Serie A Kick Off – League Preview

So here we go again. The 116th season of Serie A football. Will Juventus win their 7th league title in a row? Can Roma or Napoli finally catch up with the old lady? Will Milan’s new signings come good? No one knows, but this preview will hopefully help you understand a little more about this seasons Serie A.

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Atalanta
Last seasons finish: 4th

Atalanta were one of the surprise packages of the season last season with Gian Piero Gasperini coming in in June, Atalanta fans were expecting another season around mid-table in the league. However, Gasperini was revolutionary at Atalanta by getting the best out of some previously under-utilized players like Alejandro Gomez and defenders Mattia Caldara and Andrea Conti.
This season however it may be a different story. With Atalanta playing extra games in the Europa league and with teams like Milan investing heavier, Atalanta’s main aim has to be to stay in the europa league places this season.
They’ve invested smartly in a lot of players on a lot smaller budget than the teams around them with their marquee signing being Martin De Roon who came from recently relegated premier league side Middlesborough for £12.5m. Other signings include experienced center forward and winger Josep Ilicic from Fiorentina for a bargain fee of £5m as well as the signings of two young full backs of Timothy Castagne and Fabio Eguelfi from KRC Genk and Inter respectively.


Benevento
Last seasons finish: Serie B Play-Off Winners

Following promotion from Serie C regionals in 15/16 for the first time in their history Benevento were one of the surprise packages of the Serie B in the 16/17 season finishing 5th. Going into the play offs and subsequently going on to beat Carpi in the final who were hoping to gain instant promotion back to the top flight.
This season I’m sure Benevento’s main aim will be to stay up in Serie A however with no pressure on the club to do well at all and by keeping all of their key players from last season expect them to put up a good fight within Serie A, especially with the additions of experienced players: Massimo Coda and Andrea Costa as well as the loan signing of promising young Lazio midfielder Danilo Cataldi.


Bologna
Last seasons finish: 15th

Bologna, heading into their 3rd straight season back in Serie A after some troubling times involving their former owners are looking to break away from a small group of teams that always seem to lurk in and around the relegation spots each season.
Since last season Bologna have been adding a mix of experience and ability to their squad. So far adding players such as Andrea Poli, Filip Helander, Seb De Maio and most notably Stephan Taider to their squad for this season. A lot of these players could easily be the main players for an upper mid-table Serie A side but seem to have joined Bologna in what looks to be an exciting project for the club. Add these players alongside prospects such as Godfred Donsah and Simone Verdi it seems as though promising things are happening at the ‘I Rossoblu.’


Cagliari
Last seasons finish: 11th

Finishing around mid-table last season, Cagliari are more than likely hoping for much of the same in their second season back in Serie A. However it wont be easy for them, after losing some of their vital players from the past two seasons such as Bruno Alves, Nicola Murru and Mauricio Isla. Cagliari havemade a few signings most notably Marco Andreolli from Inter; £6.5m, 20 year old central defender Filippo Romagna from champions Juventus and left back Senna Miangue from Inter for £3m. The key thing is that Cagliari keep hold of their attacking players Joao Pedro, Diego Farias and Marco Sau as last season their defence was the main let down of their team having a -21 goal difference despite finishing 11th.
With the combination of new faces in defence and the ability to be unpredictable in a fast and creative attack I think Cagliari should be comfortable this season.


Chiveo Verona
Last seasons finish: 14th

Chievo are another team similar to previously mentioned Bologna who always seem to be in that area above the relegation zone however things don’t look too great this season. After having what could easily be described as a poor finish to the 16/17 season, Chievo don’t seem to be in any better shape after struggling for some time. They’ve lost key man Paul Jose Mpoku to Standard Liege and haven’t really brought in any new players that will bolster their team. A positive however is that Chievo haven’t lost too many players which could play into their hands as teams around them seem to be losing a lot of key players without having the funds to replace them.
I expect Chievo to be down there this season however I think the experience of their maintained players such as Antonio Gamberini, Valter Birsa, Stefano Sorrentino and Nicolas Frey will get them through the struggle.


