Last season showed that Italian Serie A are slowly becoming one of the most interesting championships in Europe, at least when the title chase and race for European places is concerned. Milan won the scudetto last term and they again look like the main candidates for the trophy, but Juventus, Inter, Roma, Napoli and Lazio have high ambitions as well. Title contenders and teams fighting for European qualification will be reviewed in the first part of our preview, whereas second part and third part are set to feature mid table sides and relegation stugglers respectively. Also, be sure to check out English Premier League Season Preview, Spanish La Liga Season Preview, German Bundesliga Season Preview and French Ligue 1 Season Preview.
Massimiliano Allegri has done a great job with Milan last term, leading the Rossoneri to the Serie A title against all odds, although owner Silvio Berlusconi certainly helped the young coach by handing him Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho just before the season started, while bringing few more very good players in January. Following such a successful season, the main task was obviously to keep the team together and not only did Milan manage to keep hold of their star players, but they also signed Alberto Aquilani, Philippe Mexes, Stephan El Shaarawy and Taye Taiwo, while buying out the contracts of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marco Amelia and Kevin-Prince Boateng. With Andrea Pirlo the only notable departure, everything suggests that the Rossoneri are in for another successful season, with the big strength in depth likely to help them balance between Champions League and Serie A. Seeing that the starting 11 looks almost the same as last season, Milan should be able to hit the ground running early on and that could be the key to a successful title defence.
Last season: Champions
Important arrivals: Philippe Mexes (Roma), Taye Taiwo (Marseille), Stephan El Shaarawy (Genoa), Alberto Aquilani (Liverpool).
Important departures: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marek Jankulovski (Banik), Alexander Merkel, Sokratis Papastathopoulos (both Genoa).
Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Abbiati – Abate, Nesta, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta – Seedorf, van Bommel, Aquilani – Boateng – Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
Pick: Milan to win Serie A title
Inter have been experiencing major problems since Jose Mourinho left the club after winning Serie A and Champions League titles with the Neroazzurri and the Italian giants look to be on the downward spiral at the moment. Instead of looking for ways to reinforce the squad that didn’t really impress last season, Massimo Moratti spent most of the summer trying to keep hold of his key players, but he could do nothing to prevent Samuel Eto’o from leaving the club. New coach Gian Piero Gasperini is determined to use his preferred 3-4-3 tactics at Inter, which is likely to be a problem, especially as team’s most influential player Wesley Sneijder will have to be moved from his preferred position. New signing from Velez, Ricky Alvarez looks like he will need some time before producing what he is capable of and all things considered, Inter fans don’t have much reason for optimism at the moment. The Neroazzurri may even struggle to clinch Champions League qualification.
Last season: 2nd
Important arrivals: Luc Castaignos (Feyenoord), Emiliano Viviano (Bologna), Ricardo Alvarez (Velez Sarsfield).
Important departures: Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi), Victor Obinna (Lokomotiv Moscow).
Probable starting line-up (3-4-1-2): Julio Cesar – Ranocchia, Lucio, Samuel – Alvarez, Stankovic, Motta, Zanetti – Sneijder – Milito, Pazzini.
Prediction: European qualification
Pick: Inter to win no trophies
The hopes were high in Turin before the start of last season, but Juventus once again disappointed their fans, so everybody at the club are hoping that won’t happen this term. The club management have done well to reinforce the squad this summer, having brought Stephen Lichtsteiner, Andrea Pirlo, Reto Ziegler, Arturo Vidal and Mirko Vucinic, while tying Fabio Quagliarella, Marco Motta, Simone Pepe and Alessandro Matri to long-term contracts. New boss Antonio Conte is famous for his attack-minded style, meaning that Juventus fans will have something to cheer about at the new Juventus Arena, while the fact that the Bianconeri won’t be taking part in any of the European competitions should help the team keep their focus on the Serie A campaign. With the quality Antonio Conte has at his disposal and the largest fan base in Italy, it is high time the Old Lady showed what they are capable of, so a top 3 finish look on the cards. The Bianconeri could even enter the title race, although they are likely to fall short in the end.
Last season: 7th
Important arrivals: Andrea Pirlo (Milan), Mirko Vucinic (Roma), Arturo Vidal (Bayer Leverkusen), Michele Pazienza (Napoli), Stephan Lichtsteiner (Lazio).
Important departures: Mohamed Sissoko (PSG), Felipe Melo (Galatasaray), Tiago (Atletico Madrid).
Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): Buffon – Lichtsteiner, Bonucci, Chiellini, Ziegler – Krasic, Pirlo, Vidal, Marchisio – Matri, Vucinic.
Prediction: Top 4 finish
Pick: Juventus to finish in top 3
The club with some of the most passionate supporters in world football soared to unimagined heights last season, as they spent big part of the league campaign fighting for the title, eventually ensuring Champions League qualification with a 3rd- place finish. Napoli look to be on the road to return to old glory days, although this season will be a big test for Walter Mazzarri’s side, considering that they will have to balance their resources between two very strong competitions. Despite all the transfer talk, Napoli managed to keep hold of amazing attacking trident Cavani-Hamsik-Lavezzi, which was a big testament of the club’s ambition, while adding some very good players in Federico Fernandez, Marco Donadel, Gokhan Inler, Miguel Britos and Mario Alberto Santana. All things considered, Napoli look more than capable of mounting another title challenge, although top 3 finish is a more realistic possibility.
