The Serie A season is about to get underway and it feels like deja vu all over again. For the upteenth time we’re asking ourselves whether there is anyone capable of mounting a serious title challenge to end Juventus’ eight year dominance.
Unlike Borussia Dortmund’s ill-fated campaign at the last gasp last season, or Liverpool narrowly missing out on spooking their 30-odd-year-old demons, the experience in Serie A was altogether different. In Italy there was no question of a title race, not even for a minute.
So has anything really changed? Could this be the year that the Bianconeri’s title hegemony in Italy could finally be broken?
Switching for Sarri spikes the odds
Although the Turin giants are still firm favourites, the bookies currently have the highest value odds on Juventus to retain their title for some years. The odds are currently set at around 4/9 (1.45). In recent years the opening odds have been as low as 1/20 (1.05).
It would seem that if you actually fancied backing Juve then this year would be your year to finally get a great value bet. For Italian players this is a perfect opportunity to benefit from a top welcome bonus. Make sure to visit a betting expert that compares the best betting sites in Italy before you back Juventus or anyone else in Serie A this season.
There have been monumental changes in Turin as the champions look to strengthen their stranglehold on Serie A. Likewise they’re looking to assert their presence in Europe which has so far eluded them. Exit Massimiliano Allegri. Enter Maurizio Sarri.
But despite bringing in the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot, Matthijs de Ligt and Danilo to add to an already obvious glut of talent, it is precisely the changing of the guard to Sarri that has spooked the bookies to spike the title odds on Juventus.
And it makes perfect sense. Sarri, for all the fanfare, doesn’t exactly arrive back in his homeland carrying baskets of silverware. It’s true he did improve Napoli, and endured an almost impossible one year stint at Chelsea that guided them to a Europa League trophy and a top-four Premier League finish. However, he’s anything but a sure bet.
Allegri was dependable. He was almost guaranteed to win the league, but he just couldn’t crack Europe. That is why Juventus chief Andrea Agnelli has opted for the fiery philosophy of Sarriball, not to lose domestic dominance but rather to build on it.
It remains to be seen whether Juventus can maintain such consistency this season with such an influx of new players and a new manager. There are certainly plenty of suitors looking to snatch their crown.
Are Napoli ready to take the next step?
Napoli head into this season as the only team in the top six to have retained their manager, but will consistency be the main factor to push them forward?
Napoli have had a respectable summer, reinforcing their defence with the likes of Kostas Manolas from Roma, a proven Serie A operator, as well as Filippo Costa from SPAL, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo from Empoli.
Carlo Ancellotti is building a strong team inherited from foundations built by Rafael Benitez and Maurizio Sarri. Though whether or not the talent throughout the ranks is there, especially up top, is a real worry. Napoli fans are still waiting with bated breath for a star arrival to come through the door to kick them up a notch.
Napoli have been chasing Juve’s tails for some time now, having finished in the top three for the last seven years. Expectations have duly risen and the Napoli faithful will be hoping that this year will be their year to take the next step and win their first Scudetto for the first time since the halcyon days of Diego Maradona.
The Sky Blues have had quite the record in Serie A over the last few seasons. The problem is if Juventus hit the ground running they’ll have to maintain a nearly perfect campaign to pip them to the post.
Luka-coup edges Inter ever closer
If Napoli have been the most stable Italian team outside of the Juve bubble, then third favourites to take this year’s Scudetto, Inter Milan, have been anything but that.
In the time that Juventus have been scooping up all before them, while Napoli have been stapled to the top three, Inter have been bouncing around the top half of the table.
There’s still due cause for optimism at Inter. So far this season they’ve brought in a proven Serie A winner in new manager Antonio Conte, who already looks set to shake things up.
Conte has made it clear who he wants and who he doesn’t want in his squad. Ageing stars who heavily featured last season such as Ivan Perisic and Radja Nainggolan have been shipped off on loan deals. The arrival of Romelu Lukaku for big money from Manchester United would suggest troublesome striker Mauro Icardi is also out of favour with tough man Conte.
The fact that Inter have once again spent big in another transfer window is a luxury that surely can’t last much longer. The Nerrazzuri now have the guidance of Conte and have strengthened across the pitch. It’s time make the most of their investments and Conte could be the most promising man to make sure they do that since Mourinho won the treble with Inter back in 2010.
In addition to the arrival of Lukaku, promising Italian attacking talent Nicolo Barella has also arrived from Cagliari. In defence and in midfield they’ve also bolstered. Recruiting talent from at home and abroad ensures a number of proven Serie A performers are set to flood their ranks from the off.
Can Conte be the one to finally make the underachieving Italian giants click? You’d have to say on the basis of Conte’s experience, as well as the reinforcements the former Serie A winner has brought in, would suggest that they could mount a respectable title challenge.
If the pieces click together, and if they click together quick, Inter might just be that team to do the unthinkable and go all the way come what May.