The World Cup is behind us, teams are conducting their preseason training, and the Serie A season is going to be here before we know it.
The 2018/19 edition of top flight calcio on the peninsula will be full of excitement, drama, goals, and lots of Ronaldo coverage.
I’m putting this instalment together on July 19th, 2018. We don’t have the final squads, hell, we don’t even have confirmation that these will be the 20 teams in Serie A!
Chievo and Parma are in some trouble for allegedly committing fraud, and that could send each team to the lower ranks.
Chievo for inflating values of players they transferred, and Parma because someone on their team jokingly texted friends from another team not to try so hard so his team could achieve promotion.
Ah, calcio I missed you so.
This leaves Crotone and Palermo wondering if they are going to be in Serie A next season and not Serie B, which would be the action if Chievo and Parma are dropped.
So on let’s roll with the twenty that have Serie A status and predict their league finish based on how their teams are looking at the moment.
If you recall me doing this last year, I revised my predictions a little after the beginning of August with final predictions to come just before the season starts.
Here we go, let’s end the suspense with who I think win Serie A……
1 – Juventus
Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo is the marquee acquisition for this team, but signing him only scratches the surface.
Juve liked what Joao Cancelo did for Inter so they bought him, and Emre Can joined the Old Lady on a free. Mattia Caldara and Leonardo Spinazzola are back from their loan time at Atalanta to bolster the defense, and goalkeeper is well covered with Szczesny returning and signing Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
If you want to nitpick, losing Gigi Buffon may hurt a little from a leadership and dressing room standpoint, but that’s about it. As it stands, we have the privilege of watching an attack of CR7, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, and Douglas Costa.
2, 3, and 4 are going to be a total dogfight all season long. For now I’ll pip Inter ahead of Napoli and Roma.
They got rid of Eder, and there was much rejoicing among the blue and black part of Milan. Getting Radja Nainggolan from Roma for 38 million is a bargain, and he’ll thrive as he is reacquainted with Luciano Spalletti.
Kwadwo Asamoah and Stefan de Vrij are solid additions to help the defense, and Matteo Politano gives them depth on the flanks.
Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi are still Inter players, too. They’re not as good as the 2010 Treble-winning version, but this Nerazzurri are equipped to handle all competitions they are part of.
Aurelio De Laurentis has raised the profile of Napoli to the point where he can nab Carlo Ancelotti as manager, that’s a tremendous credit.
However, it’s hard to improve on last season’s incredible run with Jorginho no longer in the ranks. Yes he was that important.
Still, the Partenopei have added some nice pieces to this squad. Fabian Ruiz might not be Jorginho, but he’s capable nonetheless. Alex Meret is an underrated goalkeeper who will prove his qualities and is an upgrade from the ageing Pepe Reina.
Simone Verdi broke out in his time at Bologna, and now he’ll ply his trade at the San Paolo, as will Amin Younes after his successful time at Ajax.
4 – Roma
I’m putting Roma here with the sale of Allisson Becker to Liverpool in mind. Monchi is doing some excellent business but I have legitimate concerns about this team’s defense, and now goalkeeping.
I just don’t see the Giallorossi starting the season with Antonio Mirante in goal, but that is what they’re left with as Lukas Skorupski left for Bologna.
As for who joined, they’re already raving about Justin Kluivert and his talent. Javier Pastore has been through Serie A before, and they also get that midfield shored up adding Bryan Cristante.
Davide Santon is a serviceable left back coming over from Inter who will provide experience.
Edin Dzeko is still a Roma player too, and hopefully Patrick Schick has a better second season and proves his worth.
It’s hard to argue that they’ll miss Radja Nainggolan though, his role wasn’t necessarily the same under Eusebio Di Francesco as it was under Spalletti.
This is the lowest you’ll see me rank Roma in these predictions, and they certainly stand a chance to move up if they upgrade goalkeeper, something that should be expected with the money they’ll get for Allisson.
Gian Piero Gasperini has been fantastic in his time in Bergamo and I think that this could be his best Atalanta team yet, even with some of the departures.
Losing Bryan Cristante, and seeing Caldara and Spinazzola return to Juve on loan might weaken them, but they have reloaded. With Papu Gomez and Josip Ilicic providing service, new signing Duvan Zapata could find himself top five in the Capocannoniere race.
Zapata is a definite upgrade over departing Andrea Petagna. The defense will be tested with the Juve loanees going back to Turin, but there is enough remaining from last season’s team.
