Inter and the seven sisters: who really has the advantage?
Coach: Simone Inzaghi
Key signings: Denzel Dumfries, Joaquin Correa, Edin Dzeko, Hakan Calhanoglu, Federico Dimarco
Key departures: Achraf Hakimi, Romelu Lukaku, Andrea Pinamonti
Losing the coach that brought you back to title glory, a striker that directly contributed to 80 goals in 95 games, plus a terrific wing-back like Hakimi, really could have weakened Inter’s squad.
However, the reigning champions went through some smart business, they registered the highest-ever profit for a Serie A side and kept the majority of players, most importantly their defenders.
The team seems capable of playing together with their eyes closed and still looks like a major threat for the title challenge. The first two outings showed that Inter’s potential is very much intact and Calhanoglu, Dzeko and Correa may look like the right replacements to have another shot to the title.
Coach: Stefano Pioli
Key signings: Junior Messias, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Alessandro Florenzi, Olivier Giroud, Mike Maignan
Key departures: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Hakan Calhanoglu, Diogo Dalot, Soualiho Meite
Milan’s great advantage this season is being one of two out of the seven title contenders to have given continuity by retaining Pioli as coach. The Rossoneri quietly made their moves in the transfer market and brought in several experienced players, of which Giroud above all.
Losing for free two of their best players like Donnarumma and Calhanoglu could be a great blow, but it looks like Maignan could be the Italian’s heir and Brahim Diaz could rightly fit in as the No. 10.
With a full score after two games and Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to make his return, Milan look to close the gap to city rivals Inter.
Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini
Key signings: Davide Zappacosta, Merih Demiral, Juan Musso, Giuseppe Pezzella, Teun Koopmeiners, Matteo Lovato
Key departures: Pierluigi Gollini, Cristian Romero, Sam Lammers
Not dismantling the squad was a positive note of Atalanta’s transfer window, with Robin Gosens and Duvan Zapata often linked with moves away. Demiral and Musso are strong replacements for the departing Gollini and Romero, as Atalanta will be hungry to achieve more after three consecutive third places in the league.
Can they fight for the title? They will have to be very consistent all throughout the season and not enter a result crisis that usually hits them before the Christmas break.
Gasperini announced that retaining a top four place would already be a win, but after so many years of coming close, Atalanta fans may dream of a surprise first-ever title victory.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri
Key signings: Moise Kean, Manuel Locatelli, Kaio Jorge
Key departures: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon, Merih Demiral
After a disappointing season in 2020/21, Juventus hoped to strengthen the squad and start from scratch. However, it’s hard to say if Juventus really improved, particularly considering that Cristiano Ronaldo, a football legend, left them just days before the window ended.
Bringing back in Allegri was seen by many as admitting a mistake, with the club paying to letting him go two seasons ago. The start was really difficult, with just a point against two sides like Empoli and Udinese, whom they should expect to beat.
It will be up to Paulo Dybala, a favourite of Allegri’s, to thrive Juventus back to the top, with Federico Chiesa ready to take in the role of club protagonist after Ronaldo left.
Coach: Luciano Spalletti
Key signings: Juan Jesus, Andre Anguissa
Key departures: Nikola Maksimovic, Tiemoue Bakayoko
Napoli kept almost intact the squad that came a few points shy of a place in the top four. Troubles looked to hit them when Lorenzo Insigne refused to renew his contract and it appeared Napoli could lose their long-time captain.
Spalletti returns to coaching after two years, as the Italian coach can boast of eight top four finishes in his last nine Serie A seasons. He is a top coach who is yet to win the Italian league and will be ambitious, so will the Napoli fans and players.
31 years without winning the title is too much for a club with such a large fanbase and, even though there weren’t any major signings, there is a lot of unpredictability at the top of the table, as Napoli look very close to their rivals.
Coach: Maurizio Sarri
Key signings: Mattia Zaccagni, Felipe Anderson, Pedro, Elseid Hysaj, Toma Basic
Key departures: Mohamed Fares, Joaquin Correa, Wesley Hoedt, Andreas Pereira
Lazio stunned everyone in the first couple of games, appearing to score goals with ease. There were nine so far, as welcoming Sarri on the Roman bench already looks to have a positive effect.
Lazio looked to be strong, but not quite enough last season, dropping too many points against weaker sides. Playing attacking football, with two fresh wingers in the form of Pedro and Felipe Anderson, plus the quality of Luis Alberto and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic may fix that.
Beware of Lazio, as they could be one of the biggest surprises of 2021/22.
