Having reached the half-way point of the Serie A season, Dave Taylor goes 4-3-3 with his best XI of the campaign to date.
Andrea Consigli [Atalanta]
Superb from the off, especially in Week 2’s 1-1 draw with Cagliari when, after stopping two penalties and making several other superb saves, he was stretchered off and sent to hospital. The former Italian Under-21 international, now seen as one of Gianluigi Buffon’s heir, offers a rare level of security to one of Serie A’s poorest defences and fears no man nor beast. Buffon-like.
Mattia De Sciglio [Milan]
Young players need encouragement and Massimiliano Allegri has provided it for the former youth team prodigy. With his accurate passing and crossing ability, the 20-year-old has shown on many occasions that he is an excellent decision maker. His pace aids his game, as does his versatility to play on both flanks. Maldini-like.
Andrea Ranocchia [Inter]
He has been immensely consistent this season. At set pieces, one of the tallest defenders in Serie A at 1.96m, is a real menace and showed it with his perfect looping header from a free-kick in the 3-1 win at Bologna. But it is stopping goals where he reigns and his performances this term have earned him international recognition again. Burgnich-like.
Giorgio Chiellini [Juventus]
Every team needs a big ugly defender at the back and they don’t come much bigger or uglier than Chiellini. Equally at home in the centre or at left-back, the Italian international epitomises Juve’s fighting abilities with his decisive tackles and aerial supremacy. An uncompromising defensive pillar and a superb professional, he absolutely refuses to buckle if the going gets tough. Giorgio also has one of the highest percentages of successful passing of anyone in the League with a 91 per cent success rate. Ferrara-like.
Kwadwo Asamoah [Juventus]
In the short time he has played for Juve, the Ghanaian’s thrilling runs down the left have already started to become part of the club’s folklore. Despite principally being a central midfielder, he has added an extra dimension to the way the team attack this season, exemplified by his five assists. Asa is also no slouch at scoring and showed it with a dazzling overhead kick against Pescara. Cabrini-like.
Arturo Vidal [Juventus]
Like a Chilean miner he backs down to no-one and is always looking to win the ball and set up another attack. As an integral part of Serie A’s best midfield he, as much as anyone, has been one of the driving forces in Juve’s run at the top this season. He also has an unerring ability to get into the right place at the right time and does the unseen work, allowing others to do the more intricate stuff. Tardelli-like.
Andrea Pirlo [Juventus]
You might be able to control the bearded Lord of the Rings occasionally, but he is certainly more Gandalf than Gimli if a set-piece presents itself. Juve’s second goal against Atalanta in Week17’s 3-0 win was a perfect example of his unassailable self-belief, as his free-kick ripped through the Turin air to almost break through the back of the net. One of the game’s great statesmen, he has made the most passes in Serie A with over 1,373 of which 1198 or 87.3 per cent have been successful. This ability sees him deliver sublime balls that the recipient has no need to break his stride as he slots it goalwards. Zidane-like.
Marek Hamsik [Napoli]
The Slovakian ace has been Napoli’s most consistent player, featuring in every match and has a brilliant presence in front of goal, scoring seven times already, just two short of his total last season. On the assist front he has nine to his name, equalling his complete total from last term. His direct running has made a massive contribution to the Partenopean cause and he possesses a superb sense of where to be at the most pivotal of moments. Alemao-like.
Francesco Totti [Roma]
Er Pupone has been incomparable at times in his 21st campaign and, with six goals plus six assists, what can you say that has not already been said? He has been ruthlessly direct and his power to score and set up others was best seen in the 4-2 win over Fiorentina in Week 16, with his two goals and two assists. Giannini-like.
Edinson Cavani [Napoli]
Napoli attack and defend from the front via the electrifying Uruguayan and, with 16 goals to his name, the perfect modern striker has shown his fitness, pace, strength and extreme resourcefulness. Hat-tricks, braces, winning goals in the closing minutes, penalties, headers, there is nothing much he can’t do and his second hat-trick of the season against Roma last week went a long way to prove it. It also meant he has now scored 25 goals in 23 games in all competitions. Jeppson-like.
Stephan El Shaarawy [Milan]
The youngster has been a real revelation and is Serie A ‘s second top scorer on 14 goals which accounts for 42 per cent of Milan’s total. Eight were scored with his dynamic left foot, while his rampaging pace and energy has seen him score 50 per cent of them in the last 15 minutes as his superb stamina exploits weary defenders. Inzaghi-like.
Coach: Vincenzo Montella [Fiorentina]
The Viola decided on a completely new direction after last season’s problems and embellished their squad with 17 new players, plus Montella, last summer. Arrivals like Mounir El Hamdaoui, Facundo Roncaglia and former terrace hero Luca Toni have all added to the basics of a good squad and with Montella’s fresh exciting hand to guide them they could finish in a Champions League spot. Zeman-like.