Serie A preview: Is it time for another club to claim the Scudetto?
The world will be watching Serie A this season and for good reason. Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Juventus transformed Lega Calcio into the must-watch competition this season. But it would be wrong to say Juventus are the only team worth watching. Chievo Verona proved that in yesterday's early start to the season. The Flying Donkeys nearly put one over on the seven-year champions, overcoming an early Sami Khedira goal to take a 2-1 lead. Ronaldo had some gilt-edged chances but it was down to Federico Bernardeschi to rescue an injury-time win for the Old Lady.
There's also Inter and AC Milan. The San Siro rivals are poised to ignite the Derby dellla Madonnina again after impressive moves during the transfer period, the latter while under a Champions/Europa League ban. There's Roma, a top-talent squad that still added 12 names. Carlo Ancelotti's home after nine years abroad. His Napoli debut began slowly but the squad found their rhythm in the second half to put Lazio down. Le Aguile will bounce back, though.
The mid-table and promoted teams offer promise, too, as Chievo proved. Cristiano Ronaldo will be the main attraction on Italian soil this season, but he won’t be the only one. Here's a look at all 20 clubs.
Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini
Last season: 7th
Remaining needs: Creativity in midfield/attack. Atalanta lost both Jasmin Kurtic (SPAL) and Bryan Cristante (AS Roma). Alejandro "Papu" Gomez takes over the creative duties as a solo act. Mario Pasalic's arrival was nice. Duvan Zapata should boost the attack. Even so, a few more pieces in the final third wouldn't have hurt.
Season outlook: This is Giampiero Gasperini's third season in charge. So far, he's been quite successful, keeping the club either in Europe or close to the fight for a Europa League berth. While La Dea added interesting pieces, several key players departed. Mediocrity beckons. They might not face the drop but it's hard to imagine this squad fighting for a European spot.
Manager: Filippo Inzaghi
Last season: 15th
Remaining needs: Someone who can make better transfer decisions would be nice. In all honesty, Bologna could use a bit more depth at fullback after parting ways with Adam Masina and Vasilios Torosidis. They also lost two key players on the attacking end, Simone Verdi and Federico Di Francesco. Verdi's absence will hurt most. A proven scorer is needed, if not now then in January.
Season outlook: Filippo Inzaghi will debut with Bologna looking to improve last season's results. It's a difficult ask. In total, six first-teamers left the side. The replacements aren't on the same level. Bologna should finish around 15th or 16th again but are a key injury or bad run from a relegation battle.
Manager: Rolando Maran
Last season: 16th
Remaining needs: Il Rossoblu upgraded considerably at both ends of the pitch. Darijo Srna and Ragnar Klavan should boost the defence. Filip Bradaric looks like he'll only be around for one season. The big clubs are going to come for him. All things considered, Cagliari just need to wait until the new signings gel.
Season outlook: Rolando Maran takes over this season. Expectations are not very high but he has a much better squad than the one who finished 16th in 2017/18. They won't challenge for Europe but might sneak into the table's top half.
Manager: Lorenzo D'Anna
Last season: 13th
Remaining needs: Despite Mariusz Stepinski's splendid start against Juve and Emmanuel 'Full Metal" Giaccherini on the flank, D'Anna needs more help up front. Chievo lost two Roberto Inglese, their top scorer last season with 12 goals, and midfielder Lucas Castro.
Season outlook: Lorenzo D'Anna took control of Chievo in the final weeks in '17/18, winning the last three games. He is the main reason Verona stayed in Serie A for another year. However, the loss of two important players is not going to make things any easier. Forget the enthusiastic start. The season is long. Chievo are relegation favourites.
Manager: Aurelio Andreazzoli
Last season: Serie B Champions, Promoted
Remaining needs: Empoli's biggest need is something you can't teach: experience. Aside from Afriyie Acquah and Matias Silvestre, the reigning Serie B champions didn't add experienced Serie A players. They could be this year's Benevento.
Season outlook: Andreazzoli took control midway into last season. Obviously, he did an excellent job. However, don't be surprised if they return to Serie B immediately.
