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Home   /   What to expect from the Serie A: Why Juventus’ reign is close to an end

What can we expect from the 2020-21 Serie A season? Who looks sharper and who is likely to face a struggle? Find out all you need to know about the 20 teams in this Serie A Preview.

The top contenders: who is ready to fight Juventus?

Juventus

The reigning champions must be considered favourites for next season, but their crown seems evermore in danger. 

Surely, the Bianconeri have found a new gem in 20 year-old winger Dejan Kulusevski and former Schalke midfielder Weston Mckennie also had a promising start. 
Will this be enough? 

Juventus are beginning a brand new chapter with Andrea Pirlo as their manager, and have lost Miralem Pjanic to Barcelona, who had been the core of that successful midfield over the past five seasons. Arthur, who took the opposite journey, is a quality player, but with very different characteristics. The champions welcomed back Alvaro Morata, for the very important fee of 10 million € + 45 million € option to buy and beat everyone for Federico Chiesa on deadline day.

Will their hunger remain intact after nine years of winning? Juve will have to work very hard to retain their title, as opposition gets stronger and stronger. 

Year11-1212-1313-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
Gap to 2nd491717944111
Gap to 4th22173723241923215
The table clearly shows how last season was Juve’s toughest title challenge, as the top four teams were separated by just five points. Is this the sign of a slow decline?
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Inter Milan 

After finishing second in the league and runner-up in the Europa League, Inter must, at the very minimum, give a shot to the title. Antonio Conte’s experience has brought the Nerazzurri side back to where they belonged, with the gap to Juventus massively reduced. 

New players like Aleksandar Kolarov, Ivan Perisic and Arturo Vidal will bring further experience and winning mentality, but the real bargain came with Real Madrid’s wing-back Achraf Hakimi, whose welcome ticket has been one goal and two assists in the first three league games. 

Can Inter, finally, win a trophy, after being trophyless since 2011? This year seems the opportunity they had long been waiting for, but will too much pressure affect their chances?

Year12-1313-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
Points5460556762726982
Position9th 5th 8th4th7th4th4th2nd
It seems as if 2017 was the turnaround for Inter Milan and last season was their best in a while, by far. Can Conte keep the forward momentum?
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Atalanta

After finishing third in 2018-19, few would have predicted Atalanta would finish even higher the following season. Now, with another third place in hand, la Dea are a reality of Italian football and they seem even stronger coming into 2020-21. 

Whilst it’s true they sold Timothy Castagne and that their star Josip Ilicic has personal and physical issues to recover from, the Bergamo team managed to improve depth, adding Juve defender Romero and foreign stars Lammers and Miranchuk.

At 32, Papu Gomez keeps leading this team, with many young players ready to explode: Gosens, Hateboer, Malinovskyi and Pasalic. The class of Toloi, Muriel and Zapata will keep thriving this team forward. 
With 30 points in 13 games post-lockdown and 98 league goals, can they shoot for the stars? 

Year2016-172017-182018-192019-202020-21
After:8 games8 games8 games8 games3 games
Points1096179
League finish4th7th3rd3rd 
Typically, Atalanta start very slowly. After winning the first three games, one of which against title challengers Lazio, are they making a serious statement?
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Lazio

The Biancocelesti‘s run of 16 wins and two draws in the last 18 games before lockdown lead to many believing they were favourites for the league. After cutting the gap to as close as one point, however, something went wrong and Lazio were pushed back to fourth. 

Few signings have been made by Inzaghi’s side, which welcomed Pepe Reina as second goalkeeper, Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira, plus Fenerbahce striker Vedat Muriqi. Their issue is the lack of depth within the team, something they have struggled to fight for in the last seasons. 

After returning to Champions League football for the first time since 2008, can Golden Boot winner Ciro Immobile give them the strength to go again?

Year11-1212-1313-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
Position4th7th9th3rd8th5th5th8th4th
Points626156695470725978
Recent history suggests the Biancocelesti have rarely managed to complete two back-to-back seasons at the highest level.
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Roma

There was a time, just few years ago, when Roma were considered Juve’s biggest threat. In the 21st century, no side has finished runner-up more times than them (nine), but after their 2001 title, they were never able to win the Scudetto again.

Even worse, it seems like there is a slow decline, as the Giallorossi prepare for the second year in a row without Champions League football. Just three signings were made, consisting of Pedro, from Chelsea, Marash Kumbulla, from Verona, plus last-gasp signing Borja Mayoral. 

