Serie A Previews: The Sparkle Of Catania Likely To Dim

CATANIA, ITALY - AUGUST 18: Alejandro Gomez (R) of Catania celebrates the victory goal with his teammate Pablo Barrientos during the TIM Cup match between Catania Calcio and US Sassuolo at Stadio Angelo Massimino on August 18, 2012 in Catania, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)

Last year, under Vincezo Montella, Catania excelled in attack and managed a run at European play. But with Montella gone to Fiorentina, will the rossazzurri dare to be so bold?

Last season, under Vincenzo Montella, Catania were one of the most fun teams in Serie A. None of that lie-down-and-take-it approach to facing big teams -- this rossazzurri went all out, rarely stopping the attack. Rarely paying attention to that nagging issue of "defending", either, come to think of it. But even if they were a bit spastic at the back, they were a joy to watch. The question is, will they be the same under new coach Rolando Maran?

Last Season

11th, Serie A. Surprisingly, Catania experienced a spell in which it looked as though they'd qualify for European play, something they've never achieved. But multiple injuries took their toll and the elefanti couldn't quite get there.

Who's Out?

Vincenzo Montella: Booooooooooooo. Montella certainly did his part in making Catania fun last season, but now he's off to manage Fiorentina. At least he'll make the Viola bearable to watch again.

Pietro Lo Monaco: We've got to mention the departure of Catania's sporting director, who was lured off to Genoa before getting fired for overstepping his mark. Maybe it'll be less difficult for the elefanti to keep some good players around now.

Tomas Kosicky: The Slovak goalkeeper got some time last season when Mariano Andujar went on a little holiday in Argentina, but now he's playing in Serie B with Novara.

Marco Motta: The Juventus man just can't seem to find himself a good fit. He's off to Bologna now, and he won't be missed at Catania.

Maxi Lopez: Performed well enough for the rossazzurri, but they always knew his heart wasn't in it. Finally got his dream loan to AC Milan last winter, but failed to impress. Now he's at Sampdoria -- not exactly a step up.

Who's In?

Rolando Maran: Appointed after the departure of Montella this summer, Maran is the former head coach of Varese, who finished fifth in Serie B last season and lost out to Sampdoria in the play-off final.

Mariano Andujar: A spat with Lo Monaco prompted a brief loan spell at Andujar's former club, Estudiantes. But the crazy is gone now and Catania's first choice keeper has returned.

Lucas Castro: Catania continue pursuing their dream of fielding an all-Argentine starting XI. This one fills the "left-sided midfielder" opening.

Takayuki Morimoto: He disappointed in his only season in Serie A, but Catania are gambling that last season's injuries were just a one-off, and that he'll be able to produce more than when at Novara.

Keep An Eye On

Pablo Barrientos. In the same week that the Argentine attacker's contract was renewed, WindJet, also owned by Catania president Antonino Pulvirenti, went under. An entire airline was sacrificed to keep el pitu! It's not so much the number of goals Barrientos scores that makes him impressive (he had just four; in general, Catania like to share the goal-scoring burden). It's that the little Argentine is seemingly everywhere, and opposing defences just don't know how to handle him. He and Alejandro Gómez playing together is a delight.

Predicted Finish

Mid-table. Probably lower-mid table. I don't often like to give lots of credit to a coach, but I just can't see Catania taking as many chances without Montella at the helm. And it was their chances that got them their points. It'll be a less exciting season this time around.

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