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Contrasting aims for Juventus, Benevento, SPAL's 2017/18 Serie A campaigns

Thursday 10th August 2017
In the coming Serie A campaign, Juventus seek their seventh successive title. For newly promoted SPAL and Benevento, avoiding relegation is the main priority.

Juventus narrowly failed to complete a treble last season. Its 4-1 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in Wales ended the Old Lady's dream to add to her Scudetto and Coppa Italia haul.

Federico Bernardeschi's arrival from Fiorentina is among several expensive summer purchases for the Turin club. The €36 million winger will compete for minutes on the right with Juan Cuadrado, whose permanent status was secured from Chelsea for half that after Kingsley Coman was dealt to Bayern Munich. Other recruits may follow as Juve attempt to thwart Roma, Napoli and the two Milan clubs' assault on their title.
Roma acquired Rick Karsdorp from Feyenoord. Napoli added Frenchman Adam Ounas from Bordeaux and Torino's Nikola Maksimovic in their transfer business to date. Matias Vecino and Milan Skriniar have moved to Inter Milan from Fiorentina and Sampdoria respectively for approximately £20 million each. Milan have been the cheekiest. The Bianconeri's Leonardo Bonucci was a significant portion (€37.8 million) of their €180 million outlay as the Rossoneri bid to win their first Serie A title since 2011.

Money apparently talks atop the Serie A mountain but spare a thought for teams without the financial weaponry of their more illustrious league opponents.

Newly promoted SPAL return to the Italian top flight after a nearly fifty year absence. Societa Polisportiva Ars et Labor, SPAL 2013 for short, were originally founded in 1907. Two recent bankruptcies led to reorganisation and the 2013 suffix. Their main claim to fame occurred in 1962, when they were Coppa Italia runners-up. Winning Serie B by four points over Hellas Verona secured consecutive promotions under Leonardo Semplici.
In 2017-18, SPAL will be hoping former Leeds striker Mirco Antenucci can reproduce his 18 Serie B goals in the top flight. Atalanta's centre forward, Alberto Peloschi, Udinese centre back Felipe, and Swedish fullback Pa Konate, supplemented by loanees, comprise the Spallini's €2.97 million summer shopping. Biancazzurri supporters will be hoping for good things at the 12,000 seat Stade Paolo Mazza. The Ferrara club's officials, on the other hand, would like to see last season's less than 8,000 average home attendance boosted by more glamorous opposition.

SPAL will be joined in Serie A by Benevento Calcio. The Stregoni, which translates into Wizards although the club displays a witch on its crest, are set to play Italian top flight football for the first time in their history. The club reformed from the original F.C. Sporting Benevento in 2005. Following Gaetano Auteri and then Marco Baroni's successive appointments as manager from 2015, back-to-back promotions were achieved.

The Campana side have spent more liberally for their inaugural Serie A campaign. Nine new players will arrive for a combined €14.33 million. The average acquisition (€1.6/1 million) is marginally higher than SPAL's, yet together the clubs' spending represents less than 10% of Milan's. Still, Benevento's magic will have to primarily derive from 21-goal Serie B wizard, Fabio Ceravolo.
Both clubs face a season struggling for Serie A survival, hoping they can surpass bottom half clubs such as Crotone, Bologna or Chievo. On the other hand, hosting Juventus and the Milan teams will be momentous events for the hopeful arrivals.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

Total articles: 31

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