Serie A Season Preview: Now Or Never For Napoli’s Scudetto Dream5 min read
Easy to see why Renato Sanches would ‘like it’ at AC Milan next season 👀 pic.twitter.com/yS5dzGgAK5
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 26, 2017
How do you go about stopping an utterly dominant Juventus side winning their seventh successive league title? Well, you could do worse than nicking one of their best players of the last decade, who also happens to be a world-class ball-playing centre-back. That’s exactly what AC Milan have done in convincing Leonardo Bonucci to swap the J-Stadium for the San Siro.
But let’s not beat around the bush: Milan’s summer transfer activity won’t necessarily guarantee instant success. As new-money clubs such as PSG and Manchester City have found, it takes time to gel players together, even if they’re high-quality players. Milan managed to keep hold of highly-rated goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, and have added quality and potential all over the pitch in Bonucci, Ricardo Rodríguez Mateo Musacchio, Hakan Calhanoglu, Franck Kessié, André Silva. They will undoubtedly improve on last season’s 6th place finish and will relish being back in Europe. They should have no problem getting through the Europea League qualifying rounds, and with the competition not looking too threatening, they are a very generous 8/1 price to go all the way in Europe. It’s not beyond a squad who have already shown that they are capable of beating the best teams in Serie A, and will have a good blend of youthful dynamism and experience.
New number. New challenge.
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 10, 2017
But how will Juve cope with the loss of Bonucci? They looked very flat in the Supercopa De Italia on the weekend, and lost out in the dying minutes despite a spirited second-half comeback. Forward Paolo Dybala, who scored twice in that match, will form part of a potent forward line, that will include summer signings Federico Bernardeschi & Douglas Costa. Along with proven Serie A marksman Gonzalo Higuain, and another great addition – midfielder Blase Matuidi – Juve’s attack should be a more unpredictable this term. However, I feel that the blow of having lost Bonucci and Dani Alves, on top of the crushing defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final will have a big psychological effect on Allegri’s squad. If there was a never a time for them to be dethroned as Italy’s dominant side, it is now.
Napoli's attacking quartet in Serie A 2016/17:
72 goals ⚽️
40 assists 🅰️
Unbelievable numbers. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/JXTRKSCbA0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 28, 2017
One of the teams that will pose a huge threat to the Bianconeri are Napoli. Mauricio Sarri’s side finished in third place, a point behind runners-up AS Roma and five points behind Juve. If it weren’t for the long-term injury that Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik suffered, Napoli could have lasted the distance in the title race. As seen above, their front 4 were extremely productive and there’s nothing to suggest that this won’t be the case in the upcoming campaign. While both Juve and Roma will have to get used to influential players leaving – Roma have already sold Mohamed Salah and Antonio Rudiger – Napoli will be able to pick up from where they left off last season. I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that they will end the Old Lady’s dominance and win their first title since 1989-90. They are 5/1 to do so, which I think is a shade overpriced considering how good they looked last season and the ground they’ve made up on Juventus in the summer despite not kicking a ball.
AC Milan to win the Europa League
Napoli to win Serie A