AC Milan: 4th
Will’s projection: 2nd
I absolutely love this Milan team, and I think it has a great opportunity to challenge for the Scudetto this season. Signing Sandro Tonali was a huge coup for the Rossoneri, and the 20-year-old will now battle with Ismaël Bennacer and Franck Kessié for playing time. Milan has a legitimate top-three midfield in Serie A, including the likes of Ante Rebic, Hakan Calhanoglu and Samu Castillejo in addition to the three central players. Complimented by the Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who turns 39 in just two weeks, the Rossoneri have a truly fearsome attack that boasts a high level of chemistry and great goalscoring ability. The Milan defense still needs to be upgraded, hopefully at right back, while a third starting-caliber centre back would also be a luxury. That said, the duo of Simon Kjær and Alessio Romagnoli should not be underestimated, while left back Theo Hernandez is one of the best attacking wing backs in the Italian top flight. Since Stefano Pioli’s 4-2-3-1 clicked for Milan after the resumption of play last season, the Rossoneri have not lost a match in any competition/friendly and have earned an absurd 2.54 points per match in Serie A play. Though this figure is obviously unsustainable in the long run, Milan has shown what it can be at its best under Stefano Pioli. This club will qualify for the Champions League and attain its highest finish in league play since the 2011/2012 season.
Doug’s projection: 4th
This is not a fandom projection, this is serious. Milan dominated the summer transfer window in Italy. Paolo Maldini and management turned what was the sixth best team in Italy into a Champions League caliber squad. In the summer, Maldini and the Milan board added to an already dangerous squad. Brahim Díaz, Sandro Tonali, and Pierre Kalulu give Milan more depth and some added star power. To compete in Italy a team needs superstars. Ismaël Bennacer and Tonali both have that kind of potential. With this new squad anything less than finishing fourth should be considered a major disappointment. Milan ended 2019/20 in seventh for xG total for and in eighth for xG against totals. However, season stats are misleading for the Rossoneri. The team before and after January 1st are vastly different. The introduction of Zlatan Ibrahimović, the reliance on Ante Rebić and Samu castillejo, and the tactical change from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 led to a reinvented squad. For the remainder of the season, the Rossoneri looked like a truly formidable team. Now, the question is how good can this squad be? While I think AC Milan is a few years away from a true title challenge, there is no reason that the team should not finish fourth.
Atalanta BC: 3rd
Will’s projection: 4th
Atalanta is another team that I think could take a step back this season. Despite its fantastic offense, the club was never able to perform exceptionally against other top 6 teams, earning a decent, but not exceptional, 1.6 points per match. The offense, which exceeded its xG by 16.1, should remain elite, though it is in line to regress, as 2.57 goals per match is simply unsustainable. Atalanta make quality moves in the transfer window; I especially like the club’s selling of Timothy Castagne for $26 million. He is a great player, but full backs are relatively easy to replace, and Atalanta got a great price from Leicester. The Bergamasque side also just made a great signing in Aleksei Miranchuk, a Russian creative midfielder who signed from Lokomotiv Moscow. The CAM will be a quality depth option for captain Papu Gomez, who is now 32 and just set the Serie A single season assists record. Aside from these two changes, look for this to be a very similar team that might not achieve the same heights as last year. I have Atalanta finishing fourth, though comfortably ahead of Lazio, Roma and Napoli.
Doug’s projection: 3rd
The darlings of Serie A. It pains me to say that La Dea’s Scudetto window is most likely over. The average age of their attack is twenty-eight, with their most common starters all twenty-nine or older. To put it lightly, that is concerning. Atalanta’s year to win the league was the 2019/20 campaign and they failed. As crushing as that is, do not underestimate the Bergamaschi. The loss of Timothy Castagne will be felt, but Atalanta has a deep youth academy. Maybe they fill the holes in the squad, but age might take them out of the title race. However, this all comes with a caveat, and a convincing caveat at that. Atalanta had the best offense in Serie A, generating 83.97 xG over the course of the season. This is made more impressive by their 98 goals scored. If you had told me that a Serie A team would get close to 100 goals in a season seven years ago, I would have told you that you are crazy. Combine their fantastic offense with their best in the league defense by xG against, then Atalanta should be considered the favorite for next season. Sadly, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side did not add enough ability or youth to the team to continue their title push. Expect La Dea to remain dangerous in Italy and Europe, but their window to win the league is most likely over.
