Catania Club Focus: Season Preview 2013/14
The 2013/14 season is nearly upon us and the entire landscape of Serie A has changed. Teams have significantly bolstered their squads, creating fierce battles on both sides of the table. However, there are some clubs that have slipped under the radar despite causing a ruckus last year, and Catania are one of them.
The summer mercato began slowly for the Sicilians, having lost the likes of Francesco Lodi and Giovanni Marchese to Genoa, along with Alejandro Gomez to Metalist Kharkiv in Ukraine. Many questioned if coach Rolando Maran would be able to conjure up another record breaking campaign without those three, who were integral pieces for the Italian tactician.
Those worries were quickly put to rest as the Catania board went to work on securing new players. The biggest additions have been in defence with Argentinean fullback Fabian Monzon signing from Lyon to replace Marchese. Velez Sarsfield’s 21-year-old right back Gino Peruzzi, linked previously with Inter and Sunderland, also arrived this summer. He’s slated to be the best of the bunch in 2013/14.
Panagiotis Tachtsidis, who played for Roma last season, was brought in as a part of the Lodi deal. The Etnei now own 50% of his rights. Kingsley Boateng is the most recent signing, being loaned from AC Milan with an option to buy. The 19-year-old winger enjoyed an excellent preseason with Milan, so he should fit in perfectly.
These additions were completed on a shoestring budget, with the board spending approximately €7.7 million whilst acquiring around €7.3 million in player sales. It’s yet another example of excellent business from the Rossazzurri.
The new blood coming into the squad has given Maran plenty of options for the new season. After achieving a record amount of points with 56. In year two of Catania’s project, Maran has a well balanced squad with what could be the most underrated defence in the country.
They conceded the seventh fewest amount of goals in the league with 46, just two fewer than fourth placed Fiorentina and four fewer than Coppa Italia holders, Lazio. On the other side of the pitch, they were ninth in goals for with 50, which is probably the biggest concern considering the departures.
Gomez was one of their biggest providers up front, contributing eight goals and seven assists. Only Gonzalo Bergessio scored more while Lodi was level in assists, but he’s also gone. However, there’s still a big possibility that Catania can challenge for Europe again this year.
There’s quality depth to cover for those star players that moved on. Boateng, Pablo Barrientos, and Lucas Castro should help out on the wings. Their pace and technique will be lethal on the counter and will fit right into Maran’s system of distributing the ball wide and exploiting the flanks. The likes of Monzon and Peruzzi will also help out when they burst forward from defence.
Bergessio has remained despite plenty of rumours about his future, so the top goal scorer for them in Serie A remains. The midfield may struggle at times without Lodi, but Tachtsidis, Sergio Almiron, and Mariano Izco should be able to take over where Lodi left off.
Catania’s home form is what drove them to have a remarkable 2012/13, but their away record is what halted their push for Europe. 12 wins, four draws, and three losses at the Stadio Angelo Massimino is up there with the upper echelon of Serie A. Those twelve wins is the highest number of home victories in a single campaign in club history. Only Lazio, Fiorentina, AC Milan (13), along with Napoli and Juventus (14) had more victories in their respective stadiums.
The away form, however, compared with the relegation candidates last season. Pescara, Palermo, and Torino were the only teams with fewer wins outside of their venues. That must improve if they’re to contend for the Europa League, but surely with their new additions, they’ll be more prepared with an ample supply of options in every position.
Expect Catania to build on last season’s success. They’ve gradually shot up the table over the last five years and every campaign begins with the same question: Can they do it again? Even with the departures, they most likely will. This isn’t the first time the Elefanti have dealt with this situation.