The past 12 months saw another Juventus title in Serie A, but 2020 comes to a close with Milan back in the trophy hunt at the top of the table.
Although the Rossoneri have not won the Scudetto since 2011, they lead the way through 14 matches heading into the new year.
Rivals Inter are a point further back, while Juve are back in sixth after losing their unbeaten record last time out against Fiorentina.
To mark the end of an intriguing year, Opta calculated a ‘Top XI’ for Serie A in 2020, including a host of big names – but notably missing one superstar.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 30, 2020
GOALKEEPER: MARCO SILVESTRI
Hellas Verona have conceded just 14 goals so far this season and, across the year as a whole, Silvestri saved 74 per cent of the shots he faced, trailing only Juan Musso among keepers with at least 10 appearances.
DEFENDER: JUAN CUADRADO
Juventus’ converted winger Cuadrado continues to display his attacking qualities from right-back. Among all defenders in 2020, he played the most passes into the opposition half (1,044) and trailed only Cristiano Biraghi (eight) for assists with a haul of seven.
DEFENDER: MATTHIJS DE LIGT
Lining up next to his Bianconeri team-mate, De Ligt has played a huge role in Juve’s continued success. They won 65 per cent of their Serie A matches and conceded 1.0 goals per game with the Dutchman in the side in 2020, coming out on top just 36 per cent of the time while conceding 1.4 goals on average when he was missing.
DEFENDER: FRANCESCO ACERBI
Lazio’s form has fallen away a little this season, but Acerbi is certainly not to blame. He recovered the ball 177 times in the league in 2020; Rafael Toloi (179) was the only centre-back to do so on more occasions.
DEFENDER: THEO HERNANDEZ
The first Milan entry unsurprisingly belongs to left-back Hernandez. He was directly involved in 11 goals (six goals, five assists) in 2020 and also completed the most successful dribbles in the competition (57).
34 – AC Milan have gained 34 points in 14 Serie A games so far, exactly twice the points earned by the Rossoneri at this stage of the competition last term (17 in 14 matches). Ride.#SerieATIM #MilanLazio pic.twitter.com/fRyx47btEa
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 23, 2020
MIDFIELDER: RODRIGO DE PAUL
De Paul has been linked with a host of clubs, including Inter, where another player in this list would surely thrive on his service. The Udinese midfielder played more accurate crosses (36) than anyone else in Serie A this year.
MIDFIELDER: FRANCK KESSIE
A key part of Milan’s climb up the table, Kessie has been a dominant force in the middle of midfield. He recovered the ball 246 times in 2020, the most of any outfield player in the league.
MIDFIELDER: HAKAN CALHANOGLU
Once Kessie wins the ball, it is over to Calhanoglu to get Milan on the attack. He created 99 chances and provided 14 assists in 2020, both league highs.
FORWARD: ALEJANDRO GOMEZ
Talisman Papu Gomez looks set to leave Atalanta in January but starred again in what may prove to be his final full year in Bergamo. Complementing his creative talents, he led the press by winning possession 28 times in the final third of the pitch – ranking third in this regard.
FORWARD: ROMELU LUKAKU
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been outstanding back at Milan, but he does not make the cut. Nor does Ciro Immobile. It is Inter striker Lukaku who leads the line after scoring 22 times in 2020, the most of any player to attempt fewer than 100 shots. Sixteen were from open play, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Immobile (both 17).
3 – Only 3 players have scored 10+ goals in the top-5 European League in all the last 9 campaigns in a row:
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) December 16, 2020
FORWARD: CRISTIANO RONALDO
Who else? Aged 35, Ronaldo scored 33 times in the league for Juve in 2020. Only Felice Borel (41 in 1933) and Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) have ever topped that mark in Serie A.
Not content just to lead the Italian top flight, Ronaldo has the edge over Robert Lewandowski (32) across Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues heading into the final matches of 2020. He scored the most goals across the continent in five calendar years between 2011 and 2019.
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