Serie A 2018-19 Preview

Ron arrival dominates the headlines

Juventus have dominated Italian football in recent times and their position at the pinnacle looks even stronger ahead of the new Serie A season.

The arrival of Portuguese great Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid is one of the biggest transfer coups in the history of the Italian game and the forward is widely expected to help Juve both at home and in Europe.

Old Lady out to end Euro wait

While Ronaldo will undoubtedly be a major asset in domestic action and he is rightly 1.60 to finish the season as the top goalscorer in Serie A, it is perhaps having one eye towards the Champions League that truly motivated the Bianconeri to move for the world superstar.

More than two decades have passed since Juve have been crowned champions of Europe and five Champions League finals losses have been added to the record in that time, including two in the last four seasons.

Add in the return of Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, after one season away at AC Milan, and it is easy to see why Juve are 1.36 to register an eighth straight Scudetto – Napoli are currently second in that market at a very distant 7.00.

Napoli best of the rest?

The men from Naples lead the way in the ‘Without Juve’ market at 3.00, with Inter Milan closely behind them on 3.25.

Napoli have the vastly-experienced Carlo Ancelotti at the helm following the departure of Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea and the only major loss on the playing front saw midfielder Jorginho follow his former boss to Stamford Bridge.

However, Inter, having snatched a top-four spot off Lazio on the final day of last season, have been proactive in the transfer marker this summer as they plot to try and end the supremacy of Juve in Italian football.

The arrivals of Sime Vrsaljko and Stefan de Vrij should give added strength in defence, with former Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan doing likewise in the middle of the park.

The Nerazzurri are 1.45 to repeat their top-four performance of last year, while at 9.00 to be crowned champions of Italy for the first time since 2010 they offer an intriguing outside option.

That could be even more the case should Argentinian forward Mauro Icardi take out his international frustrations on Serie A defences.

He was mystifyingly absent from the World Cup finals, having scored 29 goals in 34 league outings for Inter last season. If he repeats that return, 7.00 for the South American to be league top-scorer could also pay off.

Milan on the move

The other team at the San Siro, AC Milan, also appear to have lofty ambitions for the coming campaign, much of which rest on loan signing Gonzalo Higuain.

Having seen his chances of a regular start at Juve ruined by the arrival of Ronaldo, the Argentinian goal machine has the opportunity to be the main man with the Rossoneri.

Spells with Napoli and Juve have seen Higuain score 111 goals in 177 Serie A appearances, including a season record 36 in the 2015/16 campaign.

Should he deliver something approaching that return and he is a tempting 10.00 to be topscorer in the Italian top-flight this term, then Milan should prosper, with a top-four finish certainly not beyond them.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men are 2.00 to finish in the top four, but 7.50 to finish top in the Without Juve market shows that they still have some way to go to be challenging towards the summit.

Capital scraps

With the likes of Inter and AC Milan looking stronger than before, the Roman challenge from Lazio and Roma might just be for a top-four finish and that all-important Champions League spot.

Roma look the better placed of the pair and at 1.35 to claim a top-four spot are clearly well thought of, but just how much the loss of Nainggolan and Brazil goalkeeper Alisson upsets them will be key to their hopes.

Lazio are a more distant 4.00 for the top four and, having agonisingly missed out to Inter last term, it would something of a surprise to see them amongst the contenders come the business end of the season.

Battle to beat the drop

Empoli roared back up to Serie A at the first time of asking last season and at 3.40 they are not expected to make the return journey to the second tier just yet.

A 28-game unbeaten run was the backbone of their success, as they finished a massive 13 points clear at the top of the table, with strikers Francesco Caputo (26 goals) and Alfredo Donnarumma (23) the leading scorers in the division.

Coach Aurelio Andreazzoli will have to cope with the latter, however, with Donnarumma having opted to stay in Serie B by linking up with Brescia.

The Azzurri still appear to have enough about them to steer clear of danger, although whether the same can be said of the other two promoted teams – Parma and Frosinone – is another matter.

Frosinone have spent just one season in Serie A in their history and that ended in relegation two years ago, so it is no surprise to see them rated at 1.66 to go straight back down for a second time.

Parma, 1.95 to suffer the drop, are a more intriguing proposition, having reformed after going bust and secured three straight promotions to roar back to Serie A.

A largely home-grown squad may be lacking in the quality needed to ensure that a battle against the drop can be avoided, but if any side goes into this season with momentum on their side, it is surely the Gialloblu.

Of the teams who struggled last season but escaped relegation to Serie B, SPAL look to be the most likely contender to slip away this term.

With only Mirco Antenucci reaching double figures for goals in Serie A last term, SPAL were and are still lacking in firepower, so 2.00 to be relegated this time around seems to make plenty of sense.