When Juventus won the Serie A in Alessandro Del Piero’s last season back in 2011-12, few would have predicted what was about to unfold in Italian football.
Perhaps the Old lady from Turin did give some hints. After all, no team in the 21st century had gone undefeated throughout the season in Italy. And thus, began an era of utter domination. They kept on winning, to an extent it got somewhat boring. And despite Napoli’s laudable resistance last season, Juventus won their seventh straight Scudetto and bid adieu to another legend, namely Gianluigi Buffon.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 5, 2018
Another season will starting shortly. And as always, Juventus is once again the favourites. But their rivals have recruited well. Today, we look at the three legitimate candidates who can put an end to this utter domination of Allegri’s men.
Since 2012, The ‘Nerazzuri’ have gone to the exact opposite path Juventus had gone. They almost got lost into oblivion, failing to secure Champions League football until last season. With a dramatic ending, Inter Milan are back in club football’s biggest competition for the first time in six years. And they haven’t rested on their laurels. Luciano Spaletti’s transfer activities have shown a legitimate intent of challenging Juventus for the Scudetto, as well as going great guns in the Champions League. What’s interesting is that most of their new recruits have been directly snatched from their rivals in Italy.
The biggest name is of course of the brash warrior from Rome: Radja Nainngolan. After not being picked up for the World Cup, ‘The Ninja’ as they call him has joined the Milan outfit in one of the most surprising transfers of the summer. Kwadwo Asamoah (Juventus), Stefan De Vrij (Lazio), Matteo Politano (on loan from Sassuolo) have also joined the ‘Nerazzuri’ for the upcoming season. What’s interesting is that despite a lot of options, Spaletti has chosen players who have had previous experience of the Serie A. Showing clear intent that he’ll tackle Juventus head on for the Serie A title, something they haven’t won since 2010.
— Kwadwo Asamoah (@Asabob20) August 4, 2018
With that being said, they indeed have recruited from outside Italy as well. To support their captain Mauro Icardi, Inter have signed Lautaro Martinez from Argentine outfit Racing. They;ve also signed wonderkid Yann Karamoh on loan from SM Caen to strengthen the forward line. And it’s not just in attack they’ve spent. They’ve brought in World Cup runner up Croatian Right back Sime Vrsjalko from Atletico Madrid on loan. Left back Federico DiMarco has come in to fill the void left by Yuto Nagatomo. With youngsters like Lautaro, complemented by the veteran experience of players like Icardi and Perisic; Inter fans can finally believe in winning silverware. It won’t be easy of course, but it’s the best shot they can have for quite a while now.
Full strength XI (In my opinion) (4-3-3): Handanovic; Vrsjalko, Miranda, Ranocchia, D’Ambrosio; Vecino, Nainggolan, Brozovic; Candreva, Icardi, Perisic.
When AS Roma became the first team to win the Serie A in the 21st century, many great things were expected of a team including the likes of Cafu, Batistuta and Totti. But to the dismay of many, they’ve gone from Italy’s finest to almost the outsiders for clinching a European spot. But ever since Eusebio Di Francesco took over as head coach, there was a sense of optimism around the Roman outfit. With Eusebio in charge, Roma reached their made it to the last four of the Champions League for the first time since the renaming of the old European Cup. Finishing third behind Napoli and the usual suspect Juventus, they ensured Champions League football this season as well. And their transfer activities have not gone unnoticed.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) August 5, 2018
Credit has to go to their ever shrewd director, Monchi. Bargain signings is something the wise Spaniard prioritizes on. When the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool were lurking around; Monchi stepped in to sign Justin Kluivert of Ajax for just 18 million euros. Roma have replaced the voids left by Allison and Nainggolan by bringing in Robin Olsen and Javier Pastore. Youngsters like Ante Coric and Nicolo Zaniolo also add some serious potential in the ranks of the Romans. Veterans like Davide Santon complements the young talents with their valuable experience. Missing out on Malcom might be a hard pill to swallow, but if the newcomers perform to their expected levels; Eusebio might be the man to end the decade and a half wait for a Scudetto in Rome.
Full strength XI (In my opinion) (4-3-3): Olsen; Florenzi, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Pastore, De Rossi, Strootman; Kluivert, Dzeko, El Shaarawy
Fighting till your last breath. That is exactly what Napoli did last season against Juventus. They lost the battle in the end, but they ended up providing us the tightest finish in Serie A for quite some time now. With some serious firepower upfront and an astonishing team spirit, Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli suddenly became the darling to every footballing romantics there existed.
🇮🇪 Back to work and focused 💪
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) August 5, 2018
But that was then, this is now. Sarri has moved to Chelsea, so has Napoli’s midfield tinkerman Jorginho. But with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, Napoli dares to dream again. The biggest plus point for Napoli is that apart from the departing Jorginho, there has been not any significant change in their starting eleven. That being said, Napoli’s biggest weakness this season lies in the same birth. They haven’t recruited any big names. Orestis Karnezis, Alex Meret, Fabian Ruiz have all joined Napoli without that much hype. These player may prove very shrewd signings, but Ancelotti has to do it with almost the same eleven that Sarri managed last season. Also the fact that their manager is someone who’s won the League in England, Italy and Germany will help the Napoli players mentally. After all, it was this steely mentality that helped them achieve what they achieved last season.
Full strength XI (In my opinion) (4-3-3): Meret; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam; Allan, Zielinski, Hamsik; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne