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Italian Serie A Outright Preview
With the 2016/17 Italian Serie A season fast approaching, it would be best to prepare and familiarise ourselves with one of the most graceful and entertaining football leagues in the world. Juventus are the five-time champions and know all about defending their title. But will there be a challenger capable of dethroning the kings of Italy?
An in-depth look at the Italian powerhouses battling it out for the Scudetto could give us plenty of insight as to how this 38-game, season-long campaign will go. That’s enough chit chat for now, let’s get stuck into this preview like a Gennaro Gattuso challenge.
To Win Outright
Juventus 44/10 | Roma 11/2 | Napoli 7/1 | Inter Milan 14/1 | AC Milan 22/1 | Fiorentina 50/1
Long Live the Old Lady
Juventus – in layman's terms – simply refuse to surrender what has basically become their title to lose. The record five-time running Scudetto champions seem to get stronger season after season. The Old Lady’s extraordinary history leaves virtually no room for any more firsts and yet last season proved to be just that after going on one of the greatest runs of all time to win the Serie A title after making their worst start to a season in 46 years. Collecting 73 points from their 25 matches, victorious in every match except one - playing synchronized football - a devoted team of players gave their blood, sweat and tears as they clawed their way to the summit of the table.
For a team that had claimed just 12 points from their opening 10 fixtures, scoring only 11 goals, made the comeback all the more sweeter. Togetherness, character determination and old-fashioned hard work inevitably allowed the Old Lady the chance to turn their season around and commit to the task at hand. Looking forward and beyond, it would take a magnificent team to topple the champions of Italy.
First on the list is Roma. In recent seasons, the Giallorossi have put up a respectable challenge for the Scudetto, but in the end falling short. Roma have made a couple astute signings, but midfield sensation Stephan El Shaarawy, and German defender Antonio Rudiger could prove a cut above the rest. Their signings show their ambitions for the upcoming season, but will it be enough to take on Juventus for Serie A’s most prized possession?
Just like Roma, Gli Azzurri has come to be one of Juve’s toughest rivals. They finished just nine points behind the champions last season and will be eager to build on that. But following the sale of hitman Gonzalo Higuain to the team to beat – Juventus - will definitely dampen their chances of a genuine title challenge. They do have a squad capable of competing, but don’t have the depth and quality needed to withstand an extensive season of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the all-important UEFA Champions League.
Two clubs once known as European giants, but have been in steady decline in recent seasons, Inter and AC Milan are both struggling to return to their once upon a time glory days. At the start of a new campaign, there are always high hopes and belief that the Milan clubs will make for genuine title contenders. But season after season they seem to disappoint, and their besotted die-hard supporters’ faith and patience is wearing thin. Neither Inter, nor AC Milan have made huge strides in the transfer market thus far, but instead, have taken a far more subtle approach, which could prove detrimental to their season.
Last season Fiorentina made one of their brightest ever starts to a season, but as the Serie A fixtures started coming thick and fast, the Viola slowly faded into the background. A fourth-place finish, however, will motivate them and give them the confidence to better themselves and hopefully even make a serious challenge for the title. But with their lack of resources, it’s always going to be easier said than done.
The promoted clubs will always struggle due to their lack of capital and resources available. So it’s fair to say Cagliari, Crotone and Pescara are likely to find the going tough. They shouldn’t be discouraged, however, there have been a couple of teams flirting with relegation for the past season or two. Udinese, Atalanta, and Bologna are prime suspects to be involved in the fight for survival and will need to work just as hard as the newcomers to ensure another season in the top flight.
Verdict: Juventus (44/100)
Juventus are undoubtedly the team to beat. The five-time consecutive Italian champions know what it takes to maintain winning form and obviously know all about defending the title. Roma could come closest to challenging the Old Lady, but I doubt they have the depth and quality to match the Turin club. It’s no wonder Juve are priced up so short at 44/100 to make it six from six.