Manager: Stefano Pioli
Last season: 8th
Remaining needs: Creativity in the final third is a rare commodity. Everybody wants it, including the Viola. Riccardo Saponara's exit leaves them without a playmaker. That complicates matters against defensive teams and this is Serie A.
Season outlook: Stefano Pioli couldn't carry the team into the UEFA Europa League this past season, even though the side picked it up in the season's second half. Their defence should be better with the arrivals of Alban Lafont and Christian Norgaard, but without someone to run the attack, a mid-table finish is in the cards. Davide Astori will continue to be missed, as well.
Manager: Moreno Longo
Last season: 3rd Serie B, Promoted
Remaining needs: A proven scorer. Unlike Empoli, Frosinone did a great job strengthening the side. The Canaries added solid players on both sides of the ball, just not a true scoring threat. A proven Serie A striker could be difference between staying up or being relegated. Ask SPAL and Mirco Antenucci.
Season outlook: Longo is young when it comes to Serie A managers but he should keep Frosinone in Serie A. There'll be growing pains but the talent is there to do the job.
Manager: Davide Ballardini
Last season: 12th
Remaining needs: At the risk of repeating myself, a proven striker. Oh, and a goalkeeper. Genoa signed five strikers during the transfer window but Gianluca Lapadula is the only one with Serie A experience. Unfortunately, he's average at best. In goal, Federico Marchetti is well past his prime and far worse than Mattia Perin, who joined Juventus.
Season outlook: Ballardini kept Genoa in the top flight last season. he'll struggle to do it again. an easier time during the upcoming season. Between the boxes, there's enough talent but not much leadership. Expect them to finish in the bottom five.
Manager: Luciano Spalletti
Last season: 4th
Remaining needs: Inter need something they can't buy, which isn't a proven scorer. It's time. The team added several promising players (Lautaro Martinez, Sime Vrsaljko and Radja Nainggolan among them) and didn't suffer a single important departure. They could be in a good position going forward if the new signings gel quickly.
Season outlook: Luciano Spalletti responded to the huge expectations surrounding Inter with a thrilling, nail-bitting UEFA Champions League qualification in the final match of the season. Considering the Nerazzurri bolstered their lines at both ends of the pitch, they should remain a top-4 side. They could even contend for the title if a few things go their way.
Manager: Massimiliano Allegri
Last season: Serie A Champions
Remaining needs: The reigning Serie A champions were the best team in Italy last season by a wide margin before adding Leonardo Bonucci and Cristiano Ronaldo to the mix. They only need time to gel and find the best use for Cristiano Ronaldo. Other than that, what else could Juventus do?
Season outlook: Allegri is ready for yet another year with The Old Lady. Expectations are plain and simple: the team needs to win the Serie A title, the Coppa Italia, and the UEFA Champions League. That's all. It's not much when you've re-signed Italy's best defender and landed one of the best players in history.
Manager: Simone Inzaghi
Last season: 5th
Remaining needs: Lazio have depth in attack and a quality midfield, but one of Serie A's weakest defences. Losing Stefan de Vrij didn't help. Napoli's comeback yesterday proved the backline will be the Eagles'a Achilles heel again.
Season outlook: Simone Inzaghi had a great season with Lazio until the team crumbled in the final game of the campaign, costing them the Champions League. having bolstered their attack, Lazio will fight for the Champions League again but unless they tighten the defence, they'll probably come up short once more.
Manager: Gennaro Gattuso
Last season: 6th
Remaining needs: Milan needs the same thing as last season, for their signings to pan out. It didn't happen in 2017/18, so Bonucci has returned to Turin. Gonzalo Higuain and young Matteo Caldara came the other way. Samu Castillejo, Alen Halilovic and Tiemoue Bakayoko also improved the Rossoneri.
Season outlook: Gattuso remains with the team and has everything he wants The expectations for Milan are simple. After the CAS rescinded their UEFA ban, they're Europa League contenders and poised to qualify for the Champions League. Anything else would and should be considered a disappointment.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti
Last season: 2nd
Remaining needs: Napoli made some minor upgrades but will miss Jorghino in midfield. Other than that, they should as good as they were last year, albeit with a different approach.
