Lecce was relegated from the Serie A in 2012 and since then they have been trying to return, but it is even worse that they spent most of the time in the Serie C. They managed to return to the Serie B last season in which they won the 2nd place and so here they are again in the elite football league in Italy. They had a bad start of the season but then they gradually improved their performances. By the end of the first part of season they had already reached the leading position. After that, Lecce was never positioned below the 3rd place and they mostly occupied the 2nd one where they ended up. They played much better at home where they won 13 matches and lost only one, in October last year. Manager Fabio Liverani took over the team in September 2017 and since he led them to the first league he will get opportunity to lead them in the Serie A too. He will have a slightly stronger team at his disposal, which is normal since they earned promotion to the higher league.
Given that players who left Lecce didn’t move to other Serie A team it is clear that they didn’t lose much with their departures. Real losses are players who were borrowed and have returned to their clubs now, but they have bought contracts for several of them. We would single out two such players, midfielder Tachtsidis, whom they bought from Nottingham Forrest and stopper Meccariell from Brescia. They bought Romanian Benzar and he will play at the right flank, while Colombian Vera will be at the left one. New goalkeeper is Gabriel from Perugia, stopper Rossettini comes from Genoa, while Dell'Orco from Sassuolo and Rispoli from Palermo will definitely strengthen Lecce’s ranks. The biggest reinforcements should be Ukrainian midfielder Shakhov and forward Lapadula, whom they borrowed from Genoa. There are several other newcomers, but it is still a big question will it be enough for first Italian league.
Probable lineups Lecce: Gabriel – Benzar, Meccariello, Lucioni, Dell'Orco – Petriccione, Tachtsidis – Mancosu, Shakhov, Falco – Lapadula
Forecast: Lecce did bring reinforcements but it is quite clear that are still individually weak and it can be said that are the weakest team in the Italian Serie A. With that said it is clear how difficult task they have in the coming season. The only objective is of course survival and it will be a great success if they succeed.
Brescia is back to the Serie A for the first time since 2011. In the meantime they had competed only in the Serie B and hadn’t been relegated further. For the most part they occupied places in the bottom half of the table or sometimes around the middle of it, but last season they simply played excellently. They finished in the 1st place in the Serie B and just like Lecce they only had problems at the beginning of the championship. After that, they sat at the 1st place which they left only for couple of rounds. Brescia played much better at home, where they drew only three times, while outside their stadium they drew even 10 matches. They have lost only five matches, two of which in the finish of season when it was already certain that they will return to the elite football league in Italy. Manager Eugenio Corini took the team at the beginning of last season and brought them to the top spot, so it is logical to continue with his work.
Brescia strengthened the team for the new season and they lost mostly borrowed players. Departure of several of them could be felt, such as of stopper Romagnoli, right back Matthew, stopper Carill or forward Rodriguez. In the end they bought Matthew from Brighton, but the real reinforcements are new players they have brought. New goalkeeper is Joronen from Copenhagen, Czech Zmrhal from Slavia Prague comes to the midfield, new foward is young French Aye from Clermont, and there is a stopper Magnani who is borrowed from Sassuolo. Left back Martella has been borrowed again, and that would be it regarding reinforcements, but it should be said that Bresica kept young midfielder Tonali, who despite being only 19 years old is the most expensive player in the Brescia roster.
Probable lineups Brescia: Joronen – Mateju, Magnani, Cistana, Martella – Tonali, Bisoli, Ndoj, Zmrhal – Aye, A. Donnarumma
Forecast: Although they did bring several interesting reinforcements who should improve Brescia performances it still seems inadequate for the Serie A. Fact that they won the Serie B doesn’t have to mean anything as almost certainly ahead of them is a bitter survival struggle. It is very likely that the struggle will be unsuccessful.
In four previous seasons Verona was relegated from first league to the second and was promoted back to it. They are now again in the elite football league in Italy after finishing at mere 5th place in the Serie B last season, but they played excellently in the promotion play-off when they eliminated Perugia, Pescare and Cittadelle and earned promotion. In the play-off final Verona achieved an extraordinarily feat since it lost the 1st leg to Cittadella 2-0 but then it managed to win the rematch by 3-0. In the regular season Verona was positioned between the first and eighth place but it spent the most time between the third and fifth place. They have won only one out of last nine matches but have reached the optimal form in the play-off. It was interesting that despite the success they have changed the manager and instead of Alfred Aglietti the new one is Ivan Juric, who successfully coached Genoa. It should be said Verona had a very busy trading this summer.
Number of departures and arrivals was incredible, as well as of borrowings and expiration of loans. This is a sign that the club is in demand and they are not sure with which players they want to try to stay in the Serie A. It would be easier to list players who were there last season and are still with the team than to name all changes, but we will single out those that might be important. They definitely sold several players who were loaned, such as Valti and Fares, who both ended up in SPAL. Laribi and Gustafson left, both of whom were borrowed. They bought stopper Dawidowicz from Benfica, and striker Di Carmine from Perugia, new stopper is Rrahmani from Dinamo Zagreb, they bought Marrone and brought Gunter. Verre and Veloti are new midfielders, just as Badu and Lazovic. Forward Tutino from Napoli could be a real reinforcement.
