It promises to be an enthralling end to the 2016/17 Serie A season with the top three sides still firmly in the running for the Scudetto. Here are our five predictions for Italian football in 2017.
Juve On Course For 33rd Serie A Scudetto
Juventus are certainly in pole position at present to make it a 33rd league title, sitting pretty four points clear of second-placed Roma with a game in-hand. Undoubtedly the biggest test of Juve’s title credentials comes this weekend with a clash away to an Inter Milan side that are simply flying at present with seven consecutive Serie A victories catapulting them into fourth place in the table.
Victory in the San Siro could see Juve move 12 points clear of the Nerazzurri, which would surely make them huge favourites to go on and take the championship. Striker, Gonzalo Higuain certainly seems to concur, saying that if they do win over Inter this weekend they will “take a major step toward winning the Scudetto”. At present Juventus are a best price 1/6 at present with Bet365 to retain the Serie A title, with some bookies such as Bet Victor slashing their odds as short as 1/12 already with a little over half a season gone.
Roma’s Season Is In Danger Of Fizzling Out
Their closest challengers are Roma, who are a best price 10/1 at the time of writing with Bwin. Roma’s price drifted badly this weekend after slipping to an unexpected 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria, which enabled Juve to reinforce their position as league leaders by four clear points.
It would be foolish to rule Napoli out of the title race entirely too. The Naples outfit have lost just three times in their 22 league games this season and Maurizio Sarri’s men are certainly one of the most competitive and attack-minded in Serie A, comfortably averaging more than two goals a game. However, they could potentially find themselves nine points behind Juventus providing they win their game in-hand, which could prove a bridge too far. With that in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that the bookmakers have Napoli as outsiders for the Serie A title, at 12/1 with Bet Victor, Coral and Betfair.
Napoli’s front line was severely weakened by the €90m sale of talismanic striker, Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus last summer. The Argentine has proven to be an instant hit with the Turin club, scoring 15 league goals in 21 games. His power, presence and finishing ability make him tailor-made for Italian football, making the transition seamlessly from his time in La Liga with Real Madrid. Unsurprisingly, Higuain is 6/4 favourite to take the Serie A Golden Boot, but Roma’s Edin Dzeko will have something to say about this too with the Bosnian powerhouse also in a rich vein of form this campaign, also on 15 league goals. Dzeko and Higuain aren’t the only ones on 15 league goals either – Inter’s Mauro Icardi is also leading them towards the in-form Internazionale. Whether the younger Icardi has the consistency to outscore both Higuain and Dzeko, who have been there and done it before, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, at 9/2 with Betfair, some may just have a little nibble at those odds given Inter’s storm up the table and possible Champions’ League contention.
Relegation Spots Already Done and Dusted?
At the other end of the table, it has truly been a season to forget already for Pescara, who gained promotion from Serie B in 2015/16. With just one league win to their name, they lie rock-bottom with just nine points to their name and are seemingly nailed on for the drop at odds of 1/12 with 10Bet. The other two relegation spots look equally done and dusted with Palermo also leaking bad goals with just two wins to their name. Meanwhile minnows Crotone sit just above them, but still some eight points adrift of safety and fourth-bottom Empoli.
Atalanta: Europa League Material
The real surprise package of the 2016/17 Serie A campaign so far has to be Atalanta. The Bergamo club have been in the Italian top flight since 2011 but are surely having their best season since returning to Serie A. With an outstanding crop of young talent coming through the ranks and the team playing an exciting brand of football, Gian Piero Gasperini’s troops are currently just a solitary point off Europa League qualification, and with the season they are having you wouldn’t put it past them going on to threaten Lazio for a fifth-placed finish. If you fancy La Dea to grow stronger still, they are currently at 22/1 with NetBet and 10Bet to secure a top-three finish.