The 2020-21 Serie A season will get underway this weekend and this could finally be the year where Juventus’ recent dominance of the Italian game is brought to an end.
The Old Lady have won the Scudetto in each of the last nine years, but they rather limped over the line last season, finishing just one point clear of nearest rivals Inter Milan, while they boasted just the fifth-best attack and third-tightest defence.
Juve also suffered a disappointing last-16 exit from the Champions League and that cost Maurizio Sarri his job.
Sarri’s replacement is former Juve and Italy star Andrea Pirlo, but this will be his first senior managerial position and, with the other leading teams getting stronger, they could finally be overhauled at the top.
Inter to Lead Challenger Charge
There are certainly a number of teams that could rise to the challenge of ending Juve’s dominance, with Atalanta and Lazio having kept hold of key players, while AC Milan were the form side post lockdown and have also strengthened.
However, it is last season’s runners up Inter that appear to be the team most likely to pip Juve to the title.
The Nerazzurri certainly have a proven winner at the helm in Antonio Conte, who was responsible for three of Juve’s current run of titles, while he also won the Premier League during his time at Chelsea.
With a season in charge of Inter under his belt, Conte should have his squad ready to mount a successful title challenge, while the permanent additions of the likes of Stefano Sensi and Alexis Sanchez should also help that cause.
Inter have not won the Scudetto since Jose Mourinho’s treble-winning team of 2010, but they are priced at a tempting
37/20 to end that decade-long wait this season.
Milan to Make Champions League Return
For the first time in a long time things look settled at Milan, as the Rossoneri have kept faith with manager Stefano Pioli, who guided them to seven wins and three draws from their 10 Serie A matches post-lockdown.
AC have also added to their squad shrewdly during the summer, with a clear focus on youth following the arrivals of Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz, while at the other end of the scale, they have tied veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic down to a new contract.
While Milan may not be ready to mount a title challenge like their city neighbours, they are certainly a tempting option at
1/1 to finish in the top four and return to the Champions League for the first time since 2014.
Swift Return to Serie B for Promoted Trio
Serie A is a notoriously hard league to stay in for newly-promoted clubs, with two of last season’s additions, Lecce and Brescia, making a swift return to the second tier.
It could be even worse this season, with all three newly-promoted clubs looking set for a season of struggle.
Serie B champions Benevento are perhaps the best equipped of the three to survive under the guidance of Filippo Inzaghi and they should fair better than their only previous top-flight season, when they finished bottom with just 21 points, but they still are ultimately unlikely to have enough to survive.
The same could be said of Crotone, who will be beginning just their third-ever season in the top-flight, while play-off winners Spezia will be playing in Serie A for the very first time.
That lack of top level experience is likely to be the Achilles heel for all three new boys, which will come as a sigh of relief for sides like Torino and Udinese, who could also be set for a season fighting survival.
*All odds correct at time of writing