Fiasco Sports writer Marco Balsamo previews the 2014-15 Serie A title contenders ahead of this weekend’s kick off.
The 2014-15 Serie A season gets underway this weekend and the league has seen many changes in personnel ahead of the new campaign.
Last season, Juventus cruised to a third consecutive Scudetto, followed by Roma in second and Napoli in third.
Fiorentina and Inter Milan, who finished fourth and fifth respectively, will look to bridge the gap between themselves and the top three, while AC Milan will hope to improve on their dismal eighth-placed finish.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri
Signings: Patrice Evra (Manchester United, pictured), Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Paris Saint-Germain), Roberto Pereyra (Udinese – loan), Rômulo (Hellas Verona – loan)
Departures: Fabio Quagliarella (Torino), Mirko Vučinić (Al Jazira), Federico Peluso (Sassuolo), Mauricio Isla (Queens Park Rangers – loan)
First round: Chievo Verona (away)
After the shock departure of coach Antonio Conte, Juventus were quick to bring in former Milan boss Allegri, while also adding some solid – but not spectacular – signings to their team list.
The reigning champions seem to still be active in the transfer market, as they look to sign another forward, but their transfer window will be defined by the conclusion of the Arturo Vidal-Manchester United saga.
The potential departure of Vidal, combined with Conte’s resignation, could spell the end of Juventus’ unanimous reign over Serie A in recent times.
Coach: Rudi García
Signings: Ashley Cole (Chelsea, pictured), Kostas Manolas (Olympiacos), Juan Iturbe (Hellas Verona), Seydou Keita (Valencia), Urby Emanuelson (AC Milan), Davide Astori (Cagliari – loan), Salih Uçan (Fenerbahce – loan), Leandro Paredes (Boca Juniors – loan)
Departures: Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich), Rodrigo Taddei (Perugia), Dodô (Inter Milan – loan)
First round: Fiorentina (home)
Roma will be looking to build on an outstanding first season under García and they are gunning for the Scudetto.
The departure of world-class centre back Benatia is a massive blow, but the capital club beat Arsenal and Juventus to sign Manolas as the Moroccan’s replacement.
Roma have gained the experience of Cole and the attacking flair of Iturbe, while also making a number of other signings to improve their depth.
Coach: Rafael Benítez
Signings: Jonathan de Guzmán (Villarreal, pictured), Kalidou Koulibaly (Genk), Mariano Andújar (Catania), Michu (Swansea – loan)
Departures: Federico Fernández (Swansea), Valon Behrami (Hamburg), Eduardo Vargas (Queens Parks Rangers – loan)
First round: Genoa (away)
Benítez has made minimal changes to his Napoli side which finished third in Serie A and won the Coppa Italia last season.
Losing their UEFA Champions League playoff against Athletic Bilbao was a major disappointment, but could do wonders for their Serie A campaign, as they will now focus more on challenging for the Scudetto.
Coach: Vincenzo Montella
Arrivals: José María Basanta (Monterrey), Joshua Brillante (Newcastle Jets), Ciprian Tătărușanu (Steaua București), Marko Marin (Chelsea – loan, pictured), Steve Leo Beleck (Udinese – loan), Octávio (Botafogo – loan)
Departures: Marvin Compper (Leipzig), Massimo Ambrosini (end of contract)
First round: Roma (away)
Montella has added experienced Argentine defender Basanta and classy attacker Marin to his ranks this season in a bid to improve on two consecutive fourth-placed finishes.
If Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gómez can stay fit this season, then La Viola could be a dark horse to snatch the title.
Fiorentina will also be hoping to hold onto Barcelona and Bayern Munich target Juan Cuadrado.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri
Signings: Nemanja Vidić (Manchester United, pictured), Gary Medel (Cardiff City), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Southampton – loan), Yann M’Vila (Rubin Kazan – loan), Dodô (Roma – loan)
Departures: Javier Zanetti (retired), Esteban Cambiasso (Leicester City), Diego Milito (Racing Club), Saphir Taïder (Southampton – loan)
First round: Torino (away)
Inter will be looking to return to the summit of the Serie A standings and Mazzarri has made adequate signings, including former Manchester United captain Vidić and Southampton bad boy Osvaldo.
Mazzarri has also injected new life into Inter’s midfield, signing Medel from Cardiff City and snatching M’Vila on loan from Rubin Kazan.
Like Fiorentina, Inter have an outside chance of stealing the Scudetto this season.
Coach: Filippo Inzaghi
Arrivals: Diego López (Real Madrid, pictured), Alex (Paris Saint-Germain), Jérémy Ménez (Paris Saint-Germain), Michael Agazzi (Chievo Verona), Pablo Armero (Udinese – loan)
Departures: Mario Balotelli (Liverpool), Kaká (Orlando City), Kévin Constant (Trabzonspor), Urby Emanuelson (Roma), Robinho (Santos – loan), Valter Birsa (Chievo Verona – loan), Marco Amelia (end of contract)
First round: Lazio (home)
New coach Inzaghi has a gargantuan task of trying to rebuild this broken Milan side after the sacking of his former teammate Clarence Seedorf.
Milan’s key signings include Real Madrid glovesman López and PSG pair Alex and Ménez, but have allowed stars Balotelli and Kaká to leave.
Chelsea flop Fernando Torres has been touted as Balotelli’s replacement, according to The Telegraph, but he would need to roll back the years to have any impact at Milan.
Milan are stuck in a rebuilding phase and everything points towards them enduring another season in the middle of the table.
Written by Marco Balsamo