Season preview: Catania – Soaring to new heights under l’aeroplanino Montella?

Last season: Catania 2010-11 season review
The squad: It’s been a summer of change in Catania for key personnel. At the back, influential defender Matias Silvestre has left the Stadio Massimino to join rivals Palermo while experienced Honduran striker David Suazo has arrived from Inter in a bizarre week having initially appeared to have rejoined his former club Cagliari.
The Rossazzurri’s defence was leaky enough with the reliable Silvestre playing, so he is likely to be sorely missed. Catania conceded 52 goals in Serie A last season with only Lecce and Bari conceding more. The squad could do with a new left back and central defender but as yet there have been no new signings in the defensive department despite being linked with free agent Nicola Legrottaglie.
While the Etnei were in the top half for conceding goals, they were in the bottom half for scoring. Catania scored 40 times last season with top scorer Maxi Lopez finding the net only seven times, however, he likely to leave Sicily for Fiorentina and Catania have moved to secure the services of Gonzalo Bergessio from Saint Etienne on a permanent basis following a prolific six month loan spell. Other additions include Davide Lanzafame from Palermo and Sergio Keko from Girona. In midfield creativity comes from Francesco Lodi, Adrian Ricchiuti, Cristian Llama and Alejandro Gomez. Marco Biagianti is the new captain after Silvestre’s departure, Mario Paglialunga has joined from Rosario Central and Federico Moretti and Pablo Barrientos are back at Catania after a loan spells at Ascoli and Estudiantes respectively.
Coach – Vincenzo Montella: L’aeroplanino has landed in Catania to replace Diego Simeone. Montella was given a huge task last season when he took over the role of Coach at Roma from Claudio Ranieri having stepped up from the Giallorossi’s under-15 team with aplomb, guiding Roma to a 6th place finish after a disastrous start.
Serie A’s youngest Coach will be expected to deliver a similar upturn in fortunes at Catania as the general consensus was that the Etnei underachieved a little last campaign. In particular, Montella’s ability to gel a fractious Roma dressing room which was low on confidence and get them working together was key to their revival and this understanding with players, perhaps due to his relatively young age, will no doubt benefit Catania too.
In pre-season, Montella has used a 4-3-3 formation, not the 4-2-3-1 that he used at Roma, giving everybody in the Catania squad a chance to shine. Results have been mixed, but defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad suggest there is a lot more work to do with the system. One issue for Montella with playing 4-3-3 will be to keep the 12 midfielders they have, on the books, happy.
Player to look out for: Expect more from Francesco Lodi this season. Frosinone missed the attacking midfielder badly when Catania snapped him up in January, and he duly scored three goals and added a trio of assists to his name in 16 appearances for the Rossazzurri. Like his boss Montella, Lodi also began his career with Empoli.
Prediction: Mid-table. Lower if key positions are not addressed during the transfer window.
Probable starting XI:

Andujar
Alvarez – Potenza – Spolli – Capuano
Izco – Biagianti – Lodi
Gomez – Bergessio – Suazo
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