Last season: 3rd
Important arrivals: Gokhan Inler (Udinese), Mario Alberto Santana, Marco Donadel (both Fiorentina), Miguel Britos (Bologna), Federico Fernandez (Estudiantes), Blerim Dzemaili (Parma).
Important departures: Michele Pazienza (Juventus), Emilson Cribari (Cruzeiro), Jose Sosa (Metalist), Daniele Mannini (Siena).
Probable starting line-up (3-4-1-2): De Sanctis – Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Britos – Maggio, Inler, Dzemaili, Dossena – Hamsik – Lavezzi, Cavani.
Prediction: Top 4 finish
Pick: Napoli to finish in top 4
With almost no star names in the squad, Lazio were not given big chances to even enter the race for Champions League places, let alone the title race last season. However, the team led by Edy Reja showed some impressive displays last season and only missed out on the Champions League qualification on goal difference. Having seen that the team are not that far away from Italy’s top sides, president Claudio Lotito allocated significant funds for transfers this summer, with players like Senad Lulic, Miroslav Klose, Djibril Cisse, Lorik Cana, Abdoulay Konko and Federico Marchetti significantly improving the quality of the squad. The new players seem to have quickly integrated into the squad as the Biancocelesti largely impressed in pre-season as well as in the Europa League qualifying stages, so Lazio look capable of big things this season. Edy Reja’s side may not be able to mount a serious title challenge, but they should be able to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish.
Last season: 5th
Important arrivals: Djibril Cisse (Panathinaikos), Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich), Lorik Cana (Galatasaray), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari), Marius Stankevicius (Sampdoria), Abdoulay Konko (Genoa), Senad Lulic (Young Boys).
Important departures: Marc Bresciano (Al Nasr), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Stephane Lichtsteiner (Juventus).
Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Marchetti – Konko, Dias, Biava, Radu – Mauri, Cana, Ledesma – Hernanes – Klose, Cisse.
Prediction: Top 4 finish
Pick: Lazio to finish above Roma
Coming on the back of a very disappointing season, Roma fans expect a lot from the team this term and that could put extra pressure on the players’ shoulders. Following the numerous problems on and off the pitch during the entire last season, the club looked to be heading into the right direction as the club takeover was finally completed and new boss Jose Enrique arrived together with new players Bojan Krkic, Erik Lamela, Maarten Stekelenburg, Jose Angel and Gabriel Heinze, but the good atmosphere in the club didn’t last long. First Mirko Vucinic left for Juventus, before Luis Enrique upset the club icon Francesco Totti by leaving him on the bench in the Europa League defeat to Slovan, and we all know that when Totti isn’t happy, Roma are not playing the way they should. This team undoubtedly has a lot of potential, but with so many issues unresolved at the moment, Roma don’t look like they can fulfill their potential this term.
Last season: 6th
Important arrivals: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona), Erik Lamela (River Plate), Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Jose Angel (Sporting Gijon), Gabriel Heinze (Marseille).
Important departures: Mirko Vucinic (Juventus), Jeremy Menez (PSG), Doni (Liverpool), John Arne Riise (Fulham), Philippe Mexes (Milan).
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Stekelenburg – Cicinho, Cassetti, Burdisso, Angel – Lamela, De Rossi, Pizarro – Boriello, Totti, Bojan.
Prediction: European qualification
Pick: Roma to finish in top 6
Udinese produced quite a coup by achieving a fourth-place finish last season, leaving clubs like Lazio, Juventus, Roma and Palermo trailing in their wake. The club chiefs decided to cash in on their most prized assets, selling Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler to Barcelona and Napoli respectively, while they again opted to bring several unproven players rather than splashing the cash on big name signings. The Zebrette showed a lot of potential in the Champions League play-off round against Arsenal, but ended up missing out on the group stages after missing a host of clear-cut chances, and that tie showed the Friulani could have problems in the scoring department without Alexis Sanchez. With so many new signings, the team will need some time to gel and that could prevent Francesco Guidolin’s side from mounting a serious challenge for European places.
Last season: 4th
Important arrivals: Joel Ekstrand (Helsingborg), Paulo Barreto (Bari), Danilo (Palmeiras), Neuton (Gremio), Gabriel Torje (Dinamo Bucharest).
Important departures: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona), Gokhan Inler (Napoli), Cristian Zapata (Villarreal), Jonathan Mensah (Evian).
Probable starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Handanovic – Ekstrand, Benatia, Danilo, Neuton – Agyemang Badu – Isla, Asamoah, Pinzi, Armero – Di Natale.
Prediction: Top table finish
Pick: Udinese Season Points over 56.5