The past year has been unlike any other across the footballing world, forcing clubs to play in empty stadiums and tackling unprecedented challenges. Italian football has not disappointed, regularly delivering excitement and unlikely surprises at every turn.
Once Wednesday’s final games are played, Serie A will take a much-needed break, halting action until the new year. Without further ado, here are three things to look out for in 2021 in Serie A:
1) The Alejandro Gomez saga:
When reports surfaced that Gian Piero Gasperini and his star man, Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez, had a falling out, it shocked the entire calcio world. The two have proven to be a match-made in heaven in Bergamo, firing the side to newfound heights. Just last season, Gli Orobici were painfully close to booking their place into the Champions League final four, but eventually lost a narrow affair against PSG.
Gasperini’s relationship with Gomez was a special one, claiming he would resign if ever the club sold the diminutive playmaker. The veteran tactician got the most out of Gomez, with the Atalanta man establishing himself as one of Italy’s elite creative threats. Fast forward to today, and Gomez is very much on his way out, with reports saying the damage is irreparable.
Milan and Roma among others have queued up for his signature, in hopes of adding an elite player on the cheap. At 32-years-old, Gomez can still play a crucial role in any team and has shown no signs of slowing down. While his inevitable transfer is intriguing in itself, the Atalanta man has claimed he will reveal exactly what went down once he leaves. It will also be interesting to see just how Gian Piero Gasperini’s men cope without him in the lineup.
Atalanta is coming off a vintage 4-1 win over Roma with Gomez out, but sustaining it over an entire season is a completely different story. Beyond one of Serie A’s best players moving on mid-season, this story is far from over.
2) Can Andrea Pirlo turn it around?
Andrea Pirlo has struggled since assuming the reins in Turin, stumbling out of the gates in Serie A. Juventus has drawn six of their 13 games and most recently saw their unbeaten run snapped in emphatic fashion against Fiorentina.
Pirlo may have led the Bianconeri to an impressive Champions League group stage campaign, but desperately needs to turn it around, as soon as the season restarts. Juventus has dropped points in countless games they should have won, including draws against Crotone and Benevento, and can no longer afford to fall further behind.
The Italian champions sit seven points behind Milan and have an incredibly tough schedule to kickstart the new year. As a two-legged affair with Porto looms, Juventus need to achieve some form of consistency and begin stringing results together. One of the biggest storylines going into the new year will be to see if Pirlo can bounce back from an indifferent start – otherwise, we might just have a new champion heading into next season.
3) Are Milan legit Scudetto contenders?
Well, we’ve been asking this for the better part of 13 matchdays now and the answer seems to be yes. However, Milan will need to demonstrate its resolve heading into the new year, welcoming Juventus into San Siro on January 6. As we approach the half-way point of the season, Milan can announce themselves as serious contenders, especially with a statement win against Juventus.
Stefano Pioli’s men have played some sensational football in recent months, navigating a tricky schedule diligently, despite a number of injuries – including one to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. As we enter 2021, the Rossoneri will need to confirm their contender status and demonstrate they can handle the pressure that comes with it. If their recent run is anything to go by, Milan will be up for it.
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