Italian football may be in the Twilight Zone at the moment. There are match-fixing investigations going on while the national team is starting to improve on its poor performances of the last couple of years. The upcoming Serie A campaign will kick off on Saturday August 25th with Juventus trying to defend the title. They went unbeaten under manager Antonio Conte last season, but will have to do without his coaching skills this time around as he’s been banned for 10 months due to alleged match fixing.
Juventus may be the favourites to repeat as champions, but they’ll be challenged heavily by teams such as AC Milan, Inter Milan, Roma, and Napoli. Even though Juventus didn’t lose a game all year they finished only four points in front of AC Milan. The simply drew too many games to run away with the league last season with 15 of them ending in draws, which means 30 points were dropped along the way. The team was pushed at the end of the season, but a run of 11 wins in their last dozen matches clinched the title for them.
Juventus lost a few players in the summer such as Milos Krasic, however Lucio, Paul Pogba, Mauricio Isla, Kwadwo Asamoah, and Sebastian Giovinco were all brought in. AC Milan should once again be the biggest threat to the champions, but they’ll need to make sure they get off to a good start if they hope to upset them and don’t hit any rough patches along the way. AC Milan has lost a lot of skill, goals and experience in Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG. In addition, Alessandro Nesta, Mark van Bommel, and Clarence Seedorf have also left the club in the offseason.
It shouldn’t be a two-horse race for the title though since Inter Milan may also have something to say about it. They were the top team in the league from 2005 to 2010 and won five consecutive crowns in that time period. However, they were nowhere near their best last year and paid for it with a sixth-place finish. They should get some help from Rodrigo Palacio who was signed in the summer. These are the top three teams, but Napoli could cause a little trouble for them as well. Goran Pandev and Velon Behrami should help them out this year. Roma finished seventh last year and they might improve, but not enough to challenge for the title. Udinese placed third last season, but have lost quite a few players.
Tough Fight to Avoid Relegation
The race at the bottom of the league to avoid relegation may be exciting too. There was just seven points between the 17th and 10th-place teams last year. Newly-promoted squads Torino and Pescara might find the going a bit tough and Sampdoria has also returned to Serie A following a year in Serie B. Catania finished the season in 11th place, but won just once on their last 10 matches.
Ibrahimovic, who won the Golden Boot with 27 goals last year, has moved to France, so the race for the top scorer is pretty wide open. Some of the favourites among the betting sites includes Mattia Destro of Roma and Diego Milito, who managed 24 for Inter Milan last season. Edinson Cavani and Antonio Di Natale scored 23 goals last season and Antonio Cassano could also be a contender.
The favourites to win the Serie A this year, according to sportsbook William Hill are Juventus at even, AC Milan at 5/2, Inter Milan at 4/1, Roma at 12/1, and Napoli at 16/1.
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