In Italy this is how they announce their signings: throwing them on top of a crane for the whole town to see 😂😂
Never change, @Atalanta_BC pic.twitter.com/a4lY9Ys0wJ
— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) July 17, 2018
6 – Lazio
The team that was a joy for the neutral to watch will still be that way if the squad to date stays together.
Stefan De Vrij moved on to Inter but Francesco Acerbi replaces him, and for Acerbi it is a well-deserved opportunity.
Valon Berisha was seen last season giving Simone Inzaghi’s men all sorts of problems at RB Salzburg in the Europa League, so Lazio bought him. Riza Durmisi is arguably an upgrade on the left in Inzaghi’s setup.
Sadly the team moves on from Felipe Anderson, and it is a matter of time before Sergei Milinkovic-Savic is playing elsewhere.
However Luis Alberto and Ciro Immobile are still in Lazio colors and will continue to keep opposing managers up at night.
7 – Fiorentina
Year two of Stefano Pioli’s project should see them on the same path as Sampdoria last season. They’ll start off well but my concern is that at some point they may get found out.
Getting Alban Lafont at 8.5 million euros from Toulouse was a steal, and Cristiano Biraghi is permanently with La Viola after having a solid season with them last year on loan.
Federico Ceccherini arrives on the cheap from Crotone, and Pioli will hope he can summon his 2016-17 form that helped Crotone stay up.
Coming up with a player to fill Milan Badelj’s shoes will be a challenge, but the upward career trajectories of Federico Chiesa and Giovanni Simeone will continue under Pioli’s watch.
8 – Milan
This will probably be the lowest I have Milan throughout these rankings, and while 2-4 will be tight, so will 5-10 for the two Europa League places.
Milan’s ceiling is probably 3rd, but they are so hard to trust at the moment. What’s the ownership going to look like? Who’s staying and who’s leaving? A lot of moving parts to consider to the point where it has to be a little burdensome for the players to carry on with.
Ivan Strinic and Pepe Reina arrive on a free, not even a tremor compare to the earthquake Milan made in last summer’s mercato.
Still a lot to be decided with the Rossoneri, and as this team stabilizes I’m probably moving them up.
9 – Torino
Good news for Granata faithful is that their captain, Andrea Belotti, is still there and it’s likely that will stay that way.
M’Baye Niang is now permanently with Torino as is Nicolas N’Koulou, two key pieces for their side from last season.
Torino also still have Adem Ljajic in their ranks, and Salvatore Sirigu proved and upgrade in goal last season. Walter Mazzari’s side could be a big surprise in 2018-19.
10 – Sampdoria
You don’t get better when you lose a top scorer like Duvan Zapata and an influential midfielder like Lucas Torreira.
Luckily for Sampdoria, they won’t get any worse, at least in the Serie A table, because the bottom half of this league is just not at the quality of the top half.
Omar Colley is an interesting addition from KRC Genk in Belgium, and he has experience in European Competition.
Jakub Jankto is a sneaky deal and the Czech international has great potential. Still, between the poor away form for much of last season and the hits they take from the departures, it’s hard to see Sampdoria any higher than this.
Marco Giampaolo will have to summon the magic that made the Blucherati a force throughout 2017.
11 – Bologna
I’m higher on this team than I should be, but looking at the rest of the teams to pick from, someone has to finish 11th.
New manager Pippo Inzaghi gained some valuable experience in his time managing Venezia, and I think he’ll be better prepared to handle the rigors of Serie A than when he was thrown into the role at Milan.
It’s not a promising state of affairs to lose Bologna’s best player from last season, Simone Verdi, but the Rossoblu have reinforced nicely.
Lukas Skorupski is only two seasons removed from a breakout season while in net for Empoli, on loan from Roma. We could find ourselves arguing that at €9 million, Skorupski will have been the value buy of the mercato.
Bologna also loaded up front with the experienced Diego Falcinelli, as well as Federico Santander who was quite useful for Copenhagen in seasons past.
Erick Pulgar will handle most of the set piece duty now with Verdi gone, and Inzaghi’s men are most equipped of the bottom half to trouble the top half sides. A top half finish, though, will still be out of reach.
12 – SPAL
They have a style of play that frustrates opponents and the makeup of this team will be good enough to see them finish high bottom half.
Jasmin Kurtic is there permanently now to help the midfield, and Andrea Petagna arrives to help with the goals.
