Serie A Recap Part I #2162

Offseason Work: Italy

Eliot Ben-Ner
The Football Hub
10 min readMay 30, 2024


Gasparini Found his identity again

Gasparini has built something extraordinarily beautiful in Bergamo. This era will be thought of very fondly by his supporters. Nothing quite will be able to capture the emotion and the feeling around the city when the final whistle went in Dublin in the Europa League final. Final after final they came up short. In fact, they went to the Copa Italia final three different times in the last 6 years. Gasparini has made a huge impact, however he never could win the big one. A lot of times managers are defined by trophies and not impact. There’s no denying Gasparini's Atalanta is as special as any in this generation. We very easily can put them up against the elite sides of this era. The attacking football they have played during this has been one of the best attacking sides in Italian history. Gasparini has certainly built something different. When he arrived in Bergamo, they were a club in the bottom half of the table. They spent historically 27 seasons in the second division and on top of that the only thing they had to celebrate was the 1963 Copa Italia. It had been decades of misery in Bergamo. Everything changed when he arrived. He immediately took them to the top four they made true progress. They regressed the next season a little but did well and the Europa League. Then they put together an era of three straight years in which they finished in the top three. It was the best 3-year stretch in their club history. Three straight seasons that they scored 100 goals. Gasperinis genius came with the limited budget he had but was able to produce so many top-quality players. He took Papu Gomez from the Ukraine and made him into one of the league’s best players and to this day is one of the best playmakers Italy has ever seen. He grabbed Duvon Zapata from Napoli. Gasparini turned him into a monster. He was the best player in the league he scored home and away against each of the top six. Took Illic from Fiorentina putting together a three-headed monster. Grabbed Mario Pasalic from Chelsea Remo Freuler from Switzerland, Timothy Castagne, Robin Gosens, Mancini, Cristante, Franck Kessie, Hans Hateboer and so many other names and faces many no longer play for the club and we’re eventually sold off however qualities that they have displayed under Gasparini and now post has been nothing but extraordinary from just a development perspective. This little side from Bergamo made finals was in the title race made the Champions League Quarterfinals was a PSG comeback away from making The semi-finals. Even after they had exploded and were building this monocity they brought in names like Luis Muriel to make them dynamic. As much as he built it, he almost burned it down. The treatment of Papu Gomez and Zapata should never be forgotten because it’s important part of the story. At some stage after the peak somewhat faded they had a couple years up and down even though they were a European team. They started to lose their identity. Initially the identity was having a dominating attack and concede that the defense will suffer. They could win any shootout for winning close. There was a stretch of time that it seemed like he could taken them as far as he could. At times this season it felt that way. He continued to get good signings such as Adam Lookman, Temu Koopmiers, Remus Hojland. They struggled in the wake of that but continued to acquire names such as Charles De Ketelaere and Scammaca. Once he got through to them and sort of had a bigger grasp on his team the criticism There was a point during last season that there were talks about possibly going in a different direction because it doesn’t seem like he had control of it anymore. However, he flipped a switch found his identity again made it work within the team. They go to the Europa League final. They beat the invincible Leverkusen. They finished in the top four when it looked like it was going to be almost impossible to do so. The most impressive thing was the way he transformed Charles De Ketelaere into the monster he was In Belgium. AC Milan would never give him a chance to play his actual position. In Bergamo he had more goal contributions than the three attackers and AC Milano brought in to replace him. Charles is the crown and Jewel of this Bergamo side. Eventually Gasparini was able to flip a switch and arguably had the best season in club history it couldn’t have been without the important pillars of Bergamo that allowed them to get to this point, it would be foolish just dismissing them because they are just as much of a part of it as anyone. Even if they don’t get to touch the trophy, the inception of this Bergamo side adopted into what we saw in Dublin He found the identity again and made magic and Bergamo.

Napoli’s carnival of chaos

Napoli ran away with the title last season and one of the more dominant displays we have seen over the last couple of years in Italy. They had not won the title in almost 30 years. They dominated like no other 90 points last season. Only losing four matches in the league. Everything seemed to be in prime position for another run at a title. 2 years ago it looked like AC Milan’s title defense was the worst we’d ever seen. However, Napoli took a step even further. Napoli’s season in one sentence, would be carnival of chaos. Luciano Spaletti’s Napoli was historic. However, he resigned after the season to become Italy’s manager. Kim left to go to Bayern Munich. However, for the most part it was almost the exact same team. Rui Garcia was a surprising choice to come in it frankly was a disaster. Napoli barely finished in the top half of the table they finished 10th this season. 37 points less than last season. Victor Osimhen decided to stay at Napoli despite interest last season. Last season he scored 26 goals in the league and 34 in all competitions. This season he took an enormous step back only 15 goals and less than 20 goals in total. If you look at the goal scoring record in Napoli. He has now been at the club for 4 years and only has one season that he has surpassed 20 goals. A 15 to 18 goals is who he is. Based on the information that we have, it is clear that as the case. Taking out the season that he exploded the other 3 years. He’s at a similar goal total. Not to mention Napoli and Victor had the whole controversy surrounding the TikTok video with Napoli appearing to be making fun of the striker for missing a penalty. Then the insults is exchanged between Victor’s agent and Kvaratskhelia agent. They went through three different managers. They made it out of the group stage but was immediately sent home by Barcelona. Kvaratskhelia didn’t have a great season but still 11 goals and six assists. He did fairly well in his own right. It was chaotic from start to finish. Napoli finish 10th ineligible for Europe with almost the same team. Alex Meret signed a big extension in the previous season then this campaign he shows that the average performances that we have always seen is exactly who he is. He was protected by Kim that inevitably got him paid by his defensive contributions. They removed him from the equation. They bring in Jasper Lindstrom from Frankfurt. One of the most dynamic playmakers in Germany. He is barely used he is a Ferrari that they stuck in the driveway. Never given an opportunity despite his unbelievable qualities considering Napoli was lacking a lot in that regard. It is quite ridiculous that they didn’t adjust the situation. The entire situation is an absolute mess as they were embarrassing this season. They still have a very talented squad but there’s a lot to do to fix all these problems. Antonio Conte is coming in next season to an attempt to fix Napoli. However, this is a project. Still a lot of makeover is needed.

