Serie A this season has thrown up plenty of shocks and magical moments, both on and off the field.
While Juventus may have won yet another title, elsewhere the league has been exciting and competitive, with relegation going down to the wire and European qualification hard-fought.
After a fascinating year in Italy, Serie A Online gives out some end of season awards…
Biggest Surprise – Team
For the first time since 1991, Atalanta are back in Europe. Most people outside Italy don’t quite know where they are from, but that will change. The blue and black team from Bergamo (close to Milan) are in the Europa League.
The coach who masterminded it, Gian Piero Gasperini, almost lost his job after a poor start. But he gave youngsters like Juventus-bound centre-back Mattia Caldara, midfielder Franck Kessie and Petagna a chance, and they repaid him handsomely.
It’s not a Leicester-esque miracle, but their 4th place finish is still extraordinary. ‘The target is to stay in Serie A,’ said Gasperini at his unveiling in June 2016. Mission accomplished.
Biggest Surprise – Players
Atalanta didn’t have the only promising starlets. Sampdoria’s elegant Czech forward Patrick Schick, 21, was a magnificent combination of speed and an eye for the unpredictable.
AC Milan midfielder Manuel Locatelli (19) was fantastic in the middle of the campaign, showing intelligent distribution, a hefty tackle when required and a thunderous shot (ask Gigi Buffon).
There is very little that remains inexplicable. Prime example: neurologists have learned more about the human brain in the last fifteen years than in the entire duration of human history previously. For everything else we have got Wikipedia. But no one can explain Inter’s disastrous season.
Three fired managers, two fan boycotts and a humiliating home defeat to Israeli minnows Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Europa League were the low lights of Inter’s season.
Miracle Survival Act
There is something special about Crotone. The club from Calabria in the south of Italy have got sharks on their badge and are known as the Pythagoreans, because the Greek mathematician spent time there.
Their likeable coach Davide Nicola quotes philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and their star player, Diego Falcinelli, looks like an Italian version of Neymar, due to his lean frame, quick feet, No 11 shirt and snazzy hair. Before and after matches they play the joyful music of cult singer Rino Gaetano.
They started the season awfully, not winning until their eleventh game. But then they got acclimatised to life in Serie A and since April picked up 20 points to earn survival. They beat Lazio 3-1 on Sunday night, and Empoli lost 2-1 at Palermo.
After only earning nine points in the first half of the season, the Sharks showed their teeth when it counted. On the other hand, Empoli fell apart like a €10 Rolex watch after Christmas, and are a Serie B team now.
Most Pleasing To Watch
While Napoli failed to win any trophies in 2016/17, few would dispute that Maurizio Sarri’s side were a joy to watch,
Even Roma boss Luciano Spalletti said that Napoli “play heavenly football”.
Sarri has had a philosophy named after him, Sarrissmo, and the neutrals admire the way his team move the ball with slick, one touch passes.
When new striker Arek Milik injured his knee in October, many predicted freefall. Sarri converted Dries Mertens from winger to false nine and the Belgian responded with 28 league goals.
Six of the Best
When Juventus beat Crotone 3-0 on the penultimate day of the season they became the first team to win the league six consecutive times. And on top of that the Bianconeri clinched a third straight league and cup double.
They weren’t the most entertaining team on Earth. Their fans don’t care. Next comes their dream of doing the treble. But old boys Zinedine Zidane and Alvaro Morata stand in their way.