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Predicting the 2017/2018 Serie A Top Four
Juventus have had a death grip on the scudetto for years now, crushing any and all opponents who get in their way. And although many are expecting (and hoping) that AC Milan's resurgence will end the Old Lady's reign of terror, don't expect it to happen this year.
Yes, they lost Bonucci and Buffon and Chiellini aren't getting any younger. But Juventus still have an extremely solid defense and should Buffon's decline worsten over the season, they have a very capable back-up in Wojciech Szczęsny, who will no doubt take over full-time duties next season anyways.
But it is up top where Juventus shine. The trio of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, and Gonzola Higuain is absolutely lethal. Sooner rather than later, of course, Mandzukic and Higuain will begin to fade, but Dybala may well form the next great rivalry with Neymar.
Juventus' midfield is the club's future hope, however. Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa, who may put Juan Cuadrado on the bench, are fearsome wingers and Pjanic and Khedira form a fantastic central anchor.
Expect the Old Lady to have at least one last laugh in Italy.
Runner Ups: Napoli
The trio of Insigne, Mertens, and Callejon is potentially even more potent than Juventus' trio. If only Napoli were more rugged defensively, one could really see them posing a serious threat to Juventus. Milik provides a potent striking option off the bench and is more of a typical center forward than the dynamic Mertens, giving Napoli a variety of attacking options.
Hamsik is a fantastic attacking midfielder, providing a mixture of skill, physicality, and psychotic hairstyles to an already solid team.
Expect Napoli to crush some teams and for interest in Piotr Zielinski to continue to grow, but unfortunately for Naples, they won't quite dethrone Juventus.
Of course, I could always be wrong.
3rd Place: AC Milan
What a transfer window from AC MIlan....they had an absolute torrential influx of players from all over Europe, pulled off some astonishing deals, and have completely radicalized their entire squad. Too bad all that work won't be enough to see them challenge for any honors.
While some of Milan's transfers are impressive, such as Bonucci and Lucas Biglia, some of them are a bit confusing. Fabio Borini is hardly the most exciting or productive player and I can't really see Nikola Kalinic lighting up the league with AC Milan.
But the biggest problem with Milan's transfers is that they simply aren't playing well together. Or playing at all, for some of them. The extremely hyped Andre Silva has barely featured, Hakan Çalhanoğlu is playing back-up to Suso and Borini, and for all the money spent, Milan is trusting their Academy graduate Cutrone to lead the line (not that he's done bad).
Milan's transfers seem like a rather grab-bag mixture of players who may or may not be up to Serie A competition. Biglia has only a few years left, Frank Kessie may or may not be the player he has the potential to be, and Borini...just seems like an odd signing for a team trying to get back to the upper echelons of football.
If they can begin to work together, they could be very good, but expect it to be around mid-season before that happens.
4th Place: Lazio
Lazio can keep Roma out of the top four completely. Sure, they lost Biglia and Keita Balde, but in Ciro Immobile, they have a consistent, lethal Italian striker. Dortmund didn't really work out, nor did Sevilla, but the Italian loves playing in Italy.
They also have a star in Felipe Anderson. The Brazilian alternates between being majestic and infuriating, but he has the quality to punish nearly any team. A slippery, pacey dribbler with a eye for a stunning goal, if he is in the mood, Lazio can be dangerous.
Expect good things from Milinkovic-savic as well. And who knows, maybe Jordan Lukaku will develop into a reliable left-back or wing-back?
Lazio should just beat out Roma and Torino, but they'll have to work hard to do it. And if Immobile were to get injured, you can see this team struggling to score goals. Caicedo is just not good enough to be a full-time replacement, although he can some on and provide some extra firepower when needed.
Assuming they drop out of the cups early on, their limited depth shouldn't kill them.