2022-23 Serie A Preview (Part I)
It’s almost time. We’ve passed through a relatively normal summer for the first time since 2019 and a new season is almost upon us. It feels like longer than 12 weeks since Milan sealed their first Scudetto since 2011 and they’ll be looking to defend that title from their city rivals, and perhaps one or two others. Lecce, Cremonese and Monza ascended from Serie B and will be keen to impress, especially Monza who have raised eyebrows in the division with their aggressive recruitment. So, without further ado, your guide to the 2022-23 Serie A season:
Last year: 8th
The wheels fell off in the second half of last season for La Dea. Only five wins meant they failed to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2016 and cracks finally began to appear in Atalanta’s golden age under Gian Piero Gasperini. The signing of Éderson should bulk up the midfield, while Nuno Tavares and Ademola Lookman both add something in defence and attack. About the attack, there’s still too much pressure on Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata when it comes to goals and both have also been linked heavily with moves away from Bergamo. The top half of Serie A gets more competitive each year and Atalanta look more likely to be part of the also rans than the chasing pack.
Player to watch: Giorgio Scalvini
Last year: 13th
Bologna’s 2021-22 season will be remembered forthatSansone goal against Inter, if nothing else. The departures of Aaron Hickey, Mattias Svanberg and Arthur Theate are sure to be felt and that€50m will need to be re-invested intelligently. Andrea Cambiaso’s loan from Juve should solve the left-back issue for a season, but there’s still work to do if they want much out of this season. Signing Josip Ilicic would go a long way to adding some creativity, but there’s still nothing concrete on that at the time of writing. Should Marko Arnautovic stick around, another year in mid-table purgatory should do for Bologna.
Player to watch: Emanuel Vignato/Wisdom Amey
Last year: 2nd (Serie B)
The first of our newly promoted sides, Cremonese return to the division for the first time since 1996. They have their work cut out to stay in the division, but they’ve made some moves in the mercato. Charles Pickel and Santiago Ascacibar arrive in midfield, along with Roma prospect Tommasso Milanese and several more in attack and defence including Inter enemy no.1 Ionut Radu and Milan striker Frank Tsadjout. Massimiliano Alvini’s men might just have a fighting chance if they can create a cohesive unit with so many new players, which will be a big challenge. They have a tough start with Roma, Inter, Fiorentina, Lazio and Atalanta all to play by the middle of September. Fancy them to sneak past some pretty poor incumbent sides and just about stay up.
Player to watch: Santiago Ascacibar
Last year: 14th
A solitary win in their last 21 games, which came on the final day against a spent Atalanta, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re nailed on for relegation this year. Well, they’re not quite doomed, but don’t be surprised if they’re playing Serie B football in 2023-24. A switch of managers and a lack of clear improvement with their summer recruitment, expect them to be right in the thick of it this year, but they might just have enough if they can rediscover some of that early 2021-22 form. The loss of Mattia Viti should be felt in defence, as should Andrea Pinamonti’s return to Inter. They have some winnable early games so the pressure will be on to hit the ground running.
Player to watch: Fabiano Parisi
Last year: 7th
Massively improved under Vincenzo Italiano, even after losing their star striker in January, the Viola are coming into this season with plenty of confidence. A bargain deal for Dodo, as well as signing Luka Jovic, Rolando Mandragora and Pierluigi Gollini means they’ve certainly strengthened. Breaking into that top six is a big ask, but they’ll fancy themselves. Keeping Nikola Milenkovic is pivotal and his new contract could be a catalyst for their season. How they fare in Europe may have a bearing on their league season, as the Europa Conference League brings plenty of extra fixtures. Cabral and Ikoné need to improve their goal output, perhaps the arrival of Jovic will render Cabral an afterthought. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the potential move for Giovani Lo Celso, which could add a bit more of an edge to their midfield.
Player to watch: Luka Jovic
Last year: 9th
Another top half finish for Verona last season after a shaky start and a week four managerial change. Igor Tudor left the club at the end of the season after he and the club failed to agree how to build on a successful season. His replacement, Gabriele Cioffi, has his work cut out. Some strong recruitment in attack and the loss of Casale in defence makes for an intriguing situation on the Adige and they might just have enough to make a repeat of last year. It all depends on how the next few weeks unfold for teams around them.
Player to watch: Ivan Ilic
Last year: 2nd
One night in Bologna put paid to their title defence, but they’re back again. Stronger? Not if you ask an Inter fan. Andre Onana, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku have all arrived but the loss of Ivan Perisic and several squad players, plus possible departures of Milan Skriniar and Denzel Dumfries have Interisti panicking. It’s Perisic that they’ll miss the most, such was his impact. The best of Robin Gosens might be enough to fill that gap and it’s likely they’ll need some help at centre back, especially if Skriniar goes. If they can sort out their defensive line-up and get the best out of Lukaku, they’ll be well in the hunt. Title favourites, I’m not quite sure, but they’ll be there or thereabouts.
Player to watch: Federico Dimarco (if he can stay fit)
Last year: 4th
Allegri returned, Ronaldo left. Juve went trophyless for the first season since 2010-11. Juve achieved the bare minimum in qualifying for the Champions League, but in losing Matthijs De Ligt and allowing Paulo Dybala to walk away for nothing, they’ve possibly lost more than they realise. Spending big on Bremer to replace De Ligt doesn’t assuage concerns around Leonardo Bonucci’s longevity or their lack of depth at the back. In fact, they probably shouldn’t have loaned Cambiaso back out, given their issues at left-back. Angel Di Maria is a great transfer and Paul Pogba could rediscover form when he returns, but how restrictive will Allegri’s style be? Filip Kostic is a good signing, but does it solve any glaring issues? And Memphis Depay is just for show, I don’t care what anyone says. Lots of questions around this Juventus side, not enough answers for them to feel like the title favourites they have tended to be.
Player to watch: Manuel Locatelli
Last year: 5th
A year of Maurizio Sarri saw Lazio go one better than 2020-21, despite having spent frugally. This year, they’ve upgraded in goal, arguably improved their defence with Nicolo Casale and Alessio Romagnoli, while also adding a promising midfielder in Marcos Antonio from Shakhtar. Another top six finish is likely, but another 25+ goal campaign from Immobile and they might be in the hunt for the top four, at a real push. It would most likely require Napoli and Juventus to both have very poor seasons. It’s hard to pin an exact position on Lazio this year, but they’ve quietly built over the summer and if they can keep Sergei Milinkovic-Savic, they can call this a successful off-season. Oh, and their hated city rivals are looking quite strong this year. It’s all going off in the capital.
Player to watch: Matteo Cancellieri
Last year: 1st (Serie B)
Yearning for the Zeman days of Bojinov and Vucinic, Lecce are back in the big time. After a highly dramatic Serie B season ended with them lifting the Ali della Vittoria on the final day, after being promoted the week before. They face a difficult, but not impossible, battle to survive in Serie A. Much will depend on the impact their summer recruits have. Granted they’re both loans but ‘keeper Wladimiro Falcone and left-back Gianluca Frabotta are both astute signings. Falcone is one of the league’s underrated goalkeepers and his performances could be key. You just wonder will the quality in the squad translate to the top flight? My guess is no.
Player to watch: Daniel Samek