Alfred Gomis had some impressive games in goal while on loan from Torino, and he is now the permanent No 1 for SPAL.
No one of note or consequence has left, and Leonardo Semplici’s men have the stability to get through another Serie A season.
13 – Udinese
The Zebrette nearly had the most spectacular freefall in Serie A history last season, but mustered up the results in the end to stay up.
They’re back to their tricks of digging up diamonds in the rough in South America; Ignacio Pussetto the most interesting of the lot.
Molla Wague impressed for Senegal at the World Cup, and for now he’s part of the Friuli.
What you get with Udinese seems to be the standard for them the last few seasons; young, promising, and just good enough to stay up.
14 – Sassuolo
The Politano-Falcinelli-Berardi experiment had to be blown up. It just didn’t work. Domenico Berardi still remains with the Neroverde, for now, while the other two have moved on. Though the addition of Federico Di Francesco might suggest Berardi won’t be with Sassuolo this season.
We’ll watch that one. Filip Djuricic and Kevin-Prince Boateng are interesting free transfers that can help provide some playmaking and experience for the Mapei outfit.
Veteran Andrea Consigli remains in goal for Sassuolo, but losing Francesco Acerbi in defense will hurt. Roberto De Zerbi takes over, and I look forward to seeing what he can do with this side.
15 – Chievo
On talent, they are good enough to stay up in Serie A. On business practices, they may not be in Serie A this season. That’s still being sorted at the time of writing.
Emanuele Giaccherini was with the Flying Donkeys on loan last season and now he’s there permanently, he’ll provide some playmaking help.
Filip Djordjevic is also here on a free and the hope is that he channels some of the good form he showed when he was with Lazio.
Mariusz Stepinski will be looked to in helping contribute to the goals, and Segio Pelissier and Valter Birsa are still part of the set up. It’s mostly a veteran attack, but serious questions will be asked of this defense.
Chievo's dilemma that could get them relegated: The Flying Donkeys are accused of exchanging players with Cesena at many times their real value, creating €25m of fake profit.
— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) July 17, 2018
16 – Genoa
You don’t get better by losing your best player, and Mattia Perin is now fighting for a starting place in goal for Juventus.
I have the Grifone this low only because I’m reminded of how awful they were in 2016-17 when Perin was out with a long-term injury.
Chances are I’ll move them up in my updated picks, but for now they’re here.
Sandro provides experience and is a nice fit for how Davide Ballardini will set this team up. Romulo also offers experience and is a bit of a multi-tool player.
Diego Laxalt remains a Genoa player for now, but after some good games at the World Cup with Uruguay he could be on the move.
17 – Cagliari
This could also be the lowest I have Cagliari, 12-17 are really close the way things are looking. Nicolo Berella is still in Sardinia, and Leonardo Pavoletti will look to improve on an indifferent 2017-18 season.
Darijo Srna arrives on a free, we’ll see what he has left in those 36-year old legs. He can get forward and serve a ball, problem is how often will Cagliari control possession for him to do that?
Lucas Castro provides experience at a decent price and will be happy to be out of the potential mess in Chievo. Defending will still be the issue for this side.
18 – Frosinone
I just don’t believe in any of the three promoted sides. Marco Sportiello should be the starter in goal; and loan deals with veterans like Edoardo Goldaniga, Lorenzo Crisetig, and Stipe Perica could help them be more competitive.
They certainly have the setup to be the best of the promoted sides, but I think Frosinone appear to still be at a distance from the teams in front of them.
19 – Empoli
Alfredo Donnarumma was key in Empoli’s push back to Serie A, and now he’s playing for Brescia. Francesco Caputo is still there, but he will need a lot of help.
I’m reminded of how badly this team struggled for goals two seasons ago and were bailed out time and again by Lukas Skorupski.
Empoli will struggle to score again this season, and Skorupski isn’t there to save them. The squad just don’t look competitive enough to survive.
20 – Parma
They’re an incredible story going from bankruptcy to top-flight football in over three years, but they may not even get to be in Serie A based on accusations of fraud over a text message.
If they’re up, there’s not much to get excited about. This team has a feel much like Benevento; too successful too quickly and just not equipped for the weekly rigors of Serie A.
Emanuele Calaio is a veteran striker that will be relied on for scoring, but looking at the squad and I just don’t see the experience there to mount a survival challenge.