OUR man in Italy, Marco Di Cosmo (@scioltz) shares his favourite Serie A ante-post recommendations.
Serie A 2017/18: Outright Winner
This Serie A season is expected to be one of the most interesting in recent years.
Honestly, Italian football has not lived gloriously since the 2006 World Cup, with dominating periods of Inter Milan and Juventus rarely being challenged.
Current champions, the Bianconeri, have set a record of six consecutive league titles, but for most this glory is due to little competition from rival teams. – this season should provide much more competition amongst the top five.
Ignoring Juve (11/13 Unibet), Inter (16/1 Black Type) have finally found a reliable manager in Luciano Spalletti, who’s always delivered during his Serie A seasons with Roma, despite always missing out on the title.
Roma (10/1 888) have lost a strong player in Mohamed Salah but they still have a solid team who’ve finished in the top three in their last four seasons and have impressive ex-Sassuolo coach Eusebio Di Francesco in the ranks now.
Milan (13/2 Unibet) have undisputedly been the best team in the transfer window, and many pundits consider the Rossoneri a contender in the title race. I do believe they will perform well but they’re unlikely be ready to compete at the highest level.
A side that is ready to challenge is Napoli (6/1 Stan James), entering their third season under coach Maurizio Sarri. The ‘Maestro’ has undoubtedly shown the best quality football in Serie A, and I do rate him as one of the best coaches in the world.
These reasons, more than the quality of Napoli’s roster, should provide some exciting ingredients for the campaign to come.
I do believe Juventus are still superior to the rest but they have lost some influential parts, most notably Leonardo Bonucci, while the key element is becoming older after another demanding season.
With Juve still unbackably short, it might be worth getting behind Napoli. The available odds consider the Partenopei to have just a 14% chance of lifting the Scudetto but that doesn’t fairly reflect their value.
For this reason I’ll be backing Sarri’s side this season to win Serie A and having a solid wager on the 8/11 (Betway) they finish in the top three.
Serie A 2017/18: Finishing Bottom
While not being as exciting as the title race, the relegation battle might offer some good value. Benevento have surprised Italian football followers by gaining promotion to Serie A but they don’t seem to have found the right players to maintain a solid season.
Benevento and Spal are the most probable candidates to finish rock bottom. I’m backing fellow newcomers Spal to finish above Benevento and therefore backing the latter to prop the table up at 3/1 (Bet365) appeals.
Spal have much more quality based on what I’ve seen in Serie B last term. It is true that they have a much more offensive mind-set than Benevento. Despite this usually not working too well in Serie A for smaller sides, I still consider them strong enough to make more of an impact.
Serie A 2017/18: Top Scorer
Lastly, a quick bet on the Top Scorer market where the top five in the market all look likely to be in with a chance. But we also need to consider the odds on offer…
If Gonzalo Higuain (5/2 Bet365) is the best number nine in the league, his chances are way too exaggerated by the bookies, and he seems to offer no value at the prices available.
Edin Dzeko (6/1 Bet365) has hit his personal and Roma’s all-time record last season finishing top scorer with 29 goals in Serie A and 39 in the season.
Very impressive numbers but whether they are sustainable remains to be seen; it’s traditionally very difficult to maintain at this level in Italy – Toto Di Natale was the only player able to do that in last 20+ years.
Napoli have a goal machine in Dries Mertens (17/2 10BET) as a false nine. There’s nothing false about him but I’m put off by the fact he’ll probably be sharing the leading striker role with Arek Milik due to their European commitments and rotation.
AC Milan still haven’t a definite central striker in their team. With Andre Silva (25/1 Bwin), that will probably be joined by other quality forwards with one more big move in the transfer market. There have been talk about Andrea Belotti (14/1 Betway), which I did not put in my recommendations due to his possibility of changing team.
For this reason I like to side with Mauro Icardi (13/2 10BET). At 24 years-old, the Argentinian has already scored 81 goals in Serie A. Last season he wasn’t at his best level but was still able to notch 24 goals, a tally he didn’t even reach in 2015 on the way to claiming the Golden Boot,
This year I think Inter will play a very offensive game under Spalletti, who has always showed good attacking football in his coaching career. Dzeko took advantage of this coach last season and so Icardi looks a smart bet at the prices.