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2017-18 Serie A Preview - Part 1: Can Anyone Dethrone Juventus?

Wednesday 16th August 2017
Juventus are six-time defending champions entering Calcio's 116th top flight season. Can their reign be ended? IRAIW's Serie A preview is here to help with the answer.

Just as the sun rises every day, the Old Lady appears the main candidate for the 2017-18 Scudetto. There are some other clubs with the potential to shine brightly enough to take her place.

Paper Tigers?

There is no question Juventus is the clear favourite to champion Italian football yet again. The Bianconeri are coming off another dominant season. A ninth Champions League final appearance and a sixth consecutive year in possession of the Scudetto. Bored by the status quo or not, you have to give them credit for staying on top for such a long period. Massimiliano Allegri's side have managed to retain their success while rotating quality players into the mix year after year.

Juve have lost Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo, and Alvaro Morata in recent years. This season, Leonardo Bonucci, arguably one of the best defenders in the world, opted to join rivals AC Milan. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Juventus always find suitable replacments.

Vidal and Pogba might not be here anymore, but Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira have become reliable options in midfield. Pirlo departed for Major League Soccer; Paulo Dybala arrived from Palermo. That exchange forced a tactical change but Allegri and his squad were up for the change. Morata's loss hurt until Gonzalo Higuain made fans forget all about the Spaniard and emerged. In his first season in black and white, he was the side's Capocannoniere. Even though Bonucci went to a strong title challenger, history suggests Juve will be fine.
Still, this could be their most difficult defense. The Old Lady remains favourite on paper but there are many teams eager to write her off.

Who will do it?



There are many teams obscured by Juventus' shadow. Lazio just won the Super Cup. AS Roma and Napoli have been Juve's biggest rivals for the past five years. Now, Milan have leaped back into the picture following a plethora of summer signings beyond Bonucci.

AC Milan

Few teams have been as active as Milan in the current transfer window. New ownership, long in coming, have nonetheless been quick to provide new funds. The Rossoneri have signed as many quality players as would come. The result? They've gone from a borderline Europa League side to a serious title contender.

Yes, the new signings need to adjust. Some will feature in Serie A for the first time. But there is no question Milan are, at the least, paper tigers themselves.

Vincenzo Montella's defence looks vastly improved through Bonucci, Mateo Musacchio, and Ricardo Rodriguez. Hakan Calhanoglu should be a playmaking threat. The attacking line has already added Andre Silva yet remains linked to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Belotti, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Everything will depend on how long the newcomers need to gel but Milan are definitively an Italian team to watch this season.

Napoli

Napoli are right up there, as well. Unlike Milan, their biggest strength ahead of the new season is something other Italian challengers lack: continuity. Napoli have managed to keep their core intact. That alone should be sufficient to put them among the top sides. Any team that features Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne on a weekly basis represents a tough challenge.

Can they make the necessary leap to truly challenge Juventus? Right now, Maurizio Sarri's squad look better suited to fight for a Champions League berth. Unless they sign a quality player in the transfer market, that does not look likely to change. The talent is there but the core needs to take the next step. Otherwise, their window for contention might close sooner than expected.

AS Roma

Roma and Napoli are similar in the sense they value continuity over making huge transfer splashes. But Roma has just recruited the great architect of Sevilla's recent campaigns, Monchi. Il Lupi's new sporting director is already making his presence felt.

The Giallorossi lost Mohamed Salah but strengthened accordingly with Gregoire Defrel and Cengiz Ünder. Eusebio di Francesco's defence will feature several new faces, including Hector Moreno, Aleksandar Kolarov, Bruno Peres, and Rick Karsdorp. As if that wasn't enough, Maxime Gonalons should give the side another competent midfielder to battle with Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman. Edin Dzeko remains with the team after pacing all Serie A players with 29 goals last season.

All things considered, Roma promise entertaining football in their quest to finally dethrone Juventus.

Lazio

Lazio's chances to mount a title challenge are quite slim, to be honest. They lack depth all over the pitch. Nor do they appear as talented as the teams already mentioned. Still, they are coming off a Super Cup win this past week. Simone Inzaghi's troops have already demonstrated they can compete toe-to-toe with Juventus and Napoli. If they catch a break here and there, who knows? Maybe this will end up being their year.

 

Read part 2 of our Serie A 2017/18 preview here.

Juan Pablo Aravena

29-year-old sports analyst and journalist with over three years of experience in the industry. Writes about all kinds of sports from football to golf, but there is no question his biggest passion in life is football. Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Colo Colo fan.


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