With the first week of the Serie A already in the books, the excitement has already begun. The transfer window has seen some big moves, particularly for Juventus, Inter, and Milan, and the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo has made waves in the European football dynamic.
Today, we’ll take a look at the biggest transfers of the summer and the top teams as we try to figure out which of the scudetto contenders will walk away with the title.
Biggest Summer Transfers
In the biggest transfer in the soccer world, Cristiano Ronaldo underwent a €105 million move to Juventus, only further bolstering the strongest team in Italian football. While Ronaldo may be 33 years old, there is no doubt that he is one of the most talented players in the history of the sport. Juventus’ plan is clear. They want to win the Champions League, and they want to do it now.
While Juventus may have had the biggest transfer of the year, Inter may very well have had the best overall market of any team in the Serie A. While keeping practically all of last year’s key players, they strengthened the squad in all three areas of the pitch.
Inter may not have had any huge transfers, but they’ve quietly been able to put together an excellent transfer window. Could they contend for the scudetto?
Milan – Juve Swap
In the biggest inter-domestic transfer of the year, Milan and Juventus agreed on a swap deal, bringing Leonardo Bonucci back to the Bianconeri while sending Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara to Milan. While the move was definitely viewed with some skepticism, particularly on the side of Juventus fans, it makes sense when you consider the two teams’ goals.
From Milan’s perspective, they’re only gaining. Bonucci never really seemed to settle in with the Rossoneri, and for a straight swap with Caldara, Milan could never decline the offer. With one of the youngest center back partnerships in the league, i Diavoli look set for the next decade in defense. In fact, it isn’t too much of a stretch to say that they may have the most promising young team in the entire league right now.
Not only do they get a great young talent in Mattia Caldara, but they also finally got a world-class striker. For years, Milan have rotated their attacking force, settling for mid-tier options to lead the offense. Higuain is one of the best strikers in the world, and he is always a goal-scoring threat, no matter where he is on the pitch.
Who Are The Contenders For The Scudetto?
As always, Juventus are the favorites to take home the trophy. For the past seven years, the Bianconeri have emerged at the top of the standings, and with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, they’ve put themselves in an excellent position to do so yet again.
Simply put, Juventus have the best team in the league. They have a star-studded roster in all three areas of the pitch, and the talent is certainly there for them to win the Serie A and potentially the Champions League as well.
The midfield might be where Juventus need the most work. Miralem Pjanic, Blaise Matuidi, and Sami Khedira, while certainly great players, are not the world class talents you see with teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. Juventus did find some good depth in Emre Can, who could prove to be a valuable starter/rotation player for the middle of the pitch.
Of course, the attack is where Juve truly shine. Paolo Dybala, one of the most promising young talents in the world, has already proven himself on the Italian and world stage. Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado provide flashes of brilliance, and their link up play will be crucial if Juventus want to take full advantage of Cristiano Ronaldo, Juve’s new star in attack. The Portuguese forward is arguably the best player in the world (depending on who you ask), and he will be certain to find the back of the net more than a few times this season.
Juventus are currently priced at -225 to win the Serie A. This makes them the overwhelming favorites to take home the title. While these odds are far from ideal, Juventus have continued to prove themselves year after year. There is no doubt that the Bianconeri are the best team in the league, and if you’re confident in their ability to continue their unprecedented run of success, these odds aren’t too bad.
In my opinion, Inter had the best transfer market of any team in the Serie A. Sure, Juventus may have signed Ronaldo, but the Nerazzurri strengthened their squad as a whole, making some key additions in areas where they were previously lacking. Can they take a stellar transfer window and turn it into a stellar season? Let’s take a look.