Coach: Jose Mourinho
Key signings: Rui Patricio, Eldor Shomurodov, Tammy Abraham, Matias Vina
Key departures: Javier Pastore, Pau Lopez
One of the biggest surprises came when Mourinho was announced the new Roma coach for the upcoming season. The Portuguese’s influence in recent years appears to have dropped, but this new challenge may set the old spark that lies beneath him.
Additionally, acquiring such an important manager could give new energy to a group that last season just managed to keep ahead of Sassuolo and looked to have serious defensive struggles.
The quality upfront is evident, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jordan Veretout expecting to repeat the wonders of last season, plus Nicolo Zaniolo returning from a long-term injury that kept him out. If Roma solve their defensive issues, they can certainly be a threat to everyone else.
From Sassuolo to Torino, will there be any surprises?
Coach: Alessio Dionisi
Key Signings: Gianluca Scamacca, Davide Frattesi, Matheus Henrique
Key departures: Francesco Caputo, Mehdi Bourabia, Lukas Haraslin, Marlon, Manuel Locatelli
Consecutive finishes in the top eight weren’t unnoticed and former coach Andrea De Zerbi finally got the big call he deserved and left to join Shakhtar Donetsk. Will Sassuolo keep performing with Dionisi?
Hope is put upon young strikers Gianluca Scamacca and Giacomo Raspadori, who already got the attention of the bigger clubs during the transfer window. Filip Djuricic, Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi are also ready to strike again after such a positive 2020/21.
Sassuolo’s issue with De Zerbi was often conceding too many goals, to the expenses of exciting attacking football. Last year they lost a place in Europe due to goal difference, but this time the gap seems to have increased and retaining the eighth place may well be a success.
Coach: Roberto D’Aversa
Key Signings: Francesco Caputo, Radu Dragusin, Mohamed Ihattaren
Key departures: Keita Balde, Jaison Murillo, Jakub Jankto, Antonino La Gumina
With four top 10 finishes in the last five years, Sampdoria best represent the definition of mid-table team, considering they always failed to qualify for Europe in the period. In truth, last year’s ninth place with Claudio Ranieri came a bit as a surprise, given the struggles they had the previous season.
Yet again, it looks like they may be stuck in the limbo of being good enough to survive, but not quite to challenge the top teams. The new coach is Roberto D’Aversa, someone who did so well with Parma before inexplicably parting ways before the start of last season.
They made few investments, although replacing Keita Balde with Caputo means they are up to something serious, but that was it. History can repeat itself for Sampdoria.
Coach: Eusebio Di Francesco
Key singings: Lorenzo Montipo, Gianluca Frabotta, Gianluca Caprari, Giovanni Simeone, Martin Hongla, Bosko Sutalo
Key departures: Mattia Zaccagni, Marco Silvestri, Eddie Salcedo, Marco Benassi, Federico Dimarco, Stefano Sturaro, Ebrima Colley
How much will parting ways with Ivan Juric cost Verona? They come off superb seasons with a ninth and a 10th place, after they got promoted from Serie B two years ago, but it looks like it may soon come to an end.
Hopefully new coach Eusebio Di Francesco can bring something new for his career, after his last two spells for Cagliari and Sampdoria lasted a combined 30 games. Let’s not forget he gave Sassuolo their only Europa League qualification to date, as well as a Champions League semi-final to Roma.
However, losing their talisman Mattia Zaccagni on the last days of the transfer window, may have a negative impact. They deeply struggled to find goals in the past years and it was only their solid defence keeping them up. Can Simeone be the solution for the goal drought?
Coach: Davide Ballardini
Key signings: Mohamed Fares, Felipe Caicedo, Nikola Maksimovic, Hernani, Zinho Vanheusden, Salvatore Sirigu, Stefano Sturaro, Abdoulaye Toure, Pablo Galdames, Stefano Sabelli, Caleb Ekuban
Key departures: Luca Pellegrini, Miha Zajc, Davide Zappacosta, Gianluca Scamacca, Kevin Strootman, Marko Pjaca, Paolo Goldaniga, Eldor Shomurodov
The second part of 2020/21 was very positive, with new coach Ballardini helping the team move up eight places to finish just three points shy of the top 10. With multiple key departures, plus zero points after the first two games, it looks like they may be condemned to struggle.
However, they faced Inter and Napoli, plus they made some important investments on the last days, after those games were played. These consists in Caicedo, Hernani and Maksimovic.
It’s hard to predict what’s up for grabs for Genoa, they struggled immensely to stay up in the past seasons, but by now they are a consistent presence in the Serie A, with their last outing in the Serie B dating 2006/07.
