Serie A: 2023-24 Season Preview
Here we go, ready for another Serie A season to begin. We may have one of the all time great title races this year, but then again, we thought the same last season. A competitive field, a lot of questions and not enough answers at present, here are your twenty teams for 2023-24:
Atalanta (Last season: 5th)
Gian Piero Gasperini’s men return to European football looking refreshed after a brief sabbatical. They have had one of the best windows out of any Serie A side, but will it translate into a top four finish? Maybe, but it would require greater consistency than offered across the previous two seasons.
Player to watch: Gianluca Scamacca. Pressure on him to produce after a frustrating year in England.
Roll up to watch the hot property in coaching, as Thiago Motta heads into his first full campaign as Bologna head coach. I yearn for a team to surprise us and mix it with the top sides, could it be the Rossoblù? Need to replace Jerdy Schouten (PSV) and some support in attack. Anything above 9th would be hugely impressive.
Player to watch: Lewis Ferguson. A beneficiary of Motta’s revolution, he’s a midfielder with a little bit of everything.
Cagliari (Promoted via playoffs)
Back after a short trip to Serie B. It might have been longer had Claudio Ranieri not turned up in December 2022 to drag them up, into and through the playoffs. Survival must be the one and only aim for the Sardinians. Beat the other teams around the bottom and they should have a strong chance of sticking around for season two.
Player to watch: Matteo Prati. €5m for a 19-year-old with only thirty games in Serie B shows you how highly they rate the young midfielder. Keep an eye on how Ranieri nurtures such precocious talent.
Tough task for Paolo Zanetti to build on last season given the loss of Guglielmo Vicario, Fabiano Parisi and the expiry of Nicolò Cambiaghi’s loan. A goalscorer that isn’t an ageing Ciccio Caputo wouldn’t go amiss and it seems that Empoli face a tough battle to stay in the league. Expect Tommaso Baldanzi to cement himself as the pre-eminent fantasista of our time over the next thirty-eight games, and maybe do enough to keep them up.
Player to watch: Elia Caprile. Big boots (and gloves) to fill in Vicario’s absence, but the Napoli loanee has stepped up every time when asked.
Have improved significantly this summer, but the new recruits may take time to bed in. One eye on the Conference League again, you’d imagine, but this is an exciting Fiorentina side and one that can go far. They have more quality in depth in key positions, as well as that Italiano-Nzola link up for the third time in their careers. Don’t sleep on the boys from Firenze.
Player to watch: Fabiano Parisi. Will have to compete with Biraghi, but should get considerable game time. Future Azzurri left-back? Quite possibly.
Frosinone (1st, Serie B)
Stormed to win Serie B, but coach Fabio Grosso decided not to renew his contract. Eusebio Di Francesco is a smart, safe(-ish) replacement, or is he? Who knows, but he’ll need to squeeze every last ounce out of his team to keep them up. Replacing the impact of last season’s departed loanees will be vital if they are to have a chance of survival.
Player to watch: Stefano Turati. Speaking of the key to survival, he will need to rise to meet Serie A head on. 24 clean sheets last season, this is the perfect opportunity for him to show that he’s ready for the top before parent club Sassuolo inevitably sell him on for millions.
Genoa (2nd, Serie B)
An instant return to Serie A, led by Alberto Gilardino after stepping up from caretaker manager at Christmas. Having kept the core of the promotion team together, Genoa look best placed of the new sides to stay up and the arrival of Mateo Retegui gives them a bona fide striker, someone who can be the difference between salvezza and a return to B. Genoa are a club renewed after the grim stasis seen in 2021-22, so expect them to be here next year.
Player to watch: Radu Dragusin. Defender signed from Juventus was integral to promotion and it will be intriguing to see how well he adjusts to the step up.
Hellas Verona (18th, won relegation playoff)
They were rubbish last season and Marco Baroni will be fighting a war on two fronts, against boredom-induced apathy as well as relegation. They were onto something under Igor Tudor, but look fattened up for the slaughter now, a real relegation candidate unless Baroni changes things. Am I being harsh? Maybe, but I just find them intolerably mediocre at the best of times.
Player to watch: Diego Coppola. Defender with a bright future. So bright that he might not be around Verona much longer.
Despite another summer of casualties, they emerge as title favourites in the eyes of many. Different players, certainly, but more magic from Beppe Marotta. They could do with more depth in defence, but they are well stocked in midfield and attack. A big season for Simone Inzaghi, for whom it is time to deliver a scudetto.
Player to watch: Davide Frattesi. All eyes on how he adjusts to playing for a top club. Having a diamond like Nicolo Barella alongside him should help.
Out of Europe and out of luck. A season to focus on all things domestic might give Juve some much needed time to reflect on the madness of the past couple of years. Could see them back in the Champions League if the aftershock of legal troubles passes without further damage, but that’s a colossal ‘if’. Instead, I’d expect a lot of drama and questions around Allegri, who might be wishing he’d been offered the national team job by Christmas.
