Football

Who can challenge Juventus for the Scudetto this season?

Fiorentina are one of Juventus’s historic rivals and have shown signs of establishing themselves as top-four challengers in Serie A in recent seasons. The Viola finished eighth in the league table last season while, during the 2015-16 campaign, they ended up fifth and, in 2014-15, they were fourth. Stefano Pioli’s side are unlikely to challenge for the Scudetto during the 2017-18 campaign but they will consider themselves among the sides aiming for a Champions League spot.

The Florence-based side has not made a great start to the season but they were still expected to be tough for Juventus to beat on Wednesday evening. The Bianconeri, though, managed to pick up all three points from the encounter at Juventus Stadium, thanks to a diving header from Mario Mandzukic in the seventh minute of the second half. The match against Fiorentina was Juve’s first real test of the 2017-18 Serie A campaign, and they did not slip up.

Despite not being at their very best against Fiorentina, Juventus were still the better side and their performance underlines just why they are still the team to beat in Italy. The Turin giants have won Serie A for the Scudetto for the past six years, and it would take a brave man to predict them to relinquish their crown this season. Massimiliano Allegri’s side has won all five of their league matches so far this season and are understandably the favorites to win the league title. However, the early signs from Napoli and AC Milan suggest that it may not be plain sailing for Juventus this season.

Napoli have been a consistent threat to Juventus over the past few years. The Neapolitan’s challenge has fizzled away in the final weeks in recent seasons but they have managed to finish in the top four in five of the past seven campaigns. The Partenopei were third and second in the past two seasons and, given the 100% record they have so far this campaign, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that they could last the distance. With a number of websites listed on Oddschecker.com offering free bonuses, it would not be a bad idea for a new customer to place a wager on Maurizio Sarri’s side ending Juventus’s stranglehold of the Scudetto.

With top-quality players such as Jose Callejon, Driers Mertens, Marek Hamsik, Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol and Lorenzo Insigne in the team, the Stadio San Paolo faithful should be immensely confident and optimistic.

AC Milan have been in the doldrums for a number of years now and last won Serie A back during the 2010-11 season. The Rossoneri underwent a revolution of sorts in the summer transfer window, bringing in Mateo Musacchio from Villarreal, Ricardo Rodriguez from Wolfsburg, Andre Silva from FC Porto, HakanCalhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen and Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus among other players. Milan also managed to keep hold of star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and attacking midfielder Suso. Vincenzo Montella is a very good tactician, and the Italian can be trusted to get the best out of the players that he had at his disposal.

AS Roma went close to winning the Scudetto last season and finished just two points behind eventual champions Juventus. The Giallorossi ended up third in 2015-16 and second in 2014-15 and 2013-14. Head coach Eusebio Di Francesco has a good squad with him this season, with striker EdinDzeko going strong as ever, RadjaNainggolan remaining a force in midfield, and Stephan El Shaarawy showing very encouraging and promising signs. The departure of winger Mohamed Salah to Liverpool in the summer transfer window and the retirement of legend Francesco Totti could hurt them, though.

Inter Milan will also have eyes on the Scudetto, and head coach Luciano Spalletti will be determined to have a successful season following the team’s seventh-placed finish in Serie A during the 2016-17 campaign. Inter have some wonderful players, such as goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, midfielders Borja Valero, and Ivan Perisic, and forward Mauro Icardi, but the Nerazzurri do not have the squad depth to sustain a title challenge despite making a strong start. While Juventus still have the best squad in Italy despite losing Bonucci, Napoli and Roma could give the Bianconeri a run for their money this season.

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