Serie A 2020/21 season preview: title contenders, dark horses, promoted sides and more

Hands up who’s counting down the days to Serie A’s return? Yes, me too, friends.

Last season, Calcio fans were robbed of what promised to be the biggest upset in recent Serie A history, with Lazio and Atalanta closing the gap on struggling Juventus, only to be hit by the coronavirus. To come along and spoil everything.

Juventus celebrate in style after winning the league title / Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

La Vecchia Signora regained her composure, while the eagle’s wings had bitten off her wings, and the goddess lost her supernatural powers. Oh yeah, and Inter just did classic Inter stuff. Although this was the last season. Now, Juve are under new management, the Nerazzurri are ready to do battle again, and money is flying around the league like nobody’s business.

Serie A is full of mini subplots, interesting rivalries and individual duels up and down the league. That said, there’s a lot to keep your eye on at both ends of the table. So, why not take a look at the battles that have captured the attention for 90 minutes, as we review Italy’s top flight ahead of Saturday evening’s curtain raiser.


Official ✍️ | Andrea Pirlo is the new first team coach.

— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 8, 2020

As nine consecutive winners, it would be crazy to suggest Juventus aren’t favorites to confirm a decade of dominance over Italian football. I The Bianconeri have refreshed their aging midfield by bringing in Weston McKinney and Arthur Melo, while finally sending some of the deadwood out of the squad.

However, the Turin giants are entering uncharted waters, as they embark on a bold, new adventure with club legend Andrea Pirlo. The 41-year-old, who only recently collected his UEFA coaching licence, has never before managed at the highest level – or at any level, for that matter.

He has been given a fine start in the rest of Italy, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala leading their attack, and the arrivals of Luis Suarez and Edin Dzeko soon to be confirmed.

But does he have the skill, composure and metal to hold off a charge from Italy’s biggest underdogs?


Lukaku and Martinez proved a dangerous partnership for Inter / Marco Luzani / Getty Images

There is never a dull day on the black and blue side of the gradient. Inter temporarily loosened Juve’s grip on the Serie A title last year, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to prize the trophy from their icy hands. With a determined and newly motivated Antonio Conte ready to go into battle once again, the Nerazzurri remain a formidable opponent for the reigning champions.

The Milan club have held on to key players this summer, with striker Lautaro Martinez seemingly abandoning his dream move to crisis-hit club Barcelona. Inter have also added to their wealth of superstars, securing the signatures of Real Madrid wing-back Achraf Hakimi and AS Roma veteran Aleksandar Kolarov.

Midfield stalwart Radja Nanggolan is also set to return to the fold for next season, adding further steel to current substitutes Stefano Sensi, Marcelo Brozovic and Niccolo Barella. And of course, there is the tireless and ever-improving Romelu Lukaku.

It’s year 2 of Conte’s adventure with the Nerazzurri, and with the right signings finally in place, – and in the Juve transfer – Inter couldn’t have a better chance to end their 10-year transfer drought.


Atlanta attacker Trident is deadliest in Europe / Marco Luzani / Getty Images

The neutral’s preferred winner, you’d suspect. Everyone loves a fairytale, and Atalanta came so close to writing their own in the Champions League last season. In the end, it was not to be. However, they are not finished there. Like Inter, La Dia will smell blood, and Gianpiero Gasparini will know it could be his only shot at a proper title charge.

Divi have retained a core group of players for the coming campaign, although Timothee Castagan has swapped Bergamo for Leicester, and starlet Dejan Klosewski joined Juventus in a big-money move in January. – although he was out on loan last season.

Atlanta has always bounced back — and gotten better — despite the odds, and there are no signs they’ll continue that trend this year.


Pioli has revolutionized this stuttering Milan side / Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

It almost feels disrespectful to Italy and Milan to label the Rossoneri as a dark horse, but given their failures in recent years, it’s easy to see why. A new dawn is on the horizon at the San Siro, and under the impressive Stefano Pioli, this group of players has blossomed into potential Champions League contenders.

The summer arrivals of Brescia wonderkid Sandro Tonali and Madrid playmaker Brahim Diaz will only add to the rising levels of confidence, with the economy bubbling beneath the surface in the capital. The re-signings of Simon Kajer, Ant Ryback and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are all major coups for this young and exciting squad, who could finally see a return to the big time this summer.


