Serie A 2017/2018 preview
I sat down with Serie A expert @Hashim0307 for all things Serie A! Here's our Q and A session!
Q. Okay so, for those of us outside Serie A seeing Bonucci join Milan was massively confusing! Why did Juve sanction the sale?
A. I think Bonucci joining Milan was as confusing for Juve and Milan fans as it was for everyone else. It happened so fast and it was so unexpected. He had interest from Chelsea and City and everyone thought if he was going to leave he would for sure head to Premier League. Juve's transfer policy is that they won't keep any player against his will. Bonucci had some issues with the coach Max Allegri during the season and reports from italian media suggests a brawl occurred during half time in the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Bonucci felt he couldn't stay at Juve anymore and due to his family situation staying in Italy was the only option. His son had been sick last year and his wife was not ready to leave Italy. With Milan's new ownership they were the only ones ready to pay a €40 mill fee + raise his wages making him one of the top earners in Serie-A. Juve had few other options than selling him to Milan. The relationship between the clubs have been good recently so a deal was reached within few days.
Q. I see. So a follow up on that. 2. With Bonucci's departure +Milan's big spending spree are Juventus still favourites for the Serie A? Or will we see it change hands this year?
A. Juve are still huge favorites to win the title. I think anything else than title win is a huge failure for Juventus this season. Milan have almost an entire new team. Going from 6th place to a league title in one season with a new team will be very difficult. Anything more than a qualification to Champions League will be a bonus for Milan this year. Juventus may have weakened the defence, but their offensive firepower is one of the best in the world. With Douglas Costa, Dybala, Bernardeschi and Higuain starting + Cuadrado, Pjaca and Mandzukic on the bench it's too good for anyone to compete with in Serie-A this season.
Q. Very good point. 3. What will the expectation be of Juventus in the CL this season then? They made the final last year, can they go one better this year?
A. With the firepower they have Juve are expected to compete till the very end in Champions League. It will be difficult to go all the way this season because Barcelona and Bayern Munich are bound to strike back, PSG have huge expectations, the big english clubs are also back in the competition and Real Madrid are always there. We can hope, but I think Juve's chances are less this season compared to last season.
Q.Very fair assessment. 4. Looking outside the big clubs for a minute who are your team to watch and as a follow up your player to watch this season?
A. I am looking forward to seeing Atalanta play in the Europa League this season. They have an exciting young team which did very well in Serie-A last year playing great football. I think they can impress a lot in Europe, but the challenge will be how they are going to balance playing in more than one competition. When it comes to players I like Roma's signing Cengiz Ünder from Turkey. Roma recently signed Sevilla's ex sporting director Monchi to lead the club and he is known for finding great talent. With Roma playing in the Champions League I think he can put on quite a show.
Q. I look forward to watching them this season then! City+Liverpool were interested in him according to the MEN brilliant coup! 5. More on Roma then, they've been Italy's number 2 team for the past few years, how will they cope with the losses of Salah and Rudiger? (Potentially Manalos too)
A. They are weakened with Salah leaving, but I think they will be fine in defence with Manolas staying. Him and Fazio have a very good partnership. They will miss Salah's linkup with Dzeko, but they managed to keep their best player, and the best midfielder in Serie-A Nainggolan. The biggest loss for them was losing the coach Spalletti to Inter. They hired Di Francesco from Sassuolo, but this season will be a big test for him. Their target will be a top four finish and I think they can do it.
Q. I see! 6. You mentioned Inter so I have to ask how do you see the 2 Milan clubs getting on this season? Milan have spent a lot and Inter will of course have high expectations too. Could we see a return to the CL for both Milan clubs?
A. Inter actually have a good squad but has been underperforming the last years. They have been a bit unstable with change of ownership and change of management often. They finally have a quality coach who can get the very best out of their team. They have not been very active in the transfer window but I think they will make 2-3 signings soon. Both expects to make it back to the Champions League but I think only one of them will make it this season. Inter have the advantage of not playing in Europe while Milan has to play in the Europa League. Inter also have a more proven coach than Milan and less expectations than their neighbour so they can definitely go under the radar and have a good season.
Q. Will be interesting to see how they both get on! 7. Finally can I take some predictions from you for the season ahead? Top 4(in order) POTY, Top Scorer and relegation?
A. 1. Juventus 2. Napoli 3. Inter 4. Roma Player of the year: Dybala Top scorer: Icardi Relegation: Benvento Crotone Hellas Verona
Milan to miss out on top 4! Big call! Well thank you very much!