Crotone
Last seasons finish: 17th

After just about staying up after being promoted from Serie B in the 15/16 season Crotone are once again looking to avoid the drop. Crotone haven’t really suffered any casualties in terms of players lost and have done a little bit of business in the transfer window despite being the club with the lowest budget in Serie A. Bringing in a workhorse in winger or full back Oliver Kragl for £350k they’ve also brought in experience with the likes of Mariano Izco joining from bottom of the table rivals Chievo and Davide Faraoni from Udinese.
Crotone could easily go down this season but after having one of the greatest escape stories of the season last season. After losing just one of thir final nine games including a win against 2017 Supercopa Italiana winners Lazio on the final day. Crotone stayed up.
Also adding to this story Crotone Manager, Davide Nicola promised earlier on in the season he would cycle from Crotone to Turin (1300km) in memory of his son who died in 2014 after a bicycle road accident.
After that late run of form similar to that of Leicester City in the English Premier League, who’s to say Crotone can’t carry on that form and rise up the ranks in Serie A?


Fiorentina
Last seasons finish: 8th

After a disappointing 16/17 campaign, Fiorentina will look to try and climb back into the Europa league places however this may be difficult after losing a lot of key players including Matias Vecino, Borja Valero and star man Federico Bernadeschi all of which went to other Serie A clubs. Fiorentina have brought in a couple of players as replacements though including young central midfielder Marco Benassi from Torino and right back Victor Hugo from Palmeiras.
It looks as though Fiorentina are going through a transitional period at the moment and will find it hard to replace key players instantly however they still have what is a solid team and could get back to the Europa league but that depends on if they can beat ther positional rivals. Under coach Stefano Pioli who didn’t have the greatest of times at his previous clubs Lazio or Inter will also have something to prove and will be determined to get the best out of his squad.


Genoa
Last Seasons finish: 16th

Genoa had what could be described as an abysmal season in 16/17 with the club just about staying in Serie A finishing two places above the relegation zone. Genoa have invested smartly for the most part this transfer window brining in AC Milan striker Gianluca Lapadula on loan as well as experienced center back Nicolas Spoli. Genoa also signed Sao Paolo player Ricardo Centurion who can play on either wing and is a very good finisher. Genoa look a lot stronger this season however it would take a minor miracle if they were to return to the top half of the table this season.
Genoa coach Ivan juric was brought back to the club in April after originally being sacked for losing 5-0 to bottom place Pescara. Will he be able to turn things around tactically or will he be held responsible for Genoa’s problems?


Hellas Verona
Last seasons finish: 2nd Serie B (Promoted)


After spending a season down in Serie B after what was a strange relegation campaign in 15/16, Hellas are looking to have a much better first season back in the top flight. Straight away looking at the signings Hellas have done well picking up former Juventus man Martin Caceres and also Atletico’s Alessio Cerci both on free transfers. Both players have done very well previously in Serie A with Cerci having a breakout season in the 13/14 season with Torino. However since then he hasn’t had the best of times after being at Atletico and having a loan spell with Milan. Caceres a champions league runner up and 3 time Scudetto winner will add much needed experience to the Hellas back line.
Add these signings alongside players like Romulo, Pazzini, Bruno Zuculini and also recently acquired Marco Fossati. Hellas look to have a good base to build on and I expect them to stay up this season.


Inter
Last seasons finish: 7th

Inter have found it tough recently, with other teams around them like Roma and Napoli investing they’ve been falling further behind. this is all despite having, on paper, a very solid side that probably should be fighting for those final two champions league spots behind Juventus however harsh owners that seem to sack coaches for fun are the main reason why Inter can’t remain stable. Now with the experience of former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti Inter look to be on the way back up.
Making a lot of smart signings this summer Inter have bought good players from other Serie A club not only strengthening their own squad but also weakening others. These players include the likes of: Borja Valero and Matias Vecino who were two key players in central midfield for Fiorentina. they also signed young center back Milan Skriniar from Sampdoria.Inter have lost some players as well however with the likes of Ever Banega, Gianluca Caprari, Juan Jesus and Gary Medel being some of the key players that have left the club.
Inter look to have a better squad than last season and also have a much better coach. I see them improving on last seasons performance.


