Italian Serie A: Will anyone stop Juventus dominance?

The top flight of Italian football has lost its charm over the last few years with the departure of big names and constant speculation about the illegal activities in the league. The Italian Serie A has got some big clubs who have ruled the European football for years but have lost their glory because of inconsistency. The new season of football in Italy will pip twenty teams against each other. However, the main focus will be on Juventus, who are the champions since three consecutive years. The departure of their manager has made things interesting for the new season.

JUVENTUS

LAST SEASON: Champions

2014-15 PREDICTION: Champions

ARRIVALS: Romulo (Verona), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Carlos Blanco (Barcelona, Roberto Pereyra (Udinese), Leonardo Spinazzola (Siena), Vincenzo Fiorillo (Sampdoria), Carlo Pinsoglio (Vicenza Calcio), Cristian Pasquato (Udinese), Frederik Sorensen (Bologna), James Troisi (Atalanta Bergamo) and Kingsley Coman (Paris St. Germain)

DEPARTURES: De Silvestro (Carpi), M. Storari (Sassuolo), M. Isla (Queens Park Rangers), T. Nocchi (Spezia), V. Fiorillo (Pescara), F. Quagliarella (Torino), R. Boakye (Atalanta), M. Vucinic (Al-Jazira Abu Dhabi), F. Peluso (Sassuolo), Italy D. Berardi (Sassuolo), S. Sturaro (Genoa) and P. Osvaldo (Southampton)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Arturo Vidal

For the Champions Juventus, things haven’t been comfortable off late. Their successful manager Antonio Conte has resigned. His absence will be felt as he has led Juventus to the league titles in the last three years and also won the Coppa Italia twice but they have failed in Europe. The Turin based club has managed to keep Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal despite lot of speculation about their future. These two have performed remarkably well and have formed a deadly partnership. This team will be a real contender for the title in the new Serie A season. Ex-Real Madrid youngster Alvaro Morata as well as veteran left back Patrice Evra are the new recruits and could play an important role for Juventus in all the competitions. Juventus is certainly my favourite for title success but they can’t take AS Roma lightly.

AS ROMA

LAST SEASON: Second

2014-15 PREDICTION: Second

ARRIVALS: Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Davide Astori (Cagliari), Juan Iturbe (Verona), Salih Ucan (Fenerbahce Istanbul), Urby Emanuelson (Milan), Leandro Paredes (Boca Juniors), Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari), Stefano Pettinari (Crotone), Seydou Keita (Valencia), Antonio Sanabria (Sassuolo) and Francis Obeng (Santarcangelo Calcio)

DEPARTURES: S. Pettinari (Latina), F. Viviani (Latina), José Angel (FC Porto), S. Mladen (Südtirol-Alto Adige), Dodô (Inter Milan), M. Bastos, T. Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen B), R. Taddei (Perugia) and Rafael Tolói (São Paulo, B.L.)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Mattia Destro Rudi Garcia’s Roma have signed many players for the new season. Antonio Sanabria from Sassuolo for €4.9m and Radja Nainggolan from Cagliari for €6m, have been their top signings. The arrival of Ashley Cole will boost their defence system and his presence could even prove decisive in the end. With talismanic Francesco Totti still leading the way, we can expect this team to push Juventus hard for the title. Strootman, Adem Ljajic, Miralem Pjanic, Daniele De Rossi, Mehdi Benatia and Mattia Destro are other quality players in the team, who are enough to keep the rivals on their toes. I can assure you that Serie A battle will be a close affair this time.

NAPOLI

LAST SEASON: Third

2014-15 PREDICTION: Third

ARRIVALS: Michu (Swansea City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Genk) and Mariano Andujar (Catania Calcio)

DEPARTURES: F. Fernández (Swansea), L. Vitale (Ternana), V. Behrami (Hamburger SV), A. Gamberini (Chievo Verona), E. Calaiò (Catania), L. Sepe (Empoli) and El Kaddouri (Torino)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Gonzalo Higuain

Another team, which is expected to push towards the first two finishes, is Rafa Benitez’s Napoli. The club has spent huge amount of money in the last few transfers’ windows because of their new and rich owners. However, they were more careful in their spending in the latest season. Napoli has managed to get versatile striker Michu on loan from Swansea City. He is one player who can score from any position inside the penalty box. Apart from him, keeper Mariano Andujar from Catania for €2m and French defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Belgian side Genk for €7m, are the other two major signings. This team is packed with talent like Marek Hamsik, Gonzalo Higuain, Jorginho, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Christian Maggio, who are match winners on any given day. With a large squad at his disposal, Benitez is confident of better performance from the team.

FIORENTINA

LAST SEASON: Fourth

2014-15 PREDICTION: Fourth

ARRIVALS: Marko Marin (Chelsea), Jose Maria Basanta (Monterrey), Joshua Brillante (Newcastle United), Octavio (Botafogo), Steve Beleck (Udinese) and Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua Bucharest)

DEPARTURES: M. Bakic (Spezia), M. Camporese (Bari), K. Zohore (IFK Göteborg), A. Rebic (RB Leipzig), M. Compper (RB Leipzig), R. Matos (Córdoba), M. Diakité (Sunderland), Anderson (Man U), Rosati (Napoli), Matri (AC Milan) and Ambrosini (Free)

PLAYER TO WATCH: Juan Cuadrado

Fiorentina finished fourth last season and will like to improve in the new season. They have everything in them to break the stronghold of the top three. The squad boosts some outstanding talent and creative players in the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas, David Pizzaro, Juan Cuadrado, Matias Fernandez, Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez. They haven’t signed any big player in the recently concluded transfer window but this has been the case with most Serie A sides because of financial difficulties. Juan Cuadrado is their star winger who has been linked to Manchester United but Fiorentina’s manager Vincenzo Montella has denied any move for him. This has come as a major relief for the fans of the club. Fiorentina will have to be careful from Inter Milan who is in a pursuit of top four finish.

MID TABLE FINISH

Inter Milan, AC Milan, Parma, Lazio and Torino will hope to finish in the middle of the points table. The two Milan sides have dominated Serie A for a long time but are going through tough times in the last few years. Let’s hope they are back to their best.

RELEGATION BATTLE

Palermo, Genoa and Chievo will have to play out of their skins in order to avoid relegation. The problem with these three teams is the lack of depth in the squad and injuries could deplete their chances further.


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