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Serie A Preview: We Can Dethrone Juventus?

A new season in Serie A kicks off on Saturday and Serie A Tickets brings you the ultimate guide to all the teams.

Juventus are looking to continue their stranglehold on Italian football by landing a seventh consecutive league title, but they could have serious competition for the scudetto this year.

AC Milan are leading the charge after a summer of big spending, while there are also three new arrivals in the Italian top-flight.

ATALANTA

Last year the Bergamo side, coached by the brilliant Gian Piero Gasperini, finished 4th to earn European football for the first time since 1991. They’ve lost dynamic midfielder Franck Kessie and buccaneering right back Andrea Conti. But they kept hold of talismanic striker Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gomez.

Star Man

Little Argentine striker Gomez is a cult hero with his own dance and an abundance of tricks.

Verdict

The rigours of Europa League football will test the squad mentally and physically. For that reason a finish somewhere between 7th and 11th would be respectable.

BENEVENTO

From Campania, the same region as Napoli, the men in red and yellow reached Serie A for the first time via the play-offs. One of their emblems is a witch. Coach Marco Baroni said ‘for years they said the witch was cursed and didn’t want to go up to Serie B. Then we broke the spell. Now, in Serie A we will have to run twice as much as the others’

Star Man

Lazio midfielder Danilo Cataldi, 23, has been doing the rounds as a loan ranger in recent years as the Rome club seek to give him experience. His blossoming talent and personality could be a boost to Benevento.

Verdict

She’ll make new friends and cause an upset or two, but the witch will fly straight back down to B.

BOLOGNA

The Rossoblu had a horrible campaign in 2016/17. Key members, including striker Mattia Destro, looked shorn of confidence and there were precious few thrills or memorable moments. Coached by AC Milan and Italy legend Roberto Donadoni, they do at least have exciting talent in the form of Simone Verdi, Adam Masina and Federico Di Francesco.

Star Man

Signed from Milan to add energy and hunger to a side which often looks like it has just woken from a coma, midfielder Andrea Poli can play as a box-to-boxer or number 10.

Verdict

Survival. Anything else will be a bonus.

CAGLIARI

Tipped by many to struggle, the Sardinians finished an impressive 11th last season. Popular Portuguese centre back Bruno Alves has left for Rangers, but Joao Pedro and Marco Borriello remain. They will play in a new temporary stadium (the Sardegna Arena) while their traditional home, the Sant’Elia, is rebuilt.

Star Man

Marco Borriello, much-travelled veteran striker scored 16 league goals last season. The motivated 35-year-old wants to earn a surprise recall to the Italy World Cup squad. Rastelli and the directors must make sure the forward doesn’t leave before 31st August.

Verdict

A good squad with some wise older heads and fine coach (Massimo Rastelli) should bring another mid-table finish.

CHIEVO

Around 15 years ago they were the miracle of Italian football. Now coach Rolando Maran’s outfit are an inoffensive, slightly dull side that wouldn’t be hugely missed if they dropped into B. Raiding full back Fabrizio Cacciatore and winger Valter Birsa do their best to lift the monotony.

Star Man

The 31-year-old Birsa can win matches with individual brilliance. Had a brief spell at Milan but couldn’t make an impact, now the king of Chievo.

Verdict

Should be safe, but not enough to challenge for Europe.

CROTONE

The Calabrians saved themselves on the last day of the season. Their home crowd at the passionate, compact Ezio Scida stadium is one of the best in the league. Coach Davide Nicola, a voracious reader of psychology, promised to cycle from Crotone to his home city Turin if his side stayed up last season. The players did their part and he kept his promise.

Star Man

Former Inter youth goalkeeper Alex Cordaz is captain of the Sharks, and saved his side on numerous occasions last season. Will be busy.

Verdict

Last year’s star forward Diego Falcinelli has returned to parent club Sassuolo. That’s a huge loss, so another relegation scrap lies ahead for this likeable club.

FIORENTINA

The summer started in disastrous manner as skipper Gonzalo Rodriguez, much-vaunted attacker Federico Bernardeschi and midfield maestro Borja Valero departed. Centre forward Nikola Kalinic is desperate to jump ship. But new coach Stefano Pioli now has a few reasons to smile, particularly the arrival of Diego Simeone’s son Giovanni, a gutsy striker. But tension between fans and the owners is palpable and enthusiasm is in short supply.

Star Man

Federico Chiesa, son of calcio legend Enrico, provided rare glimmers of hope amid last season’s gloom. The 19-year-old is more powerful than his father was but still raw.

Verdict

If it clicks under Pioli, they could be in the fight for the Europa League places.

