2017/18 SBI Serie A Season Preview

2017/18 SBI Serie A Season Preview

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2017/18 SBI Serie A Season Preview

As we near the beginning of another Serie A campaign, the main question is simple: can anybody stand in the way of Juventus’ quest for a seventh consecutive league title?

Massimiliano Allegri’s men have kept a lot of the same faces, while bringing in a slew of new talent as well. Juventus won the title by four points, just beating out second-place Roma, and third-place Napoli. Both of those sides will look to spoil the Old Lady’s party in 2017/18.

Atalanta and Lazio automatically earned a spot in the Europa League, while AC Milan made it via the playoffs. Empoli, Palermo, and Pescara were relegated to Serie B while Crotone and Genoa remained safe for another season. Benevento, Hellas Verona, and Spal earned promotion to Serie A for the upcoming season. With several new faces in the league, it should make for a dandy of a campaign.

Without further ado, here is SBI’s full 2017/18 season preview for the Italian Serie A:

AC MILAN

Player to Watch: Following a summer contract saga, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma could be the face of this team for a long time to come. The 18-year-old made 31 appearances last season across all competitions, and is expected to be a leader going forward now that he’s officially back in the fold.

Outlook: Milan finished in sixth last season, a point better than their city rivals Inter, and the club massively overhauled the defense  this summer with signings like Leonardo Bonucci, Ricardo Rodriguez and Mateo Musacchio. Losing Carlos Bacca and Gianluca Lapadula to Villarreal and Genoa, respectively, means 20 league goals from a year ago are gone. Finding consistent scoring will be a task that Milan needs to complete immediately.

Transfers In: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Franck Kessie (Atalanta), Fabio Borini (Loan, Sunderland), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Andre Silva (Porto), Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal), Antonio Donnarumma (Asteras Tripoli), Prezmek Bargiel (Ruch Chorzow).

Transfers Out: Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona), Diego Lopez (Espanyol), Alessandro Plizzari (Ternana), Juraj Kucka (Trabzonspor), Andrea Bertolacci (Genoa), Gianluca Lapadula (Genoa), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Carlos Bacca (Loan, Villarreal).

ATALANTA

Player to Watch: While at Fiorentina, midfielder Josip Ilicic showed sparks of advancing his game to the next level. The 29-year-old Slovenian international now begins a new start with Atalanta after a six goal season a year ago. Expect him to make a splash with his new club.

Outlook: Atalanta surprised everyone, finishing fourth in Serie A last season. They will look for a repeat performance as several new players have joined the team, making them poised to compete for a top-six finish in 2017/18.

Transfers In: Marten De Roon (Middlesbrough), Josip Ilicic (Fiorentina), Samuel Giovane (Cesena), Fabio Guelfi (Inter Milan), Alessio Girgi (Genoa), Riccardo Orsolini (Loan, Juventus), Andreas Cornelius (Copenhagen)

Transfers Out: Andrea Conti (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Juventus), Alberto Paloschi (Spal), Franck Kessie (AC Milan).

BENEVENTO

Player to Watch: 30-year-old Fabio Ceravolo led Benevento with 21 league goals last season, helping them earn promotion via the Serie B playoffs. The veteran will be expected to score at will again this season, as his team looks to stay in Serie A for good.

Outlook: Benevento earned promotion to Serie A after winning the Serie B playoffs a season thanks to 21 goals from Ceravolo last season. They’ll rely rely on the striker a lot this season, but expect the promoted side to be in a fight to remain in the top-flight following this season.

Transfers In: Vid Belec (Carpi), George Puscas (Inter Milan), Lorenzo Venuti (Fiorentina), Berat Djimisti (Atalanta), Danilo Cataldi (Lazio), Alberto Brignoli (Loan, Juventus), Robin Gosens (Heracles).

Transfers Out: None.

BOLOGNA

Player to Watch: Former AC Milan and Roma striker Mattia Destro seems to have found a nice home with Bologna. The 26-year-old scored 11 league goals last season, and will be the team’s main forward this season.

Outlook: Bologna finished in 15th last season, nine points clear of the relegation zone. To avoid a relegation fight this season, they will need to clean up the goals allowed. 58 goals allowed over 38 matches is a lot and that number will need to go down if they hope to stay midtable.

Transfers In: Andrea Vassallo (Brescia), Andrea Poli (AC Milan), Sabastian De Maio (Anderlecht).

Transfers Out: None.

CAGLIARI

Player to Watch: Striker Marco Borriello led Cagliari with 16 league goals a year ago, and will be a player to watch. At 35, Borriello still has some years left in his legs and Cagliari will hope the Italian can replicate his numbers from a year ago.

