Quick Serie A guide in what is likely to be a fascinating season.
Winners: European victory might elude Juventus but they are untouchable in Italy, having won the last eight titles, and they should be too strong once again. The Bianconieri have had another fine transfer window, bringing Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal and then Adrien Rabiot from PSG before the bi purchase of Matthis de Ligt, who should make for a fantastic defensive partnership with Leonardo Bonuccio or Giorgio Chiellini. Add this to a familiar cast of names including Christiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Miralem and Pjanic going forward, before other defensive names Alex Sandro, Danilo and Wojciech Szczęsny, who had a fine season in goal. Maurizio Sarri is fresh from silverware with Chelsea and they should adapt quickly to his style of play, although they’re probably too good for it to be a problem if they start slowly.
Without Juventus: Juventus are way too short but the race for second is at least competitively priced.
Napoli were 10 points clear of the rest last season and could fill the runners up spot for the fifth time in sixth seasons. The managerial talents of Carlo Ancelotti cannot be underestimated and a second season at the club with a calm summer should be ideal. The addition of top class centre-back Kostas Manolas to Kalidou Koulibaly makes for a defensive partnership that can rival Juventus and they have an embarrassment of riches in the frontline.
Ancelotti has Arkadiusz Milik, Dries Mertens should lead the way with support from Lorenzo Insigne, Piotr Zielinski and Jose Callejon and Hirving Lozano to go to war with and pretty much no other side in the league has that firepower bar Juventus. If Antonio Conte can improve Inter then there could be a real race on for second. The Nezzauri managed to scrape into the top four last season and have potential for improvement under the ex Chelsea and Juventus man.
Conte took Juventus to the title in his first season before doing the same with Chelsea and he’s had a fruitful summer transfer window to boot. Bringing Diego Godin into the side to bolster a defence that already had Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skrinar was a real coup for Conte and the wily Diego Godin bolstering the defence.
At the other end of the pitch, Romelu Luaku must find the form and fitness that often eluded him at Manchester United, but he ought to be much happier away from Old Trafford. Should he fail, Lauturo Martinez, who scored winning goals against Napoli, AC Milan and Parma last season, is ready to step up after an impressive Copa America campaign at the tender age of 22.
Conte has joined his previous sporting director Beppe Marotta and it was a statement of intent that the pair swooped for Nicolò Barella and Stefano Sensi so quickly and if those two young midfielders live upto their promise then they will have a great deal of new talent.
AC Milan were just beaten by Inter in the race for fourth last season, but the Rossonieri are moving in the right direction after a tough few seasons. This progress took place in spite of their two major singings from last season completely bombing. This season they’ve had a quieter time of things, with the addition of Theo Hernandez the main attraction whilst there are other arrivals in the shape of Ismael Bennacer, Rade Krunic and Leo Duarte.
They did well to get so close to the Champions League spots last season but in this market they do not make a great deal of appeal given that Inter and Napoli have the advantage in terms of not only first team options but also depth too. Ex-Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo is a boost here but he’s against two quality operators in Ancelotti and Conte.
Lazio collapsed with five defeats in their last nine but they won the Coppa Italia and look big threats with Simone Inzaghi still on the books. Keeping Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile is a nother big coup but they may struggle for squad depth if they fight on three fronts again. Roma are massively weakened without Kostas Manolas, Daniele De Rossi and Stephan El Shaarawy.
Advice: 3 pts Napoli (11/8 SkyBet)
Relegation: Last season’s relegation race was an absolutely remarkable contest as Fiorentina, Caligari, and Genoa all had to fight for their life. Spal finished the second half of the season relatively strongly but the loss of wing-back Manuel Lazzari to Lazio is a big one and no side lost more matches outside of the bottom three last season. Improvement from Fiorentina, Caligari and Genoa could leave them in trouble.
Advice: 1 pt Spal (10/3 Bet365)
Top Scorer: Christiano Ronaldo was beaten at short odds last year and can be taken on again. The three players that finished ahead of him last season were Fabio Quagliarella, Krzysztof Piatek, and Duvan Zapata. Quagriella looks overpriced in comparison to the leaders again whilst Piatek should benefit from being with Milan from the start. Lukaku could miss the first couple of games with Inter and Napoli’s strikers could all take goals away from eachother.
Advice: 2 pts win Krzysztof Piatek (5/1 general), 1 pt each/way Fabio Quagriella (12/1 Bet165,10/1 Skybet with 4 places)