Preview: Italian Serie A

This Serie A season will see Napoli defend their Scudetto title with far higher expectations than 12 months ago, fellow title hopefuls AC Milan, Inter and Juventus will be determined and focused on improving their game as they look to hit Napoli off their high horse.

Napoli have put a target on their backs and are the team to beat as they look to defend their title against their resurgent rivals this season. It has been a good start for new head coach Rudi Garcia, picking up six points out of nine. Napoli are playing free flowing football despite the loss in their previous fixture, although, there is much more to come from the Azzurri as Garcia tries to follow up on the success Luciano Spalletti experienced with Napoli last season.

Champions League semi-finalists from last season, AC Milan have had a solid start to the campaign, playing to their strengths and proving to be too strong so far. It is fair to say that Stefano Pioli’s midfield can live without Sandro Tonali after his departure for Newcastle United and incoming pair Samuel Chukwueze and Christian Pulisic have hit the ground running and look a serious threat on the attack alongside Rafael Leao. Olivier Giroud has also been an integral part of the squad and has got on the scoresheet four times already for the season.

Juventus had a season to forget last season after being punished for alleged false accounting and later being docked 10 points which saw them finish in seventh place. They have shown a resurgence to win this campaign that was totally absent last season and have got off to a steady start to the season despite many Juventus fans believing Max Allegri’s football has long gone stale. The return of Paul Pogba is a huge bonus for Allegri as he brings creativity and swagger to the team with Dusan Vlahovic looking more ready than ever to bring back the glory days for Juventus.

Simone Inzaghi’s Inter Milan have started off the new Serie A season quite well. After winning the opening home game against Monza, the Nerazzurri went on to win their second and third game of the season against Cagliari and Fiorentina respectively, scoring eight goals without conceding a single goal. It’s no coincidence to see Inter playing at this high level because they are clear candidates to win the 2023-24 Scudetto. In fact, while Napoli will try to defend the title under their new coach Rudi Garcia, AC Milan and Inter will fight again to win the Scudetto as has been the case two out of the last three seasons.

With the limited transfer activity Jose Mourinho has had with Roma this campaign, it will be interesting to see how the Portuguese mentor will get the best out of his team. The inclusion of Leandro Paredes and Houssem Aouar has been a breath of fresh air but there is still a lot of work to be done for the Giallorossi as they occupy 18th place and one point out of a possible nine. Lazio finishing in second place last season will motivate everybody involved in the club as they look to go all the way and challenge for the title. Maurizio Sarri will be asking questions of his team after picking up a single win in their opening three fixtures. Atalanta have started well and will be determined to keep up with the early front runners. New boys on the block Gianluca Scamacca and Charles De Ketelaere have had a positive impact on the team, contributing to their two victories of the season so far.

Of course, there will be surprises, too. Bologna is playing a good brand of football and will be hoping to grow further under Thiago Motta, Sassuolo will be looking for a more consistent campaign, and Monza start their post-Silvio Berlusconi era. I can’t help but have a sneaky feeling that Torino will have a quietly good year under Ivan Juric and that Adrien Tameze is going to be one of the signings of the season, along with Mateo Retegui at Genoa.

Genoa will have ambitions of breaking into the top six this season and make the most of their early fortunes. Newley promoted Cagliari have found life hard in the topflight but knowing Claudio Ranieri, he would have prepared for this and will be hard at work to give his team the best possible chance to survive the drop this season.  Having four different winners from the last four seasons has been great fun and a real novelty after nine consecutive seasons with the same winner, so a fifth from five seasons would be interesting to see. My biggest fears are for Lecce, Frosinone and Empoli who have had a difficult start to the season. Hard work and being consistently ready for battle will be the mandate for each game this season. What’s certain is that the next ten months or so promise so much.

Written by Marc Strydom