Italian Serie A Preview

Last but not least is the Serie A.  The Italian top flight starts this Saturday. The season started with the Supercoppa Italiana.  It showcased Juventus and Lazio.  Juventus won both the Sucdetto (Serie A title) and the Coppa Italia, so the runner up in the Coppa Italia was asked to play in the game.  New boys Mandzukic and Dybala both scored as Juventus went on to win 2-0.  Is this a sign for another season of Italian domination?

Title Contenders

Juventus are looking to win their 5th title in a row and this should happen easily for them.  Juventus have had a very good summer despite losing some crucial pieces.  Andrea Pirlo left for New York City FC.  Carlos Tevez returned to Boca Juniors.  Arturo Vidal moved on to Bayern Munich.   Even with those pieces leaving, Juventus has strengthened their squad somehow.  Theu brought in Sami Khedira from Real Madrid.  Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic have been brought in to feature up front with Alvaro Morata.  Look for Kingsley Coman to get a bigger role this year.  Their midfield of Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Sami Khedira should be solid.  Lastly, Juventus should have a strong defense led by Gigi Buffon. I think Juventus will run away with the title.  The only real challenger could be Roma who should feature a new look attack with Francesco Totti, Edin Dzeko, Mohamed Salah, and Iago Falque.  Look for them to challenge Juve for awhile before they fall off.

Promoted Sides

Capri – This club has been on a meteoric rise.  In the 2012-13 season, the team was promoted to Serie B for the first time ever.  In their second season there, they won the Serie B, awarding them promotion to the Serie A.  They are the 64th team to participate in the Serie A.  Last season they recorded a record 43 points in the first half of Serie B.  They went on to gain promotion and win the league.  They should be a fascinating team to watch this season.  Their manager is Fabrizio Castori.  He has managed a lot of clubs and been managing since 2003 in the Italy. This is his second season in charge of the club.  He plays a very Italian style of football.  In 42 games last season they gave up just 28 goals against. Their leading scorer was Mbakogu.  If they are to stay up then they will need to get him scoring and keep their defensive shape.

Frosinone – This is the 65th team to ever participate in Serie A.  That is right two new teams that have never been in the Serie A before.  Frosinone finished second in the Serie B last season and earned automatic promotion.  Frosinone has a very high scoring team that stars Daniel Ciofani and Federico Dionisi.  They might not have the top flight experience, but they are prolific goal scorers in the lower leagues.  They are managed by Roberto Stellone who has managed both Napoli and Torino in the past.  They will need a better defense in this season if they are going to stay up.

Bologna – Bologna won the Serie B playoff to return to Serie A after a season in Serie B.  Bologna are 7 times winners of the Serie A.  They have also won the Coppa Italia twice.  The club is now looking to stay up for the next couple years. Their manager is Delio Rossi who took over in May of 2015.  The new manager will need to continue their stellar defense that was the second best in Serie B.  They might be the favorites of all three to stay up.

5 Major Storylines to Watch this Season

  1. Can anyone challenge Juventus for the title? – The gulf in class between Juventus and the rest of Serie A was put on display this past season when Juventus won the league by 17 points.  The question now is can any of the teams rearm and make this year a challenge for the Old Lady.  Roma have looked to strengthen by adding Alessio Romagnoli, RadjaNainggolan, Wojciech Szczesny, Mohamed Salah and Edin Dzeko.  The Milan clubs have also been really busy this summer.  Napoli have a new manager as they attempt to return to the Champions League.  Lazio have also had a tough summer.  I think the race for Europe will be interesting, but Juventus could run away with the title.
  2. Can either Milan team return to Europe? – With the final of the Champions League set to be staged in the San Siro this year, it is a shame that neither Milan team is involved in European competition.  In fact for the first time in 60 years, no team from Milan will be playing in European football.  AC Milan and Inter Milan will be looking to the return to the pinnacle of football this season.  AC Milan have been busy this summer bringing in Andrea Bertolacci and Simone Verdi in the midfield,  Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca as forwards, and most recently Alessio Romagnoli in defense.  They should be an entertaining team this year.  Inter have been just as busy bringing in Geoffrey Kondogbia, Miranda, Martin Montoya, Jonathan Biabiany,  and Stevan Jovetic.  Both teams are looking to make a quick return to Europe and the Champions league.
  3. Will any of the promoted sides stay for more than 1 season? – With two teams that have no Serie A experience, I think it will be very difficult for them to stay up.  These teams are not used to what it takes to compete in the Serie A. Bologna have a chance, but they have become a yo-yo club recently.  I think the answer here is yes but I can only really see Bologna doing it this year.  Here is to hoping that the new clubs can stay up and surprise us all!
  4. Can Lazio take the next step? – They are currently ahead 1-0 in their Champions League qualifier. Can they make it to the group stage?  If they do, will they be able to keep up in the league as well?  Ricardo Kishna and Ravel Morrison should be really interesting additions.  This will be a great young team.  Hopefully they can cope with the extra fixtures.
  5. Can Napoli return to the Champions League? – After two straight seasons in the Champions League, Napoli will be missing out this season.  If they hope to return then they will need to find a way to jump over a young and talented Lazio and Fiorentina squads.  The club will hope they can return soon.  The team has not made any additions to the squad this summer and have lost their manager.  They will be a strong side but may need some new additions.

5 Key Additions

  1. Sami Khedira (Juventus) – What else can I say but a world class player for free is what Juventus got here.  He is the perfect replacement for Andrea Pirlo.
  2. Edin Dzeko (Roma) — He will add a new dimension to Roma and has a point to prove after his exit from Manchester City.
  3. Joao Miranda (Inter Milan) – If Inter Milan are to return to Europe, a lot will ride on Miranda and his ability to stabilize their defense.
  4. Alessio Romangnoli (AC Milan) – Similar to Miranda, if AC Milan are to return to Europe, a lot will depend on Romangnoli and his ability to stabilize their defense.
  5. Carlos Bacca (AC Milan) – The former Sevilla striker is going to add a lot to a Milan side that was lacking up front.  He scored 28 goals last season for Sevilla while leading them to a Europa League title including two goals in the final.

While there is still a ways to go in the transfer market, here are five players to watch who could be on the move and really make an impact either leaving or coming to a top team.

  1. Juan Cuadrado (Chelsea to Juventus) – The winner could be on the move out following the arrival of Pedro at Stamford Bridge.  Juventus are in the market for a new attacking player.
  2. Julian Draxler (Schalke to Juventus) – The attacking midfielder is the big name addition on the top of Juve’s list.  He is a dynamic player that could give Juve a stronger midfield following the departures of Pirlo and Vidal.
  3. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint-Germain to AC Milan) – The striker has hinted at a move away from Paris and may choose to return to a former club in AC Milan.
  4. Fernando Llorente (Juventus to Manchester United) – The striker is looking to move on following the arrivals of Dybala, Mandzukic, and Zaza.
  5. Layvin Kurzawa (Monaco to Juventus) – Juve are looking to add cover for Patrice Evra and this left back can give them the much needed cover.

Like I mentioned in the last blog, this season I will be having a good friend of mine, James, making some predictions this season and will be giving his insight on some of the big games.

Top 3 Predictions

Mine – Juventus, Roma, AC Milan

James – Juventus, Roma, Napoli

Relegation Predictions

Mine – Frosinone, Carpi, Atalanta

James – Frosinone, Capri, Cheivo

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