With just four points in the first three games, despite a good performance against Juve, the odds go all against the team from the capital.

Year13-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
Position2nd2nd3rd2nd3rd6th5th
The last two years have seen Roma dropping out of the Top four. Can Fonseca find their way back?
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Milan

Last season saw two faces of AC Milan: the Pre-Ibrahimovic team and the Post-Ibrahimovic team. The Swedish striker has proved essential, as the Rossoneri, which occupied 12th place on the first week of January, went on to challenge for a fifth place, eventually finishing sixth. Milan held the highest record after the league returned, scoring 30 points in 12 games. 

The end of last season saw the resurgence of Ante Rebic and Stefano Pioli can rely on a team with a tremendous form. He will hope that Theo Hernandez can replicate last season performances and that new adding Sandro Tonali will bring the quality necessary to, finally, return to Champions League football after seven years. 
Do not rule them out of the title, either. 

 PointsGoals forGoals againstForm tableGames
Without Ibra2216 (16th )24 (6th)12th18
With Ibra4447 (2nd )22 (3rd)1st  20
Last season was the real example of a two-face campaign. Should they continue on their form, Milan will be a serious threat for anyone
Source: https://www.transfermarkt.it/serie-a/formtabelle

Napoli

A team that, at times, has stunned everybody, but also that dropped an enormous amount of points. The win in the Coppa Italia was a saviour for Napoli, as the historic side got their worst finish since 2008-09. 

The Azzurri suffered multiple troubles last season, from the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti, to a collective players withdrawal from the training camp. Victor Osimhen, from Lille, has broken the transfer record for Napoli (70 million €), with Gennaro Gattuso opting for a partial revolution, welcoming Tiemoue Bakayoko, as long-serving Callejon left the club.

The midfield pack: where unpredictability lies

Sassuolo

Roberto De Zerbi’s side obtained a strong eight place, after showing serious class in mastering attacking football. The Neroverdi finished with the sixth best attack, lead by captain Domenico Berardi, plus Jeremie Boga, Francesco Caputo and Filip Djuricic, who seem to have found their ideal habitat. 

It will be tough for Sassuolo to repeat themselves, not to say to improve. 63 goals conceded are something the team will need to fix if they want to challenge for another top 10 finish. 

Hellas Verona

Newly promoted in 2018-19, nobody would have said Ivan Juric’s men could challenge for the Europa League in 2019-20. They did. 
The Gialloblu surprised everybody, as they repeated their 2013-14 miracle, finishing in the top half ahead of bigger sides like Fiorentina and Torino. 

After selling most of their protagonists, including Marash Kumbulla, Amir Rrahmani, Soufyane Amrabat and Matteo Pessina, can they even survive? Six points from the first three games means quite something, as does the late signing of striker Nikola Kalinic.  

Fiorentina

A few years ago, it would have been very unusual to find Fiorentina among the midfield pack. La Viola escaped relegation on final matchday two seasons ago and slowly picked themselves up last term. 

They lost the most desired Federico Chiesa, but with a fully fit Franck Ribery, who is still making his mark at 37, the Firenze team might well get back in the top eight, as signings Giacomo Bonaventura, Callejon, Amrabat and Borja Valero add depth and quality in midfield. 

After playing the Europa league for four consecutive seasons, Fiorentina have now been out of Europe for further four years, as two eight places have been followed by two dreadful seasons.

Parma 

The first part of last season was very promising, as Parma were ahead of Napoli and Milan, occupying a European spot. They showed dominant counter-attack performances, with wingers Gervinho, Andreas Cornelius and Kulusevski scoring 29 goals combined. 

However, with Fabio Liverani as new coach and with the loss of their Swedish star, Parma’s journey seems a little more complicated.

Bologna

The Rossoblu came to a safe survival last season, despite coach Sinisa Mihajlovic suffering a disease that kept him out of the bench for most games. Not many first team signings were made, but if Riccardo Orsolini and winter adding Musa Barrow were to stay on form, Bologna could yet challenge for the top 10. 

Particularly, the Gambian striker was a great add-on, with 12 direct goal involvements in 18 games last season, after getting just seven in his previous 41 league meetings with former side Atalanta. 

Udinese

Udinese’s last top 10 finish came in 2013, but names like Sanchez, Benatia, Di Natale and Handanovic seem far away.

The Bianconeri have done well to avoid relegation in the past years, but will need more this season if they wanted to stay up.
Captain Rodrigo De Paul is ready for that, but the rest of the team may yet not be, as after three game they still have not found the net.

