It would be wrong to make assumptions over the fate of the 2023/24 Scudetto based on the results of the first games played, but it is certainly not easy not to be influenced.
MILAN CLUBS TO DOMINATE?
The sure thing is that AC Milan and Inter Milan in the market have worked well, indeed very well, even selling important players.
The team that has changed the most is definitely AC Milan, which sold Sandro Tonali, the club’s captain and promised icon: the Italian went to Newcastle for a very high sum, and with that money the Rossoneri management brought in many quality players, from Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Tijjani Reijnders, the real surprise of the league so far. With the speed of Rafael Leao and Samu Chukwueze, the class of Pulisic and the goals of Olivier Giroud, coach Stefano Pioli can rely on a top attack, and in the first league games the potential has been fully manifested.
The other team which is sure to fight for the Scudetto is Inter: general manager Beppe Marotta has allowed several starters to leave, from Andre Onana to Marcelo Brozovic, with Milan Skriniar also departing and Romelu Lukaku saying goodbye. The team has changed so much, but coach Simone Inzaghi immediately managed to plug the gaps and the Nerazzurri seem to have started again exactly where they left off last season – with the departures now only a distant memory.
Inter play good football, score a lot of goals and Marcus Thuram has already proven his talent, the defence looks unbeatable and Inzaghi has even yet to include new arrival Davide Frattesi among the starters: in short, the Nerazzurri on paper are the team that has been strengthened the most and is likely the strongest candidate for this season’s Scudetto.
NAPOLI MUST ADJUST QUICKLY
A few steps back are champions Napoli. President Aurelio De Laurentiis had to say goodbye to Luciano Spalletti, now Italy’s coach, and take Rudi Garcia, sold Kim Min-jae to Bayern Munich, but managed to keep the other big names, the really top players, namely Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – at least for now.
Garcia will build with them, but he has to solve several tactical problems: he has a decidedly different idea of football than Spalletti and now his players will have to get used to the new dictates and style of play – which is more direct and vertical. From a Scudetto perspective, it will be important not to lose too much ground as the adjustments are made.
The importance of Matteo Politano is now confirmed, a player always underestimated, but often decisive with the great range of solutions he offers. And there’s Stanislav Lobotka, the brain of the team. Meanwhile, Andre-Frank Anguissa has to raise his level and adapt to the new coach: Spalletti made things easy for him last year.
JUVE AND ATALANTA WILDCARDS
The big question mark is Juventus: without European cups, with the same coach as last year and basically the same group, except for a few additions like Andrea Cambiaso and Timothy Weah, with Dusan Vlahovic fully recovered and Fede Chiesa having finished running in, in short, the arsenal is packed and loaded. Of course, at the moment there is no Paul Pogba, whose situation needs to be monitored, but Max Allegri can count on a group full of talented players and, above all, he can manage them without the “hassle” of European cups, thus being able to manage the conditions of all his top players.
For this reason, Juventus looks very much like a wildcard: Allegri has a great chance and he absolutely must not let it slip away, because after all the problems Juventus have had in recent months, including disqualifications, convictions and scandals… going back to winning immediately could be the solution to all their problems. A new beginning, for all intents and purposes. Allegri needs to win.
Another wildcard is Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta, which has worked smartly in the market as usual and as things stand presents an attack composed of Teun Koopmeiners, Charles de Ketelaere and Gianluca Scamacca, a frightening offensive trident, to which Ademola Lookman, who was a major player last season, will also be added later.
With the arrivals of Sead Kolasinac and Mitchel Bakker, Atalanta has also brought in international experience: it is a team to watch. So is Fiorentina, which is coming from the bitter disappointment in the Conference League final against West Ham, but which has also been heavily reinforced in the market: Arthur, Josip Brekalo, M’Bala Nzola, Lucas Beltran, Yerry Mina, Fabiano Parisi, in short, so much talent to add to what is already on the roster. If coach Vincenzo Italiano can tie together all the components at his disposal he will be a danger to all, there is no doubt about that.
