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Serie A: Four teams that can genuinely challenge Juventus for the 2017/18 title

Last season Juventus won their sixth Serie A title in a row, can any of the other Italian giants steal the crown from Turin?


AC Milan

AC Milan will expect to challenge for the Serie A this season. With their new Chinese owners pouring hundreds of millions into transfers already this transfer window, there is a clear message being sent out they are ready to try regain control of Italian football.

Milan’s most notable signing this summer was the transfer of Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus. Thirty-year-old Bonucci left the Serie A champions from Turin and made the move to their rivals, AC Milan, who have not finished higher than sixth in the past four years.

The €42m deal comes as a part of a huge spending spree by Milan’s new ownership he bought the club for £628m (€740m) in April this year from the former Italian president Silvio Berlusconi.

In their bid to make the seven-time European Cup winners a top force both domestically and in the Champions League, the new owners have brought in the likes of André Silva from Porto (£32.30m), Andrea Conti from Atalanta (£21.25m), Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen (£18.70m), Mateo Musacchio from Wolfsburg (£15.30m), Lucas Biglia from Lazio (£14.45m), among others.

There will be a lot of pressure and mounting expectation in Milan this season because of the investment that have been made. However, it is unlikely that the new additions to the club will click straight way in their first season.

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Milan will kick off their Serie A campaign away to Crotone on Sunday.


Napoli

Unlike Milan, Napoli have had a relatively quiet transfer window. Maurizio Sarri’s side have managed to keep most of their team together, a team that finished third in the Serie A last season, just on a point behind Roma and five behind the champions Juventus.

The side from Naples only lost four times in the last campaign, once to Juventus, once to Roma and twice to Atalanta. They also had an unlucky draw in the Champions League, having played very entertaining passing football throughout the group stages, they came up against the eventual winners Real Madrid in the last 16.

As for transfers, they have spent €18m to bring centre-back Nikola Maksimovic to the club from Torino, they have also brought in central midfielder Marko Rog for €11.7m and winger Adam Ounas for €9m.

If Sarri can continue to build on last season and his players carry on playing in his preferred style of play, then they could have a very good chance of winning the Serie A next season.

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Napoli’s first match of the season comes against Verona on Saturday night.


AS Roma

Despite their second place finish last season, Roma look a weaker team at the start of this campaign having lost key players such as Mohamed Salah to Liverpool for €42m and Antonio Rüdiger to English champions Chelsea for €35m.

Roma also have the challenge of having a new manager in the form of Eusebio Di Francesco. The coach impressed the Roma hierarchy enough during his time at Sassuolo to warrant them hiring him but he will have to come up with the results quickly to ensure that he keeps his job.

However, their new director of football, Monchi, has a good reputation for scouting out new talent and he has brought in 22-year-old Rick Karsdorp (€14m), 20-year-old Cengiz Under (€13.4m) and 21-year-old Lorenzo Pellegrini (€10m), who may develop to be good additions to the Roma side.

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Francesco’s men start their season with an away fixture against Atalanta on Sunday.


Inter Milan

This season Inter will welcome the former Roma manager, Luciano Spalletti, who was at Roma until the end of last season. In their pre-season campaign, Spalletti’s side looked strong, recording wins against Chelsea (2-1), Villarreal (3-1), Lyon (1-0) and Bayern Munich (2-0).

Though they have not splashed out as much as their neighbours, Inter have spent over €70m to bring in Matías Vecino (€24m from Fiorentina), Milan (€23 from Sampdoria), Dalbert Henrique (€20m from Nice), Facundo Colidio (€6m from Boca Juniors U20) and Borja Valero (€5.5m from Fiorentina).

Inter also have quality in their side from last season, such as the Portuguese centre-back, Joao Mario and the Croatian winger Ivan Perisic, who Manchester United have been keen to sign. Spalletti also has the 24-year-old captain and centre-forward,  Mauro Icardi, at his disposal, who scored 24 and assisted eight in the Serie A last season.

Last season, Inter finished 7th, 29 points off of Juventus in top spot. However, without the extra fixtures from European football, Spalletti’s team could be a wildcard for the league champions come May.

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Inter will play Fiorentina at the San Siro on Sunday in their opening game of the season.

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Serie A: Four teams that can genuinely challenge Juventus for the 2017/18 title

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