<![CDATA[It’s the big kick-off in Italy this weekend as Serie A returns after the summer break. Defending champions Juventus are looking to retain their crown for a fifth consecutive year to equal the record set by the club way back in 1935. Last season they took the title by a massive 17 points from runners-up Roma, Italian football fans are hoping for a closer contest this time around. Bet Advisor now marks your card ahead of the new campaign. Who do our “football betting experts” think will win the title?
Five of the biggest Serie A summer signings
Paulo Dybala – Palermo to Juventus (€32 million)
EdinDžeko – Manchester City to Roma (Loan)
Geoffrey Kondogbia – Monaco to Inter (€30 million)
Carlos Bacca – Sevilla to Milan (€30 million)
Alessio Romagnoli – Roma to Milan (€25 million)
Juventus favourites to make it five-in-a -row
Despite losing three of their most high profile players this summer, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, Juventus start 2015-16 as clear favourites once again. In Argentinian striker Paolo Dybala they have an outstanding young talent and although many observers questioned the €32 million paid by the Turin giants to Palermo, it already seems like money well spent after Dybala scored the opening goal in his sides 2-0 Italian Supercup win over Lazio earlier this month. The scorer of the second goal, Croatia’s MarioMandžukić, is also a summer arrival from Atletico Madrid and the pair could form a deadly partnership over the next nine months. The Bianconeri will be without Italian international midfielder Claudio Marchisio for their opening two fixtures (including an away trip to the capital to face Roma) after he picked up a thigh injury in training.
Make or break for Rudi Garcia & Roma
Runners-up two years in succession, it’s now time for Roma to deliver. Coach Rudi Garcia is all too aware that this season needs to produce silverware and having identified what the squad was lacking in 2014-15; the capital club finally has an out and out goal scorer in Bosnian international EdinDzeko brought in from Manchester City.With the Egyptian frontman Mohamed Salah alongside him, the two of them should provide the firepower the club so badly lacked last season. With Polish international goalkeeper WojciechSzczęsny arriving on loan from Arsenal, the Giallorossi also has some much needed back-up to number one choice Morgan De Sanctis.
Five to watch out for in 2015-16
SergejMilinković-Savić – Lazio (Midfielder)
Andrea Belotti – Torino (Striker)
Federico Bernardeschi – Fiorentina (Striker)
Oscar Hiljemark – Palermo (Midfielder)
Domenico Berardi – Sassuolo (Striker)
Local boy Sarri aims to revive Napoli
Maurizio Sarri has been given the task of reviving Napoli’s fortunes after they missed out on Champions League football last season. The 56-year-old coach is Neapolitan by birth so he is familiar with the demands of the clubs fanatical fan base. Having guided Empoli to Serie A safety last season, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis took a huge gamble this summer appointing a coach who has no experience of managing a club of this magnitude. But Sarri has gone about his business quietly and professionally during the summer and having persuaded star striker Gonzalo Higuain to stay at the club, he promptly went back to his former employers to bring in defender ElseidHysaj and midfielder MirkoValdifiori. Known for his attention to detail, Sarri has been using drones during training sessions to be able to get a better analytical view of his players – a Champions League spot is the minimum requirement.
Milan giants to mount a challenge
“Money makes the world go around” so the song goes and it certainly has this summer in Milan as both Inter and Milan splash the cash to strengthen their squads. With new president Erick Thohir keeping faith with coach Roberto Mancini, Inter started shopping early bringing in French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia from Monaco for €30 million. Not to be outdone, Thai billionaire businessman Bee Taechaubol bought 48% of AC Milan from President Silvio Berlusconi and newly appointed coach SinišaMihajlović broke the bank to sign Colombian striker Carlos Bacca from Sevilla also for €30 million. Milan continued to spend paying a combined total of €45 million for Roma duo AlessioRomagnoli (defence) and Andrea Bertolacci (midfield), both transfers raising eyebrows as both players were out on loan at Sampdoria and Genoa respectively last season. Neither club has any European distractions but with only three places available to Italian clubs in the Champions League; it’s unlikely we will see both clubs in Europe’s premier club competition in 2016. Do our football tipsters give the two Milan giants a chance?
Five interesting facts about Serie A 2015-16
Goal-line technology will be used in Italy for the first time this season
Frosinone and Carpi will both play in Italy’s top-flight for the first time in their respective histories
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri always has to wear an item of black clothing during matches for superstitious reasons
Serie A has a new anthem. “O Generosa” was written by Giovanni Allevi and will be played at the opening of matches as teams take to the field.
Palermo is the only club outside of mainland Italy participating in this year’s championship.
Lazio’s Eagle ready to soar
Lazio have already kicked-off their European campaign with a hard fought 1-0 home win over Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the final qualifying round of the Champions League on Tuesday. It looks like an injury picked up by German striker Miroslav Klose during the game means he will miss the opening rounds of the domestic campaign. Coach Stefano Pioli has worked diligently again in the transfer market this summer bringing in 20-year-old Serbian midfielder SergejMilinković-Savić from Genk and promising young Dutch striker Ricardo Kishna from Ajax. Veteran midfielder Stefano Mauri after leaving the club at the end of last season has been persuaded to return for the 2015-16 campaign.
Current title odds
*odds courtesy of Bet365
By Steve Mitchell