Outlook: Cagliari finished in 11th a year ago with 47 points. However, one thing will need to change for advanced success and that is goals allowed. 76 goals allowed was the third most in Serie A last season, and Cagliari will need to cut that number for another positive finish.

Transfers In: Filippo Romagna (Juventus), Marco Andreolli (Inter Milan), Luca Cigarini (Sampdoria), Senna Mangue (Inter Milan) Dario Del Fabro (Juventus).

Transfers Out: Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahce), Bruno Alves (Rangers).

CHIEVO VERONA

Player to Watch: Midfielder Valter Birsa has had success at both scoring goals and setting up his teammates. Last season, Birsa scored seven goals and added nine assists in 35 league matches. Verona will need his dual-threat character for a better finish this season.

Outlook: Chievo Verona finished in 14th a year ago, 11 points clear of the bottom three. One thing that will need to improve for a higher finish is better home form. Verona took 23 points of their 43 at home, which was the fifth fewest in Serie A.

Transfers In: Gianluca Gardino (Bayern Munich).

Transfers Out: Paul-Jose Mpoku (Standard Liege), Caleb Ekuban (Leeds United).

CROTONE

Player to watch: With their leading goalscorer from a year ago, Dieggo Falcinelli, gone following the expiration of his loan, Swedish midfielder Marcus Rohden will be a player to watch. The 26-year-old had four assists a year ago, and is a dangerous set-up man for Crotone.

Outlook: Crotone barely snuck away from relegation a year ago, and things won’t be easier in 2017/18. They will need to be strong both on the road and at home, for a chance of avoiding the drop this season. They ranked in the bottom five in both home and road points last season.

Transfers In: Rolando Mangradora (Loan, Juventus), Giovanni Crociata (AC Milan), Davide Faraoni (Udinese), Ante Budimir (Sampdoria), Oliver Kragl (Frosinone).

Transfers Out: None.  

FIORENTINA

Player to Watch: Striker Nikola Kalinic has hit double digits in his first two seasons at Fiorentina, and there is no reason why he cannot make it three in a row. The 29-year-old Croatian is a strong figure, and a clinical scorer in front of goal.

Outlook: Fiorentina finished in eighth a year ago, earning 60 points over 38 matches. The trouble for the team this year is to replace the loss of several starters from a year ago. Fiorentina only lost once at home all season, but will need to turn draws into victories.

Transfers In: Nikola Milenkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Bruno Gaspar (Guimares), Vitor Hugo (Palmeiras), Martin Graiciar (Slovan Liberec), Rafik Zekhnini (Odds BK), Jordan Veretout (Aston Villa), Valentin Eysseric (Nice), Marco Benassi (Torino), Gil Dias (Loan, Monaco).

Transfers Out: Josip Ilicic (Atalanta), Borja Valero (Inter Milan), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Ciprian Tatarusanu (Nantes), Matias Vecino (Inter Milan).

GENOA

Player to Watch: 27-year-old Gianluca Lapadula was brought in from AC Milan to help strengthen the midfield. Lapadula scored eight goals with Milan last season, and should help a midfield looking for leadership.

Outlook: Genoa finished four points clear of the bottom three last season, and will look for a much-better finish in 2017/18. 14 road losses last season was tied for the league’s most and will need to change if Genoa want to remain a Serie A team following this season.

Transfers In: Gianluca Lapadula (AC Milan), Andrea Bertolucci (Loan, AC Milan), Ervan Zukanovic (Loan, Roma),

Transfers Out: Ezequiel Munoz (Leganes).

HELLAS VERONA

Player to watch: Striker Giampaolo Pazzini scored 23 goals in Serie B last season, and the 33-year-old forward will look to replicate those numbers again this year. The former AC Milan striker has talent and experience, which are two things any promoted side needs to stay up.

Outlook: Hellas Verona earned promotion to Serie A after a second-place finish in the second tier a season ago. 74 points across 42 matches was outstanding and now they will look to compete against the big boys once again. Consistent scoring will help, but Verona will need to rely on incoming veterans Martin Caceres and Alessio Cerci.

Transfers In: Martin Caceres (Southampton), Bruno Zuculini (Manchester City), Marco Silvestri (Leeds United), Alessio Cerci (Atletico Madrid), Antonio Cassano (Sampdoria), Marcel Buchel (Loan, Empoli), Thomas Heurtaux (Loan, Udinese).

