The new Serie A season is kicking-off this weekend, as Chievo Verona host holding champions Juventus on Saturday (Noon ET). Will the Old Lady retain the title for a fourth consecutive time or will the ever-improving Roma snatch it away? Can Napoli enter the argument and what will Fiorentina, Inter and Milan have to say about it?
Atalanta: Stefano Colantuono is currently the longest-serving manager in Serie A. He will be starting his fifth consecutive season in charge, a minor miracle in Italy. He will be pleased to have retained the services of star players such as Germán Denis, Carlos Carmona and Marcelo Estigarribia. They, along with Luca Cigarini and Andrea Consigli, form the core of a team which never flirted with relegation last season, finishing in 11th. Another mid-table finish should be the goal.
Cagliari: A slightly unknown package as previous owner Massimo Cellino has sold the club to a Sardinian chemical interest, who have appointed new manager Zdeněk Zeman. With Zeman comes the guarantee of a 4-3-3, but whether he is has the personnel to execute this system with aplomb remains to be seen. Víctor Ibarbo is fantastic talent, capable of pressing thanks to his speed and stamina. There are other quality players in the squad, such as Marco Sau, but they’re not necessarily adept at the intense high pressing of Zeman’s game. Zeman will be pleased to have talented youngsters Nicola Murru and Samuele Longo to mould.
Cesena: The Serie B play-off winners look likely to be candidates to drop back down as their squad is significantly lacking in Serie A experience. Franco Brienza and Stefano Lucchini have been brought in from Atalanta but both are in the twilight years of their career and neither shined last season. Juventus’ highly-rated goalkeeper Nicola Leali has arrived on loan and he’ll have to be on top form in what will surely be an extremely busy season for him.
Chievo: The Flying Donkeys were disappointed to have struggled last season as they have a decent squad with depth in both attack and defense. There will be fierce competition to wear the gloves – Christian Puggioni will be challenged by the return of both Andrea Seculin and Francesco Bardi. Manager Eugenio Corini will be looking forward to seeing new signing Maxi López, who will probably partner Alberto Paloschi in attack.
Empoli: Serie B runners-up are also likely to severely struggle, with a squad limited in talent and Serie A experience. Club talisman Francesco Tavano is in his second spell at the club, starting his ninth season at the club where he has 262 appearances and 108 goals. He will be joined in attack by young Uruguayan loan signing from Udinese Rodrigo Aguirre. Tiberio Guarente will bring Serie A know-how, but he was hardly a star player at Chievo. The big challenge will be the step up for young defenders like Daniele Rugani, Franco-Italian Vincent Laurini and Lorenzo Tonelli.