Serie A 2019/20 Season Preview: Title Contenders, European Hopefuls, Promoted Sides & More
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:07

Serie A 2019/20 Season Preview: Title Contenders, European Hopefuls, Promoted Sides & More

Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:07

Serie A 2019/20 Season Preview: Title Contenders, European Hopefuls, Promoted Sides & More
After another long summer dominated by transfer rumours and international football, the Serie A is finally back this weekend and it looks likely to be one of the most exciting seasons yet. 
Juventus, of course, start as favourites, but will be looking over their shoulders at Napoli and Inter, who are now making world-class signings of their own. The top four race is also expected to be tight, with as many as five teams all competing for a Champions League place. 
So, with the 2019/20 season fast approaching, here is a preview of what lies ahead. 

Title Contenders​
​It was business as usual at the Allianz Stadium last season, with ​Juventus easily trumping their nearest rivals to secure an eighth consecutive Scudetto. Of course, when you dominate that easily and for so long, simply winning isnt enough.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for Massimiliano Allegri for much of the latter half of 2018/19, especially after Juventus exit from the ​Champions League – so there was little surprise when Allegri left the club to make way for the more attack-minded Maurizio Sarri. 
La Vecchia Signora have bought big and smart this summer. Conscious of their ageing defence, Juventus splashed the cash on Mathijs de Ligt, who proved himself to be one of the best centre-backs in Europe last season, while fellow centre-back Merih Demiral was brought in after an impressive spell with Sassuolo. They also secured the signatures of Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot following the expiry of their contracts at their previous clubs.
With a new, exciting manager and a strengthened squad, it looks more than possible that Juventus will once again be lifting the Serie A trophy come May. 
Under the stewardship of Luciano Spalletti, ​Inter had finally found some consistency, finishing in the Champions League places for the last couple of seasons. The Inter hierarchy, however, felt perhaps that they had outgrown Spalletti and – with the intent of re-establishing themselves as one of Europes top sides – replaced him with Antonio Conte.
Inter, like Juventus, have bought big and smart. The signing of ​Romelu Lukaku was a coup for the club, while also bringing in one of the worlds best defenders in Diego Godín. I Nerazzurri also signed Nicolò Barella, the young midfielder one to keep an eye on this season. 
The departure of Ivan Perišić and the fact that Mauro Icardi is still on their books are the only negatives in what has been a good summer for Inter. They certainly arent expecting to win the title this season but they will be looking to put the pressure on Juventus. 
The arrival of Carlo Ancelotti at the Stadio San Paolo last season didnt really change much. ​Napoli never really looked like winning the title, neither did they look like dropping out of the top four. 
Still, Ancelottis track record and Napolis strengthening of their squad is a reason for optimism. The defensive pairing of Kostas Manolas and Kalidou Koulibaly will be the stuff of nightmares for strikers next season, while the imminent arrival of Hirving Lozano adds more depth to their already deadly attack.  
Napoli, of course, are not the favourites for the Scudetto but if theres anyone that can put an end to Juventus domination this season, itll be them. 

European Hopefuls
Atalantas remarkable rise from mid-table nobodies to a Champions League side will be a story fondly remembered by calcio fans for years to come. Indeed, Gian Piero Gasperini has transformed La Dea into a team feared by all in ​Serie A.
For once, Atalanta have managed to keep hold of their best players, while also adding more quality to their squad. It will still be a difficult task for them to repeat last seasons exploits, especially with the burden of the Champions League, but theres no reason why they cant do it.
AC Milan
The Rossoneri were agonisingly close to finishing in a Champions League spot last season, missing out by just a single point in the end. It wouldnt have mattered anyway though, as a court ruling was them thrown out of European competition for violating FFP regulations. 
Despite the departure of Gennaro Gattuso, who performed well last year considering the circumstances, its been a decent summer for Milan – signing young, exciting players such as Rafael Leão and Theo Hernandez. With this in mind, alongside the fact they wont have to play midweek anymore, Milan fans will be hoping they can break into the top four next season. 
James Pallottas policy of selling Romas star players backfired on them last season, with the Giallorossi finishing sixth and missing out on the Champions League entirely just one year after reaching the semi-final in that competition. 
Its hardly been an inspiring summer. The appointment of Paulo Fonesca was underwhelming, while the sales of Kostas Manolas and Stephan El Shaaraway – two of the few Roma players who actually performed well last season – bode poorly. The future looks bleak for Roma, and theyll be lucky if they get a Champions League place this season. 
Winning the Coppa Italia was the only highlight in a disappointing season for Le Aquile, finishing eighth in a season where they really shouldve been pushing for the top four.  
Theres reason for Lazio fans to be positive though. Theyve retained the services of Sergej Milinković-Savić after a summer of speculation while making cheap, clever signings such as Manuel Lazzari, Jony and Denis Vavro. If Lazio can rediscover their goalscoring touch, this might just be the season where they reach the Champions League. 

Promoted Sides
Back in Serie A for the first time since 2011, Brescia look like a side capable of establishing themselves in the top flight for years to come. As well as pulling off a coup by bringing Mario Balotelli back to his hometown, theyve also retained prospect Sandro Tonali and Serie B top scorer Alfredo Donnarumma. 
Former Leyton Orient manager Fabio Liverani led Lecce to back-to-back promotions to secure a place in Serie A for the first time in eight years. Theyve bolstered their squad, but Lecce will likely endure a difficult season as they look to avoid relegation. 
Hellas Verona
Hellas Verona underwhelmed in Serie B despite having one of the strongest sides in the division, finishing fifth. They won promotion through the play-offs though, and replaced the coach who got them there with Ivan Jurić, a man who was sacked three times by the same club in the space of two years. 

10 Notable Transfers​
Aaron Ramsey - Arsenal to Juventus (free transfer)
Diego Godín - Atlético Madrid to Internazionale (free transfer)
​Gianluigi Buffon - Paris Saint-Germain to Juventus (free transfer)
Kostas Manolas - Roma to Napoli (€34m)
Luis Muriel - Sevilla to Atalanta (€18m)
Mario Balotelli - Marseille to Brescia (free transfer)
Mathijs de Ligt - Ajax to Juventus (€75m)
Nicolò Barella - Cagliari to Internazionale (loan with obligation to buy)
Romelu Lukaku - Manchester United to Internazionale (€65m)
Theo Hernandez - Real Madrid to AC Milan (€20m)

Juventus sealing their ninth consecutive Scudetto almost feels inevitable. While Napoli and Internazionale are now capable of putting more pressure on Juventus, it is the Turin side who will likely come out on top.
Atalanta, Roma, Milan, Lazio and Torino should all be competing for fourth spot and given the lack of difference in quality between those five sides, its tough to predict. 
Lecce and Hellas Verona will find it difficult to stay up this season, while Udinese, Genoa, SPAL and Brescia may also find themselves battling relegation.