Transfers Out: Juanito (Released), Simone Ganz (End of Loan, Juventus), Lorenzo Ferrari (Arezzo), Federico Viviani (Spal), Eros Pisano (Bristol City).

INTER MILAN

Player to Watch: Mauro Icardi is one of the top forwards in European football. The 24-year-old scored 26 goals in all competitions last season, and will be relied on again this season. Another good season for Icardi, and we could see him leave next summer.

Outlook: Inter Milan had a disappointing season last year, finishing in seventh place on 62 points. Luciano Spalletti was brought in this summer as Inter’s new coach to help guide the team to the next level. With the amount of talent on the roster, this team should finish in a European spot.

Transfers In: Matias Vecino (Fiorentina), Dalbert Henrique (Nice), Borja Valero (Fiorentina), Milan Skriniar (Sampdoria).

Transfers Out: Gary Medel (Besiktas), Ever Banega (Sevilla), George Puscas (Benevento).

JUVENTUS

Player to watch: 26-year-old Douglas Costa joined Juventus on a two-year loan from Bayern Munich. The Brazilian midfielder has found it tough to earn regular playing time, and will join another European powerhouse looking to make an impact.

Outlook: Juventus are looking to lift their seventh consecutive Scudetto, and are favorites to do so. Massimiliano Allegri’s side were third in road points earned, and will need to improve for a smoother road to another league crown. The loss of Leonardo Bonucci will hurt the defense but, if Giorgio Chiellini and co. can hold up, Juventus should cruise.

Transfers In: Blaise Matuidi (PSG), Wojciech Szczesny (Roma), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Douglas Costa (Loan, Bayern Munich), Manolo Portanova (Lazio), Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta).

Transfers Out: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mario Lemina (Southampton), Neto (Valencia), Simone Zaza (Valencia), Dario Del Fabro (Cagliari), Anastasios Donis (Stuttgart), Filippo Romagna (Cagliari), Vykintas Slivka (Hibernian), Francesco Cassata (Sassuolo).

LAZIO

Player to watch: Striker Ciro Immobile scored 26 goals across all competitions last season, and will be Lazio’s main forward again this season. At 27, Immobile still has a lot to offer the team and can contend for the league lead in goals as well.

Outlook: Lazio finished in fifth place a season ago, totaling 70 points across 38 matches. The aim is to now fight for a Champions League spot and a possible league title, even if the loss of Lucas Biglia will hurt a bit in the midfield.

Transfers In: Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Ameth Lo (AC Milan), Felipe Caicedo (Espanyol), Adam Marusic (kv Oostende), Davide Di Gennaro (Cagliari).

Transfers Out: Lucas Biglia (AC Milan).

 

NAPOLI

Player to Watch: Dries Martens rolled off 34 goals across all competitions a year ago, and is talented enough to do that again in 2017/18. At 30, Mertens still has plenty of time left and has been a talent since his time at PSV.

Outlook: Napoli missed out on a second-place finish by a point, but were a class act to watch all season. Maurizio Sarri’s men scored 94 goals, the most of any Serie A team all time. If Mertens continues to fire goals at a blistering pace, Napoli should be in the hunt for a Champions League berth.

Transfers In: Adam Ounas (Bordeaux), Mario Rui Silva (Roma), Michael Scarf (Carpi), Alessandro D’Ausilio (Reggiana),

Transfers Out: Roberto Insigne (Loan, Parma), Jonathan De Guzman (Eintracht Frankfurt).

ROMA

Player to Watch: After only 10 goals in his first season with Roma, Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko rolled off 39 in all competitions last year. The 31-year-old can score in a variety of ways, and is a key figure to Roma’s offensive set-up. If Dzeko fails to score consistently, Roma will need help from others.

Outlook: Roma finished second last season, missing out by four points on eventual champions, Juventus. The goal will be to get back to the form they were a year ago, but also reduce the amount of road losses from a season ago if they hope to complete that final push. New signings like Hector Moreno, Maxime Gonalons and Alexander Kolarov will help, but Roma will need to step up a level with Mohamed Salah gone.

Transfers In: Hector Moreno (PSV), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Rick Karsdorp (Feyenoord), Gregoire Defrel (Loan, Sassuolo), Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City), Zan Celar (Maribor Brank), Federico Fazio (Tottenham Hotspur), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Sassuolo), Cengiz Under (Istanbul Basaksehir).

Transfers Out: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool), Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea), Mario Rui (Napoli), Ervan Zukinovic (Genoa), Ezequiel Ponce (Loan, Lille), Seydou Doumbia (Loan, Sporting Lisbon), Leandro Paredes (Zenit)

SPAL

Player to Watch: Mirko Antenucci led the team with 18 goals in Serie B last season, and is a veteran who brings experience. The former Leeds man will carry the load for Spal, who have also brought in several players during the summer transfer window.

