The Serie A season is underway. Every year brings new drama, new adventures, new surprises, new disappointments. Every year is different, and yet every year is also much the same: lots and lots of great football. It's a tough league to predict, though that didn't stop our staff from sharing their thoughts on the upcoming campaign.
Which Team Will Be The Surprise Of The Season?
Conor: Cagliari. It's easy to say since sides lead by Zdenek Zeman tend to be all kinds of fun and frequently over-achieve their expectations. This squad seems well-suited to Zeman's insane designs, though, with a plethroa of talented and fast attackers at his disposal. Watching that squad play Zeman's crazy game should be a lot of fun, and could be very successful.
Kirsten: Sassuolo. Maybe because I love Sassuolo. But assuming they don't experience another moment of insanity and fire Eusebio Di Francesco yet again, I think they'll be much stronger than last season. And they're fun!
Which Team Will Be The Disappointment Of The Season?
Conor: Hellas Verona achieved much, much more than anyone expected last season. That second season in a top division can be rough, though, especially when you lose a lot of your best players to your rivals. They came to the ragged edge of Europa League qualification last season, but they could easily wind up in the thick of the relegation fight this year.
Kirsten: Tempted to put Napoli here, but I'm still hanging on to hope that they'll just be a disappointment to their own fans when they end up taking second. Now, after their first match, I worry about Fiorentina. Vincenzo Montella chose some odd tactics for that match, and Roma ran them ragged in the first half. But they had plenty of opportunity in the second, yet couldn't find an equalizer. If injuries hit again this season, they could find themselves mid-table, and looking decidedly unfun down there.
Who Will Win Serie A?
Conor: As much as I hate to say it, Juventus. Even with the turmoil and loss of Conte, they're still firmly in the driver's seat, especially with their much-improved depth compared to past years.
Kirsten: Napoli, of course. No, it probably will be Juve again. Roma have some weaknesses that Fiorentina could well have exposed in the first game had they been playing more to their strengths, and Champions League could see them dropping points. Juventus have a stronger squad across all levels, and even Max Allegri is unlikely to mess things up that much.
Who Finishes In The Top Six?
Conor: Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan, Roma, AC Milan, Fiorentina
Inter have improved and seem to be embracing Mazzarri-ball more than they ever did last year, so I see them snatching that third Champions League spot while Roma struggle with their reshaped squad and the demands of European competition. AC Milan have put together an interesting squad, and the struggles that Torino seem likely to face as well as Parma seeming likely to fall off a bit open a spot for them to snag if things click under Pippo Inzaghi.
Kirsten: Juventus, AS Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina, Inter, Parma
Oh wait that was last year. Still, I don't see many sides strengthening that much to where the table will be all that different. Inter will be stronger and make a run at the Champions League places. Torino will falter, having lost many of their best players. Verona will definitely be worse. So unless Milan finally start getting back into things, there's not a lot of reason to believe the top six will change.
Who Gets Relegated?
Conor: Chievo Verona, Empoli, Sassuolo
None of these three sides are very good, though the relegation battle will probably run five or six teams deep. What make it worse for these three teams, though, isn't just that they're not good; they also play dire and boring football on top of it.
Kirsten: Chievo were absolute crap in their first game. Empoli haven't done nearly enough to supplement their squad. And I don't know why Cesena is being overlooked by my esteemed colleague, because they don't even seem to want to be in Serie A. It's like they just stumble into it.