GENOA

Another team that had a 2016/17 to delete from the archives. The Rossoblu scrambled to safety at the death. In April coach Ivan Juric broke down in tears in a press conference after defeat to Chievo. When he learned that Giovanni Simeone was being sold to Fiorentina the waterworks may have started again. But new boys Andrea Bertolacci and scrappy striker Gianluca Lapadula will add quality.

Star Man

Bertolacci is an idol to fans. This is the attacking midfielder’s second spell with Genoa, signed on loan from Milan where injuries hampered him. His target is a place in the World Cup squad so he will give everything for the Grifone.

Verdict

Should stay up, but it could be another stressful, slog of a season.

HELLAS VERONA

Back in the top flight after a year in Serie B, the 1984 champions garnered headlines in the summer thanks to Antonio Cassano. The former Bari, Roma and Real Madrid fantasista joined Verona to great fanfare, retired, reversed his decision in an emotional press conference, then after a rethink left the club. Away from the Cassano chaos, winger Alessio Cerci signed and is hungry to get his career back on track.

Star Man

Another of the goal-den oldies in Serie A, Giampaolo Pazzini (33) will be responsible for shooting Verona to safety.

Verdict

It’s always tough for teams playing away to Hellas, and that should help them maintain their Serie A status. Just.

INTER MILAN

While neighbours Milan have been throwing money around like madmen, Inter have been less ostentatious. Charismatic, intense former Roma and Zenit chief Luciano Spalletti is new coach. He has recruited silky Spanish playmaker Borja Valero, tidy Uruguayan midfielder Matias Vecino and promising Slovakian centre back Milan Skriniar. The attention-grabbing shopping of their city cousins might suit Spalletti’s quiet revolution.

Star Man

The attack, particularly skipper Mauro Icardi, will always score goals. But new boy Skriniar, already popular thanks to his performances in friendlies, can become a much needed leader of the defence.

Verdict

A competitive squad combined with Spalletti’s worldly-wise ways and a pinch of luck could see Inter sneak into fourth or third.

JUVENTUS

They are still cursing their humiliation in the Champions League final and are a year older and creakier (especially the defence). Then there’s the painful exit of influential libero Leonardo Bonucci.

But don’t pity Juventus. Massimiliano Allegri has restocked well. Exciting inside forward Federico Bernardeschi joined from Fiorentina. Fellow newcomer Douglas Costa shone in the Super Cup against Lazio. Ex-Milan full back Mattia De Sciglio replaces Dani Alves (insert your own punchline). Wojciech Szczesny and French powerhouse Blaise Matuidi also arrived.

Star Man

He now wears the No 10 shirt once graced by Platini, Baggio and Del Piero. Paulo Dybala has to improve his form on the road. If he can impose himself outside Turin, he can be the difference.

Verdict

It doesn’t matter who their rivals buy, this Juve group is still the best in the land and likely to win a seventh consecutive scudetto. Although it might be a touch closer this season.

LAZIO

Atalanta stole their thunder as revelation in 2016/17, but the Roman club outperformed expectations. Coach Simone Inzaghi, brother of Pippo, showed tactical intelligence and a cool temperament under pressure to seal 5th place and a Coppa Italia final spot. He lost classy skipper Lucas Biglia to Milan and quicksilver forward Keita Balde is also heading out, but the Super Cup victory over Juventus was the latest feather in Inzaghi Jnr’s cap.

Star Man

There aren’t many counter-attacking strikers better than Ciro Immobile in Europe. The blond Neapolitan is settled in Rome and is a decent bet to score over 20 goals again this season.

Verdict

Biglia’s absence will be felt in the long term and big spending by others could leave the Biancocelesti outside the top four, but a creditable fifth or sixth place is a possibility.

AC MILAN

The seven times European champions made global news with one of the biggest overhauls in recent memory. In came 10 new players, including Juve stalwart Leonardo Bonucci, Franck Kessie and sought-after Swiss full back Ricardo Rodriguez. And the spending isn’t over yet. The new Chinese owners needed help from US vulture fund Elliott and as a result failure to earn Champions League football could have serious repercussions. One look at Elliott’s dealings with the Argentine government will tell you enough.

Star Man

It can only be Bonucci. The velvet-footed centre back arrives as a ready-made leader and proven winner. But can the 30-year-old, who isn’t scared of sharing his opinions in the dressing room, steady the ship when the choppy waters come?

Verdict

Coach Vincenzo Montella needs to create a team spirit and blend new signings quickly. If he can, second place isn’t unthinkable, though third feels more likely. Outside the top four would be a catastrophe.

