Serie A champions AC Milan are matched only by current leaders Napoli in having three players represented in the Opta Top XI for in 2022. Pierre Kalulu, Theo Hernandez and Rafael Leao are representing the Rossoneri alongside Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Stanislav Lobotka and Victor Osimhen for the Partenopei.
In all, six Serie A sides are represented in the XI, with Inter having two players in the side and each of Lazio, AS Roma and Empoli boasting one representative.
Lautaro Martinez and Nicolo Barella are flying the flag for Inter, Chris Smalling (Roma) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio) are in there on each side of the capital, and Empoli goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario is perhaps the most surprising inclusion given the status of his team. Vicario, though, has come in for a lot of plaudits this season for the Azzurri.
Serie A Best XI for 2022
Opta themselves noted that of all goalkeepers with at least 15 Serie A appearances in the calendar year 2022, Vicario prevented the most goals according to their Expected Goals model – denying 5.45.
Di Lorenzo and Kalulu received some well-deserved recognition as their defensive teammates at Napoli and Milan, respectively, are usually the focus of most of the praise.
Despite being overlooked for England’s 2022 World Cup squad, Chris Smalling’s impressive form with Roma is shown statistically as well as being apparent by tuning in to watch the Giallorossi. Opta noted that nobody has made more than his 123 clearances in Serie A, and he scored more headed goals than any other non-striker in 2022 with three.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia not included in Serie A Best XI
The omission of Napoli signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia from Opta’s XI raised some eyebrows, though that appeared to be down to a misunderstanding of the data studied.
The XI was chosen based on the entirety of 2022 – meaning the back end of the 2021/22 season and first part of 2022/23 were considered. As such, Rafael Leao’s heroics to lead AC Milan to the Serie A title were rewarded with his inclusion.