It would be a gross understatement to say that Juventus have been the class of the Serie A in recent history. Juve have won five straight titles and cruised to the finish line last year, sewing up the trophy with three fixtures still to be played and finishing the year with a league-leading +58 goal differential.
The big squads may still make a few moves in the transfer market in the weeks to come, but we already know enough to look ahead to next season.
Surprise! Juve are the mighty favorite.
Juventus will be looking for their sixth title in row. The big question facing the team right now is whether Paul Pogba will stay with the club or accept one of the (overly) generous offers put forward by Manchester United and Real Madrid.
While Pogba’s presence could be make or break in the Champions League, it won’t make a difference domestically. Juve are head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in the Serie A. They showed that last year by taking 73 of the final 75 points on offer.
Juve only gave up 20 goals (in 38 matches) all of last season. Then they went and signed full-back Dani Alves from Barcelona. Alves will join a defensive unit that the Italian national team took, in toto, to the 2016 Euro (Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini). Good luck scoring on Juventus this year.
The Serie A has become too easy for this team. It’s real ambitions lie in Europe.
For a third consecutive season, Roma enter the year as the second favorite. No one in their right mind really thinks this team can seriously challenge Juventus, though. They’ve looked on par with Juve at points, but can never sustain that level of play. Meanwhile, Juve seem to only get stronger as seasons progress.
Is that any surprise, given that Roma are still giving significant playing time to the aging Francesco Totti (39) and Daniele De Rossi (32)? They’ll have a tough time improving on their 80 points (23-11-4) from last year.
Whether he goes to Juventus, Arsenal, or elsewhere, Napoli are likely to lose last year’s Serie A scoring leader Gonzalo Higuain, whose 36 tallies led Napoli to an impressive runner-up finish last year (82 pts, +48 goal differential). If the Argentinean striker finds himself in new colors this season, Napoli’s chances at winning the Scudetto will depart with him.
Unlike Roma, Napoli have played Juventus very tough of late, but their form inexplicably drops against lesser competition. If Higuain stays and the team can increase its consistency on a week to week basis, they should be Juve’s biggest challenger once again.
Inter are tired of being in the shadows, but if they want to emerge from the umbra of Juventus and Roma, they’ll need to find a way to score more goals. A strong defense led them to a fourth-place finish last year (67 pts, 50 goals-for, 38 goals-against), but when Mauro Icardi (16 goals) doesn’t find the net, they struggle to get on the board. No one else on the team had more than seven goals in Serie A play last year.
AC Milan only find themselves fifth in the odds because of their name and their history. They ended last year seventh in the table with just 57 points and a +6 goal differential. This team has no identity and no idea where it’s headed. Case in point: Inter have cycled through five coaches over the last three seasons.
(Photo Credit: Muhammad Ashiq (CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons].)
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