NAPOLI

This is Maurizio Sarri’s third campaign in the dugout, and there’s every indication his side will play the same possession-based, sumptuous football as the previous two. But it’s time to win. Many pundits and ex-pros believe it’s now or never to overtake Juventus and ignite the scudetto party in Naples. Even though pretty football stays in the memory and on Youtube, nothing beats a gleaming trophy.

Star Man

This team will never lack goals. Whether from dinky killer Dries Mertens, local hero Lorenzo Insigne or skipper Marek Hamsik. But the lapses in defence must be cut out. Senegalese centre back Kalidou Koulibaly has to be impeccable and marshal the rearguard this season.

Verdict

If Juve slip up it could be the title. But Napoli’s problem is that over the last half-decade the Bianconeri wobble but rarely fall. A commendable runners-up finish looks probable.

ROMA

The Giallorossi lost some important components over the summer. Luciano Spalletti left to coach Inter, Francesco Totti retired, Antonio Rudiger is at Chelsea, Leandro Paredes joined Zenit and winger Mohamed Salah flew to Anfield. But new boss Eusebio Di Francesco, who won the league as a Roma player in 2001, made Sassuolo into a force, and deserves time. In come midfielder Maxime Gonalons, striker Gregoire Defrel and ex-Manchester City wing back Aleksandar Kolarov.

Star Man

The never-say-die spirit, energy and marksmanship of Radja Nainggolan has never been more essential. The Belgian midfielder’s form is central to his side’s fortunes.

Verdict

A repetition of last season’s second place seems unlikely given all the changes. Fourth place would be a decent achievement for Di Francesco’s maiden campaign.

SAMPDORIA

On the plus side, they still have one of the best shirts in world football, and have an entertaining style under low-key boss Marco Giampaolo. But the crown jewels have gone, or are set to leave, like every summer. Milan Skriniar belongs to Inter now and Patrik Schick, the unpredictable young Czech striker, is probably headed in the same direction.

Star Man

Fabio Quagliarella is 34 but still capable of outrageous goals.

Verdict

Serie A status won’t be at risk, but they won’t be bothering the European places either.

SASSUOLO

With coach Eusebio Di Francesco and French forward Gregoire Defrel decamped to Roma, Sassuolo face an uncertain season. Cristian Bucchi is the new man in charge. They possess a few interesting players, including wideman Matteo Politano, last year’s saviour of Crotone Diego Falcinelli and the irrepressible Domenico Berardi.

Star Man

Berardi does things his way and can be the main attraction or a bit of a wally. In recent years the 23-year-old forward has learned to control his temper and remains one of calcio’s brightest prospects.

Verdict

Losing a father-figure in the dugout like Di Francesco will have an impact. The squad has enough experience and talent to stay safe, but mid-table respectability beckons

SPAL

Back in Serie A for the first time since 1968, the men from Ferrara, near Bologna, know they have a daunting task on their hands to stay in the top flight. The Serie B 2017 champions’ odds of survival are increased by striker Alberto Paloschi, once described as the new Pippi Inzaghi, and emerging midfielder Alberto Grassi, on loan from Napoli. Their club name is an acronym for Societa Polisportiva Ars et Labor.

Star Man

Goalkeeper Alex Meret will have a lot of opportunities to demonstrate his talent. The 20 year old, on loan from Udinese, has a long list of admirers, apparently including Juventus.

Verdict

A swift return to Serie B is certain for coach Leonardo Semplici’s men, unless they channel their inner Crotone.

TORINO

Used to life in the long shadow of Juve, fans don’t demand much apart from a team which gives everything. Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic made his name as a motivator, but his side’s poor defence means clean sheets are rarer than a kebab in a health food shop. Toro either lose or win and supporters embrace that. It’s never dull – ask Joe Hart.

Star Man

With his stooped posture and all-action style, Andrea Belotti is a throwback to old centre forwards. Milan were desperate for his signature, but Torino owner Urbano Cairo will only sell for €100m in one payment.

Verdict

With more horror defending anticipated, the best Torino can aim for is a Belotti-led fight for a Europa League slot.

UDINESE

Not a team to rush home from the office, school or even the dentist to watch. Zico’s former club were never really in danger of getting relegated or doing anything interesting last season. Wily coach Luigi Delneri has stabilised a team that were in trouble before he arrived in October 2016. To their credit, they have a fantastic stadium.

Star Man

Lean, skilful attacker Cyril Thereau is Udinese’s most creative player. He wears 77 as a tribute to his little brother’s hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

Verdict

The epitome of mid-table.

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