Serie A betting preview
Every year, the same question about Italian football is asked. Back in the late 1980s and early 90s, Serie A was at its peak and, while there are no actual criteria for deciding this, it was probably the best league in the world.
Trademark defensive stability was balanced out by the best attacking talent the game had to offer throughout those years. Michel Platini, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane and Brazilian Ronaldo all plied their trade in Italy, probably while playing at their very best.
To compliment them, a conveyor belt of Italian stars were developed, giving calcio a unique appeal, with a kind of cool, cultural edge to it that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
While that has not been completely lost, various problems have impacted on Serie A in recent years, taking some of the magic away. There is no doubting the ability of players on show, but the overwhelming feeling is one of nostalgia when looking from a far these days.
Will this be the year of an Italian Renaissance? Here’s the Bookie Insiders betting preview ahead of the 2016/17 season.
Who will win the title?
Juventus (1.45 with Sportingbet)
It isn’t just the previous five years that make Juventus a safe bet again, but also the way they have conducted themselves in the transfer window. Despite losing Paul Pogba to Manchester United in a world record £89million deal, the Bianconeri have strengthened impressively, but done so domestically, weakening direct title rivals in the process.
Snatching Miralem Pjanic from Roma set the tone, but making Gonzalo Higuain the third most expensive player by exercising the buyout clause in his contract at intense rivals Napoli, increasing the bad blood between the two sides, made waves right across Europe.
After a poor start to the last campaign, Juve still finished eight points ahead of the Partenopei, with Roma a further two behind. It is hard to see how anyone can stop them celebrating a sixth straight Scudetto come May.
With Pjanic, Higuain and not forgetting a certain Paulo Dybala, on show for the Old Lady, it doesn’t seem like there is much of a race on the cards.
Champions League football?
Our tip: Roma and Napoli (1.5 and 1.53 with Bet365)
The barometer for how far Italian football has fallen lies with the two clubs from Milan. Both Inter and AC have struggled to compete for a top three finish over recent years, let alone actually qualifying. Despite the former ending in fourth last term, they were 13 points off third placed Roma.
Currently at 2.25 and 5.00 respectively, their issues are a lack of quality and stability, having been at the centre of tugs of war with ownership and not quite getting the right fit in terms of managers. More upheaval has occurred at the San Siro, with new Chinese owners at Milan and former Roma striker Vincenzo Montella taking over from Sinisa Mihajlovic in the dugout.
For the Nerazzurri, Roberto Mancini has departed and been replaced by Frank de Boer, who won four Eredivisie titles in six years at Ajax. Any newfound optimism will be tamed given it was a similar story just 12 months ago, but if all clicks into place, the fashion capital could be a good bet for Champions League sooner rather than later.
Napoli have acted by bringing striker Arkadiuz Milik, who netted 21 goals in the Dutch league last year, to the Stadio San Paolo from Ajax.
He should ensure boss Maurizio Sarri’s good work continues, while Mohamed Salah’s permanent move to Roma from Chelsea will give them the necessary firepower alongside the likes of Edin Dzeko and, for one final season, Francesco Totti, for another good campaign.
Lazio and Fiorentina are unlikely to go the distance, but with Ciro Immobile moving to Rome from Sevilla and big things expected from 22-year-old Federico Bernardeschi at La Viola, there could be some value with both at 8.0.
Our tip: Mauro Icardi (13.0 with Bet365)
Unlike the title race itself, the race for the Golden Boot is a more open market, with a lot more value away from the obvious candidates. Everyone expects Higuain to succeed immensely having scored 36 goals last season, so it is no surprise to see him at 1.5.
Should he stay, and De Boer uses him correctly, Inter man Mauro Icardi offers a great balance between value and realism. Last year he finished fourth of the chart with 16, behind Dybala (now 15.00) and Milan’s Carlos Bacca (21.00), but in 2014/15, his 22 goals could only be matched by veteran Luca Toni, then of Hellas Verona.
Statistics will say this is a closed book with last season’s clear star joining the best team, but there is a lot of attacking talent in Italy this season. If you are looking for an outsider who could surprise a few, Immobile’s (26.00) move to Lazio could give him the platform to get among the goals. If value with an element of risk is what you want, the top goalscorer market is the way to go.
In truth, it is hard to see past another predictable campaign in Italy, but that does not mean it won’t be worth watching. A lot of quality will be on show, and with Juventus at 12.0 with Bet365 in the Champions League, there could be some Serie A interest in the latter stages.
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