Sassuolo have some lethal attacking stars / De Foddy Images / Getty Images

Finishing eighth behind Italy’s seven elite clubs, Sassuolo were last season’s ‘best of the rest’. There should be no reason for them not to repeat those heroics – or better – going into the 2020/21 campaign.

I Neroverdi retain the stars that make this fluid and attacking team so enjoyable to watch, and more importantly, coach Roberto De Zerbi will once again be in the dugout. The Italian boss has won all the plaudits since taking over at Sassuolo in 2018, and another strong season will increase calls for him to be given a seat at the top table in the near future.


Chiesa is close to unlocking its potential with Fiorentina / Gabriele Maltinti / Getty Images

Of course, this is the season when Fiorentina capitalizes on this crop of young, talented stars and re-enters the realm of Italy’s Seven Sisters.

Fiorentina have had a fairly successful transfer window so far. Hellas Verona star Sofyan Amrabat stunned Serie A with his commanding and dynamic display at the heart of their midfield, and the Viola had seen enough to take a punt on Morocco. We also can’t forget talisman and fan favorite Federico Chiesa, who has been threatening to become one of Italy’s most destructive players for some time now.

With the experience of Franck Ribery, Borja Valero and Jack Bonaventura, Giuseppe Iachini’s side could finally be ready to stake their claim for a top seven finish this season.


Inzaghi has rebuilt his managerial career with Benevento/Socrates Images/Getty Images.

The Wizards endured one of the most humiliating and humiliating campaigns in Italy’s top flight in 2017/18, with Stone dead last and some heavy hitting. Two years later, they’re back for more.

This time, Benevento have Filippo Inzaghi, rebuilding his managerial career after a poor spell at Bologna. He has done a good job so far, cantering for the Serie B title and setting Gli Stregoni up for a possible tilt at survival. It’s going to be a tough task, but who better than the Wizards to avoid a dip in the top flight?


Crotone players celebrate promotion to Serie A/Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Promoted as the second best team in Serie B, Crotone are back in the big time after a two-year absence. The Sharks have swam in Serie A before, surviving in 2017 with incredible results.

But it’s a completely different ball game in Italy these days, and it’s increasingly difficult for newly promoted teams to make their mark. Whether Croton can keep his head above water remains to be seen.


Spezia win promotion in a tense play-off / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Playoff heroes Spezia have never graced Serie A with their presence – until now. It’s been a long, hard journey to the top for the Little Eagles, but the moment to spread their wings and soar has finally arrived.

As with any new addition, money is tight (especially compared to their fellow rivals) and it will take something special to cement their place in Serie A. It’s not impossible though.

Arthur could be an interesting signing for Juventus supporters / Erik Alonso / Getty Images

Arthur Melo- Barcelona to Juventus (€72m)

Victor Osimhan- Lille to Naples (€70m)

Sandro Tonali- Brescia to Milan (€42m)

Expect big things from this guy / Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

Achraf Hakimi Real Madrid to Inter (€40m)

Dejan Klosewski – Atalanta vs Juventus (€35m)

Sufyan Amarbat – Hellas Verona to Fiorentina (€20m)

Alexander Kolorov – Rome to Inter (€1.5m)

? Welcome to #ASROma, @_Pedro17_ ?

— AS Roma English (@ASROMAEN) August 25, 2020

Pedro – Chelsea to Rome (Free Transfer)

Marash Cumbula – Hellas Verona to Roma (loan)

Brahim Diaz – Inter (loan) from Real Madrid

It won’t be a runner-up medal this time around for Antonio/Paul/Getty Images.

Time to stick your heads above the parapet, make some bold predictions and then completely disappear from the face of the internet without a trace. Inter will win the title this season. There – I said. I Nerazzurri could really benefit from this new-look Juve, and if they avoid the usual mid-season flurry, Conte’s men could pay the inexperienced Pirlo.

Atalanta will be well in the mix for the title, and it will be close between La Dia and the Bianconeri for the runner-up spot. A fierce scramble for a place in the Champions League final will no doubt ensue, and ‘dark horse’ Milan could have enough to pip Lazio, Napoli, or Roma to the honours.

It’s really anyone’s guess. Whatever happens, let’s enjoy it, shall we?

Prediction: 1) Inter 2) Juventus 3) Atalanta 4) Milan 5) Lazio 6) Napoli 7) Roma 8) Sassuolo 9) Fiorentina 10) Parma 11) Torino 12) Sampdoria 13) Bologna 14) Hellas Verona 15) Gino Benevento 17) Udinese 18) Cagliari 19) Crotone 20) Spezia

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