Coach: Sinisa Mihajlovic
Key signings: Marko Arnautovic, Kevin Bonifazi, Adama Soumaoro, Arthur Theate, Sydney Van Hooijdonk
Key departures: Takehiro Tomiyasu, Stefano Denswil, Musa Juwara
This is set to be Mihajlovic’s fourth season at Bologna and by now he will be expecting a step up. After spending last season struggling with the absence of a real striker, the club welcomed an important player in the form of Arnautovic. The Austrian will be willing to demonstrate he still has it after his experience in China.
Bologna never really struggled until the end of the season in the past campaigns, but always failed to fight for the top seven positions that guarantee a place in European competitions.
Continuity from the previous season can be a bonus and Bologna will aim to at least enter the top 10.
Coach: Luca Gotti
Key signings: Marco Silvestri, Nehuen Perez, Brandon Soppy, Beto Beduncal, Destiny Udogie, Lazar Samardzic
Key departures: Rodrigo de Paul, Juan Musso
Losing the key player can have huge repercussions, but for now Udinese appear strong even without their former captain De Paul. The Argentinian was a massive figure in Gotti’s team, who will look to thrive even without his star.
Udinese impressed in the previous years for their solidity at the back, but struggled in scoring goals that could push them higher up the rankings. Discontinuity was also a factor, because at times, Udinese entered strong runs of form and could take points off the top teams.
If Gotti is able to keep the team motivated, Udinese could challenge for the top 10, but they will also need to watch their back whilst trying to find a new team leader.
Coach: Vincenzo Italiano
Key signings: Alvaro Odriozola, Lucas Torreira, Nico Gonzalez, Alfred Duncan, Riccardo Sottil, Matija Nastasic
Key departures: Pol Lirola, Franck Ribery, Christian Kouame, German Pezzella, Martin Caceres, Borja Valero, Igor, Kevin Malcuit
It’s still difficult to understand how Fiorentina dropped from being a regular presence in the top four, to a team that was fighting not to be relegated in the past three seasons.
Vincenzo Italiano can be a great addition, given how well the coach fared in his previous adventure at Spezia and his brilliant attacking football may be a way to get the best out of star Dusan Vlahovic.
President Rocco Commisso made some ambitious signings with Gonzalez, Odriozola and Torreira, certifying how he really wants to get Fiorentina back in the hunt for the top places.
Their team seemed to have competitive players in the past seasons, but clearly something wasn’t right. Last year Fiorentina just got nine wins and registered their lowest ever points tally. The only way forward is up.
Coach: Thiago Motta
Key signings: Eddie Salcedo, Rey Manaj, Kevin Agudelo, Mehdi Bourabia, Arkadiusz Reca, Leo Sena, Ebrima Colley, David Strelec, Janis Antiste, Viktor Kovalenko, Jakub Kiwior, Petko Hristov, Kelvin Amian
Key departures: Lucien Agoume, Julien Chabot, Riccardo Saponara, Diego Farias, Daniele Verde, Ardian Ismajli, Roberto Piccoli, Luca Vignali
Thiago Motta is called up to replacing a heavy figure in the history of Spezia. The previous coach Italiano, who just moved to Fiorentina, got the team’s first-ever Serie A appearance and impressed a lot.
On paper, Spezia are still very much dark horses, given the history of their club is much smaller than clubs that finished behind last year such as Torino and Cagliari.
They managed to retain players such as Mbala Nzola, Emmanuel Gyasi or Kevin Agudelo, who were very influential in 2020/21.
Remaining up will be a challenge, but considering how close they were to 11th place (three points), they might also move up the order.
Coach: Leonardo Semplici
Key signings: Keita Balde, Martin Caceres, Dalbert, Kevin Strootman, Boris Radunovic, Alberto Grassi
Key departures: Giovanni Simeone, Alberto Cerri, Alfred Duncan, Riccardo Sottil, Radja Nainggolan, Daniele Rugani
Semplici performed a miracle last year, just when it looked that Cagliari might be relegated. Now that they can reset, Cagliari will want to forget all about it and push for the top 10.
They often start with high ambitions, but their only top 10 in the 21st century is dated 2008/09. Striker Joao Pedro is by now considered a top player, Keita Balde and Strootman are interesting signings and demonstrate Cagliari’s will to bounce back.
Coach: Ivan Juric
Key signings: Josip Brekalo, Dennis Praet, Tommaso Pobega, Marko Pjaca, David Zima, Ola Aina
Key departures: Lyanco, Federico Bonazzoli, Nicola Murru, Salvatore Sirigu, Amer Gojak
Torino begin this season with a new coach, Juric, who got two consecutive top 10 finishes with Verona. Can the new coach be enough to push them back up after they finished 16th and 17th respectively in the last two seasons?
Captain Andrea Belotti is always there, scoring goals, but the rest of the team appeared to lose competitiveness. Praet and Pobega both come off strong seasons at Leicester City and Spezia, but possibly more investments needed to be made at the back.