Outlook: Spal earned promotion to Serie A, winning Serie B last season with 78 points. A big question will be if they can score consistently in the top-flight? They have a talented striker in Antenucci, but the supporting cast will need to help as well.

Transfers In: Leon Petrovic (HNK Rijeka), Alberto Grassi (Napoli), Momodou Konate (Malmo), Sauli Vaisanen (AIK Solna), Federico Viviani (Verona), Alberto Paloschi (Loan, Atalanta), Alfred Gomis (Loan, Torino), Alex Meret (Loan, Udinese)

Transfers Out: None.

SAMPDORIA

Player to Watch: Striker Patrik Schick scored 11 league goals for Sampdoria last season, and is expected to have a bigger role this season. The 21-year-old Czech will battle with Fabio Quagliarella for the starting striker role, but provides youth and energy to the squad.

Outlook: Sampdoria finished in 10th last season, earning 48 points over the 38-match season. A 4-9-6 road record will need to improve for a chance at a higher finish this season.

Transfers In: Ivan Vujcic (HNK Hajduk), Nicola Murru (Cagliari), Gianluca Caprari (Inter Milan), Gaston Ramirez (Middlesbrough), Gianmarco Ferrari (Sassuolo), Dawid Kownacki (Lech Poznan).

Transfers Out: Wladimiro Falcone (Loan, Bassano Virtus), Jakub Hromada (Slavia Prague), Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan), Luis Muriel (Sevilla),

SASSUOLO

Player to watch: Alessandro Matri scored eight goals for Sassuolo last season, and will be relied on to help pick up the slack left by summer departures. With Gregoire Defrel gone to Roma, Matri will be the starting striker for Sassuolo this season.

Outlook: Sassuolo finished in 12th a year ago, a major drop from their sixth place finished in 2015/16. Defensively, they allowed 63 goals which needs to be better if they want to jump back into the top-half of the table.

Transfers In: Enrico Lundarelli (ASD Liventina), Alex Guehi (Roma), Francesco Cassata (Juventus), Leonardo Marson (Palermo), Emanuele Grumo (Cesena), Federico Ricci (Roma), Edoardo Goldaniga (Palmermo),

Transfers Out: Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Gregoire Defrel (Loan, Roma), Gianmarco Ferrari (Loan, Sampdoria).

TORINO

Player to watch: 23-year-old Andrea Belotti is a rising star in Serie A, after a 26 goal league campaign in 2016/17. Belotti is a wanted man by several European clubs, and will continue to be wanted if his goalscoring continues to increase. Expect the Italian to add to his goals again this year.

Outlook: Torino finished in ninth last season, showing streaky signs to say the least. 35 home points is not bad at all, but eight draws is frustrating to swallow. Torino will need to do a better job of turning draws into victories, and the switch from Joe Hart to fellow veteran Salvatore Sirigu as well as the addition of Nicolas Nkoulou should help.

Transfers In: Salvatore Sirigu (PSG), Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (Lecha Gdansk), Eddie Battistelli (Perugia), Marco Capone (Crotone), Nicolas Nkoulou (Lyon), Alex Berenguer (Osasuna).

Transfers Out: Joe Hart (End of Loan, Manchester City), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United), Alfred Gomis (Loan, Spal), Marco Benassi (Fiorentina), Sasa Lukic (Loan, Levante).

UDINESE

Player to watch: French striker Cyril Thereau scored 12 goals last season for Udinese, leading them in goals. The 34-year-old forward has been consistent offensively for Udinese, rolling off three consecutive double-digit goal seasons.

Outlook: Udinese finished in 13th a year ago, going 12-17-9 in 2016/17. A busy summer of additions could help as the club looks to push up the table and into the top half.

Transfers In: Antonin Barak (Slavia Praha), Giuseppe Pezzella (Palermo), Tomas Filipiak (Slovan Bratislava), Molla Wague (Granada), Riccardo Olitavo (Genoa), Bram Nuytinck (Anderlecht), Mamadou Coulibaly (Pescara), Riad Bajic (Konyaspor).

Transfers Out: Emmanuel Badu (Loan, Bursaspor), Alex Meret (Loan, Spal), Yrondu Musavu-King (Loan, St. Gallen).

 

Who’s your favorite to win Serie A this season? Which player are you most excited to watch? Which teams will be relegated to Serie B?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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