Saturday January 18 2020
Ideal XI of the season so far

At the midway mark of the Serie A campaign, Tommaso Adami picks the 11 players who have truly stood out in their roles. Who makes your ideal XI?

SAMIR HANDANOVIC (Inter) - Goalkeeper

Now at his eighth season at the club, Inter's captain is once again among the top-performing goalkeepers in Italy. At 35 years of age, he has already managed to keep seven clean sheets, earning his team the title of best defence in the league. His best saves so far must be the fingertips on Joaquin Correa's finesse shot in a tight 1-0 win over Lazio and the crucial penalty save in last week's Inter 1-1 Atalanta.

ROBIN GOSENS (Atalanta) - Right-back

Sure, the German serves mostly as an offensive winger in Atalanta's 3-5-2 line-up, however he was originally scouted as full-back. So far he has missed out on three games only, treating himself to quite the season. With his tally currently standing at six goals and four assists, the 25-year-old has turned into one of Gasperini's most efficient secret weapons. He usually plays on the left, but can be versatile enough to switch flanks.

CHRIS SMALLING (Roma) - Centre-back

If you have been following Italian football closely, this pick will come as no surprise. But if you haven't... well, then you must be pinching yourself. One yellow card in 14 games, two goals, one assist and an overall rock-solid defensive display in Roma's back four have turned Chris into Smalldini, one of the most reliable centre-backs in the league. To be fair, not the easiest of accomplishments in Serie A.

FRANCESCO ACERBI (Lazio) - Centre-back

One of the most complete centre-backs in Italian football is also the undisputed defensive leader in Lazio's record 10-win streak. Missing out on only 20 minutes of play since the start of the season, the Italian international has played a key role in making the Biancocelesti'sdefence the second best in the league. His last yellow card dates back to late October.

THEO HERNANDEZ (Milan) - Left-back

There is currently no other left-back in the league who could possibly take this spot from him. Pace, grit, dribbles, assists (2) and goals (4): is there something the Frenchman can't do? With 14 games as a starter in the darkest months for his team, he has consistently represented a light of hope, delivering noteworthy performances on both ends of the field.

LUIS ALBERTO (Lazio) - Midfielder

His nickname in the capital is El Mago, and we honestly don't see how it could be otherwise. Just like a magician, the Spaniard first mesmerizes the opponents with his quick touches, and once they are lost in his swift moves, he tilts his head and threads yet another assist. He's already got 12, together with three goals. Try to stop him, if you can.

LORENZO PELLEGRINI (Roma) - Midfielder

Rome's very own midfielder is surely one of the most talented young Italians in the league, and Paulo Fonseca's attacking football is bringing the very best out of him. Despite missing six games due to injury, Roma's midfield beacon has already scored once, delivered seven assists and worn the captain's armband on one occasion. At 23, he's already an all-round leader.  

DEJAN KULUSEVSKI (Parma) - Right-wing

Undoubtedly the biggest revelation of this first half of the season, Juventus have managed to sign the teenage wonder beating the competition of some of Europe's top clubs. Parma's big-framed right-winger has got an unusual body type for his position, but his skillset is so complete that it will make everybody second-guess their preconceptions. Speed, vision, quick thinking and a powerful left foot have already taken his tally to four goals and seven assists.

CIRO IMMOBILE (Lazio) - Striker

With an average of 1.11 goals per game, the Italian striker is having the season of a lifetime. The true leader behind Lazio's 30-point run, he's shown determination, drive and maturity, besides relentless grit and a refined killer instinct in the box. With 20 goals at the end of the first round, Ciro might well be on course to win Europe's golden boot and, quite possibly, beat Gonzalo Higuain's record for most goals scored in a single Serie A season (36).

ROMELU LUKAKU (Inter) - Striker

Many people wondered whether he was worth "all that money", questioning if he was the right replacement for Mauro Icardi and if he could lead the Nerazzurri to a successful season. It turns out that Antonio Conte knew exactly what he was asking for. Ever since arriving in Milan, Belgium's big man has been nothing short of amazing, improving by the day and fitting perfectly in the team's tactics. He's got 14 goals already, and his partnership with Lautaro Martinez just keeps getting better.

CRISTIANO RONALDO (Juventus) - Left-wing

Death, taxes and… CR7. He’ll be 35 years old next month, but the ageless Portuguese talent just can't stop breaking records and scoring goals. Maurizio Sarri's Juventus had a rougher start to the season than expected, and when people started questioning whether this was due to Cristiano's ‘poor form,’ he made a bold decision. As he has often done in his career, he took the team on his back and scored nine of his 14 total goals in six consecutive games. Retirement can wait.

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Have your say...
Nice to see Acerbi on this list. Fully deserved I think. Lazio has conceded one more goal than Inter and one less than Juve so far.

That is quite impressive considering the teammates he has (Radu, L Filipe, Patric).
on the 23rd January, 2020 at 9:17am
We may not all agree on the author's final 11, yet it's still a great analysis to have at this stage of the season to promote healthy discusson. Great to see a few Italians also make the final cut, particularly Immobile. 2020 is shaping up as a benchmark year for him, Lazio and possibly, even the Azzurri. Can Ciro do it for Italy...his past record suggests no, yet his determination and persistence suggests yes.
on the 21st January, 2020 at 12:10pm
Love this list, would love to hear more from the author.
on the 20th January, 2020 at 10:11pm
like this guy's takes... would love to hear more from him, maybe on a weekly basis, maybe interviewing clubs
on the 20th January, 2020 at 10:10pm
I see nothing wrong with the list. The eleven have played the best at this point of the season. What it does show is the quality of Juve and Inter right now that the remaining 10 starters have not been at their best and they are still running through the league.

