• Juventus has already added the Italian Super Cup to its trophy cabinet this season (Getty) (Getty Images)
The Italian Serie A kicks off this weekend and, while the competition may fly under the radar in comparison to the Premier League and La Liga these days, there's still plenty to keep an eye on - including a young Aussie on the rise.
By
Joe Russo

22 Aug 2015 - 11:53 AM  UPDATED 22 Aug 2015 - 11:53 AM

At The World Game, we've done the hard yards for you.

Here are the five things to look out for in Italy's top division in season 2015-2016.

The Australian

Gone are the days of Australia legends Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella plying their trade in Serie A but Australia still has a Socceroos representative to look out for in Italy’s premier football competition.

Chris Ikonomidis, 20, is at Lazio. It’s hard to predict exactly how much game time he will get but it is fantastic to have an Australian in Serie A.

Ikonomidis. from Cronulla, was not so long ago was in the junior ranks at the Sutherland Sharks and is now a fully-fledged member of Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos.

Now wearing Lazio’s number 70, he will be mixing it with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lucas Biglia, Senad Lulic, Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo and Felipe Anderson.

It’s doubtful whether Ikonomidis will see first-team football at all given the Rome-based club has reasonable depth in its squad but to be there at all at this stage of his career is an achievement in itself.

Verdict: Ikonomidis to develop nicely and perhaps look for a move away on loan to play regular football.

Juventus... sans Pirlo

Gone is Andrea Pirlo, and so too are Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.

How will Juventus cope and will it be able to chase a record-breaking fifth Scudetto in a row?

The indefatigable Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus's goalkeeper and captain, will be pushing the Old Lady along.

Still considered by many to be one of the world’s best shot-stoppers, Buffon, who will be 38 in January and has represented Italy for a record 148 times, is still a player who, quite literally, leads his team from the back.

The flamboyant Frenchman Paul Pogba, in Pirlo's absence, will be the playmaker-in-chief. 

Pogba has taken over the iconic number 10 jersey, which has been worn with great distinction by club legends including Alessandro Del Piero, Roberto Baggio, and most recently, Tevez.

With it, will come a great weight of expectation.

The 22-year-old with the unmistakable hair style is, on his day, one of the world’s best players. When he’s hot Juventus will win games. When he’s not, the Bianconeri will definitely struggle.

Verdict: Juventus to do reasonably well but will be challenged by Roma, Lazio, Napoli, and Inter Milan. It achieved four in a row because of Andrea Pirlo, but now, he’s not there.

Maurizio Sarri 

Who?

He might ask himself that too but Maurizio Sarri is new coach of Napoli. He has taken over from Rafael Benitez who, of course, has made his way to Real Madrid’s bench.

Sarri is highly rated by those close to the action in Italy and is highly respected for his excellent work at Empoli in recent years.

With limited resources, the Tuscan club not only survived but thrived under Sarri’s guidance last season.

Now he has the chance to manage the likes of Marek Hamsik, Jose Callejon, Gonzalo Higuain, Lorenzo Insigne, and Dries Mertens.

Can Napoli win a first Scudetto since 1990?

Verdict: Napoli will be there or thereabouts but when it won the Scudetto 25 years ago it had one Diego Armando Maradona. Come to think of it, its other league title in 1987 was also delivered by the Argentine legend.

Sinisa Mihajlovic

One of the great names of Italian and Serbian football has taken the reins as coach of AC Milan.

Ironically, it is a club he despised in his playing days and one that he said he would never coach.

But that was a few years ago, and he hopes, it is water under the bridge.

Mihajlovic is an icon in Italian football and is highly respected. He played with distinction for Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio, and Inter Milan before retiring in 2006.

The 46-year-old was one of the most talented and fearsome midfielder-cum-defenders to ever lace on a boot.

Who could ever forget what a maestro he was from free-kick situations? 

As a coach he has done well with the Serbia national team and at club level with Bologna, Catania, Fiorentina, and Sampdoria.

Success for Mihajlovic is measured in the form of a positive win/loss record and the improvements he brought to each Serie A team he guided.

Verdict: Mihajlovic will add much needed steel to AC Milan. He is a stubborn and tough character and this will be reflected in AC Milan’s play. However, the once great club is still a few years away from being a serious Serie A title contender.

Francesco Totti

What can one write that already hasn’t already been written about Il Bimbo d'Oro (The Golden Boy?

At nearly 39 years of age, he is a true legend of Roma and Italian football.

While Giallorossi supporters believe that he is the incarnation of the messiah, respect for Totti is nevertheless universal.

He made his Serie A debut in 1993 at the age of 16, when the late Vujadin Boskov was coaching the side.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, Totti is still going strong, and is second on Serie A's all-time goalscorer's list with 243 goals.

Boskov, who guided Sampdoria to the 1991 title, wasn’t the only one to recognise his talents.

Totti has played under too many coaches to mention but Zdenek Zeman, Fabio Capello and Luciano Spalletti would have been, for different reasons, the most influential on his career.

Verdict: A legend. It was great to see him recently in Melbourne and after finishing as Roma's top scorer last season, who would bet against him doing it again?