Ronaldo & Immobile lead Opta’s Serie A Team of the Season as 4 Juve stars in
After winning the Serie A title for the ninth season in a row in 2019-20, Juventus have four players in Opta’s Team of the Season.
The 2019-20 Serie A campaign ended up with a familiar champion as Juventus clinched a ninth successive Scudetto, and their success is reflected in Opta’s Team of the Season.
Although Juve finished 2019-20 just a point ahead of second-placed Inter, they had wrapped up the title with two games to go – beating Sampdoria 2-0 on 26 July.
Cristiano Ronaldo was unsurprisingly key, finishing as his team’s top scorer, but for much of the season there were a few sides that looked like they might push Juve all the way.
Inter, Atalanta and Lazio all had their moments where they were able to dreamand they each had individuals who impressed.
Following the conclusion on the campaign on Sunday, we teamed up with Opta to outline the Serie A Team of the Season.
OPTA’S SERIE A TEAM OF THE SEASON
Poland international Szczesny has come a long way since struggling in the latter part of his Arsenal career. He was once again a dependable option between the posts, remaining first choice despite the return of Gianluigi Buffon. He ended the season with a 74.4 per cent save success rate, the best of the Serie A goalkeepers to have played 20 or more times.
Hardly the most convincing of defenders, granted, but Cuadrado boasts the versatility to play in a few roles down the right flank and he became an important figure for Maurizio Sarri – his 28 Serie A starts is just one fewer than he managed in the previous two seasons combined. The Colombian was certainly influential, too, as he was involved in more open-play sequences that ended with a shot made by someone else (132) than any other player this term. He also chipped in with two goals and five assists.
No team conceded fewer goals in Serie A this season than an Inter side that Antonio Conte ensured was well-drilled. Netherlands centre-back De Vrij played a major role in that as he featured 34 times – though his efforts were not notable just for his defensive effectiveness. The former Feyenoord man scored three goals and also set up another three, making him the most productive centre-back in the league in this regard.
After Inter, the next-best defensive unit in Serie A was Lazio, who let in 42 (six more than Conte’s men). Acerbi missed just two games all season and his form at the start of the season also saw him make three starts for Italy. The 32-year-old has proven himself to be one of Serie A’s best stoppers, as evidenced by the fact he was dribbled past just six times this term. No other outfield player with more than 35 appearances did better than that.
Former France youth international Hernández has rediscovered the early promise he showed during a fine loan spell at Deportivo Alavés in 2016-17. While question marks remain over his defensive abilities, the Atlético Madrid youth product has excited with his attacking tendencies in 2019-20. No defender completed more dribbles (57) than him, while he also had a hand in nine goals (six goals, three assists).
Since leaving Liverpool for Rome in 2016, Luis Alberto has arguably developed into one of the world’s best creative midfielders. The Spain international sees passes few others can and he has put that to particularly good use in 2019-20, with his 106 chances created being a Serie A high. Similarly, his 15 assists was second only to Alejandro Gómez (16), as he helped Simone Inzaghi’s men mount a title challenge. Often linked with a return home to Sevilla, Lazio will surely be doing everything they can to keep Luis Alberto at Stadio Olimpico.
The other half of a Seville-centric midfield, Real Betis product Fabián probably hasn’t impressed quite as much as he did in 2018-19, but he has nevertheless continued to show plenty of promise. Still only 24, Fabián attempted the most passes (2,331) of any player in the league this season, while he had a hand in nine goals, the same amount as in the previous campaign.
AM: Alejandro Gómez, Atalanta
Like a fine wine, ‘Papu’ Gómez just seems to get better with age. Now 32, the Argentinian has enjoyed a fantastic season for the often-exhilarating Atalanta. He scored seven goals for a second successive season, but his haul of 16 assists is five more than 2018-19. That figure is the highest since Opta records began in 2004-05.
The Sarri-Juventus combination continues to puzzle many, but if there’s one thing he has got right, it’s helping Dybala get back to something resembling his best. He had been strongly linked with a move away last year, but Dybala was involved in 17 Serie A goals this term (11 goals, six assists) and managed to coexist with Ronaldo more effectively. Of his 11 strikes, eight (73 per cent) were the opening goals of matches, the biggest quantity among players with 10 or more.
Considering there have been murmurs of discontent between himself and Sarri, and suggestions the coach hasn’t been able to get the best out of the Portugal great, Ronaldo’s had a pretty effective year. With 31 league goals, it’s been his best goal-scoring campaign domestically since getting 35 with Real Madrid in 2015-16, while his goals have secured 24 points, more than any other player.
What a season Immobile has had. With 36 league goals, the Italy international equalled Gonzalo Higuaín’s record for a single campaign, while that haul also won him the coveted European Golden Shoe. On top of that, his record of nine assists was bettered by only Gómez, Luis Alberto and Domenico Berardi. If he can keep it up, Lazio will surely fancy their chances of challenging Juve again next term.