Player to watch: Federico Chiesa. Back to his old self after a horrible knee injury. Can be this team’s star and drag them over the line when collective creativity is in short supply.
Were possible scudetto winners until Sergej Milinkovic-Savic left for Saudi Arabia. Still, Maurizio Sarri’s sides are at their best when underestimated, so I would be reluctant to rule them out. Taty Castellanos’ arrival should provide some desperately needed competition for Immobile. Nicolò Rovella is an exciting signing in midfield and Daichi Kamada can be an astute replacement/gap filler for the hole left behind by SMS.
Player to watch: Nicolò Casale. Thrived alongside Romagnoli in defence last season. Expect him to improve again.
Blew up after a great start, losing ten of their final fifteen games. Lorenzo Colombo has returned to Milan and they’ve lost Morten Hjulmand too. Might Roberto D’Aversa call on a couple of last season’s Primavera winning team to inject some youthful exuberance into a team that looked jaded in June? Tough slog ahead and likely to be in a fight at the bottom.
Player to watch: Wladimiro Falcone. Underrated GK who would have been very tough to replace this summer.
A club on the precipice of chaos if things don’t go to plan this year. Tonali sold, Maldini sacked and a lot of new recruits they need to step up immediately. Will they back Stefano Pioli or panic if they don’t start well? A lot of uncertainty for a team with the world’s best shot stopper and one of the top wingers in the game, but reasons to be cheerful with a rake of exciting attacking options. Everything could well click into place and any hints of instability disappear, but it’s too soon to tell.
Player to watch: Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Another ex-Premier League player searching for redemption in Italy. Undoubtedly talented, but this is a make or break move.
A decent debut and a bright start to Raffaele Palladino’s coaching career, even considering the players they had signed. They’ve coughed up a lot of cash due to loan obligations and it has certainly stifled their spending this summer. How the death of Silvio Berlusconi and the usual second season syndrome both affect them will say a lot about how their campaign plays out. Safely mid-table, for me, but no higher.
Player to watch: Giorgio Cittadini. Looked promising at Modena and now on loan at Monza. How the defender adapts to Serie A is yet to be seen, but a prospect all the same.
Utterly dominant champions last time out, but have lost their manager, sporting director and defensive rock. Rudi Garcia has to prove a considerable amount of doubters wrong and some of last year’s supporting cast need to improve if Napoli want to consider consecutive titles, but a top four finish would probably be a decent return. It could end in tears for Napoli and Garcia, and my mind still boggles as to why they didn’t push for a more high profile coach, or even Vincenzo Italiano.
Player to watch: Giacomo Raspadori. So much potential and it’s time to see him unleashed. Interesting to see where he fits in Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3.
Underwhelming domestically and their own worst enemy in the Europa League final. Last season could have been very different for Roma. Still, the signings of Evan Ndicka and Houssem Aouar on free transfers are both impressive and the emerging talent in the squad is exciting. A top four race should be the aim, if not expectation, but José Mourinho’s antics tend to have a toxic, almost terminal effect on his teams, and I can see him departing if things don’t go his way.
Player to watch: Edoardo Bove. Mourinho’s ‘sick dog’ in midfield, the hometown boy should continue on his trajectory towards the top of the game.
Only lost three of their sixteen games under Paulo Sousa, who replaced Davide Nicola in February. Still can’t work out if they’re any good or just very lucky. Should be down there again, but might have enough experience to make it a hat-trick of survivals. Might, might not.
Player to watch: Grigoris Kastanos. Sousa loves him and he should be a regular feature in midfield.
The football hipsters who jumped on the Sassuolo bandwagon must be wondering who all these people are wearing the neroverdi these days. More lineup changes than The Fall, but lots of exciting young talent picked up this summer. Worth keeping an eye on as Alessio Dionisi attempts to forge his own identity as more than just Roberto De Zerbi’s replacement. Whether or not they just remain a farm for young talent, or take on a more serious outlook is yet to be seen.
Player to watch: Samuele Mulattieri. Double figures in Serie B for Frosinone, joined as part of the Frattesi deal with Inter. His first chance to step up to Serie A at 22.
Ivan Juric came a long way from scrapping with his sporting director in a car park on the first day of pre-season. His team had a respectable top-half finish last season and have worked the market well, minus a goalscorer. Not convinced they can go much higher than 10th, but I’d be happy to be wrong. Losing Wilfried Singo to Monaco will hurt, but sealing a return for Nikola Vlasic might be very important.
Player to watch: Samuele Ricci. Quietly evolving into a premier midfielder, one you feel could be comfortable in a top team.
I can never tell with Udinese. Are they good/bad/otherwise? Part of the furniture in the league, but can they improve on last year? There’s a lot to like about their recruitment (as usual). Time will tell and the path forward is littered with decent teams, but if they can replace the impact of Becao, Udogie and Pereyra, they might just be pushing towards the top half.
Player to watch: Simone Pafundi. They simply have to involve him a lot more. Very few 17-year-olds are as exciting as him, but he has disappeared off the face of the earth since his breakthrough in 2022.