Words: Joseph Ciraco
Italian football has had a tough time over the last decade. As the rest of the European leagues built their brands both on and off the pitch, Serie A was left languishing.
Gone are the days when Serie A could boast that it was the best league in the world. Juventus’ six-year dynasty, though impressive, showed the lack of parity in the league. Outside of the Bianconeri, Italian clubs have largely disappointed in Europe, though Napoli showed what they could do last season, albeit going out to Real Madrid in the Last 16.
As we head into the 2017-18 season, major changes are setting up this newest round of Italy’s top flight to be the best in years.
Milan have made headlines worldwide going on a €300m spending spree. They have brought in 10 new players, overhauling their squad and adding a significant amount of talent. For the first time in five years, the Rossoneri could challenge for the Scudetto, especially after signing arguably the best defender in the world, Leonardo Bonucci, right from under their noses of the champions.
Napoli have largely remained unchanged and at this point look to be Juventus’s biggest challengers at the top of the table. Maurizio Sarri has a young squad which can score at will playing in his free-flowing system.
Roma have sold some key players, including Antonio Rudiger and Mohamed Salah, but the Giallorossi have made some good moves to replace their lost players thanks to one of the world’s best sporting directors: Monchi.
Inter haven’t made many changes on the pitch, but they’ve added depth and perhaps most importantly they have stability on the bench with Luciano Spalletti coming on board. Inter are a very talented team, and with the guidance of Spalletti could be a threat for a Champions League spot.
Despite the gap at the top shrinking significantly, Juventus are still the team to beat. They have added dynamic wingers and a quality midfielder in Blaise Matuidi. Even without Bonucci, their defence is still formidable with Gigi Buffon between the sticks. Last weekend’s Supercoppa loss to Lazio showed Juventus that they are mortal, and that anything can happen. With more thrilling finishes like that 3-2 Final, neutrals will be flocking back to Italian football.
Serie A was the highest scoring league in the top five European leagues last year with 2.95 goals per game. With the Milan teams resurgent, expect the Scudetto race to go down to the wire in what will be likely be the most entertaining season since the pre-Calciopoli days.