Serie A 2017/18 review

Serie A

The record books will show that Juventus won their seventh Scudetto in a row in 2017/18, but the season may well be remembered more for Napoli’s exploits rather than the Turin-based giants.

It appeared to be the end of an era on 22th April when Napoli beat Juve 1-0 thanks to Kalidou Koulibaly’s dramatic late header.

The result meant Napoii were only one point behind the Old Lady with four games to go and with all the momentum seemingly with Maurizio Sarri’s swashbuckling side.

On paper Napoli had the easier run-in but a 3-0 defeat at Fiorentina and 2-2 draw with Torino, two teams whose animosity towards Juve is legendary, effectively ended the Partenopei’s hopes of a third Serie A title and first since 1990.

Napoli 4.75 to win the 2018/19 Serie A title

Napoli won their last two games to finish with 28 victories in 38 Serie A matches but it was still not enough to prise the title away from Juve who finished four points better off.

Napoli responded to their near miss by replacing Sarri with Carlo Ancelotti and, if they can keep key players like Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Marek Hamsik and Koulibaly they could be a force again next term.

Juve completed another domestic but the Champions League exit to Real Madrid was a bitter pill to swallow, particularly as it came after such an enthralling performance in the Spanish capital.

Juventus 15.00 to win the 2018/19 Champions League

Massimiliano Allegri’s squad may be old but they are serial winners and they stepped up to the plate after the shock of losing at home to Napoli to take 10 points from their last four games and clinch their 34th Serie A title.

Roma enjoyed a fine campaign, finishing third and playing some thrilling football to beat Barcelona on their way to reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Only Juve conceded fewer goals than Eusebio Di Francesco’s team with Edin Dzeko and Cengiz Under impressing for the Giallorossi. If Roma can strengthen their squad in the summer than a title challenge could be mounted next season.

Roma 6.50 to win the 2018/19 Serie A title

Roma will be involved in the Champions League again next season, as will Inter Milan, who pipped Lazio to fourth place on goal difference on the final day of the campaign when they came from behind to beat Simone Inzaghi’s side 3-2 in the capital.

It will be Inter’s first appearance in the Champions League since the 2011/12 campaign, but any success they enjoy next term will surely be dependent on whether Mauro Icardi stays after the Argentinian scored 29 goals in 34 Serie A appearances this season.

Lazio were the top scorers in Serie A with 89 goals, but it was not enough to finish higher than fifth while there are signs of life at AC Milan as they secured sixth spot and qualification for the Europa League.

The Rossoneri started the campaign poorly despite spending more than 200 million euros last summer, but they improved once Gennaro Gattuso had replaced the hapless Vincenzo Montella.

However, scraping into the top six is a far cry from Milan’s glory years of the early 1990s and, with financial uncertainty bedevilling the club, they may be forced to take a backward step next term.

Gian Piero Gasperini continues to work wonders at Atalanta who finished seventh and embarrassed Everton in the Europa League, before being knocked out by Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round.

Inconsistency blighted Fiorentina who were sublime when beating Napoli in April but dreadful three weeks later when losing 5-1 at AC Milan, while Torino were ninth for the second season in a row after bringing in Walter Mazzarri for Sinsa Mihaljovic in January.

Sampdoria had been in contention for a Europa League place until losing four of their last five matches and eventually finishing 10th, while Sassuolo ensured they will be playing in Serie A for a sixth year in a row in 2018/19 after clinching 11th spot, despite only scoring 29 goals, the worst record in the top-flight.

Genoa lost their last four games of an underwhelming campaign as they finished 12th, one place above Chievo who appeared to be in danger of the drop after a 10-match winless run in mid-winter, only to move clear of trouble by winning their last three matches.

Udinese, who only drew four of their 38 matches, were 14th despite employing three different head coaches during the season, while Bologna endured another disappointing campaign.

They spent heavily last summer after finishing 15th in 2016/17, but were in the same position this season after picking up only four wins in the second half of the campaign.

Cagliari beat Fiorentina and Atalanta 1-0 in their last two games to avoid relegation but the Sardinian club look set for another season of struggle next term, while SPAL picked up three victories in their final four games to stay up.

Crotone, Verona and Benevento all went down though. Crotone had stayed up on the final day of the 2016/17 by beating Lazio 3-1, but they could not repeat the trick this time as a 2-1 loss at Napoli in their last match condemned the Calabrese club to the drop.

Hellas Verona were 13 points away from safety after a very poor campaign. The Gialloblu only scored 30 goals and appeared to have admitted defeat in their battle to avoid relegation when they sold Giampaolo Pazzini and Martin Caceres in January.

They lost 10 of their last 11 games and seem unlikely to mount a promotion campaign next term.

There may be more hope for Benevento to bounce back though as they showed signs of life after setting the record for the worst start to a Serie A season.

In their first ever campaign in the top-flight, Benevento were pointless after 14 fixtures before drawing 2-2 with AC Milan in early December.

They recorded their first victory of the season against Chievo – in their 19th game – and went on to beat Sampdoria, Crotone, Verona, AC Milan and Genoa during the second half of the campaign.