Who are the main contenders to win the Italian Serie A?
The title race for the Serie A is hotting up just in time. The Italian top-flight competition, which was the last amongst its peers to resume its operations after the lockdown induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, is now seeing a lot of interesting matches. These games also consist of battles within battles which cannot be understood by the layperson but interest the fans and aficionados of football tremendously. Also called as the Serie A TIM due to sponsorship reasons (Telecom Italia hold the naming rights to the top-flight competition just as the Barclays Bank held the Premier League’s up till a few years ago), the Italian league is among the top five football leagues in Europe along with the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga and French Ligue 1.
The Serie A is renowned and respected by those who play in it as well as those who follow it closely for being an extremely competitive and brutal competition. The physical battles present in the league are perhaps second only to the Premier League, and referees are not known to be very lenient when offences occur . A combination of the aforementioned reasons as well as a cocktail of world-class players plying their trade in it means that this competition is revered by its participants and adored by its followers.
Although the Serie A is renowned to be extremely competitive, it may surprise the uninitiated to know about one particular club’s dominance in it.
We are talking about Juventus FC, based in the city of Turin, who have won a whopping 35 league titles as well as been runners up 21 times. At the moment, they are on course for their ninth championship in a row, after having won all Serie A editions from 2011–12 up to 2018–19 continuously.
There is no saying if they will fail to lift their ninth title in a row as they now sit comfortably on top of the table with 75 points, seven points clear of second-ranked Lazio.
The main contenders: Juventus FC
Juventus, who are also known as the Old Lady, possess of the great Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, as well as the young Paulo Dybala, who combine to form a deadly attacking combination. Managed by former Napoli SSC and Chelsea boss Mauricio Sarri, the side from Turin are on course for another title win this year and it will only be something of their own making if they fail to do so. They have been fantastic this season, having won 24 games, drawn three and lost just four. This is the kind of season that dreams are made of and we are in no doubt that Sarri is extremely proud of his wards. Defenders Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Matthijs de Ligt along with some brilliant midfielders like Sami Khedira, Aaron Ramsey and Miralem Pjanic (who will move to FC Barcelona at the end of the season) form the backbone of Juventus.
AC Milan: Old is gold?
Another side which has had a host of titles in its cabinet is AC Milan, who are, of course, based in the city of Milan. Playing at the San Siro Stadium, AC Milan are one of the most successful clubs to have ever competed in the Serie A. They have won the title eighteen times and been runners-up on fifteen occasions. Over the years, a lot of star players have graced their jersey and they have had varied success over the years.
However, they seem to be on the descendancy at the moment as they are ranked fifth in the league table with just 49 points in their kitty after having played 31 matches. At the moment, they are barely clinging on to a UEFA Europa League berth and that is something that is bound to hurt manager Stefano Pioli.
Although devoid of star power, AC Milan have quite a robust and young side which has carved its own niche in the Serie A. Attacker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has returned to the club after exploits at the Los Angeles Galaxy, is undoubtedly the biggest star in the side, and it perhaps says a little about AC Milan that their sole bankable star is at the twilight of his career. Having said that, young players such as Gianluigi Donnarumma and Theo Hernandez have been quite exciting to watch this season.
AC Milan’s cross-city neighbours and biggest rivals Inter Milan, with whom they strangely share the San Siro Stadium, are also contenders for the Serie A title this season. They too, like AC Milan, have won the Serie A eighteen times, although they came second fourteen times. Managed by the mercurial Antonio Conte, who is also a former Chelsea FC boss, they perhaps possess the greatest outside shot to the league title this season. Placed third in the table with 64 points to their name, four points off Lazio and eleven off leaders Juventus FC albeit having played a game less, Inter boast of a strong attacking lineup with Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez and Christian Eriksen in their ranks. If anyone can come up with the goods at the business end of the season, it is Conte’s men.
The championship chasers: Lazio
Second-placed Lazio are now the closest challengers to Juventus FC for the title, and having situated themselves just seven points off them, we would not say that is impossible for them to wrest control. This can be made possible only if they win all their games from now till the end of the season and Juventus FC stumble along the way for a little bit. They have only won the title twice, once in 1973–74 and again in 1999–2000 but that is not going to prevent Simone Inzaghi’s side from going full throttle now that the finish line is visible.
Juventus FC appear to be the favourites to win this edition of the Serie A and the only teams who can compete with them are Lazio and Inter Milan, although we doubt if the latter will be able to keep up with the 35-time champions once the heat gets on them. The men from Turin are used to having the spotlight upon them and can quickly switch themselves on when the going gets tough.