Late signings from Watford (who share the presidency with Udinese) consist in Gerard Deulofeu, Roberto Pereyra and Ignacio Pussetto, which may help re-shape this team in order to find a solution going forward.

Year13-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
Gap from safety1271135510
Udinese have been on the verge of relegation for multiple years. Can they stay up again?
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Cagliari

At one point last season, the Sardinian team was as high as third in the league at the end of November. Cagliari will hardly have another shot, but should head towards a safe survival. With star Leonardo Pavoletti ready to recover after two acl injuries, plus Joao Pedro and Giovanni Simeone coming from a positive season, Cagliari hope for a top 10 finish, having made an important signing in the form of Diego Godin from Inter.

Sampdoria

Claudio Ranieri pulled off another miracle last season, picking up a team buried in last place and taking it seven points ahead of the relegation zone. Do not let the important name fool you, as Sampdoria now have little of the historic teams they featured in the past. 

Small, but important improvements have come, with the late welcoming of Adrien Silva, Keita Balde and Antonio Candreva. But is attack really the place they should invest, considering the presence of Fabio Quagliarella and Manolo Gabbiadini?

Torino

Another fallen giant laying in the bottom part of the table. Despite featuring in the Europa League early in the season, the Granata have struggled all year round and should watch their back entering 2020-21.

A repeat of what happened seems unreal, but the team has not strengthened much and Andrea Belotti will have to score many goals in order to help his side remain in the league. 

Genoa

Was last season the final warning that Genoa need to do something more in order to stay up?

The Grifone have made multiple signings, but will likely struggle again. The absence of a real goalscorer, and a fragile midfield, do not offer enough reliability for the season ahead. 

Year2015-162016-172017-182018-192019-20
Gap from safety84604
Recent history shows Genoa’s struggles in the last seasons, always having to work hard to remain in the league.

The new sides: an unavoidable fate?

Year11-1212-1313-1414-1515-1616-1717-1818-1919-20
New teams relegated211121222
Five times in the last nine seasons, two out of three of the newly promoted sides went back down to the Serie B.
Source: http://www.legaseriea.it/it/serie-a/archivio

Benevento

The Stregoni are very keen not to repeat the infamous record of 14 straight defeats in the opening games of the 2017-18 season. They managed already, winning the first match against Sampdoria. 

This time, it’s a different story for Benevento, as the project is more concrete and ambitious. Filippo Inzaghi beat multiple Serie B records last campaign and can benefit from experienced players like Kamil Glik, Perparim Hetemaj, Gianluca Lapadula and Iago Falque. It’s quite clear: Benevento have come in Serie A with the intention to remain in 2021. 

Crotone

The Pitagoric team will face a serious struggle this term and will likely be fighting until the end to survive. They feature some interesting players, like Emmanuel Riviere, Henrique or Luca Cigarini, but the team does not seem well enough prepared for the new Serie A challenge. 

Three losses in the first three games may already have set the path for a very difficult season.

Spezia

A last gasp play-off promotion on August 20, means Spezia is the latest of the newcomers and will feature in Serie A for the very first time. 

The new team shaped their transfer window investing on multiple loans, signing 18 players thus far, including potential talents like Kevin Agudelo, Julian Chabot and Daniele Verde. However, the absence of big names and the strong lack of experience may well condemn Spezia to a written fate. Will striker Andrej Galabinov be the man, after netting three goals in the opening two rounds?

Summary

The title challenge will definitely include Juventus, with Atalanta and Inter Milan being the closest potential candidates to clinch the title. Do not write out AC Milan, should their form continue, and watch out from Napoli, who could redeem their negative 2019-20 season. 

The two teams from Rome look at a slight disadvantage, but Lazio could well use their past season’s experience to bounce back. 

Can there be any midfield team challenging for Europe? 
Fiorentina look the sharpest among the pack, but come from two struggling seasons. Cagliari and Bologna both share very ambitious projects, but they do not seem ready just yet, as Sassuolo’s unpredictability might cause them to end either way of the table. 

It will be hard for Verona and Parma to repeat themselves, even if Juric’s side started strong. 
Torino could be a potential surprise, but they still seem to not have recovered from last season’s nightmare. 

Most likely, the relegation fight could feature both Genoa teams, with the likes of Sampdoria and Genoa desperately needing to find a way up, as ambitious Benevento seem ready to put a fight for survival.

Udinese might also find themselves struggling, with Crotone and Spezia likely to both go down, given the lack of a solid project. 

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