Of note, Dybala and Lautauro have been great but haven't put up the numbers as CR7 & Lukaku
on the 20th January, 2020 at 5:09pm
acerbi really doesn't get the recognition he deserves he is pretty much mr consistency. still not to have a inter or juve defender in this is list is wrong they have the two best defences in the league
on the 19th January, 2020 at 7:44pm
Nice list... none of Juve's defenders even though they only conceded 1 more than Inter and are top of table. Other than that I don't think any others deserve to be there other than CR7. Even though Dybala has been amazing this season, Immobile and Lukaku/Lautauro are carrying the their teams on their shoulders. Not so much Dybala or Higuain (or even CR7 for that matter)
on the 19th January, 2020 at 5:24pm
At least Totti stayed faithful.

Your princess CHEATED ON YOU.
"She" went to another guy, & when that guy made bad investments/ lost a lot of money, she came back.
"She's sorry, made a mistake. Only now realises you're the one she loves..."

Just so you know: There's nothing sincere in that! SHE'D NEVER RETURN IF HER SUGAR DADDY HAD NOT LOST ALL THAT MONEY!!!

I wouldn't kiss that mouth if I was you, let alone stand up for her!
SHE DOESN'T DESERVE YOU & You should've left her rott.
on the 19th January, 2020 at 2:11pm
@Anonymous, One. Against Balotelli, another horrible personality (Thanks for upgrading my list ;) ) AND EVERYONE APPLAUDED TOTTI FOR DOING IT -- MAICON EVEN GAVE HIM A HIGH FIVE! An Inter player!!! Totti is no saint. But at least he has more talent in one of his little toes than Bonucci has in his whole body. He doesn't have any reason to "look arrogant" as he does.
on the 19th January, 2020 at 1:34pm
L Martinez has played far better than Lukaku
on the 19th January, 2020 at 10:41am
The author obviously doesn’t watch a lot of football
on the 19th January, 2020 at 6:56am
@ Totti - for ugliest personality look no further than Totti. How many red cards for kicking someone in the last minute when losing a game? What a sooore loser. Of course if he was playing now he would be sold to Juventus after his first season.
on the 19th January, 2020 at 5:58am
GK : Handanovic
DF : Theo De Vrij Smalling Cuadrado
MF : Sensi Luis Alberto Ilicic
FW : Ronaldo Immobile Lukaku
on the 18th January, 2020 at 10:59pm
Lukaku's a binman. The Belgian Shola Ameobi.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 10:45pm
@United States of Totti... I didn't know recently football become a beauty contest, so the Beauty Pageant prize goes to "Smalling", right? You're gonna be a hell of football coach or commentator!
on the 18th January, 2020 at 9:16pm
Ideal 11 of the season (3-5-2)


Luis Felipe, Acerbi, Radu

Lulic, Milinkovic, Luis Alberto, Leiva, Lazzari

Correa, Immobile

Who can honestly say there has been a better team this season than Lazio?!
on the 18th January, 2020 at 8:49pm
With the way Football Italia usually operates I'm surprised Ibra isn't in there.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 6:53pm
@ Marco,

Bonucci eats Smalling for breakfast;
When Chris signed for Roma I was disappointed, didn't rate him to be Manolas replacement...

But he proved me wrong.
He is EXCEPTIONAL this season --Only had two bad games against Torino & Juve.

This list is of "IDEAL XI OF THE SEASON SO FAR". Performance-wise.

I think Adami presented a nice varied list.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 5:33pm
@United States of Totti: sounds reasonable and NOT AT ALL biased...
on the 18th January, 2020 at 4:40pm
All of you who are criticizing...
I bet you'll make us laugh :)

I would swap Kulusevski with Ilicic.

Smalling over Bonucci EVERY DAY & TWICE ON SUNDAYS!!! --Even if they'd be on same level, Smalling easily wins because of Bonucci's UGLY CHARACTER, morals, FACE, goal-celebration (--it's too much emphasizing his "ugly face")...

Who wins a contest between Bonucci, Conte, Mourinho, Pepe (R.Madrid), D. Costa (A.Madrid)... for ugliest football personality is a conundrum...
on the 18th January, 2020 at 12:53pm
It's a good list.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 12:10pm
Dybala has been nothing short of sensational this season and I genuinely believe he's a to five player worldwide.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 11:48am
this is just awful list...
on the 18th January, 2020 at 10:42am
Leader only has one player in the 11,lol.
on the 18th January, 2020 at 10:23am
my pick (4-3-3) :

GK : Handanovic
DF : Cuadrado, Smalling, de Vrij, Gosens
MF : Nainggolan, Luis Alberto, Ilicic
FW : Immobile, Lukaku, Ronaldo

sub :
Szczesny, Bonucci, Acerbi, Theo, Brozovic, Milinkovic, Pellegrini, Kulusevski, Lautaro, Dybala
on the 18th January, 2020 at 9:42am
Have you heard of De Vrij, Brozovic, and Ilicic?
on the 18th January, 2020 at 8:05am
Really....!? Juventus on top of the league, but only one player from them....!!?? Smalling better than Bonucci…..?come on, man....
on the 18th January, 2020 at 7:20am
Gk. Szczesny. Rb. Lazzari Cb. De vriz. Cb. Izzo. Lb. Sandro. Rm. Lago de falco. Cm. Pjanic. Cm. Brozovic Lm. Zaniolo. Rf. Ronaldo. Lf. Immobile. Thats it not much from us as we are having team effort...
on the 18th January, 2020 at 5:10am

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