≡ Menu

Champions League Contenders

With Juventus, Inter and Napoli expected to battle it out for the Scudetto this season, who are the best of the rest in Serie A? Who will claim the fourth Champions League place and who will be playing in the Europa League in 2020-21?

We take a look at the Champions League contenders.

ATALANTA

Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini

Transfers in: Luis Muriel (Sevilla, £13.5m), Ruslan Malinovskyi (Genk, £12m), Marco Varnier (Cittadella, £4.5m), Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce, free), Aimone Cali (Montespaccato, free), Francis Gomez (Valle Tevere, free)

Transfers out: Franck Kessie (AC Milan, £21.6m), Bryan Cristante (AS Roma, £19m), Andrea Petagna (SPAL, £10.8m), Alberto Almici (Hellas Verona, £450,000), Davide Agazzi (AS Livorno, £360,000), Tommaso Tentoni (Imolese, free), Emanuele Suagher (Ternana, free), Gianluca Mancini (AS Roma, loan), Federico Mattiello (Cagliari, loan), Etrit Berisha (SPAL, loan), Luca Zanotti (Como, free), Francis Gomez (Florida, loan), Christian Mora (Cittadella, loan), Boris Radunovic (Hellas Verona, loan), Nicolas Haas (Frosinone, loan), Emmanuel Latte Lath (Imolese, loan), Lorenzo Migliorelli (Siena, loan), Gaetano Monachello (Pordenone, loan), Aimone Cali (Catanzaro, loan), Riccardo Gatti (AJ Fano, loan), Alberto Alari (Sudtirol, loan), Marco Tumminello (Pescara, loan), Gabriel Lunetta (Reggiana, loan), Marco D’Alessandro (SPAL, loan), Andreas Cornelius (Parma, loan), Anton Kresic (Padova, loan), Luca Vido (Crotone, loan), Stefano Mazzini (Pontedera, loan), Thomas Bolis (Piacenza, loan), Enrico Zanoni (AS Gubbio, loan), Roberto Taliento (Sudtirol, loan), Isnik Alimi (Imolese, loan), Fabio Eguelfi (Frosinone, loan), Alessandro Mallamo (Juve Stabia, loan), Alessandro Santopadre (Rimini, loan), Christian Capone (Perugia, loan), Stefano Marchetti (Renate, loan), Tiziano Tulissi (Modena, loan)

Last season: 3rd

Atalanta have a serious task on their hands to top the success of 2018-19 where a third-placed finish saw them secure Champions League football.

Even hosting games at Milan’s San Siro cannot take away the excitement for La Dea. Their finish made it easy to forget how slowly they started. Gasperini’s side won just one of their first eight games. The manager was left scratching his head.

But they rallied and went 13 games unbeaten in the last third of the season before flexing their growing muscles even further by eliminating eventual champions Juventus from the Coppa Italia. The Old Lady’s hopes of a domestic clean sweep were quickly in tatters.

Atalanta’s rivals have spent big, determined to bridge the gap to Juventus, the runaway train in 2018-19, and so matching, or even bettering, their finish last season would be nothing short of spectacular for Atalanta.

Luis Muriel is a smart piece of business and keeping Duvan Zapata feels significant, despite his age. The Champions League could soon dictate the entire campaign if a lightning strikes twice and they make a sluggish start to the season.

After hitting all the right notes last season, even Gasperini will be prepared to fall flat on a few in this campaign.

FIORENTINA

Manager: Vincenzo Montella

Transfers in: Erick Pulgar (Bologna, £9m), Aleksa Terzic (Red Star, £1.5m), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Sassuolo, £900,000), , Riccardo Baroni (Virtus Entella, £360,000), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich, free), Pol Lirola (Sassuolo, loan), Milan Badelj (Lazio, loan)

Transfers out: Vitor Hugo (Palmeiras, £5m), Christian Norgaard (Brentford, £3m), Jordan Veretout (AS Roma, loan), Riccardo Saponara (Genoa, loan), Jaime Baez (Cosenza, free), Simone Minelli (Teramo, free), Alban Lafont (Nantes, loan), Martin Grainciar (Sparta Prague, loan), Amidu Salifu (Al-Salmiya, loan), David Hancko (Sparta Prague, loan), Petko Hristov (Bisceglie, loan), Rafik Zekhnini (FC Twente, loan)

Last season: 16th

Now under new ownership, there is a renewed belief in Florence that La Viola can taste good times again.

Last season they flirted with relegation and a place in Serie B, only getting their act together and staying up by the finest of margins in the end. The fall-out was immense, under no circumstances was it to be tolerated again.

In came New York-based Rocco Commisso. But while it was out with the old and in with the new in the boardroom, in the dug-out an under-pressure Vincenzo Montella remained.

Montella is under the spotlight like few of his colleagues before a single ball has been kicked. Kevin-Prince Boateng has arrived from Sassuolo and Franck Ribery has come in on a free after leaving Bayern Munich. Neither will accept mediocrity at a club with a proud history in European competitions.

New arrivals represent real quality, Erick Pulgar one of the gems of their summer window. Keeping hold of Federico Chiesa is another vital piece of the jigsaw with hopes of challenging for a European spot this season.

And given the tools at their disposal now, the pressure falls with Montella to build a side capable of standing strong from start to finish.