Season outlook: Carlo Ancelotti won't play like Maurizio Sarri but that's not a bad thing. Hs trophies speak for themselves. Gli Azzurri should be a bonafide title contender this season.
Manager: Roberto d'Aversa
Last season: 2nd Serie B, Promoted
Remaining needs: Erm, a proven scorer, sorry, and a top centre-back. Parma have Luca Rigoni and Bruno Alves on defence and Gervinho should be a nice addition upfront, but the Crusaders could have used a few more proven players in key roles.
Season outlook: Roberto d'Aversa was the mastermind behind Parma's return to Italy's top flight. Can he maintain the momentum? It'll be difficult, to say the least. Parma have a decent squad, but all signs indicate they will likely fight against relegation from Week 1. Worse, they don't have CAS on their side and will start with a five-point deduction in the table.
Manager: Eusebio di Francesco
Last season: 3rd
Remaining needs: Absolutely nothing. Roma made 12 signings during the summer transfer window. Monchi may have even signed new ballboys. Keep an eye on Steven N'Zonzi and Justin Kluivert. Roma may have the deepest squad in Serie A.
Season outlook: Eusebio di Francesco's reputation rose mightily last season after dispatching Barcelona in the Champions League. Now, the Giallorossi have closed the gap on Juve and Napoli. Expect Roma to remain in the Scudetto race and hold down a top-4 spot throughout the season.
Manager: Marco Giampaolo
Last season: 10th
Remaining needs: Depth in midfield. Lucas Torreira's departure left a giant void they have yet to address. Neither Albin Ekdal nor Riccardo Sapponara is a direct replacement for the Uruguayan, who gained a reputation as a hard-nosed, defensive-minded presence.
Season outlook: Marco Giampaolo enters his third season intent on improving the 10th-place finish from 2017/18. You think I'm going to say that won't be easy now. You know me so well. Sampdoria haven't made many changes to their core. The arrivals aren't players you'd call game-changers. Another safe finish mid-table is in the offing for the Blue Shirts.
Manager: Roberto de Zerbi
Last season: 11th
Remaining needs: Could experience be a problem for Sassuolo? Even though they were active in the market, most of their signings were under 25. They look like a team forming something interesting for the future. They could have used another attacking player. They were pretty impotent last term
Season outlook: De Zerbi will have a second go at Serie A after leading Benevento in 2017/18. The Witches were relegated but showed a drastic improvement under his management. Sassuolo is a better squad but expectations shouldn't be high. Barring a miracle, Sassuolo will be De Zerbi's second relegation fight in as many seasons.
Manager: Leonardo Semplici
Last season: 17th
Remaining needs: Following a plethora of signings, SPAL needs time to gel. Johan Djourou and Kevin Bonifazi strengthen the back. Andrea Petagna, Jasmin Kurtic and Lazar Nikolic provide more firepower. Teams that add too many players at once tend to start slow. SPAL are at the wrong end of the table for that.
Season outlook: Leonardo Semplici has been with SPAL since 2014. He's ready to take the club to the next level. A finish in the low teens will better '17/18's 17th place. That sounds reasonable as long as they come together soon.
Manager: Walter Mazzarri
Last season: 9th
Remaining needs: An experienced centre-back who can lead the defensive line. Torino bolstered their squad on both sides of the ball but their focus was on defence. Bremer, Nicolas N'Koulou, Armando Izzo and Koffi Djidji joined the ranks. None are the type to take Emiliano Moretti's place as the leader.
Season outlook: Walter Mazzarri had his best years as Napoli's manager. His debut season with Torino wasn't to that level. In his second season, Torino must aim higher than mid-table considering the additions provided to the boss. They should challenge for Europe.
Manager: Julio Velazquez
Last season: 14th
Remaining needs: Udinese were winners in the Serie A transfer window. They signed Felipe Vizeu, Ignacio Pussetto and Juan Musso, but the best acquisitions were Lukasz Teodorczyk from Anderlecht and Ricardo Mandragora from Juventus. On paper, they're far more balanced.
Season outlook: Velazquez takes the reigns after a disappointing 2017/18. The Friuli struggled against relegation all season. They could fight for a Europa League place if things go their way. If they don't, a mid-table finish remains realistic.