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With the league calendar in Italy almost complete, Goal.com offers its Serie A Team of the Season...

Formation: 4-3-3

Goalkeeper

Julio Cesar (Inter) – The Brazilian beats off competition from Milan’s Christian Abbiati and Fiorentina’s Sebastien Frey to take his place between the sticks. Inter have conceded fewer goals than any team in Italy, and Julio Cesar must take great credit for this, having produced a string of man-of-the-match performances. It is no surprise that some critics believe that, on current form, the former Chievo shot-stopper is now better than Gianluigi Buffon.

Defence

Douglas Maicon (Inter) – The Brazilian was the best player in the whole of Serie A before Christmas and, although his form and fitness took a dive in the New Year, it cannot be underestimated just how important he has been for Inter this campaign. Maicon is now probably the best right-back in the world, bombing up the flank like an unstoppable machine. Has scored five goals this campaign, as well as providing countless assists.

Simon Kjaer (Palermo) – There have been numerous top-class signings in Serie A this season, and Kjaer is certainly one of them. The 20-year-old arrived from FC Midtjyland last summer, and looks like a star in the making. A complete defender with every attribute in his locker – including pace, anticipation, and aerial ability – the Dane has been a key reason why Palermo are fighting for a Europa League place. Kjaer is now wanted by every major club in Europe.

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) – Chiellini may not have repeated his all-conquering heroics of 2007-08, but he was still a colossus at the back for the Bianconeri. The only top class member of a very poor Juventus backline, when Chiellini has been missing through injury, the team have leaked goals right, left and centre. Arguably Italy’s number one defender now, and one of the finest in Europe too.

Paolo Maldini (Milan) – Before there are floods of complaints, this selection is by no means a sympathy vote for a 41-year-old who is retiring at the end of the season after an incredible 25-year career. On the contrary, Maldini, despite his age, has been one of Serie A’s most consistent performers this term. He has played 28 league games, and has comfortably been his team’s best defender. A true legend of the game, and perhaps the greatest stopper who ever lived.

Midfield

Esteban Cambiasso (Inter) – For a number of years, Cambiasso was criminally under-rated, but this is certainly no longer the case. Everyone now recognises just how important the bald-headed anchor man is in protecting the Inter defence. Tactically, Cambiasso is the perfect footballer, and if you are a defender, he is a dream to have in front of you. If Inter have the best defensive record in Serie A, it is largely thanks to the work done by Cambiasso.

Felipe Melo (Fiorentina) – The Fiorentina midfield has had a number of under-performers this season, most noticeably Riccardo Montolivo. If it had not been for Felipe Melo, who arrived from Almeria last summer, it is questionable whether the Viola would now be on course for Champions League qualification. The Brazilian has been a beast in the middle-of-the-park, watch out for him at the 2010 World Cup.

Thiago Motta (Genoa) –
Like fellow countryman Felipe Melo, Motta is now courted by the big three of Italy following a magnificent campaign. Injury problems over the last few seasons meant that not much was expected of the 26-year-old, who joined on a free transfer after his Atletico Madrid contract was terminated. Yet, Motta has run the show for the Rossoblu, imperious going both forwards and backwards.

Attack

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter) – No Ibrahimovic, No Inter – this is what most Calcio fans think. With 22 goals in 33 Serie A appearances, only two of them penalties, as well as a hatful of assists, no team in Italy relies more heavily on one player than Inter do on Ibracadabra. Although he once again failed to perform on the big European stage, the Nerazzurri must do everything in their power to keep the 27-year-old.

Diego Milito (Genoa) – Rejoined Genoa hours before the transfer window shut, and what a signing it has been. The Argentine has hit 20 goals in just 29 appearances, and would have scored many more were it not for a spell in the treatment room. Milito’s goals took Genoa to the brink of an historic place in the Champions League, but a poor run-in means they may have to settle for fifth place.

Mauro Zarate (Lazio) –
Has been likened to Barcelona genius Lionel Messi, and this is no crazy comparison. The Argentine, who just pips Antonio Cassano, may have only scored 12 Serie A goals, but almost all of them have been wonder-strikes. The ex-Birmingham City man has proved himself the man for the big occasion, scoring in the derby, the Coppa Italia semi final, and the final itself to help win Lazio their first trophy for five years. Occasionally hogs the ball, but the Zarate Kid’s skill, technique, pace, set-pieces and shooting ability are frightening.

Julio Cesar

   Maicon – Kjaer – Chiellini - Maldini

Cambiasso - Felipe Melo - Thiago Motta

  Ibrahimovic – Milito - Zarate


Do you agree with those who made it into the above Team of the Season? Who would make it into your XI? Goal.com wants to know what YOU think...

Carlo Garganese, Goal.com


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