A season of high drama in Italy has brought its usual doses of pain and pleasure in equal measure. And it has also seen the reputation of a great many players increased by their consistent high standards of excellence. There have been a number who have been particularly excellent and they find themselves included in the Goal Team of the Season for Serie A as a result.
With star names such as Andrea Pirlo, Hernanes, Miroslav Klose and Francesco Totti all coming close but missing out, the strength of the chosen XI is simply phenomenal.
|APP: 34 CLEAN SHEETS: 9|
|TOTW APPS: 6|
Inter's decision to discard Julio Cesar was one of the more contentious transfer moves of last summer, but his replacement, Samir Handanovic, has ensured that the clamour over the Brazilian's exit was brief. The Slovenian has consistently had to bail the Nerazzurri out of difficult situations, and but for him their season could have been over much sooner than it was.
|APP: 18 GOALS: 2||APP: 34 GOALS: 0||APP: 33 GOALS: 6|
|TOTW APPS: 5||TOTW APPS: 6||TOTW APPS: 5|
With only 18 games under his belt this term, Mehdi Benatia has appeared fewer times than any other player in our Team of the Season, yet his magnificent performances in that time have helped Udinese to yet another critic-defying league placing.
Andrea Barzagli has been a rock once more for Juventus, with his consistency one of the main reasons why the club have again won the Scudetto with by far and away the best defensive record in the top flight.
Fiorentina's renaissance has been assisted by the form of Gonzalo Rodriguez. After leaving relegated Villarreal, the Argentine found Florence to be the perfect setting for a return to form, helping to ensure to Viola's return to European competition.
|APP: 27 GOALS: 4||APP: 31 GOALS: 10||APP: 37 GOALS: 11||APP: 31 GOALS: 10|
|TOTW APPS: 4||TOTW APPS: 5||TOTW APPS: 10||TOTW APPS: 6|
Stephan Lichtsteiner has quickly become one of the world's most effective wing-backs and marked himself down as a first choice at Juventus for some time to come yet. A number of superb performances from the Swiss have been the platform for Bianconeri victories on their way to a second straight title win.
If one player has been more influential than Lichtsteiner for Antonio Conte's side this term, it has been Arturo Vidal. The Chilean midfielder has again proven himself to be an irreplaceable cog in the Juventus wheel, helping to not only break up attacks but also finish them off, with his 10 goals making him the club's top scorer.
Of all of our XI, nobody has featured as regularly in the Goal Team of the Week series this season as Marek Hamsik. The Slovakian has made our shortlist no less than 10 times in the current campaign thanks to his consistent match-winning displays which helped Napoli to finish in second.
The future may not be bright for Palermo after their relegation to Serie B, but one player who will be able to take some positives from 2012-13 once the dust has settled is Josip Ilicic. The Slovenian has at times been the Rosanero's only hope in an otherwise undistinguished season; his superb run in the second half of the campaign was so good that he almost dragged his side to safety single-handedly.
|DI NATALE||CAVANI||EL SHAARAWY|
|APP: 31 GOALS: 22||APP: 33 GOALS: 28||APP: 36 GOALS: 16|
|TOTW APPS: 7||TOTW APPS: 6||TOTW APPS: 6|
The magnificence of Antonio Di Natale simply knows no bound. Before 2009-10, the Udinese striker had never once hit 20 goals in a season, but he has now managed that particular feat for four successive years. At 35, he should by rights be running out of legs and luck in front of goal, but he continues to lead the Friulani from the front with bewildering brilliance.
Napoli would not have reached Europe without Edinson Cavani, let alone the Champions League. When the Parternopei have needed a star to lift them onto that extra level, the Uruguayan has been there every time. Hat-tricks against Lazio, Roma and Inter have boosted his goals tally to an unparalleled 28, and if he stays in Naples next season few would back against him replicating that figure.
When AC Milan lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain and started the season in lacklustre fashion, their lack of a potential talisman seemed stark. Step forward Stephan El Shaarawy. Then 19, the Italy striker blasted his way into world football's lexicon with goals and performances that put so many older, more experienced players to shame. While finishing was not the primary reason for his signature two summers ago, his 16 goals speak of a man who has been ready to contribute however and whenever his side has needed him.