Italy‘s heroic performances in the European Championship showed the world how much quality there is in Serie A. The nation unified in a way that had not been seen since 2006 and the world noticed. Buffon singing the national anthem before each game sent shivers down the spines of those brave enough to look him in the eye whilst he was doing so. Such passion and drive epitomised what the Italian game is now all about. The modern and adaptable formations along with high technical and physical footballing quality makes Serie A a must watch for real football fans. Here is my early preview:
La Dea had a fantastic season, having started in Serie A last season with a six-point deduction they finished in 12th but without the points deduction would have arrived 9th. Without the burden of a points deduction and the positives from last season will see them fight to improve on their position last year.
They are facing an uphill battle and losing all of their stars along the way which will hurt them in the coming season and could be fighting relegation next season.
Having avoided relegation last season Cagliari may not be so fortunate in this coming campaign. They’re losing the few good footballers they have and are unable to bring any in which spells out trouble for the Sardi.
Gli Elefanti come off the back of a strong season finishing 11th and impressing many doubters including myself. Captain and set-piece specialist Francesco Lodi helped carry his club into such an impressive league position last season and I think him and his team will do so again.
Chievo, in my opinion, are arguably the most boring club to watch in Serie A but their methods proved effective and with such a resilient defense and ability to avoid defeat they finished 10th last season. Having lost their stand-out midfielder, Michael Bradley, to Roma there will be a hole needing to be filled in the center of the park if they wish to have any flair going forward. I don’t see the Flying Donkeys flying so high next season.
The Viola’s are currently “negotiating” a deal with Juventus over their prized asset Stefan Jovetic for €30m and that is the only fee he will be sold for. Their performances in the league recently are often dependent upon the young man but if he is sold for that price I presume that most of it, if not all, will be reinvested into players. Fiorentina are historically a “bigger” side in Serie A but of late they have not challenged for anything. Fiorentina will be silently hoping for a comfortable mid-table finish.
After losing their star striker to Inter but have replaced him with Serie B and Italian Under 21 star Ciro Immobile, his ability up front will certainly help Alberto Gilardino and also aid the loss of Palacio. They will be looking to avoid a relegation scrap which they fell into in the latter half of last season. I expect a lower-end finish in the table from Genoa.
I Nerazzurri have taken a totally different standpoint to their rivals, Milan, regarding the upcoming season and decided to invest heavily after what was a disappointing campaign in 2011/12. With a new young maverick leading this team I believe they’ve got the quality to win the Europa League and finish in the top three, at least, next season. With Juventus now having to play in the Champions League their league performances will suffer, we saw this with Napoli last who season who prioritised the European competition to domestic and they faltered as a result. The Old Lady might take time to adjust to European life and with Milan looking very depleted it could be Inter who steps into the leading role and snatches the title. They’re third favourites to win the league according to bookmakers but I believe they’re good value to cause an upset.
Last season saw things go “back to normal” in Serie A with Juventus winning the Scudetto for the 28th or 30th time depending on your stand point. If you share Allegri‘s, albeit sarcastic, view Juventus actually have 31 – including their Serie B title in 2007. Regardless of the debated numbers what is most important is that the Old Lady is back to winning ways. Juventus have understandably been made favourites to win the league this season. Last year they fought off stiff competition from Milan and beat them to the title in the penultimate game of the season. Antonio Conte‘s Juve along with new signings will be looking to retain their title and continue their unbeaten league run from last year going, The Old Lady will prove very hard to knock off her throne.
Their movements have slid under the radar as there has been little movement in their camp. Their new manager, Petkovic, arrived as an unknown to the masses but is doing a good job in winning over his players already. He has kept the core of the squad together and is trying to bring in only a few players, nobody who is going to steal headlines but someone who is going to help improve his team. The Doctor, as he is known as, is trying to cure Lazio and bring the club back to full health so they can compete for the league. I don’t believe it will be happening this season and a strong top half finish will be a realistic finishing point for the biancocelesti.
Having lost nine senior members, including two world class stars already this summer as they have prioritised balancing their books rather than remaining competitive. They cashed in on both Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for around a combined figure of €65m as well as saving just under €40m in wages for the two superstars – it was a deal they could not refuse. Along with the two big losses Milan lost experienced heads such as Nesta, Gattuso and Seedorf. Their squad will be very thin with little quality or leadership and could very-well suffer next season.
They have recently lost Lavezzi to PSG but managed to hold onto their two most prized assets, Cavani and Hamsik. After reaching the dizzying heights of the Champions League knock-out phases they will be aiming to emulate that again this season but will most likely be willing to jeopardise their league campaign in order to do so.
The rosanero won’t be reaching for the stars this season; they are without a manager and are battling clubs to keep their players in Sicily. Palermo are very much on the back foot and after a poor season last year their players may be tempted to move elsewhere. I predict a finish in the bottom half of the table.
I gialloblù were overly reliant on their 5’4″ star striker Giovinco who recently joined his former club, Juventus. No doubt his loss will be felt but they will be relying on help from their new influx of players including two young exciting talents who could be the difference in where Gli Emiliani finish this season. I forsee a high-end lower table finish without their talisman.
I Delfini were the most exciting team in Serie B last season in terms of prospects and playing style but they have lost their most exciting talents and also the manager who brought it all together and made it work. It is the first time Pescara will play in Serie A and maybe the last… I can’t see them remaining in the top flight with the competition around unless the reinvest the money from a recent big money transfer back into the right players.
Serie A welcomes back an old favourite who has not managed a “big” club in eleven years, it is Roma who are the club graced with Zdenek Zeman‘s arrival. Zeman’s footballing philosophy will fit Roma and their current crop of players like a glove. He has some of the world’s most exciting young attacking players at his disposal as well as an established goalkeeper and solid defenders which should make for a great balanced Zeman team. He favours a very attacking 4-3-3 who move the ball very fast from attack to defence, a tactic which is seldom used in modern Italian football. Roma will be a breath of fresh-air for Serie A in this coming season and are big outsiders to win the league but certainly are capable of doing so.
Samp are back in Serie A but will have a tough job on their hands if they wish to remain there. They have newly appointed boss Ciro Ferrara in charge and his determination to keep the club in Serie A may be their saving grace but he will have to do a lot to convince Doria’s fans. I can’t see Sampdoria competing in nothing less than a relegation battle from the start.
They will be hoping that new manager Sersi Cosmi can steer them clear of the relegation zone this season but have resigned to the fact that they will be losing their young star striker. Mattia Destro was the first player under the age of 21 who scored at least 12 goals in a season since Roberto Bettega in 1970/71. He is a hot property and very much sought after by the bigger Italian clubs, his departure is imminent but they are just trying to work out a deal which helps them for the future. Siena will need to spend to replace him and help ensure they survive another season in Serie A.
Having won Serie B last season and have spent many years in the top flight before, they know what needs to be done to survive. They have already started making moves in the transfer window to ensure that they don’t suffer the drop again. I can see Torino being involved in the lower league battles but coming out victorious, just.
Every season Udinese farm a crop of good players and often produce a few great ones, last season saw Alexis Sanchez move to Barcelona and Inler move to Napoli. This season Udinese have sold Isla and Asamoah to Juventus but their manager and chairman are not worried. That is their business model and how they stay alive and competitive at the top of Serie A. Udinese will be aiming for a top three spot but will have to really have a great season to finish there. A place in the top six is almost guaranteed for the club but they always strive for more on their limited resources.