Serie A could be the most entertaining league in Europe


Cristiano Ronaldo will be the main attraction in Serie A this season (photo credit: Juventus).

Serie A could be the most entertaining league in Europe

by Ryan Conway

Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo will be the headliners in Serie A this season, but there are plenty of fine supporting acts to make for a compelling title race in Italy. Napoli are now managed by former AC Milan and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti and while they lost Jorginho to Chelsea they strengthened their midfield with Simone Verdi from Bologna and Fabian Ruiz from Real Betis.

Meanwhile, Roma used the funds accumulated from the sales of Alisson to Liverpool and Radja Nainggolan’s move to Inter Milan to strengthen their squad in hopes of a title charge. Steven Nzonzi, Javier Pastore, Gregorie Defrel and Dutch starlet Justin Kluivert moved to Rome to bolster their attacking threat.

Juve recently released long-time midfielder Claudio Marchisio but have adequate cover in Emre Can who signed from Liverpool on a free transfer. The Old Lady will not feel the same with Gianluigi Buffon tending goal. However, the addition of Ronaldo will cushion the blow for the winners of seven Serie A titles on the spin.

The Italian champions square off against perhaps their main title contenders, Napoli, late in September. The clash will provide an early insight into how both sides are adapting to their new personnel and identities.

Ancelotti has a tougher start to life as Partenopei Gil Azzuri get their campaign underway against Lazio before facing former club AC Milan at home. Napoli led the league for the majority of the campaign before indifferent form in March and April saw them surrender the summit to Juve.

Both Milan clubs have had differing fortunes during the summer. AC are facing a ban from European competition after breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. However, their loan deals for Gonzalo Higuain, which was part of a transfer which sent Leonardo Bonucci back to Juventus, and Tiemoue Bakayoko, who will want to rebound after a poor maiden season for Chelsea, could see them push for Champions League football. Pepe Reina was also signed on a free transfer.

Gennaro Gattuso’s side finished sixth last season and were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of the Europa League by Arsenal. The seven-time European Cup winners are famously impatient with their managers, the fiery Italian will need to provide evidence that the team are moving in the right direction or risk losing his job.

Inter have been courting Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric as they ramp up plans to capture their first league title since the 2009/10 campaign. The Nerazzurri managed to retain their key players while adding Nainggolan and defensive reinforcements in Federico Dimarco, Sime Vrsaljko, Stefan de Vrij and Kwadwo Asamoah.

Luciano Spalletti’s side clinched Champions League football on the last day of the season in controversial fashion. De Vrij’s last performance for Lazio raised ethical questions as he had already agreed to sign for Inter before his subpar showing in a 3-2 Lazio defeat. As a result, the 2000 Serie A winners dropped to fifth and will be playing on Thursday nights. A case of when it rains it pours.

Spalletti’s side are a hipster choice to upset the apple cart and lift their first league crown in nine seasons. The former Roma manager still vaunts Croatian winger Ivan Perisic and Argentina forward Mauro Icardi – who will have had the benefit of fresh legs having not been selected in Jorge Sampaoli’s World Cup squad.

The feel-good story of the league will be Parma.

Declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie D in 2015 the 1999 UEFA Cup finalists clawed their way back into Italy’s top division after three straight promotions. Their new kits have drawn the love people on social media and their history as a great attacking club will make them all the easier to root for.

Crocitai were unable to spend heavily during the transfer window but a plethora of free transfers and small fee signings ensure they go into their first Serie A season since 2014/15 with a squad depth which will be required if they are to survive.

Italian football has suffered from a poor reputation in recent years. The league will have more eyes on it this campaign in no small part due to the inclusion of Cristiano Ronaldo. Napoli, Inter and Roma complete what could be the most compelling title race in years. Wouldn’t it be something if Juventus’ domestic dominance came to an end in CR7’s maiden season?

Serie A

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