The 2018-19 campaign unveiled some hidden gems, but not all of them find a place into Vilizar Yakimov’s 3-4-3 formation, as he picks his best XI.
Choosing our goalkeeper was a tough task, as a case could be made for Gianluigi Donnarumma, Wojciech Szczesny and Salvatore Sirigu. However, the Inter No 1 hasn’t missed a minute of Serie A action this term and has kept 17 clean sheets - more than any other goalkeeper in the league. Considering Donnarumma’s tendency for the odd mistake and that Szcesny has played nine fewer games than the Slovenian, Handanovic has deservedly won the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year award and a place in our best XI, not to mention the Inter captain's armband. Consistent.
Despite averaging a staggering 3.9 clearances per game, the Slovak’s 93% pass completion rate show that he is more than capable with the ball at his feet. The 24-year-old’s athleticism, aggression and no-nonsense approach make him a rare breed of a player, as he combines the qualities of an old school defender with those of a modern one. Alongside Handanovic, Skriniar has easily been the best player for Inter and has played a key role in the Nerazzurri’s impressive defensive record this term. Rock.
Despite Napoli failing to mount a serious enough assault on Juventus’ crown, the recently named Serie A Defender of the Year was never going to miss on this list. It is easy to see why some of Europe’s big boys are lining up for the Senegal international’s signature, with the latest reports suggesting that Napoli rejected a €110m bid from Manchester United. Standing at 1.95cm and winning an average of 2.2 aerial duels per game, while completing 89% of his 72 passing attempts, the 27-year-old is perfectly suited for featuring at the heart of our defensive trio. Mountain.
While other candidates like Francesco Acerbi and Armando Izzo featured more frequently and have better individual stats than the Juventus captain, we just couldn’t leave him out. Despite being heavily criticised at times, the Champions finished the season with only 28 goals conceded, which is easily the best defensive record in the league. Considering that Juventus lost only two out of the 25 Serie A games that Chiellini featured in, it would’ve been just wrong to exclude the veteran from our list. Injuries and Max Allegri’s rotations affected the 34-year-old’s domestic season, but there is little doubt that Chiellini is a man that you want on your side when it matters. Experienced.
Probably the biggest surprise in the team. While Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactics have been the main reason for Atalanta’s success in recent years, Hans Hateboer has arguably been one of the most underappreciated players in the league. The Dutchman has been a superb attacking outlet for his side, as he ends the season with five goals and as many assists, while also averaging 1.4 key passes per game. His defensive contribution has also been solid enough, as Hateboer won 1.9 aerialduels and completed 1.3 tackles per game, which make him he best suited candidate for the RWB position. Dangerous.
While the Bosnian’s future in Turin remains uncertain and the Bianconeri have plenty of issues to address in the middle of the park, Pjanic has undoubtedly been the most influential midfielder for them this term. Despite featuring deeper under Allegri, the 29-year-old still registered two goals and six assists, but his main role for the team has been different. With an average of 2.3 key passes per game and 92% pass completion rate this term, Pjanic once again was the engine of Juventus, while his vision and ability to dictate the tempo of the game has been key to the whole team once again. Maestro.
Despite not looking as sharp as during his previous campaign, the big Serbian just offers too much in order to be ignored. The 24-year-old looked exhausted at the start of the campaign, but slowly built up his form and finishes the season with five goals and three assist in 32 appearances for Lazio. Milinkovic-Savic won a staggering 3.6 aerial duels per game - more than any other midfielder in the league this term. His late header only three minutes after coming on in the Coppa Italia Final against Atalanta virtually secured the trophy for the Biancocelesti and was the highlight of their season. Juggernaut.
Picking up a player from the worst backline in the top eight might not seem like the most logical choice, but the truth is Kolarov had a tremendous campaign on an individual level. Eight goals, two assists and an average of 1.6 key passes in 33 games showcase just how much of an attacking threat the Serbian provided for Roma this term, while his leadership qualities cannot be measured in stats. Often looking like a man among boys, due to the lack of character in the current Roma team, Kolarov was also takes the LWB place and is the second Serbian in our list. Brave.
His inclusion in the team was a choice of fine margins, but Krzysztof Piatek’s struggles in the final stages of the season, as well as the fact that the Pole didn’t register a single assist this term, justify the inclusion of Zapata. With 23 goals and seven assists, the Colombian enjoyed his most prolific season up to date and has been one of the most important players for Atalanta throughout the campaign. Constantly tormenting opposition defenders with his physicality, Zapata also possess a decent dribbling skills, which make him a really tricky customer for any backline. Powerful.
The first name on our list of strikers. Just like fine wine, the 36-year-old is just getting better and better as time passes by. However, even that cliche cannot explain how magnificent the veteran was this term, banging in 26 goals and registering eight assists in 36 games. Beating the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zapata and Piatek to the Capocannoniere award, Quagliarella also earned his return to the National team. Showcasing his ability to score with every part of his body and from any angle, the Sampdoria hitman was the sole reason for his side finishing in the top half of the table. Mr Wondergoal.
We couldn’t leave him out, could we? Despite failing to win the prize for top goalscorer, CR7 broke all types of records during his debut season in Italy. The Portuguese finishes the season with 21 goals, eight assists and the remarkable 5.7 (!) shots per game - more than any other player in the league. His hat-trick against Atletico Madrid saved Juventus from an earlier exit in the Champions League, while his two strikes in each of the legs against Ajax proved that despite being 34 years old, he can still deliver when it matters. Being named as the Serie A MVP, Ronaldo was also voted for Man of the Match 10 times. Unstoppable.