Starting in goal for Inter is none other than the Slovenian, Samir Handanovic. Handanovic has consistently been one of the best goaltenders in the league, and he’ll have a great defense to captain. In the center of the defense, Inter have three stellar center backs; Miranda is a veteran, talented and experienced, Skriniar is one of the most exciting defensive prospects in the league, and Stefan de Vrij – coming off of a free transfer – might very well be the best transfer of Inter’s entire season. On the flanks, Inter have Dalbert and Vrsaljko, improving very much from their most glaring weakness of past seasons.
The attack is where Inter can experiment the most. With a variety of new transfers, there are numerous opportunities for how they wish to line up. Icardi, one of the best strikers in the league, will undoubtedly line up at the front of the pitch. How they choose to support the Argentine is another question. It looks as though Icardi will have fellow Argentinian, Lautaro Martinez, behind him to back him up, making for a very interesting and explosive duo. On the wings, Inter finally addressed the problems they faced last season – bringing in Keita, Politano, and Karamoh. Inter’s attack is looking deadly, and with so many goal scoring threats, they’ll be hard to stop.
With odds at +700 to win the title, good for third highest in the league, Inter may be a sneakily good pick for bettors. They have made some great additions to the team, and while they may have struggled in their first game back, they have everything it takes to battle Juventus to the bitter end. If Juventus slip up or direct their focus more so on European competition, Inter could be a great pick to swoop in for the trophy.
With a win in their first game of the season, Roma look to be back on track. While Roma finished in third last season, there was quite a large gap between them and Napoli, something they’ll want to fix this time around. They did have an excellent showing in the Champions League, however, and with some new arrivals, including that of Justin Kluivert, they could be be a serious threat.
In the most expensive goalkeeper transfer ever (later surpassed by Kepa’s transfer to Chelsea), Alisson was sent to Liverpool in exchange for €62.5 million. While Robin Olsen is a decent keeper, it’s left to be seen whether Roma will suffer without the presence of the Brazilian. Luckily for Olsen, he’ll have a great defense to make his job just a bit easier. Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio have combined to be one of the best defensive duos in the league the past few years, and with Florenzi and Jesus on the flanks, they have plenty of pace to run up and down the pitch.
The attack may be where Roma shines brightest. On the left, El Shaarawy provides some blistering pace, and he’s become a great talent, unlocking the potential he couldn’t find at Milan. On the right, Roma have two equally interesting options. Both Ünder and Kluivert are incredibly promising talents, and Kluivert has already proven himself, setting up Roma’s winning goal against Torino in the opening match. Of course, Edin Dzeko will always be Roma’s star. Since arriving from Manchester City, Dzeko has been a lethal scoring threat, scoring a combined total of 62 goals in the last two seasons.
Valued at +1000, oddsmakers believe Roma is almost on par with Inter and Napoli. While Roma are certainly a good team, I still don’t think they can challenge for the scudetto. They don’t have the weapons to beat the best teams, but there’s no doubt they could challenge for a spot on the podium.
Napoli certainly gave Juve a run for their money last season, but they were unable to perform when it mattered most. They’ll be looking to improve on last season. Will they be the ones to end Juventus’ unprecedented streak of dominance?
Ospina is the starting keeper for Napoli, having arrived on loan from Arsenal this summer. Napoli don’t have the same stellar defense that many of the other top Italian teams are known for, but they are nonetheless very solid in the back. Kaidou Koulibaly leads the Partenopei in defense with Albiol to help him in the center of the defense. Hysaj and Rui occupy the flanks, both of them more known for their defense than their attacking prowess.
Jorginho’s departure has certainly taken its toll on Napoli’s midfield, but the argument can still be made for them having the best midfield in the Serie A. Allan, Hamsik, and Zielinksi provide great creative outlets for the attack, and there’s no doubt they can score themselves, scoring 15 goals between the three of them last season.
The attack is where Napoli really shine. With Insigne and Callejon on the wings, there’s certainly no shortage of pace with the Partenopei. The Napoli wingers are some of the most explosive in the league, and their ability to link up with Dries Mertens makes the attack particularly deadly. Mertens has been one of the best players in the league in recent years, and with 46 goals in the last two seasons, no defense in the league has quite figured out how to deal with him yet.