Rome Clubs look bright in Post Jose & Sarri Era

Roma and Lazio came into the new season with a good amount of optimism surrounding them. At the time Jose Mourinho had taken Roma to the Europa League final. They were a couple of bad referring decisions away from possibly winning. His domestic results less something to be desired. However, with some of the acquisition being made in the summer, the thought was at least they could take a step forward in the right direction. Meanwhile Sarri had just led Lazio to their highest finish in 10 years. As they finished runners-up to Napoli. So, both Rome clubs had reasons to be optimistic about the season ahead. Jose Mourinho and Sarri turned out to be an absolute train wreck from the beginning of the season. Both clubs ended up with the worst start to a season in over 20 years. Roma only picked up 1Pt from their first three games. Lazio only picked up two points from their first three games. Both clubs had great difficulty climbing the table and even getting close to European football. The initial approach from both managers didn’t go their way. Jose refused to adjust his system to fit the players necessary. He also essentially occupied the same lineup regardless of how Roma played. He would not adjust in any manner to benefit the team. Meanwhile Sarri would not go away from his 433 formation even though he absolutely needed to. The Midfield options available to him were very strong. The problem being Lazio couldn’t put all them together in Midfield. He had Matteo Guendouzi, Kamada, Nicolo Rovella and Luis Alberto Even though it was blatantly obvious what he needed to do he refused. Both Jose and Sarri Completely failed to adapt. They were willing to die by their own system would not adapt to the circumstances or the personnel that the clubs had. Not to mention the individuals that suffered under them. Lorenzo Pellegrini was useless under Jose so was Paredes. This second the manager changed those individuals started to thrive. Dybala looked sharper, Lukaku had more high-quality performances not to mention the same happened for Lazio all their issues all the things they were struggling with at the time slipped. Both of them were let go because they wouldn’t adapt. Their egos were too high to make a difference. In rome De Rossi came in for Roma. The former Roma Captain fixed a lot of the problems. Now overall this season was still quite disappointing. However, he took them to the Europa League semi-final again, The pathway was much more difficult than what Jose had to deal with in the Europa League last season. He may be smart decision to put Mile Svillar in goal. He has now become one of Roma’s untouchables since being exerted into the starting lineup. He has been the best goalkeeper in Italy. Lorenzo Pellegrini became a difference Maker and scored in consecutive matches under da Rossi Paredes came crucially important as well and heavily improved his performances week by week. De Rossi wasn’t perfect but he was on the doorstep of the Champions League. A good portion of the time he picked up points. Big points from teams that Jose failed to get results against. He only lost a handful of games. Inter Milan, Bologna, Empoli in the league. Then in the Europa League lever cruising twice and one match against Brighton after holding a four goal advantage after the first leg. Roma had taken big steps forward. There’s a lot to do to make this team into a Champions League side again. Roma has a new Sporting Director as De Rossi has given an extension till 2027 and will work closely with the new Sporting director. Beat Milan twice in a European quarterfinal won the Derby against Lazio and even though he has made some mistakes occasionally down the stretch, he has taken Roma in the right direction. Clearly getting rid of Jose was the right thing to do. He has changed so many aspects of the team that needed changing and because of some of the stuff he’s done. Roma ended up having a truly sensational second half of the season still work to be done but you can’t deny the progress. He took Roma forward this season. In the blue side of rome Tudor has done a great job. He also has them going in the right direction. He changed many facets of the team as we saw Lazio pick up more and more points in the second half of the season. Outside of a few losses they have been much sharper and much stronger. They finished below Roma for the first time in 6 years, but that wasn’t his fault. He’s a very good manager got a good head on his shoulders. Lazio’s transfer decisions are not in his control. The decision making department at Lazio is run by a bunch of junkies. However, he will maximize what he has to his disposal. Very very good manager. A perfect one for Lazio. It’s clear that the high energy slightly egotistical big personalities Jose and Sarri took them backwards. De Rossi and Tudor have taken their respective sides forward.