Serie A Title Race Preview- Can Roma Finally Challenge Or Is It Going Back To Milan Again?
This weekend marks the beginning of the 22/23 Serie A campaign, the last of Europe’s top five leagues to get underway. After AC Milan’s victory last season and Inter’s in 19/20, Juventus look to restart their dominance of Italian football this season while Jose Mourinho's Roma are looking to secure their first Scudetto in over 20 years.
While Juventus still aren't in the greatest shape on paper going into the new season, you can never rule out the 36-time league champions. After a very disappointing campaign last season, finishing fourth, sixteen points behind winners AC Milan. The Old Lady have had a transfer window of ups and downs.
The club lost club legend and captain Giorgio Chiellini, world-class centre-back Matijhis de Ligt to Bayern Munich and Paulo Dybala on a free transfer after failing to agree on a new contract with the Argentinian. Despite this, the signings of Bremer from Turin rivals Torino and the experienced free transfers of Paul Pogba and Angel Di Maria puts Juventus in a decent position going into the new campaign.
However, with Paul Pogba’s recent injury ruling him out till at least the World Cup, Juventus again look very short in the centre of the park. Scoring goals was a major issue for Juve last season, ranking 11th in Serie A goals scored behind sides like Udinese and Verona. They have yet to address this in the transfer window either, with just Dusan Vlahovic and Moise Kean as their only striking options.
To make matters worse, they have also lost their two highest scorers last season in Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala. This has the potential of another dire season for Juventus unless Vlahovic can continue the form that earned him his move from Fiorentina or Di Maria can roll back the years and carry the team's creativity on his own back.
This year's favourites for the title Inter are coming off the back of another stellar campaign where they finished just two points off of city rivals AC Milan. However, they are looking to go one better this year after a brilliant transfer window. The re-signing of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea on loan for the season is arguably the signing of the summer. A year on after selling him for £100m, the club bought him back for the season for a reported £5m. SimoneInzaghi will look to reunite him with Lautaro Martinez, the strike force which was crucial in their 19/20 Serie A title-winning season.
Also the signings of goalkeeper Andre Onana and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a proven Serie A attacker make the Nerazzurri favourites for the title once again. Despite the loss of Ivan Perisic after a great spell in Milan, the permanent signing of Robin Gosens after a short loan spell last season for just £13.5m is a great bit of business. Finally, Inter have (so far) managed to keep hold of both Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni, who were linked with big money moves to PSG and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
Last season Inter had the best attack in the league scoring 84 goals in the league, ten higher than second-best Napoli, fifteen more than winners AC Milan and a massive 27 more goals than Juventus. Adding Lukaku to replace Edin Dzeko in the frontline and the added creativity from Mkhitaryan will surely lead to more goals from Inzaghi’s side, and therefore potentially more chance of being crowned Serie A champions.
The Rossoneri are looking for their first back-to-back title victories since 1992/93 after winning their first Scudetto since the 2010/11 season last campaign. Milan have probably had the least active transfer window of all title contenders in Italy this year. The biggest signing is talented young Belgian forward Charles De Ketelaare from Club Brugge, who has been brought in to play all along the front positions.
They have also signed Liverpool cult-hero Divock Origi on a free transfer who will rotate with now forty-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is expected to be out till January with a knee injury. The permanent signing of Alessandro Florenzi from PSG for under £3m is also great business for a solid right-back. Junior Messias who impressed for relegated side Crotone also arrived to provide more attacking depth.
Despite a very good attack including talented players like Rafael Leao, who provided 26 G/A in the league last season, Brahim Diaz and Ante Rebic. It's the defence that is the main part of Milan's success. The young centre-back pairing of Fikayo Tomori and Pierre Kalulu compliment each other perfectly. French goalkeeper Mike Maignan who won the 21/22 goalkeeper of the year award and attacking left back Theo Hernandez make Milan's back 4 almost perfect.
However, Milan went out of the Champions League in the group stages meaning they could concentrate on the League for the whole second half of the season, which gave them an advantage over their title rivals. Something they may not have this year as they would be expected to go further in the competition.
Potentially a surprise inclusion in this list, 21/22 Conference League winners Roma potentially have a shot at their first title since the 2000/01 season. While Inter are still the clear favourites for the scudetto, Jose Mourinho is one to provide the football world with shocks as we've seen in Italy before when he won the Champions League with Inter. The Romans have had a very solid transfer window to add to their current squad.
They have brought in Nemanja Matic, a very solid midfielder who will suit a slower league like Serie A and Zeki Celik from Lille who has been a target from some of Europe's biggest clubs previously, as well as Georginio WIjnaldum on loan from PSG, a proven player in a lot of European Leagues. But by far the standout signing is Paulo Dybala on a free transfer from potential title rivals Juventus. The Argentina International has registered 149 G/A in 271 Serie A games for the Old Lady and will potentially provide an attacking spark in Rome.
Roma didn't have the greatest attacking stats last season scoring 59 goals. However, with the addition of Paulo Dybala and the expected improvement of Tammy Abraham, the Giallorossi can expect more goals to come in 22/23. However, as we know for Mourinho defence takes priority. The addition of Matic, a player Mourinho clearly trusts after bringing him to both Chelsea and Manchester United will help protect the Roma defence where Ibanez and Chris Smalling have impressed in recent seasons.