With odds currently at +600, Napoli is my preferred value pick for this year’s season. While they weren’t able to get the job done last season, they have already showed remarkable resilience, notching two important wins against Lazio and Milan in the first two weeks of the season. If they can keep their level of play up, this might be the year we finally see a new champion.
Lazio have not gotten of to the start they would have liked. Recording two losses in their first two games (Napoli and Juventus), the Biancocelesti need to find a way to get back on track if they wish to have any hope of seriously contending for the title. Can they do it? Let’s find out.
Lazio are one of the few teams in the league to employ a three-back defensive formation. With Strakosha in goal, Acerbi, Wallace, and Radu are left to man the defense. While this formation certainly lends itself to more attacking opportunities, it is certainly a risk, especially considering that Lazio’s defense is subpar compared to the rest of the top teams. It’ll be interesting to see how Lazio react to the poor start to the season, particularly on the defensive start of things.
Lazio’s attack is not particularly known for its stars, but they have nevertheless continued to impress. Lulic and Marusic occupy the wings, and what they lack in pace, they make up for in crossing and passing ability. Immobile and Luis Alberto occupy the two forward positions, and the attacking duo has certainly made a name for themselves, combining for a total of 64 goals and assists last season alone.
Lazio come with some great odds, given +6600 to win the league. Unfortunately, it’d be an incredibly risky gamble to bet on the Biancocelesti. They’re certainly always a threat for a Champions League spot, but they haven’t improved their team enough to truly challenge for the scudetto.
After Yonghong LI was forced to default on his debts, thus transferring the club to American hedge fund, Elliot, there were many concerns around the Rossoneri’s situation. Elliot were quick to silence the doubters, bringing back fan favorite Leonardo and Milan legend, Paolo Maldini, to lead the transfer market. Under the helm of Rino Gattuso, Milan will look to get back on track, fighting to return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-2014 season. Just how good can they be? Let’s take a look.
Milan has the youngest starting lineup in the league, making their team one of the most interesting in the Serie A. If they can unlock the potential many of their youngsters have, there’s no doubt that they’ll have a world class team on their hands within the next decade.
Gianluigi Donnarumma leads the way in goal, the young starlet remaining at Milan despite constant rumors swirling around the news. Romagnoli and Caldara will lead the backline, and the Italian duo is certainly something you should watch out for. On the flanks, Ricardo Rodriguez and Davide Calabria provide some great offensive contributions, but they have been prone to making mistakes on the defensive side of the ball. Finally, the return of Andrea Conti and the arrival of Diego Laxalt from Genoa mean that Gattuso will have plenty of options to solidify one of the strongest and most promising defenses in the world.
All eyes will be on Gonzalo Higuain, Milan’s newest forward, in attack. The Argentine will be flanked by Hakan Calhanogu and Suso with Castillejo and Borini ready to come in if needed. The attack is perhaps the biggest question mark of Milan’s season. If Suso can continue to provide opportunities for Higuain and Calhanoglu can find the same from he found towards the latter half of last season, there’s no doubt that El Pipita will be ready to strike, making Milan’s attack quite deadly.
Milan are given +1600 to take home the scudetto. While these odds are quite generous, I wouldn’t recommend betting on the Rossoneri just yet. They have plenty of raw talent, but they lack the experience and the creativity in midfield to challenge the biggest teams. They are certainly a contender for the podium, however, and their squad is bursting with potential for the future.
Looking Ahead + Predictions
I personally think that Juventus will find a way to win the title, closely followed by Roma and Napoli respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how the 4th-6th spots turn out, and there’s no doubt all three of Milan, Lazio, and Inter will be fighting desperately for the final Champions League spot.
Regardless of the outcome, this Serie A season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. Will the Bianconeri take home their eighth straight scudetto or will they finally be dethroned? We’ll find out.