LAZIO AND ROMA – TEAMS OF THE UNKNOWN
We have not yet talked about the Romans, but this is not a random choice. Lazio has changed so much; Maurizio Sarri had to say goodbye to the team’s top player, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, but welcomed Daichi Kamada, Matteo Guendouzi, Taty Castellanos, Nicolo Rovella, and Andreas Isaksen, with the latter representing president Claudio Lotito’s latest gamble. Lots of good players, but so much work to do for Sarri, tactically a master, but rather slow in the insertion of new players, precisely because his style of play is not immediately understood. Work and time are needed, but Lazio needs points right away.
In their first three games the Biancocelesti collected 3 points, losing to Genoa and Lecce, but winning in Naples. A surprising result given the first two, but one that gives Lazio fans hope. In all likelihood, Lazio will be in the running until the end for a place in the next Champions League, but it seems difficult for them to compete in the Scudetto race.
A similar discourse for Roma, which even in my personal grid comes with even more question marks. To read the names, and only those, Tiago Pinto has handed coach Jose Mourinho a very good team, but the reality is that Renato Sanches is one of the most fragile players on the European scene, Paulo Dybala offers little physical guarantees (as last season shows), despite being a real star player, and the wingers are the team’s real weak point, despite the fact that the system chosen by the Roma coach calls for the use of quality, offensive flankers.
The midfield presents question marks after the mysterious departure of Nemanja Matic and seems to be difficult to assemble, with Bryan Cristante and Leandro Paredes almost duplicating each other because of the same running pace – and with Renato not being physically reliable. In short, Mourinho will have to work hard to find a team and to make the available players coexist fruitfully. The strengths will, as always, be Lorenzo Pellegrini, Dybala (when he will be there) and, of course, Romelu Lukaku, one of the best signings in the league and one of the strongest players on the European and world scene.
Mourinho will rely on the Belgian to mask game and team problems: with such a dominant player it will be enough to get the ball to him. Houssem Aouar could prove decisive, but he too is a player who needs to find himself and regain condition and pace. In short, so many question marks, so much work for Mourinho, whose contract will be expiring next June. Roma fans are hoping for an unforgettable last dance.
THE RELEGATION BATTLE – NO DEAD CERTS
As far as the fight not to be relegated is concerned, Eusebio Di Francesco has landed at Frosinone, who after excellent seasons at Sassuolo and Roma (ending badly, of course) seemed to have lost his touch. In the first few days, his Frosinone have showed many interesting things, starting with an aggressive and courageous style of play, thanks to which it managed to trouble Napoli and beat Gasperini’s Atalanta.
Roberto D’Aversa’s Lecce, a coach as good as he is underrated, jumped to a great start. Sporting director Pantaleo Corvino has scouted around Europe for excellent talent, as always, and he has shown that he knows how to exploit the market successfully.
Claudio Ranieri’s Cagliari has yet to find balance and solidity, and in this sense the arrival of Andrea Petagna could help the legendary Roman coach. The most struggling team in the league seems to be Empoli (0 goals scored up to now), which, however, showed last year that it had a safe and quality guide in Paolo Zanetti.
Question marks for Sassuolo, with Alessio Dionisi who will need to find certainties to start (really) a new cycle for the Neroverdi, especially after the farewell of a regular starter and key player like Davide Frattesi. The pillar of all the work will be as always Domenico Berardi, the true star of the team, now the undisputed leader.
Great curiosity surrounds Bologna and Genoa, two teams full of talent and players capable of changing the destiny of every match. Bologna has in its coach the greatest strength, Thiago Motta, increasingly ready for the big leap (next year he could go to a top team), while Genoa has a Europa League attacking trident, between Johann Gudmundsson, Ruslan Malinovskyi and Mateo Retegui.
Serie A promises fireworks, between top teams and teams in search of glory and miracles: we are ready for it.