Predicting One of Serie A’s Closest Title Races

Serie A

With Serie A season at precisely the half-way stage, let’s review the five teams at the top and predict whether Juventus will continue their domestic dominance, or whether another team will finally win the Scudetto.

1st – Napoli – 48pts

Heading in to the new year, it is Napoli who are top of the table by just a point. This week, Marek Hamsik, with number 17 on his back, scored his 117th goal for Napoli in the 17th minute, in their last match of 2017, after recently becoming Napoli’s all-time top goalscorer. The poetry continues as he takes over the top spot from Diego Maradona, who last led Napoli to a league title back in the 1989-90 season.  This season, Napoli’s blistering attack are spearheading a title charge, with Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Hamsik playing beautiful, fluid attacking football at their best.

Napoli’s problem, however, is their form when either of these players is injured or tired. In December, they looked leggy as their high-press style, as well as the length of the domestic season, started to take its toll, particularly with Insigne absent to injury. A draw to Fiorentina and a defeat against Juventus were a blow to Maurizio Sarri’s side as they cling on at the top. A two-week break after their game against struggling Verona will do wonders for the team’s, especially the attack’s, energy levels going into 2018.

Despite the slight dip in December, Napoli have still won their last three games since, and look the most likely to finally knock Juve off their perch.

Chances – 8/10

2nd – Juventus – 47pts

After a worrying start to the campaign, the Old Lady isn’t giving up their Serie A dominance without a fight. Juve looked a visibly weaker side early on, with the team taking some time to adapt to a change in tactics after the departures of Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves. The loss of a flying wing-back and a ball-playing centre-back meant that manager Massimiliano Allegri decided to switch to a 4-3-3. The shaky form of veteran Gianluigi Buffon and Paulo Dybala were also factors to two losses and a draw from their opening eight games.

By no means a disaster, Juve have certainly bounced back, winning every game bar a draw with title rivals, Inter. Dybala has also returned to form, scoring a double in their most recent game, a 3-1 win against Verona, taking his tally to 14 for the season. In fact, the team’s tally of 48 is the highest in the league, whilst only conceding 15.

Allegri’s men sit just one point away from the top spot and show no sign of slowing down their charge which has blown away nearly every team since October.

Chances – 8.5/10

3rd – Inter – 41pts

A month ago, Inter sat unbeaten at the top of the table, fast becoming favourites to claim their first Scudetto since Mourinho’s treble-winning since of 2009-10. However, their last four games have resulted in two draws and two losses. Goals have become a problem in that time for Inter, in particular, goals that aren’t scored by Mauro Icardi. The Argentine has scored 16 in as many games, accounting for nearly half of all of Inter’s goals. Whilst easier said than done, more and more teams are trying to find a way to nullify the striker, and so stop the team.

Fans will be hoping for more from the likes of Antonio Candreva who, despite assisting seven so far, has yet to score in the league. Coach Luciano Spalletti is tipped to spend in the January transfer window, with Simone Verdi strongly linked with a move, with the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Javier Pastore and Gerard Deulofeu also mentioned.

Some transfers would provide a much-needed spark to the team as they hope to rekindle their title charge which at the moment, is dying out.

Chances – 6/10

4th – Roma – 39pts (game in hand)

If Inter were struggling for goals, then Roma are desperate to add to their attack. 29 goals so far this season, the same as 9th placed Atalanta, is one of the reasons they are struggling to keep pace at the top. On the plus side, their record of 12 goals conceded is the best in the league. Goalkeeper Alisson, Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Federico Fazio and Aleksandar Kolarov have formed a defensive unit which not many teams have been able to break down this season.

A testament to this is two of their three losses being 1-0, with all the losses coming to title rivals Inter, Napoli and Juventus. They have scored just twice in their last four games, with two draws and a loss in that time. Edin Dzeko, last season’s star man, has failed to hit the same heights, with eight goals in 15 games by no means bad, but also uninspiring.

The same as Inter, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side also need an injection of new faces up front and will be thankful that the transfer window is finally upon us.

Chances – 6/10