SERIE A was one of Europe's most watchable leagues last season and Alex Jones (@AlexJ0nes9) has analysed the ante-post markets, sharing his best bets ahead of the 2020/21 big kick-off.
WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Serie A
The 2020/21 Serie A season kicks-off on 19 September with five clubs choosing to alter their managerial staff ahead of the new season, with defending champions Juventus’ gamble with club legend Andrea Pirlo replacing Maurizio Sarri as head coach arguably the highest profile.
Inter Milan are sticking with Antonio Conte, hoping to challenge the Old Lady for title honours. The Nerazzurri will have to go again after defeat in the Europa League final to Sevilla and narrowly missing out on their first Serie A crown in 10 years having concluded the campaign a point adrift of the table-toppers.
Elsewhere, Serie B champions Benevento are hoping to avoid an immediate return to the second tier as they did last time they were promoted.
Is Juventus’ domestic dominance under threat?
The team from the Lombardy region are who I will be backing for the Serie A title in this upcoming season – Inter Milan (9/4 BetVictor).
It is fair to say that Conte has had a successful managerial career at previous clubs, winning the Premier League and FA Cup with Chelsea, and Serie A in three consecutive seasons whilst at Juventus between 2011-2014. The 51-year-old came close last year with his new Inter side and I’m backing him to take them one better this time around.
Praise must be given to Conte as it was Inter reached their first final for nine years, albeit perhaps a bridge too far. The arrival of Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid is an astute signing and is a player who should adapt effortlessly in Conte’s system, using his pace and drive to be an asset at both ends of the pitch.
To only concede 36 goals in 38 Serie A matches last year was a phenomenal feat and Hakimi will add even more solidity to Inter’s defence.
The Nerazzurri only lost one of their 13 games post-lockdown and took that form into the Europa League knockouts, only to fall short to Sevilla in the final, which is no disgrace. The 9/4 available on them to win the league appeals, especially with Juventus (10/11 Betway) perhaps in a year’s transition, following the appointment of inexperienced Pirlo.
Despite adding Arthur and Weston McKennie to their midfield options, the loss of Blaise Matuidi and Miralem Pjanic in those central roles are big voids to fill for Juve and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Old Lady struggle to assert their dominance next season, especially after only narrowly pipping Inter by a solitary point last time out.
Lukaku can land Top Goalscorer honours
The thriving partnership between Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez may be the key to whether or not Inter have a successful season, and the Belgian striker is my selection for the Top Goalscorer gong.
Of course, Lukaku will have to battle with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile, but the Antwerp-born front man finished the season brilliantly. Ronaldo is unsurprisingly the bookies favourite at 2/1 but the value is in the Belgian here at 4/1 (William Hill).
The former Man Utd man broke Europa League records last season and, whilst finishing 13 goals short of Immobile in Serie A, the confidence Lukaku can take from his form after the season’s suspension may give him that extra edge.
Lukaku’s life in Italy did not start smoothly to say the least, but Big Rom is looking much more settled under Conte right now. He racked up 23 goals in 36 games in 2019/20, which is a great return, and only highlights how well Ronaldo and Immobile were performing week in, week out.
The relegation battle
The battle to avoid relegation is an interesting one next season, with both Crotone and Spezia joining Pippo Inzaghi’s Benevento in the top-flight.
According to the Expected Goals (xG) table, it is in fact Cagliari whose 13th-placed finish lacked the data to back it up. The Islanders recorded a season average xG of 41.92, second bottom in the Serie A standings, and an xG against of 60.98. Their only victory in the final 10 games came against Juventus, a match they shockingly won 2-0 despite conceding 34 shots (10 from Ronaldo alone).
The Sardinian-based team replaced manager Walter Zenga with the experienced Serie A coach Eusebio Di Francesco, and his arrival perhaps explains why BetVictor expect them to stay up, having Cagliari at a juicy 5/1 for the drop.
BetVictor are the only major bookie offering relegation markets and it is interesting to see that they have five teams priced at 5/1, behind the three newcomers and Genoa. Without reading too much into this, it suggests they are expecting a huge battle in the bottom half next year, and a few surprises may be thrown up.
Either way, it promises to be an exciting season at both ends of the table, and if the goal return is as rich as it was last term, Serie A will be well worth watching once more.
Serie A 2020/21 – Inter Milan to win outright (9/4 BetVictor)
Serie A 2020/21 – Romelu Lukaku to be Top Goalscorer (4/1 William Hill)