Juventus
Last seasons finish: 1st

Juventus are looking to win their 7th scudetto in a row and a lot of people are expecting them to do so with not many teams being anywhere near them the past few seasons however, I personally believe this season could be a lot closer.
Losing key players such as Leo Bonucci to Milan and Dani Alves to PSG, Juve needed to replace them with equally as good players if they wanted to have the same success not just in the league but in thr Champions League.
Juventus however haven’t directly replaced these players with world class signings with Bonucci likely to be replaced by now permanent signing Medhi Benatia and Alves to be replaced by former Milan captain Mattia De Sciglio. Juventus have invested however in two new wingers: Douglas Costa from Bayern and Federico Bernadeschi from Fiorentina. Juventus look to have aso signed Blaise Matuidi from PSG who at the time of writing is currently undergoing a medical at the Bianconeri.
Coach Massimo Allegri has a lot to prove this season with fans questioning his tactical approach to the champions league final and also the non signing of many world class players. I believe Juve will retain the scudetto however it will be a lot closer run this time around.


Lazio
Last seasons finish: 5th

Despite probably having on paper the worst squad out of last seasons top seven, Lazio managed to make the final of the Coppa Italia and also finish 5th in the league.
Lazio haven’t really had much to worry about this transfer window except the departure of club captain Lucas Biglia who joined AC Milan. They have replaced Biglia though with  experienced former Liverpool man Lucas Leiva. And it looks like they could be in for another good season after beating Juventus 3-2 in the Super Copa Italia final.
One question being asked however is that is Lazio’s squad depth good enough to cope with the demands of Europa league football, which isn’t a new thing for lazio however I’m sure they would love to have more strength in depth. I personally believe Lazio have enough in the tank to once again get into the Europa league places for next season.


Milan
Last seasons finish: 6th

Milan are the big focus of every Italian football fan this summer after spending over 200m euros on players and buying almost a whole new starting 11. However Milan didn’t have a bad squad to begin with so this shows how much squad depth Milan are going to have this season. Bringing in the likes of: Ricardo Rodriguez, Matteo myussachio, Leo Bonucci, Andrea Conti and Andre Silva to name a few. I’m sure Milan are targeting the league title but I think it may be harder than they imagine. With Juve being quite far ahead of them in the last few seasons and with all these new players needing to gel Milan may need a season or two to get going with full potential.
Milan got rid of a lot of dead weight including the likes of: Keisuke Honda, Carlos Bacca and Juraj Kucka Milan have probably the 2nd or 3rd strongest squad in Serie A and I expect them to easily qualify for the Champions League.


Napoli
Last seasons finish: 3rd

One of the only teams that really got close to Juve over the past few seasons has been Napoli. Last season they had somewhat of a breakthrough season with a lot of players maintaining some very good form throughout the season.
The main thing for Napoli was to maintain key players like Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens who both had fantastic seasons last season with coach Maurizio Sarri moving Mertens into a less familiar striker position in which he excelled scoring 28 goals and getting 9 assists in 35 games in all competitons.
Napoli haven;t lost any of their first team squad which is good for a team that are usually known as a selling club the one major signing they have made is getting Serbian center back Nikola Maksimovic from Torino for £18m.
Napoli once again will have a strong season and will be looking to finally win the scudetto after many years of finishing just behind Juve.


Roma
Last seasons finish: 2nd

Roma similar to Napoli are one of the only teams that have been anywhere near Juve in the past few seasons. Ths season although I believe they will have a very solid season, they have lost a few key players such as: Mo Salah, Leandro Paredes and of course club captain and legend Francesco Totti who’s prescence will be obviously missed within the Roma dressing room.
However they have brought in some much needed experience and ability including Maxime Gonalons for a bargain £5m, Hector Moreno from PSG and also Aleksander Kolarov which is a very interesting transfer as he used to play for Rome rivals Lazio.
Roma have also brought in some younger talent as well including Rick Karpsdorp, Cengiz Under and Lorenzo Pellegrini. Bring in these players alongside the likes of last seasons top scorer Edin Dzeko, a returning Alessandro Florenzi and new captain Francesco Totti, Roma seem to possibly have a better team than last season.
Along with former long time Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco who is well known for his solidity and one to one coaching will excel with a good mix of experience, youth and ability.


