As the 2012/13 season is coming to a close in Serie A, we look at the best XI coming from Italy's greatest league.
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
The Juventus custodian may be reaching the twilight of his career, but the form that he has been in for the zebrette the past two years has been inspirational. The World Cup winner still looks like one of the best shot-stoppers in the world, despite being 35.
A Serie A record of conceding only 14 goals in one season should stand the test of time, as we are likely not going to see another goalkeeper like him for a long time. Achievements like this would make him suited to a world XI aswell as a place amongst Serie A’s best.
Left-back: Federico Balzaretti (Roma)
Balzaretti, or just simply Balza for short has solved all of Roma’s problems on the right side of defence this season. He has defensive talent in abundance and can bomb down the flanks, a trait that is so important in modern football.
The Italy international has also kept the exceptional Domenico Criscito out of the Italy first team, as he has become an integral part of the new Roma and Cesare Prandelli’s Italy side. There are only one or two more complete LB’s in world football, and therefor deserves his place in Serie A’s best XI
Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
Over the past five years, he has become an important part of the Juventus backbone and when he doesn’t play, Juve’s defence simply doesn’t perform to the same standard. The Italy international is also one of the most versatile defenders in the game, being able to play in the centre or down either side of the defence. He has appeared almost 300 times for the Turin giants and is well on his way to legendary status.
Centre-back: Andrea Barzagli (Juventus)
When Juventus signed the World Cup winner from Wolfsburg, we all thought that he would be back up for Chiellini or Leonardo Bonucci. But he finally reached his peak at Juve and can now be considered one of the best defenders in world football.
It took Antonio Conte to structure a formation that Juve could use to fit all three of their star Centre Back’s into. Although a 3-5-2 formation may be unconventional, Juve haven’t looked back and are coming close to the same level that they were before Calciopoli, with Barzagli being a big part of the puzzle.
Right-back: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan)
Despite having an unconvincing start to his career, with five seasons spent on loan at five different clubs, in the 2008/09 season, he exploded on to the scene. With pace, skill and an extraordinary ability to beat players for a defender, he has become one of the best wing backs in the world.
His mazy runs and lighting fast bursts from end to end have become a common sight at Milanello, and has therefor attracted interest from some of Europe’s top clubs, most notably Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain. Though selling Abate would be suicide. With Philipp Lahm the only wing back you could rightfully call better, he would stroll into most teams starting XI
Defensive-midfield: Daniele De Rossi (Roma)
The term ‘complete midfielder’ is thrown around a lot these days, with people claiming that Michael Carrick, Bastian Scweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are. But how many of the above have been named man of the match playing out of position against the reigning European and World champions? The answer is none. Playing at an unfamiliar centre back role, De Rossi played an almost perfect game in the group stage of EURO 2012 against Spain.
His ability to disposes attackers and start an attack have been key to the success of Roma and Italy over the past 10 years. Is there a more talented midfielder in world football currently? Yes, in the forms of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Andrea Pirlo. But is there a more complete midfielder? No.
Centre-midfield: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Named in the FIFpro World XI 2012 and also the UEFA team of the season, Andrea Pirlo is probably the best player in Serie A, and also one of the best in the world. Known as a ‘midfield dictator’, he often controls the match and is usually the difference between Juve winning and losing.
Though he is coming close to the end of his career, being part of Conte’s 2011/12 invincibles and playing a big role in Italy’s 2006 World Cup triumph, his name will be granted immortality. As most hold him in the same esteem of that of the great Zinedine Zidane, he will go down as one of the all-time greats.
Centre-midfield: Arturo Vidal (Juventus)
Ever since signing from Bayer Leverkusen for around £10.5 million, Vidal has been one of the best players in Serie A. £10.5 million now looks like a bargain, and it was an even bigger koup that he picked Juve over Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The Chilean is the best ball winner in the world, having completed the most successful tackles in Europe’s top 5 leagues last season.
In the past two seasons, Vidal has also looked to be a potent goalscoring threat, scoring 27 goals in 70 appearances for the Bianconeri, not bad for a midfielder.
Attacking-midfield: Francesco Totti (Roma)
Despite being 36, Totti is still very much the heart and soul of the current AS Roma side. Scoring an unbelievable 228 Serie A goals has seen his name reach legendary status.
Considered by many to be the best player of his generation, his loyalty is just another reason to respect El Capitano, staying at his hometown club his whole career despite interest from Europe’s biggest teams.
On the ball brilliance, lethal finishing and incredible passing ability shows that he is still one of the most dangerous players in Europe, and one of the best in Serie A.
Right-forward: Edinson Cavani (Napoli)
The Uruguayan international is one of the hottest properties in Europe, being a transfer target for Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Chelsea. 71 goals in 98 Serie A appearances for Napoli shows just how lethal he can be, with 22 goals in 29 appearances this term, he doesn’t look like stopping, as he looks to claim his Capocannoniere title.
Left-forward: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan)
Super Mario has flourished since returning to his homeland from Manchester City. While at City, Balotelli never really got the credit that he deserved, even when he crucially assisted Aguero’s famous goal against QPR to win the title. Seven goals in his first seven Serie A games for Milan shows what he is capable off, and being only 22, the £19 million AC Milan paid for him could prove to be a bargain.