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Fanzone preview: Italy's Serie A

  • Story Highlights
  • Serie A has lost two star players to La Liga in Kaka and Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Samuel Eto'o, Diego and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are the league's major arrivals
  • Walter Zenga's Palermo side represent a good outside bet to win the Scudetto
  • Have your say on who you think will win Serie A in the Sound Off below
By Timothy Abraham
For CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The new Italian Serie A season kicks off with the first round of fixtures this weekend -- Fanzone details what to expect from the forthcoming campaign:

Fanzone preview: Italy's Serie A

So what's new?
The Serie A managerial merry-go-round produced its usual raft of changes with over a third of clubs set to begin the season with a different coach from the previous campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti's departure to Chelsea from AC Milan is the most high-profile change, with former Rossoneri hero Leonardo moving from his role as technical director at the club to take over as head coach.

Walter Zenga's success in guiding unfancied Catania to a mid-table finish last season saw him make a controversial switch to bitter Sicilian rivals Palermo, with Gianluca Atzori replacing him at the Stadio Angelo Massimino.

Who do you think will win the Italian Serie A title? Sound Off below.

Delio Rossi parted company with Lazio, who appointed Davide Ballardini, while Luigi Del Neri left Atalanta to take over at Sampdoria with Angelo Gregucci taking the reins at the Bergamo club.

Fact Box

Reigning Champions: Inter

Champions League Qualifiers: Inter, Juventus, Milan, Fiorentina

Europa League Qualifiers: Genoa, Roma, Lazio

Elsewhere, promoted Bari dispensed with the services of Antonio Conte and handed the job to much-traveled Giampiero Ventura, while Livorno have brought in veteran Vittorio Russo to work alongside Gennaro Ruotolo as the latter does not hold the relevant coaching badges.

On the playing front, the major story was the transfer of Kaka from AC Milan to Real Madrid for $92 million, and the club spent part of that money on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who arrived from the Spanish outfit for a fee in the region of $21m. Video CNN's Pedro Pinto previews the coming campaign. »

Inter sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona, with Samuel Eto'o moving to the Nerazzurri as part of the deal. Juventus strengthened their squad with the capture of Brazilian playmaker Diego from Werder Bremen for $34m while Fabio Cannavaro returned to Turin from Real Madrid on a free transfer.

The pressure will be on Diego to have an impact at Juventus following his move from Werder Bremen.

The pressure will be on Diego to have an impact at Juventus following his move from Werder Bremen.

Key players:
The arrivals of Eto'o and Diego Milito have grabbed all of the headlines for Inter, but it could well be 19-year-old striker Mario Balotelli who will provide the firepower for Inter's title defense after showing signs of his huge potential last season.

Kaka's departure has left a void at AC Milan, so a big season is needed from heir-apparent Alexandre Pato while Marco Borriello will hope to overcome last season's injury problems to establish himself in attack.

Juventus paid serious money for Diego and he will be expected to justify his price tag, while boss Ciro Ferrara will hope evergreen pair Alessandro Del Piero and Fabio Cannavaro have one last Scudetto title left in them.

Elsewhere, Geona's capture of poacher Hernan Crespo from Inter could prove to be inspired if he can recapture his best form, while striker Robert Acquafresca and goalkeeper Andrea Consigli at Atalanta are the best of the next generation of stars.

New Palermo coach Walter Zenga has talked up his side's chances of breaking into the top three this season.

New Palermo coach Walter Zenga has talked up his side's chances of breaking into the top three this season.

Key clubs:
AC Milan coach Leonardo speaks with authority and intelligence about the game but it would be a surprise if he delivered the title in his first season in charge, so Juventus should provide Inter with their main challenge for the Scudetto.

New Palermo coach Zenga has talked up his team's chances of breaking into the top three this season, while Sampdoria's formidable striker pairing of Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini ensure they will be among the chasing pack.

Roma face a season of uncertainty with Rosella Sensi, the head of the Italpetroli oil business that owns two-thirds of the club, attempting to manage debts of $420m while city rivals Lazio are currently a team in transition.

At the wrong end of the table newly-promoted sides Bari, Livorno and Parma will be among the strugglers and will be joined by Chievo, Siena and Bologna in the battle to avoid relegation.

Striker Samuel Eto'o arrived at Inter as part of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's transfer to Barcelona.

Striker Samuel Eto'o arrived at Inter as part of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's transfer to Barcelona.

Expert view:
CNN's Terry Badoo - "Whatever the outcome of this year's Serie A, it is important to the Italian football authorities that the league gets noticed.

"Their goals were obvious in preseason when Inter and AC Milan went on a high-profile tour of the U.S. and the Italian Super Cup between champions Inter and cup winners Lazio took place in Beijing!

"The reason? Italy's top brass feel they've been left behind by the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga in terms of global appeal, star quality and purchasing power, with a resultant lack of achievement in the Champions League.

"Of course, good football gets you noticed. But, in the last four seasons, the one Italian club to produce it consistently are defending champions Inter who are seeking their fifth title on the spin.

"The question is -- are they hungry enough to claim five in a row? Well, in Jose Mourinho they have a coach savvy enough to make it happen. And, with the bargain signing of striker Eto'o in exchange for Ibrahimovic, the 'Special One' feels he's done the deal of the summer.

"But, where do Mourinho's priorities lie? The Serie A or the Champions League? And if it's the latter, does he have a deep enough squad to compete on both fronts?

"Certainly AC Milan are not favorites. The loss of Ancelotti, retirement of Paolo Maldini, sale of Kaka and return of David Beckham to Los Angeles Galaxy (at least until January), has put a hopeful rather than optimistic expression on the face of new boss Leonardo.

"So Juventus, in their third season back in the top flight following demotion for corruption, look ripe to claim the title they last won in 2003.

"Big-money signings Diego and Felipe Melo are viewed as potentially key components, and having replaced Claudio Ranieri in favor of Ferrara, the jigsaw may be complete.

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"But, if you fancy a flutter on an outsider then Palermo could be a decent bet under Zenga, and with the signing of 20-year-old Argentinean sensation Javier Pastore in their ranks they could just surprise the established elite.

"Time will tell as with all predictions. So, pile on the pasta, break out a nice Chianti, and let the good times roll."

All About AC MilanJuventus FCInter Milan FCSamuel Eto'oZlatan IbrahimovicCarlo AncelottiKaka (Soccer)Klaas Jan HuntelaarMarco BalotelliJose MourinhoJosé Mourinho

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