Catania in 2010-2011
You would think looking at the amount of Argentine recruited last season that Catania were actually embarking on an campaign to qualify for the Copa Libertadores....
In all seriousness, Catania went into the season with expectation to finish top 10. Maxi Lopez's goals towards the end of the previous campaign has raised expectations but this was to be a season of disappointment for him and the club.
Marco Giampaolo started the season as coach and by the end former Argentine superstar Diego Simeone was in charge. Giampaolo managed to collect a slightly disappointing 22 points from 20 games before being removed. Fans were unhappy with the dull football being played, especially away from home, and so was the Catania president as Catania hovered above the relegation zone.
Diego Simeone took over and whilst performances improved, Catania still remained inconsistent. However, the Argentine did manage to steer the Sicilian side to safety in a semi-comfortable lower mid-table finish. Catania finished the season in 13th place on 46 points, 10 clear of relegated Sampdoria. They won 12 games, all but one of these at home. One win away from home is simply not good enough for a side with ambitions to finish in the top 10. The outstanding player for Catania last season was Matias Silvestre. A pillar at the back and also the clubs second top scorer last season with six goal, two behind top scorer Maxi Lopez......
Takayuki Morimoto will be a loss for Catania as he joins newly promoted Novara in a co-ownership deal. Argentine forward Gonzalo Bergessio has been signed by St Etienne and attacking winger Ezequiel Schelotto returns to Atalanta after his loan spell has ended.
Former Juventus attacking winger Davide Lanzafame has arrived and will be expected to provide support for Maxi Lopez. Spanish youngster Kiko signs after failing to agree to a new contract at Atletico Madrid. Portugese defender Paulo Regula signs on a free transfer and guess what.... ANOTHER Argentine, this time midfielder Mario Paglialunga signs from Rosario Central.
What to Expect from 2011-2012
It will be interesting to see what Vincenzo Montella does with Catania. There were signs of progress towards the end of Simeone's reign, glimpses of a more expansive style of play. One positive is the enthusiasm Montella has spoken about since joining. "Catania is an important step in my career. I must prove that I am worthy of this job before even thinking about other objectives. I accepted this position with great enthusiasm and think we can really do a lot together''
The signs are that the more attacking style of play will continue, as Montella has been trying out a 4-3-3 in pre-season games. He will be aware that under Simeone, Catania played in a 4-2-3-1, the same as Montella during his time with Roma. I expect Catania to gain more points away from home (although that won't be hard) however they do risk being caught on the break playing at home with the expansive style of play.
Potential Breakout Star
He may be 27 years of age but Neapolitan Francesco Lodi has the chance to show that he has the quality to shine in Serie A. His previous spell in Serie A was with Udinese, but Lodi couldn't get a start due to those ahead of him in the pecking order. The attacking midfielder has the technical ability to support and assist Maxi Lopez and I expect him to play a key role in Catania's season.
Maxi Lopez has something to prove this season, It was not a great year for the Argentine last term. Great things were expected last season, however a return of eight goals from 33 Serie A games was disappointing.*
*It also appears Lopez is now close to joining Fiorentina, which really wrecks his being labeled a 'key player' for Catania
Defender Matias Silvestre was Catania's most outstanding player of last season --a pillar at the back and also the club's second top scorer last season with six goals, two behind top scorer Maxi Lopez......can he do it again? And will Lopez manage to widen the gap?
As discussed above Francesco Lodi could play a big role in Catania's season.
Semi final of the Copa Sudamericana....oh I forgot, you meant Serie A.
Catania is a tough one to predict. If Montella can get Maxi Lopez scoring and can show us he can actually adapt his tactics to specific opponents, then they could finish in the top 10 . However I see them being left exposed when attacking the opposition. Coupled with Montella's tactical naivety, I expect another 13th place finish and possibly a coaching change midway through the season.