LAZIO

Manager: Simone Inzaghi

Transfers in: Manuel Lazzari (SPAL, £10m), Denis Vavro (FC Copenhagen, £9.5m), Pedro Neto (Braga, £7.65m), Bruno Jordao (Braga, £4m), Jony (Malaga, £1.8m), Sofian Kiyine (Chievo Verona, £675,000), Bobby Adekanye (Liverpool U23, free)

Transfers out: Pedro Neto (Wolves, £16.5m), Bruno Jordao (Wolves, £8m), Alessandro Murgia (SPAL, £3.15m), Mattia Sprocati (Parma, £2m), Lorenzo Filippini (AS Gubbio, free), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina, loan), Marius Adamonis (Catanzao, loan), Abukar Mohamed (Karpaty, loan), Sofian Kiyine (Salernitana, loan), Davide Di Gennaro (Juve Stabia, loan), Simone Palombi (Cremonese, loan), Cristiano Lambardi (Salernitana, loan), Andreas Karo (Salernitana, loan), Fabio Maistro (Salernitana, loan), Alessandro Rossi (Juve Stabia, loan)

Last season: 8th

In the end it was depth that cost Lazio last season. Cup competitions soon took on greater significance and their faith in those tournaments paid off come May when they went on to lift the Coppa Italia.

But an eighth-placed finish domestically left fans longing for more from a side that has ambitions to gatecrash an ever competitive top four.

Transfer activity has remained largely modest when put into context alongside rivals such as Juventus, Inter, and of course, Roma.

Manchester United target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic remains in the Italian capital and that is as good a piece a business as any new signing. Simone Inzaghi’s side will believe they can get closer to those first four spots but face a tough task given Inter, Juventus and Napoli all expect to be challenging for the title.

One or two more faces before the transfer window closes on September 2 could change expectations for better or worse.

Failure to add at least one more high-quality attacker and Lazio could find themselves on the outside looking in once more when it comes to the top four.

MILAN

Manager: Marco Giampaolo

Transfers in: Rafael Leao (Lille, £22.5m), Franck Kessie (Atalanta, £21.6m), Theo Hernandez (Real Madrid, £18m), Ismael Bennacer (Empoli, £14.4m), Leo Duarte (Flamengo, £10m), Rade Krunic (Empoli, £7.2m)

Transfers out: Patrick Cutrone (Wolves, £17m), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo, £9m), Gustavo Gomez (Palmeiras, £4m), Stefan Simic (Hajduk Split, £450,000), Cristian Zapata (Genoa, free), Andres Llamas (Pistoiese, free), Tommaso Pobega (Pordenone, loan), Ismet Sinani (Sicula Leonzio, loan), Alessandro Plizzari (AS Livorno, loan)

Last season: 5th

The heartache remains raw from last season, missing out on the top four on the final day – and with it Champions League football – to bitter rivals Inter.

Add to that supporters have had to watch Conte’s side splash the cash while their own boss, Giampaolo, has had to be much more savvy in the market.

After five games as Brescia boss Giampaolo went AWOL. He did not show up for training, his phone was off and the club had no way of tracking him down. The pressure had got to him – that simply cannot afford to happen at a club the size of Milan.

Former boss Genaro Gattuso was often criticised for his inability to mix up his tactics and similar grievances have been voices about Giampaolo during his time as Sampdoria boss. But signings and the choice of manager suggest the club are moving in the right direction.

Functional, if rather unspectacular, players have arrived in the shape of Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer and Rade Krunic and all will play a role in the manager’s preferred 4-3-1-2 formation.

The sale of Patrick Cutrone to Wolves has ramped up the pressure on striker Krzysztof Piatek, but after summers where they spent money like they were playing Monopoly, common sense has returned as Milan look to challenge the top order without the accountant working treble time.

ROMA

Manager: Paulo Fonseca

Transfers in: Leonardo Spinazzola (Juventus, £27m), Pau Lopez (Real Betis, £21m), Amadou Diawara (Napoli, £19m), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta, £19m), Mert Cetin (Genclerbirligi, £2.7m), Gianluca Mancini (Atalanta, loan), Jordan Veretout (Fiorentina, loan)

Transfers out: Kostas Manolas (Napoli, £32m), Luca Pellegrini (Juventus, £20m), Stephan El Shaarawy (SH Shenhua, £14.4m), Gerson (Flamengo, £11m), Ivan Marcano (FC Porto, £2.7m), Ezequiel Ponce (Spartak Moscow, £2.7m), Andrea Romagnoli (Spartak 2, £1.8m), Daniele Verde (AEK Athens, £900,000), Elio Capradossi (Spezia, £900,000), Christian D’Urso (Cittadella, £450,000), Daniele de Rossi (Boca Juniors, free), Lorenzo Crisanto (Alessandria, free), Steven Nzonzi (Galatasaray, loan), Rick Karsdorp (Feyenoord, loan), Lorenzo Valeau (Imolese, loan)

Last season: 6th

Bleak. That is the word best used to describe how it all ended last season in the Italian capital.

While Lazio toasted silverware having won the Coppa Italia, Roma had far bigger issues to contend with as manager Eusebio Di Francesco – the man who took the club to the Champions League semi-finals the previous season – and technical director Monchi shipped out.

Club legend Daniele de Rossi was also out, opting to continue his career at Boca Juniors after Roma failed to offer him terms to stay, to the astonishment of supporters.

But things are beginning to look up for The Giallorossi under former Shakhtar Donestk boss Paulo Fonseca.

The side is bursting at the seems with some of Italy’s brightest young talents in Nicolo Zaniolo, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Justin Kluivert, Cengiz Under, Bryan Cristante, and Patrik Schick.

Few have yet to fulfil their potential but very few represent anything close to being unproven as the club eye a top four finish alongside the likes of Juventus, Inter and Napoli.

Edin Dzeko has agreed new terms and so any fears of being left light in attack have quickly disappeared. Pressure now lands at the door of Fonseca to take this talented group – who added Jordan Veretout, Amadou Diawara, Gianluca Mancini and Leonardo Spinazzola – back to the Champions League.

Expected Final Posistions
Champions League – Roma
Europa League: Milan. Fiorentina, Lazio