Sampdoria
Last seasons finish: 10th

Since being promoted back to Serie A in 2012, Sampdoria have been a solid mid table side and have qualified for the europa league once, albeit being given the spot due to city riavls Genoa not having sufficient facilities.
Sampdoria have bought well this summer, strengthening their squad by some margin with only a few transfers. Sampdoria have signed former Middlesborough man Gaston Ramirez as well as young players Nicola Murru, Dawid Kownacki and Gianluca Capari.
Sampdoria haven’t lost a lot of players however they did lose two key players in Milan Skriniar and Luis Muriel.
Other than that Sampdoria have once again a stable and familiar squad to last season and I see them being once again in mid table.


Sassuolo
Last seasons finish: 12th

After a very solid start to the season Sassuolo slowly dropped off towards the end of the season and ended up dropping away from their targeted Europa League places. Now with before mentioned long term coach Eusebio Di Francesco now at Roma and the loss of players like: Lorenzo Pellegrini and Gregoire Defrel. Sassuolo have to maye aim a little lower this season as they look to rebuild.
They have however still got some very talented players in their ranks like Alfred Duncan, Domenico Berardi, Goalkeeper Andrea Consigli and the vastly experienced Alessandro Matri. Sassuolo won’ need to worry about trying to stay afloat this season but may have to settle for a mid table finish.


SPAL
Last seasons finish: Serie B Champions

SPAL are an interesting club to preview before the forthcoming season as they are somewhat unique with the situation they are currently in. Only being refounded in 2012 SPAL have found themselves climbing the ranks of Italian football with relative ease since their reformation with an owner that backs the club heavily and investment in good young players alongside a vast amount of experience also.
This season SPAL have decided to loan a lot of players, whilst not the best long term option, I’m sure this is a good move for them as the owner does not want to heavily invest in the club for them to drop back down to Serie B.
Bringing in some great young prospects on loan like: Alex Meret, Federico Mattiello and Luca Rizzo. To go alongside experienced players like Mirco Antenucci, Felipe who was brought in from Udinese and also Alberto Paloschi, who is also a loanee.
I believe SPAL will struggle this season but they may just have enough in the tank to stay up especially if Alberto Paloschi can find form.


Torino
Last seasons finish: 9th

Similar to Sampdoria, Torino since coming up from Serie B have been a solid upper mid-table team. The main thing to look at with Torino is so far they have managed to keep hold of their red hot striker Andrea Belotti who has been linked with various clubs for what at a time before the Neymar deal went through would have been a world record fee. Torino have also brought in the likes of Salvatore Sirigu on a free transfer as well as Nicolas Nkoulou and Tomas Rincon on loan from Lyon and Juventus respectively.
As long as Torino can keep Belotti and potentially bring in a few more faces to strenghten their back line, I can see them pushing on and maybe fight for that final Europa league spot.


Udinese
Last seasons finish: 13th

Udinese have struggled recently especially since the retirement of long term captain and leading goal scorer Antonio Di Natale. One thing Udinese have struggled with since is finding a goal scorer to bring balance out the team. Udinese have a somewhat average defence however what made them a better team was the 20 goal seasons that Di Natale had. Once again Udinese haven’t invested heavily this season, relying on what is an experienced squad to get them back up the table.
There are a few players who may strengthen the Udinese team however including: Valon Behrami, Rijad Bajic and Giuseppe Pezzella.
Udinese fans don’t really have a lot to look forward to this season and their main hope is that they don’t get dragged down into a relegation battle due to injury or poor management.


 

Other Articles you may enjoy:

Milan’s Summer Spending – What it means for Serie A.

Underrated XI: Serie A

The History of Transfer Records

Premier League Preview – Each Fans Opinion

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