Juric already complained about the lack of investments in Turin, plus the team is still with no points after two games. Is this a sign that Torino could even continue their trajectory towards Serie B?
The desperate hunt for another place in the Serie A: the three newly-promoted sides
Coach: Aurelio Andreazzoli
Key signings: Patrick Cutrone, Andrea Pinamonti, Lorenzo Tonelli, Federico Di Francesco, Liam Henderson, Sebastiano Luperto, Guglielmo Vicario, Ardian Ismajli, Szymon Zurkowski, Petar Stojanovic
Key departures: Giovanni Crociata, Kevin Piscopo, Stefano Moreo, Stefano Sabelli, Aleksa Terzic
Of the newly-promoted sides, Empoli are the ones expected to do better than the others. It’s probably because they featured in the Serie A quite frequently throughout the past years and that they comfortably won the Serie B.
However, Benevento’s experience of 2020/21 indicates that winning the Serie B isn’t necessarily a sign that the team is guaranteed to perform in the Serie A. The board invested at the front by looking for players willing to get their career back on track, such as Cutrone and Pinamonti.
Filippo Bandinelli impressed in the first outings and Empoli won at the Allianz Stadium against Juventus. However, these are their only points to date, as the team will try to find their dimension.
Coach: Fabrizio Castori
Key signings: Mamadou Coulibaly, Franck Ribery, Simy Nwankwo, Federico Bonazzoli, Joel Obi, Luca Ranieri, Riccardo Gagliolo, Grigoris Kastanos, Edoardo Vergani, Pawel Jaroszynski, Stefan Strandsberg, Wajdi Kechrida, Vincenzo Fiorillo
Key departures: Andre Anderson, Reza Durmisi, Gennaro Tutino, Sofian Kiyine
Salernitana came frankly out of nowhere, as they gained direct access to the Serie A by finishing a surprise second in the Serie B. Theirs is an interesting story, because they were meant to get relegated in 2018/19 from the Serie B, only to stay up as Palermo, who finished in the Serie B play-offs, were condemned by court to Serie D football.
Just two years later, they get promoted, but Serie A may just be too much. Late signings still leave the window open for some hope. The big name is for sure Franck Ribery, who is not quite the same player watched in Munich, but still has a lot to give.
Federico Bonazzoli finally has his chance to shine, while Simy Nwankwo is coming off an amazing season with Crotone. Salernitana’s destiny might just be in the feet of the two strikers.
Coach: Paolo Zanetti
Key signings: Ethan Ampadu, Sofian Kiyine, Thomas Henry, Mattia Caldara, Arnor Sigurdsson, Dennis Johnsen, Dor Peretz, Daan Heymans, David Okereke, David Schnegg, Tyronne Ebuehi, Ridgeciano Haps
Key departures: Sebastiano Esposito, Youssef Maleh, Gabriele Ferrarini, Giacomo Ricci
Venezia were also a surprise addition to the Serie A, qualifying through the playoffs. They confirmed young Paolo Zanetti as their coach, but made multiple investments to adapt the squad to the Serie A.
Ampadu and Caldara are very good signings at the back, whilst attackers Okereke and Henry contributed to the first two goals of Venezia’s return in the Serie A after 20 years.
Another player to watch is Mattia Aramu, as Venezia’s path towards survival is very hard. Spezia, however, teach everyone that it’s possible to stay up even when everyone says you would be relegated. Venice is a big city and it’s nice to see their team back up after so long.
It might be one of the hardest Serie A to predict at the front. Juventus’s domination officially finished, plus the Bianconeri seem to go through huge struggles at the moment. Inter may have looked to capitalise on that, but don’t appear to have the same advantage as last year.
Milan and Napoli are thus serious Scudetto candidates. The formers are off a strong season, full of enthusiasm, whilst the Partenopei have great depth at the front and a top, motivated coach like Spalletti.
Roma and Lazio can be surprises, even if the gap to close to first place is big. They are still likely to fight for the top four until the end, together with Atalanta, who were off poorly.
Sassuolo start the season just behind, but with Mourinho coaching Roma, it will be hard to fight for the top seven, as Fiorentina and Udinese impressed in the first outings.
Bologna and Sampdoria should live a relatively calm season, whilst Hellas Verona risk of not repeating themselves after a positive year. Genoa, Torino and Cagliari will soon need to score points if they want to avoid a likely relegation battle, with Spezia willing to demonstrate that last year wasn’t a one-off.
Empoli, Venezia and Salernitana are difficult to place in the pecking order, but history suggests that at least two of the newly-promoted sides often go down in their first season.
Who can prove the records wrong?
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