The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s arrival wasn’t the trigger for an Italian revival, but rather symbolises just how much the league has progressed over the last two years. In our Bitcoin Betting Guide to Serie A we take a closer look at the teams' chances.
AC Milan and Inter Milan, two of the most famous names in football, have world-beating squads ahead of the 2018/19 season, while the division enters four clubs into the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2009. Factor in Napoli, who are among Europe’s most exciting young sides, and AS Roma, who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, and it’s no exaggeration to say we could be on the verge of another golden age of Italian football.
Ronaldo’s arrival at Juve makes them clear favourites to win the title, but there are five big teams in Serie A this year. All five will see themselves as contenders.
Juve are enjoying an unprecedented period of success, consolidated by strong Champions League performances and a star-player pull that has ended in luring the game’s biggest celebrity to the Juventus Stadium. Ronaldo, ostensibly signed to boost their hopes of winning Europe’s top competition, should ensure Juventus win Serie A for an eighth successive time.
However, despite their Champions League success, Real Madrid have won La Liga just once in the last six years, with some pointing at the individualism in the squad as the chief reason; Ronaldo’s egotistical playing style could negatively affect team morale in Turin. Gonzalo Higuain’s departure for AC Milan could be an early sign of how Ronaldo’s arrival will shake things up for the worse. We explore Ronaldo's expected goals in more detail in our blog.
Juventus need to keep their team ethic, even with Ronaldo.
Emre Can and right-back Joao Cancelo are upgrades on Sami Khedira and Stephan Lichtsteiner respectively, although there is no doubt Gianluigi Buffon’s replacement, Wojciech Szczesny, is a step backwards.
Juventus are one of Europe’s super-clubs, and as such should comfortably win Serie A. Leonardo Bonucci’s return to the club just one year after AC Milan signed him is a pretty clear sign that Juve’s power is absolute. Even at 1.45, it’s worth a bet on Max Allegri’s side retaining the Scudetto – again.
After a six year absence, Inter are in the Champions league group stage -and they’ve wasted no time spending the extra money it provides. Radja Nainggolan is the marquee signing from AS Roma, although fans should be equally excited by the addition of right-back Sime Vrsaljko – one of Croatia’s star performers at the World Cup – and Stefan de Vrij from Lazio.
Thee three players will walk straight into the first-team, and then there’s 20-year-old promising striker Lautaro Martinez, who joins from Racing Club, and the return of Gabriel Barbosa after a successful loan spell at Santos. Inter, then, could certainly push Juve for the title this season, especially if they prise Luka Modric away from Real Madrid. This rumour, still circulating despite its seeming implausibility, is almost as unbelievable as Ronaldo to Juve. It is certainly just as big an indicator that Italian football is on the rise.
Either way Inter are a force to be reckoned with. Manager Luciano Spalletti, whose teams play attractive possession football, is enjoying the most successful phase of his managerial career; the stars are aligning for Inter to win the Scudetto for the first time since 2010.
The Rossoneri might be priced at 20.0 to win Serie A, but with both Roma and Napoli losing key players this summer there is every chance that Gennaro Gattuso’s side will at least finish third. Their ridiculous spending spree in 2017 didn’t translate into results (and in fact earned them a ban from European competition for 2018/19, which was later overturned on appeal) but nevertheless the AC Milan squad is very talented.
Vincenzo Montella was sacked in mid-November with Milan much closer to the bottom end than the top, and after initially struggling his replacement, Gattuso, led the club to just two defeats from their final 20 league matches.
They have built on this platform by signing Higuain from Juventus, patching up the biggest flaw in the squad (their top scorer last campaign was Patrick Cutone with 10 goals in Serie A). Mattia Caldara is a downgrade on the departing Bonucci, although he is seven years his junior, while Alen Halilovic is the latest young midfielder to join the Rossoneri ranks.
In his first full season, Gattuso will hope his side can match their ambition
The target this year is Champions League qualification and, more importantly, building on the foundations Gattuso lay down in 2017/18. With such a youthful squad, we can expect big improvements this season: Hakan Calhanoglu, Alessio Romagnoli, Andre Silva, Gianluigi Donnarumma, and Manuel Locatelli are all on the up.
After so much reckless spending a year ago, things feel much calmer this time around. That can only be a good thing for AC Milan and Serie A as a whole.
Napoli and Roma
Two of the most exciting teams in Europe last season have already been partially dismantled. Nainggolan’s move to Milan and Alisson Becker’s transfer to Liverpool leave Roma significantly depleted and therefore unlikely to repeat last season’s success - but that’s nothing compared with what Napoli fans have endured.
Maurizio Sarri has left for Chelsea and taken Jorginho - the linchpin of the Sarri project - with him. Carlo Ancelotti is an intelligent coach but hardly plays the same swashbuckling football as the new Chelsea manager, suggesting the football in Naples will regress and the club will sink back to fifth or sixth in Serie A.
Roma need not panic to quite the same extent, although Eusebio di Francesco will struggle to repeat the achievements of 2017/18 without his chief orchestrator in the heart of midfield. Javier Pastore and Patrick Kluivert are exciting acquisitions and certainly suggest Roma stand a good chance of completing the top four.
Winner: Juventus (1.45)