The new Serie A season kicks off on August 21 and although fixtures have yet to be announced, the question many are already asking is, will anyone be able to challenge Juventus’ dominance?
The Bianconeri have been consecutive Scudetto winners for the past five years running and at this point, there is little to suggest the Turin outfit can’t extend this hegemony. Juventus have not only the best squad in Italy, but one of the best in Europe, with arguably more depth than even Barcelona. Although they might lose Paul Pogba to Manchester United, if Juve can succeed in prizing Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, they may not only be Serie A favorites, but could become a serious contender to win the Champions League.
Let’s take a look at some of the other top clubs in Italy and assess their chances of wresting the Scudetto from Juventus’ grip next season.
The Rossoneri are still a long way out from returning to the top of Italian, yet alone European football. In the plus column, they’ve signed a bright, talented, young manager in Vincenzo Montella and have looked good in preseason. However, Milan are locked in a struggle to hold onto last season’s leading scorer, Carlos Bacca. The Colombian impressed at the Copa America this summer and could yet be lured by the bright lights and big money of the Premier League. Much may hinge on a stalled attempt at a takeover of the club by a Chinese consortium. As long as Silvio Berlusconi remains in charge, the purse strings are likely to remain tight at the San Siro. However, new owners and an influx of cash could see Milan returning to the summit of Italian football, although probably not this season.
Roma have been Juve’s biggest challengers for the better part of the last three or four seasons. However, the capital club fell badly off the pace last season and parted ways with manager Rudi Garcia. The return of Luciano Spalletti to the Roma hot seat saw an uptick in form. So far the Giallorossi have seen more comings than goings in the transfer market this summer. Spalletti has called for defensive signings, but goals could also be a concern, with Miralem Pjanic having moved to Juventus and Francesco Totti approaching his 40th birthday. In addition to making a few key signings, the club will also have to see off interest for Radja Nainggolan who had an impressive campaign with Belgium at Euro 2016 and is currently a “person of interest” for a number of clubs.
Internazionale de Milano
Inter started off last season looking like frontrunners to win their first Scudetto since 2010. However, as Juventus recovered their form, Roberto Mancini’s Inter side faltered. The club is currently battling to try and keep hold of leading scorer Mauro Icardi, who is reportedly a subject of interest from Arsenal, Juventus and Napoli among others. With Mancini seemingly targeting his transfer policy towards bringing in young players, it’s likely that Inter will look like more of a “project” next season than a serious title contender.
Last season Napoli came about as close as anyone has to knocking Juventus off their perch. Leading scorer Higuain netted more goals in a single season in the Italian top flight than anyone before him. However, the Argentine faltered at a key point in the season and a flash of red mist saw him banned for a key stretch of games that created the opening Juve needed to run away with the title. The indications now are that Higuain wants to leave the club. This could create a problem, because even if they manage to keep hold of him, a disgruntled striker is unlikely to perform on the level Higuain did last season. And that spells bad news for Napoli’s title aspirations.