The Serie A season kicks off on Friday and the betting has been shaken up by the events of the past few weeks.
It has undoubtedly been a summer of change for the biggest clubs in Italian football, with Lazio, Napoli and AS Roma all undergoing major transformations.
No team has been affected more than last season’s title winners Inter. The Nerazzurri have lost manager Antonio Conte who gave this side an invincible air last season. He walked out before the champagne had even dried on his suit.
Inter in turmoil
Angered by the club’s precarious financial position, Conte’s departure was followed swiftly by the exit of Achraf Hakimi as the right-back moved to PSG.
If Hakimi’s attacking verve was going to be missed, it was nothing compared to the absence of Romelu Lukaku as the striker, who scored 23 goals and bagged 11 assists last term, went back to Chelsea.
Those losses, combined with their on-going issues have seen the odds on the Nerazzurri retaining their title move out to 5.14/1 just three months after they dethroned Juventus.
The Turin giants – who won the Serie A title nine times in a row before last season – have become 1.9420/21 favourites, and it is easy to see why.
Juventus the obvious choice
Not only do Juve still have Cristiano Ronaldo, but he is supported by Italy’s stalwart captain Giorgio Chiellini, as well as impactful winger Federico Chiesa. Add in other talented players like Leonardo Bonucci, Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata, and it soon becomes clear this is a formidable unit.
They too have undergone a coaching change. Andrea Pirlo’s year in charge proved underwhelming in 2020/21, so the Bianconeri have turned to former boss Max Allegri to restore them back to the top of the tree.
Lazio and Napoli to secure top four finishes
Napoli have appointed former Roma and Inter boss Luciano Spalletti, a man with a solid track record of getting his teams into the Champions League places. Napoli are 1.9210/11 to make the top four, and with a forward line boasting Lorenzo Insigne, Victor Osimhen, Chucky Lozano and Dries Mertens, the new boss has plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Maurizio Sarri is the new man in charge at Lazio, and his credentials speak for themselves. After building impressive units at Napoli, Chelsea and Juventus, the wise old Tuscan knows exactly what it takes, and so too do his players. Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinković-Savić are the standout names.
Inter to miss out?
With all those problems, Simone Inzaghi might wish he had stayed at Lazio. Instead, he finds himself at the helm of an Inter outfit who have replaced Lukaku with a 35-year-old Edin Dzeko. Inzaghi will also have to contend with the inevitable drop off in intensity that comes without Conte’s maniacal attention to detail and non-stop yelling from the touchline.
It remains to be seen if there will be any more top players sold before the transfer window slams shut, but right now 2.56/4 on the Sportsbook for Inter to finish outside the top four is almost too good to pass up.
Spezia to go down?
Of the newly promoted sides, Salernitana and Venezia look almost certain to drop back into Serie B. The gulf between Italy’s top two divisions is seemingly growing wider all the time, and very few teams have what it takes to survive in the top tier at the first time of asking.
They are the two favourites to suffer relegation, and in truth it is difficult to make a case for either of them surviving after fighting so hard to earn promotion.
However, Empoli being the other club to rise up last term makes things interesting. The Tuscan minnows have made it a habit to go up into Serie A, hang around for a couple of seasons and then sell off their best players before being relegated.
Their business model makes sense, and their survival could well come at the expense of Spezia. The Aquilotti have lost impressive young Coach Vicenzo Italiano to Fiorentina, opting to replace him with Thiago Motta whose only previous experience saw him last just 10 games with Genoa in 2019/20.
He won just two of those matches and, after noting the serious lack of talent at his disposal, Spezia’s odds of 2.3811/8 to be relegated look like a great option.