FC Internazionale: 2nd
Will’s projection: 3rd
In my opinion, Inter won the transfer window. The Nerazzurri brought in Arturo Vidal, Achraf Hakimi and Aleksandrov Kolarov, spending an estimated $100 million. It made these moves just months after breaking the bank to bring in Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen (who has failed to live up to expectations), Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young, among others. While Eriksen and Sanchez have not necessarily looked the part, the rest of Inter’s squad is capable and talented, especially Lukaku, who scored 23 goals in his Serie A debut season. Inter will be a huge challenge for Juventus and Milan this year, and the club will be looking to push for a title win after missing out by just one point last season. Coach Antonio Conti, despite nearly being sacked after losing the Europa League final, is one of the best managers in the world and should be ready to capitalize on the talent this roster has in his second season in Serie A.
Doug’s projection: 2nd
When Inter brought in Achraf Hakimi, I immediately worried that the Nerazzurri were about to run away with the transfer window. At that time, Sandro Tonali and Marash Kumbulla were connected to the team. There was potential for Inter to field the best midfield in Italy in the 2020/21 season. Then, Antonio Conte went rogue. Instead of signing the previously mentioned young and exciting players, Conte lamented the fact that he was buying players from smaller clubs. This led to Inter signing thirty-three year old Arturo Vidal and thirty-four, soon to be thirty-five, year old Aleksandar Kolarov. While both of these players can still make an impact, Vidal more so than Kolarov, they both have a similar issue, they are on the wrong side of thirty. Still, Inter has a strong starting eleven, a deep substitution group, and one of the better keepers in Italy. More importantly, Inter was second in xG total for, xG total against, and expected points in the 2019/20 season. Their statistical resume speaks for itself. My concern is the age of the squad. Conte will start a plethora of players over thirty in the upcoming season. While sometimes older squads can get it done; they are also much more prone to getting run off the pitch. Juventus recruited younger players throughout the window and AC Milan brought in a new flock of youth. Inter signed in Hakimi, who is twenty-one, and then two players in the twilight of their career. I think this will lead to Inter’s demise in the upcoming season. Conditioning will become a problem and it is hard to solve that when you rely so much on an older squad. Also, Antonio Conte is not the coach people make him out to be. If you might be curious as to why I think that, look into what Juventus did in the Champions League the year after Conte left. Other good examples are his utter collapse with Chelsea and his failures with Inter in the Champions League. It was rumored that Massimiliano Allegri was interested in going to the Nerazzurri. I would have signed him.
Juventus FC: 1st
Will’s projection: 1st
I was going to say the same as Doug; until I see Juventus lose the title, I am not going to predict it. Inter, Lazio and Atalanta all had a fantastic chance to overtake the nine-time champions last season as la Vecchia Signora faltered, but the triplet collectively failed. It was the Turin side’s most vulnerable moment in recent memory, and the rest of the Serie A was unable to capitalize. In the aftermath of that unfortunate incident, Juventus went on to have a great transfer window, bringing in Arthur, Dejan Kulusevski and American international Weston McKennie, though the club desperately needs a striker (the Edin Džeko deal appears to have fallen through). That said, I really hate the Pirlo hire. Being a great player is not indicative of managerial success, and clubs really need to start figuring this out (looking at you Chelsea). I could see Pirlo being detrimental to this Juventus team’s success, but in the end, I think its squad, worth an estimated €600 million by Transfermarkt, is just too talented to not win the league.
Doug’s projection: 1st
Until I am proven wrong, Juventus is the best team in Italy. The 2019/20 season was the weakest I have seen the Bianconeri since Milan won the Scudetto last. However, they still won the league with two games to play. I understand Inter ended the season with one less point, but that is not entirely accurate. Juventus was leading by six points when they won the league. Matchday 37 and 38 were throwaway matches for the Old Lady and you could tell by how hard they played. If Juventus loses the league this year, it will be because they did not have spectacular statistics last season. In 2019/20, Juventus’ offense ranked fourth and their defense ranked sixth in Serie A. By expected points, Juventus finished fourth. However, against the other top seven teams, Juventus finished with a 7-1-4 record (most points against a top seven team as a top seven team). Their final loss came on the last day of the season in a match that did not matter. If the title holders rested on their laurels and came back with the same team and same coach, then I would have said the title race will be close. However, Juventus changed coaches, brought in Arthur Melo, gave Dejan Kulusevski a starting position, and trimmed the fat around the squad. A meaner, leaner, and tougher Juventus comes into the league this year. That is a terrifying entity for the rest of the league. Expect a tenth title in a row, sadly.