Another season of Italian football is upon us and the attention will now turn from this summer’s engrossing Mercato to the storylines that will unfold in the coming months.
The league has seen thirteen managerial changes this offseason, making for enthralling tactical battles and plenty of exciting matches. There is little certainty for the traditional heavyweights which will offer teams like Atalanta and Lazio a chance to shine.
Here is a look at our boldest predictions for the upcoming Serie A season:
- Juventus to reclaim the Scudetto
Last season marked the end of Juventus’ 9-year title dominance as the Bianconeri finished fourth. Amidst a season of COVID-19 absences, an inexperienced manager, and issues on and off the pitch, 2020/21 was the club’s worst season in ten years. However, the reappointment of Massimiliano Allegri was the club’s first step to renewing its domestic dominance.
Juventus have added promising Brazilian attacker Kaio Jorge to their lineup and are expected to bolster their midfield before this summer’s Mercato ends. Their only departure is veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who will undoubtedly be a loss for their dressing room.
In terms of their competition, Atalanta may be the only worthy challenger to Juventus. This summer saw Inter Milan lose two key players in Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi on top of manager Antonio Conte, who was fired only days after they won last year’s Scudetto. Napoli has failed to find consistency in the past years, and they will have to start from scratch with new coach Luciano Spalletti. AC Milan may have been the highest spending Italian club during the Mercato, but a majority of these funds went towards keeping loan players from last year. Overall, the Rossoneri look weaker than last season and lack the depth to make a title challenge, especially with the losses of Hakan Calhanaglu and Gianluigi Donnarumma. Mourinho’s arrival to Roma will likely be nothing more than a headline-grabber at best. On top of this, Atalanta has had to replace many first-team players and will need to adapt their tactics accordingly.
Juventus will have the hunger and talent this season to renew their dominance and put last year’s abysmal season behind them. It is very unlikely that any other club has the depth and consistency to take the title over Juventus this season.
- Inter will fail to replicate last season’s success
Inter Milan has been a source for some of Italy’s most negative sporting headlines in recent history. Whether it be their rapid hiring and firing of managers to their careless spending sprees that continually fail to produce results, the club continues to attract controversy year after year. It seemed as though the Nerazzuri’s struggles would end after last season’s Scudetto victory but it only took the club two days for the club to cloud their title celebrations with another controversy.
Coach Antonio Conte was fired only days after winning the team’s first trophy in over ten years. It was an expected sack as the 51-year-old manager threatened to leave last year because he was not being supported by the club’s owners adequately. Despite the off-field drama, Conte was able to create a unified squad and lead them to their first Serie A title in eleven years.
Inter’s owners, Suning Holdings Group, have been trying to sell the club to new owners but have had no success so far. Ironically, Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, which is also owned by Suning, folded after winning a league title earlier this year. Given the club’s financial problems, every player has a price. Their manager was the first to leave, followed by many key players from the title-winning team, including Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi.
After Conte’s departure, the club was quick to secure Simeone Inzaghi as their coach. During his five seasons at Lazio, he won 134 league matches and the 2020 Coppa Italia. The club only finished in a Champions League position once, which can be accredited to the team overly relying on Ciro Immobile for goals. Lukaku could have been Inter’s equivalent of Immobile, but his departure will force Inzaghi and his team to be more clinical in the final third of the pitch.
With all the problems surrounding the Nerazzurri both on and off the field, their goal should be a top-four finish this season. Expect a fall from grace for Inter Milan this year.
- Jose Mourinho’s return to Serie A will fall short of expectations
“The Special One” may be one of the greatest managers in football history but the last few years have been nothing short of mediocre for the Portuguese manager. After high-profile sacks at Chelsea and Manchester United, Mourinho failed to redeem his reputation at Tottenham, lasting only 17 months in charge.
It is telling enough to see Mourinho going to a mid-table Serie A side such as Roma as opposed to going to a top club. AS Roma may be one of the most significant clubs in Italian football history, yet the Giallorossi is barely a top-four competitor with their current squad. They cannot even say they are the better Roman team in Serie A.
It looks unlikely that there will be a fairytale ending between Roma and Mourinho. Judging by his recent history, a fifth to seventh-place finish seems likely for the Romans, who should be more than satisfied with Europa League qualification.
- Sampdoria will be unexpected relegation candidates
The Blucerchiati finished ninth place during the 2021/22 season, which was a positive result considering how limited their squad was. Under coach Claudio Ranieri, the team played a 4-4-2 formation that would often defend deep and emphasize wing play. Although Ranieri’s side was able to defeat some of Serie A’s stronger teams, they struggled to find consistency, dropping as low as fifteenth.
The 2019/20 season was nothing short of tumultuous for Sampdoria. The club was destined for relegation under manager Eusebio Di Francesco, who won only 1 out of 7 games before being sacked. The appointment of Claudio Ranieri in October 2019 was enough to salvage a fifteenth-place finish for the club.
At the end of the last season, Ranieri and Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero could not agree on a contract extension, leading the club to sign Roberto D’Aversa as their new coach.
Sampdoria’s squad looks largely unchanged from last season and with the loss of Ranieri, they look destined to be in a similar situation to the 2019/20 season.
After a successful 4-year stint with Parma that saw D’Aversa take the Ducali from Serie C to Serie A, he was rehired in 2021 but won only 1 out of 23 matches. He was inevitably relieved of his position after dragging his side down to relegation. With D’Aversa at the helm, Sampdoria should be a surprise relegation contender this season.
- Cristiano Ronaldo to retain the Serie A Capocannoniere award
The Portuguese forward will turn 37 this season and has finished each of his three seasons at Juventus as the club’s top scorer. Last season he won the Serie A Golden Boot with 29 goals and it seems likely that Ronaldo will repeat this feat in the coming campaign.
Even after a disappointing Euros run with Portugal, Ronaldo still has the drive and hunger to be the best. Juventus’ superiority over the league will guarantee he has the chance to win the Capocannoniere award again. The only thing stopping him at his age is injuries.
The departure of Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea excludes Ronaldo’s biggest competitor in this season’s scoring race. With a lack of competition amongst Serie A in both teams and scorers, expect the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to top the scoring charts this season.