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5 Talking Points From Serie A’s Opening Weekend
Aaron Rogan
Aaron Rogan
August 17, 2018
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Before becoming a Sports Journalist for Free Super Tips, Aaron spent three years studying Sports Journalism at the University of Sunderland while taking in the Black Cats' 'glory years' under Martin O'Neill. Now back in Northern Ireland he turns niche stats into predictions for FST, while he's one of the few people on this island who is equally comfortable at Windsor Park and the Aviva.

Last season, Serie A gave us excitement across the board, with Europe’s only major title race taking place in Italy. Elsewhere, we saw battles for the top four, top seven and bottom three all go down to the wire, following Juventus and Napoli’s title tussle. While not back to the late 90s glory days, Serie A is on the up.

The 2018/19 season starts this weekend, and there’s more than just Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve got a competitive top six, a new lease of life in the relegation battle and a collection of top forwards. With an exciting new season set to get underway, here’s what to look out for in Italian football this weekend.

Also see: Serie A 2018/19 Outright Betting Tips

Super Transfer Window From Juventus

Many fans will flock to Serie A for just one man; Cristiano Ronaldo. The Italian champions have pulled off a huge coup bringing the reigning Ballon d’Or to Italy, and that’s going to boost the league’s fortunes. However, Juve’s Champions League tilt isn’t just built on one signing. Adding Ronaldo alone is a scary prospect, but it’s slightly overshadowed some excellent transfer business.

The champions put down £35million for Joao Cancelo, who was fantastic for Inter Milan last season. He goes straight in at right-back, while the £30million deal for Leonardo Bonucci fills the void which he left last summer. Leonardo Spinazzola looks like an attacking force from left-back, and Juve finally got him back from his loan at Atalanta after 12 months trying.

While Ronaldo and Bonucci were signings to deliver success, the rest of their moves are set to bring down the average age of the squad. Emre Can is the perfect example, as he’ll slot in to replace the ageing Sami Khedira in midfield. Juve have made signings which strengthen their first choice team, and that’s hard to do in the current market. They’re clear title favourites, and they deserve their place as frontrunners for the Champions League.

Read More: Chievo vs Juventus Betting Tips and Predictions

Crociati Comeback

For fans of classic Serie A, there are few bigger Italian sides than Parma. The club had their heyday as Serie A became the world’s top league, but financial troubles brought the Crociati to their knees. Their spell in the top flight ended in 2015, when they finished bottom of the pile. They had gone bust prior to that, but they were given a stay of execution until the end of the campaign. After that, their money issues saw them dropped from the top flight and in to Serie D.

It seemed like one of Europe’s great clubs had gone, but they quickly reformed the club and mounted a comeback. Three straight promotions – something which had never been done in Italian football – took Parma back in to the big time. Their summer has still be dogged with a corruption scandal, but with that in the past their Serie A opener is coming this weekend.

Parma host Udinese, and there’s plenty of excitement at them returning to the top division. To return that quickly from being almost wiped out shows an incredible spirit, but can they find a way to avoid the drop this season?

Read More: Parma vs Udinese Betting Tips and Predictions

Relegation Battle Years in the Making

The Serie A relegation battle has gone to the wire in recent seasons. However, it’s been as competitive as a maths challenge for reality TV stars. A string of understrength sides have made their way up from Serie B, and the quality at the bottom has been impacted. While Crotone’s incredible survival push in 2017 was exciting, they were cut adrift for most of the campaign. Meanwhile, last season’s promoted sides spent the season in the bottom four, with Benevento and Hellas Verona quickly dispatched.

The lack of quality at the bottom has led to talk of a 18 or 16 team league. That’s because many average sides at the bottom are just coasting. Udinese last season lost 11 straight games between February and April, yet they ended up 13th. We have a backlog of sides who have benefited from a lack of quality at the bottom. However, things are about to change. That gives us a survival race years in the making.

Parma’s name alone makes them contenders, and they’ve shown their spirit in recent seasons. Empoli have gone down, reinvented themselves as an attacking side and bought well. Frosinone look much more equipped than in their first Serie A season three years ago. The trio should all contend this season. With SPAL, Cagliari, Chievo, Udinese and Bologna all struggling at times last year, we could see a highly competitive race for survival.

The Napoli Signing Said to Rival Ronaldo

Back in May, any uncertainty around Napoli’s future was swiftly brought to an end. Maurizio Sarri remained at the club, but he was no longer their manager. The Partenopei added Carlo Ancelotti, a signing so high profile it was compared with the ludicrous idea of an Italian club somehow managing to sign Lionel Messi or Ronaldo. Months on, and Ancelotti’s arrival feels just as important.

Bringing back one of Europe’s top coaches nine years after he left AC Milan has added more credibility to Serie A. Sarri’s football was huge pull for fans to tune in to Serie A. Luckily they’ve signed a man who rates continuity, so he’ll be looking to leave Sarri’s system untouched for the most part.

Ancelotti’s reputation has taken a hit after his time in Germany. Worryingly, this is a similar job to the one he had at Bayern. He needs to maintain a high level of performance, in a team built on years of coaching from an attack minded boss. However, Ancelotti has experience that Sarri doesn’t and in key moments he could make decisions which improve the Partenopei. They’ve got essentially the same side as last season, so Ancelotti’s under the microscope from the off this weekend.

Read More: Lazio vs Napoli Betting Tips and Predictions

Can Inter Milan Continue Their Resurgence?

The final day of the 2017/18 campaign was huge for Inter Milan. A win at the Stadio Olimpico saw them beat Lazio to fourth place, bringing Champions League football back to San Siro. They have an opportunity to kick on from there, and it seems like the path upwards just opened up for the Nerazzurri.

Not only are Inter equipped to impress in Europe, but they are set to capitalise on the changes at Napoli and Roma. The Nerazzurri have bought well, and kept tactician Luciano Spalletti in charge. The former Roma boss already turned one side in to Juve’s main challengers, and he’s set to do it again. The additions of Radja Nainggolan, Stefan De Vrij, Sime Vrsaljko and Keita Blade have raised expectations among the Inter faithful.

With their defence boosted, energy added in midfield and new options in attack, Inter look stronger in every position. They’re shaping up to be the main threat to Juventus this season. The league needs both Milan sides at their best in order to peak, and it certainly seems like the Nerazzurri are delivering on their end of the bargain. Their trip to Sassuolo on Sunday night should give us an idea of just how far along Spalletti’s side are.

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