corner across goal against Bologna in this. Both were exquisite.

Best quote

This goes to Fiorentina’s supporters and their Tuscan wit. “The ball is that yellow thing! The ball is that yellow thing!,” they sang as their team passed it around an Inter side incapable of taking it off them in February.

Prediction for 2014

Juventus will make it three-in-a-row for the first time since the `30s. I suspect this will be Max Allegri’s last season in charge of Milan too. Everyone expects Clarence Seedorf to replace him, but it’ll be interesting to see what Cesare Prandelli does after the World Cup.

Christmas wish

That the frustrating to-ing and fro-ing, the one step forward, two steps back and general impasse with the stadium law is resolved. Italy’s clubs need new grounds if they are to enter the 21st century and move forward. Enough with the political wrangling. Sort it out.

On Twitter @JamesHorncastle