Serie A Team of the Season so far celebrates the top flight's stand-out performers as we approach the halfway point, with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Edinson Cavani and Stephan El Shaarawy all in form
The 2012-13 season is approaching the halfway stage and Italy's top flight has been as intriguing as ever, so with the busy Christmas period now in full swing, have crunched the numbers and reviewed the 17 rounds to date to present our team of the season so far in Serie A.

There were a few surprised observers in the summer when Inter allowed Julio Cesar to leave San Siro, but the form of Samir Handanovic since his arrival from Udinese has helped the Nerazzurri to reassert some authority over the league after a difficult 2011-12. His excellent shot-stopping ability was a feature of Inter's 10-game winning run which included a 3-1 win away to Juventus.

Our back four is led by Mattia De Sciglio, who has developed into one of AC Milan's most consistent performers in a difficult season to this point. He partners up on the right with local rival Andrea Ranocchia, who has forced himself into the national team reckoning thanks to some impressive displays in Inter's back three this term.

Fiorentina's great form this season has been boosted by the form of their defence, and former Villarreal man Gonzalo Rodriguez has led by example from centre-back, earning a place in our best XI. In our last slot, we have Giorgio Chiellini, who has been a key member of a Juventus side currently sitting seven points clear with a winter championship under their belts.

There were up to a dozen possible inclusions in midfield, but our panel managed to reduce the selection to a worthy final trio. First comes Borja Valero, who has helped to transform Fiorentina's style with his excellent passing ability, and he comes in alongside probably the greatest of pass-masters in Andrea Pirlo, whose continued magnificence in the centre of the park has ensured that Juve remain ahead of the rest. Finally, Marek Hamsik has been so consistent that he has received seven call-ups to our Serie A Team of the Week series this term, making him a certainty for our mid-term selection.

Our forward line is made up of three players who have been clear stand-outs for their respective clubs in 2012-13 so far, and have bagged 36 league goals between them to this point.

Stephan El Shaarawy has been unwittingly thrust into the position of Milan's figurehead despite his young age, yet he has responded brilliantly to rack up a phenomenal 14 goals already. Lazio have also been led from the front by a talisman, as Germany striker Miroslav Klose has once more proven to be a handful for opposition defences.

Rounding out the strikeforce, and the team, is Napoli hitman Edinson Cavani, who is on course to improve on his back-to-back 33-goal seasons this time around. His 12 league strikes so far have helped to keep Napoli in the Champions League chase despite the loss of Ezequiel Lavezzi and their recent points deduction.

Games: 15 Clean sheets: 5

Games: 12 Clean sheet: 2
Games: 16 Clean sheet: 6
Games: 16 Clean sheet: 4
Games: 13 Clean sheet: 7

Games: 17 Goals: 1
Games: 15 Goals: 4
Games: 17 Goals: 7

Games: 17 Goals: 14
Games: 16 Goals: 10 Games: 14 Goals: 12

*Only includes players who have featured in 10 Serie A games or more