With the league calendar now taking a mid-season break, Carlo Garganese offers his Serie A Team of the Season so far…
Christian Abbiati (Milan): With just 13 goals conceded in 17 games, Milan have the best defensive record in Serie A and Abbiati has been a key reason for this. The 33-year-old has pulled off numerous acrobatic, flying saves this term and has even improved on his one weak area - crosses.
Alessandro Nesta (Milan): Despite turning 35 in a few months time, Nesta is still a class act and he has formed the best centre back partnership in Italy this season alongside Thiago Silva. Very few attackers have got the better of the Lazio legend. Nesta has also managed to mantain his fitness, missing just two Serie A games thus far.
Thiago Silva (Milan): Quite possibly the best defender in the world right now. The Brazilian is the complete stopper - fast, strong, excellent in the air, a fine tackler, elegant in possession, and unlike most defenders today a brilliant reader of the game. Milan desperately need to find an adequate backup to both Silva and Nesta in January, as both are irreplaceable right now.
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus): A rock at the back for a Juventus side that has rediscovered its winning mentality and fighting spirit. Chiellini has been the perfect example to his team-mates with his fearless tackles and headers, and combative character. As a result the Bianconeri have not yielded more than one goal in a game for three months.
Milos Krasic (Juventus): The most explosive force in Serie A right now, Krasic has lit up the championship with his electric raids down the right wing. At times the Serbian has been almost unplayable and he has been the main outlet for Juventus offensively. The 26-year-old has scored five times in Serie A, including a few gems, as well as providing a host of assists.
Marek Hamsik (Napoli): Any midfielder who guarantees you 12-15 goals every season is a true asset, and that is exactly what the Slovakian star is to Napoli. Hamsik has already found the back of the net seven times this season, a key reason why the Partenopei are just three points off the top of the table.
Felipe Melo (Juventus): Endured a disastrous first season at Juventus last season after a big money move from Fiorentina, but has been reborn this campaign. The Brazilian has been arguably the most dominant midfielder in Serie A and has made the centre-of-the-park his own in virtually all of his 15 league games, even chipping in with a goal in the process.
Hernanes (Lazio): The signing of the summer so far after arriving from Brazilian giants Sao Paulo. The attacking midfielder has been the talisman of a Lazio team who find themselves in joint-second just three points behind league-leaders Milan. Hernanes has scored five goals in 16 games, created numerous others, and displayed all the skills, tricks, flicks and free kick fantasy that the best Brazilians are associated with.
Javier Pastore (Palermo): The 21-year-old may have dipped a touch in recent weeks, but for the large part he has been the most watchable player this season in Italy if not Europe. The elegant, languid, laid-back style of Pastore is like no other in football, and when at his best he is a true genius with his dribbles, tricks, through passes, and especially his nutmegs and backheels. The Argentina has scored seven times & created many others.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan): Bowled into Milan this summer following his stunning move from Barcelona and immediately pledged Rossoneri fans the Scudetto. So far he is delivering on his promise. The Swede has scored nine goals in 16 Serie A games, many of them decisive including the winner in the derby. Milan are so dependent on Ibra now that when he doesn't play well often the Rossoneri don't either.
Edinson Cavani (Napoli): Was tough leaving out Samuel Eto'o, but Napoli's summer signing from Palermo has been a true revelation in 2010/11. With 10 goals he is joint top of the Capocannoniere charts alongside Antonio Di Natale, but unlike the Udinese man none of his have come from the penalty spot. Cavani has scored countless decisive goals, with so many of them arriving late in the game.