The 2015-16 Serie A season is here. After a busy summer, the Italian top flight kicks off again Saturday.
Milan, the league's busiest club this summer, begins play Sunday against Fiorentina. The Rossoneri have spent 83 million euros to bolster the squad for new manager Sinisa Mihajlovic.
Juventus enter the season as the reigning champions four years running. Only three times – Juventus (1931-35), Torino (1943-49) and Inter (2006-10) – has a club won the Scudetto five years in a row.
Despite losing the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez, Juventus has added plenty of reinforcements, lead by Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic.
The 2015-16 sees two clubs make their Serie A debuts. Serie B champion Carpi and runner-up Frosinone—two clubs founded more than 100 years ago—are both in the top flight for the first time.
Will Carpi and Frosinone survive the season? Will Juventus retain the title? Can Milan redeem last year's 10th-place finish and return to the Champions League? Our staff has made its predictions for the 2015-16 Serie A campaign. The results are below.
|Tim Fontenault||Michele Pasquali||Liz Cotignola||Matt (Rossoneri Ruckus)||Daniel Safi|
|Champions League||Milan, Roma||Milan, Roma||Not Milan||Napoli, Roma||Juventus, Inter|
|Europa League||Inter, Napoli||Fiorentina, Napoli||Maybe Milan||Milan, Inter||Napoli, Fiorentina|
|Relegated||Empoli, Frosinone, Carpi||Chievo, Frosinone, Carpi||Hopefully Not Milan||Atalanta, Carpi, Frosinone||Frosinone, Carpi, Chievo|
|Capocannoniere||Mario Mandzukic, Juventus||Mauro Icardi, Inter||Someone who doesn't play for Milan||Gonzalo Higuain, Napoli||Edin Dzeko, Roma|
|Best Signing||Mandzukic||Paulo Dybala, Juventus||Not Milan's||Miranda, Inter||Mohamed Salah, Roma|
|Worst Signing||Edin Dzeko, Roma||Andrea Bertolacci, Milan||At least it's not Milan's||Sami Khedira, Juventus||Stevan Jovetic, Inter|
|Best Coach||Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus||Rudi Garcia, Roma||Not Milan's||Maurizio Sarri, Napoli||Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus|
I'll be the optimist. Milan is going to be better this season. Heck, it can't get much worse than last year's 10th-place finish. The club definitely has the potential to reach the Champions League, but even with another signing or two, I don't see them catching Juventus. Speaking of Max Allegri's side: I love Mario Mandzukic. I wanted Milan to sign him this summer. It didn't happen, so now he's going to become the first Juventus player to win Capocannoniere since Alessandro Del Piero in 2007-08.
As for the bottom feeders in the league, I am incredibly excited to watch Carpi and Frosinone play in the top flight for the first time in their respective histories. In 2010-11, Carpi was in the fourth division. Two seasons ago, Frosinone was in the third division. Both have enjoyed meteoric rises, but neither is Napoli. They will both be relegated this season, but they will be back.
Fun Fact: Mandzukic (or Edin Dzeko, if Daniel's prediction is correct) would be the first player to win Capocannoniere in his debut Serie A season since Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko in 1999-2000.
Take a screenshot of this table because you'll never see me doing optimistic predictions again. Milan's roster has improved a lot thanks to calciomercato and that's why I think they will be able to compete for a Champions League spot next season. It won't be easy, but Rossoneri have the potential to battle with teams like Roma and Napoli but not with Juventus, that's still a step above all other Italian clubs in terms of organization and roster.
With big names from foreign leagues coming to Italy, my choice as best signing is obviously not one of them but the 21-year-old Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala who's now a bianconero. Why him? Juventus have been able to replace their star Carlos Tevez, who's now at Boca Juniors, with the most complete young striker in the world. He scored 13 goals and made 10 assists at Palermo and I'm sure he'll be even better this season.
In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: He that lives upon hope will die fasting. Let's just be realistic, shall we? Milan finishing above the relegation zone is probably the best we can hope for this season.
In all honesty, though: the mercato - which was Milan's best in recent memory - has given the Rossoneri faithful reason to hope at long last. However, this massive overhaul also means that this is a team in transition. It will take some time for the team's new manager, roster and tactics to gel. The fans will have no choice but to endure these growing pains along with their team. Until those ebb, it would be foolhardy to expect too much from this team too soon. Improvement over the last miserable season? Definitely. Automatic contender for European competition? Doubtful. Let's just enjoy the ride.
This is going to be an awesome season of Serie A. With Juve getting weaker, the teams just below them getting better, and lots of big names from other leagues incoming, the potential is there for this season to be a classic. Juve have to be considered the favourites at this point, four straight Scudetti demand it, and as the old adage goes, "To be the man, you gotta beat the man." I think Milan have enough to make the top three if everything breaks their way, but after two nightmare seasons in a row, Milan definitely don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. While it's not saying a whole lot, this will be a much better season for the Rossoneri, and if "Il Condor Galliani" delivers a few late August presents, it could be a very good season.
Napoli is a real wildcard this year and the team I have my eye on. I think Sarri's attacking, organized, possession oriented brand of football is going to reinvigorate the Partenopei. I expect Napoli to give Juve a real fight, but there's so much that could go wrong with this team that I wouldn't be shocked if they flop and Sarri gets axed by Christmas. It's the risk you take when hiring a provincial manager. Is he going to be the next Sacchi or the next Gasperini? Only time will tell. Either way, Napoli will be must see TV all season long.
Momo Salah recorded six goals and three assists in 16 Serie A appearances for Fiorentina last season. Jose Mourinho might already be regretting not keeping the Egyptian forward at Stamford Bridge this year. Salah`s abillity to play anywhere on the front line, and his pace and trickery should be a huge asset for Roma this year.
The Giallorossi already had a solid base heading into this season, with Kevin Strootman, Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan anchoring the midfield, and a skillful Miralem Pjanic and Francesco Totti up front. With the additions of Salah, and Edin Dzeko, who scored 14, 14 and 16 goals, respectively, in three straight Premier League seasons, Roma might have one of its best teams on paper during the past decade.