Probable lineups Verone: Silvestri – Faraoni, Dawidowicz, Bocchetti, Crescenzi – Veloso, Henderson, Bessa – Lazovic, Di Gaudio, Di Carmine
Forecast: Intensive trading doesn’t have to equal to big profit. Many things have changed in Verona, including the manager and clearly they are stronger, however, the competition is stronger too and they had to strengthen their ranks. Besides that Verona will need a large dose of luck in order to avoid relegation, while it cannot escape the survival struggle.
This will be the third consecutive season for SPAL in the Serie A. They struggled to survive in the first season and ended up in the 17th place, while last season they did better and finished in the 13th. They spent the entire championship in the bottom half of the table except at the beginning when they won three times in first four rounds. Later on they lost steam but never entered the drop zone, or more precisely, they were never positioned lower than the 16th place. There was no danger that SPAL will be relegated and they could afford to lose last three matches without any consequence, as they ended up having four points more than Empoli, the team that was the first below the red line. Manager Leonardo Simplici will lead SPAL for the sixth season in a row and this is quite expected, since he has taken them from the third division to the Serie A and kept them in it for two following seasons. That will be his only objective this year, while the team underwent certain changes.
Forward Petagna was by far the best SPAL's player last season with 16 scored goals and he was borrowed from Atalanta. That's why the best thing they've made this summer was buying that player who will stay their fist striker. They also bought midfielder Murgiu from Lazio, although he didn’t exactly excelled last season. Valoti and Fares were bought from Verona, and stopper Igor from Salzburg. Goalkeeper Berisha has joined SPAL ranks, just like midfielder D'Alessandro and some other less important players. The biggest loss is departure of midfielder Lazzari, while other departures are mostly of players who were borrowed and they didn’t keep them or buy their contracts.
Probable lineups SPAL: Berisha – Vicari, Igor, Cionek – D'Alessandro, Viviani, Kurtic, Murgia, Fares – Petagna, Moncini
Forecast: Survival was the only SPAL’s objective in two previous seasons in the Serie A. They secured it in a difficult way in the first season, and in an easier way in the second, while this year they will probably have to go through some kind of struggle. They are more experienced in regard to competing in the Serie A and that could help but not so much to be worry-free. We forecast is a great struggle.
Parma was promoted to the Serie A last season, after being relegated to the fourth division in 2015. Every year after that they climbed up for one league and last season they finally reached the elite football league in Italy with an objective to not immediately be relegated from it. They managed to survive and it can be said without major problems, although in the second part of the season they lost steam and got dangerously close to the drop zone. They stayed mostly around the middle of the table in the first part of the season but they won only one out of the last 11 matches and in the end they had only three points more than Empoli, the team that was relegated to the Serie B. It is interesting that Parma won five home matches and lost five away matches, while they won only three points more at home than away. Manager Roberto D'Avers has been leading the team since they started returning to the Serie A and after they secured survival he will continue to lead Parma in the new season.
Parma is one of Serie A teams where was very busy this summer. There were many players loaned to other clubs, but also those that Parma borrowed. Defensive midfielder Stulac left and young talented goalkeeper Brazao was sold to Inter. Many players were loaned again and while out of those whose loans have expired we should mention forward Inglese from Napoli and midfielder Sprocati from Lazio. Goalkeeper Sepe stays, left back Laurini is newcomer, Grassi stays in the midfield, and Hernani is reinforcement for that part of the team. Brugman is also refreshment, while Karamoh, who was borrowed from Inter, could be marked as the biggest reinfocement.
Probable lineups Parma: Sepe – Laurini, Gagliolo, B. Alves, Ricci – Hernani, Grassi – Karamoh, Kucka, Gervinho – Inglese
Forecast: Parma managed to stay in the Serie A in the first returnee season without major problems and that should be strong encouragement. They kept the best players and have brought several new ones, all in hope that can end up closer to the middle of table than the drop zone. The team is capable for something like that but they have to prove themselves on the pitch.
Bologna is in the Serie A for the fifth season in a row but in previous four the team had a lot of problems with the survival struggle. They ended up each time in the bottom half of table and often were engaged in the bitter survival struggle, but last season they ended up in the 10th place. The fact that the position is in the middle of the table is bit deceptive because Bologna spent a larger part of the season in the drop zone and only in the finish they saved themselves. Out of last eight matches they lost only one, won five and drew two, so their final position creates a kind of a wrong picture of what was happening. They played very poorly outside their stadium; Bologna won only two away matches or merely 13 points. Sinisa Mihajlovic came as a lifesaver near the end of January and he did a good job in the finish of season. He will continue to lead Bologna in the new season despite being seriously ill.
Regarding changes in the team, defensive midfielder Pulgar moved to Fiorentina, stoppers Helander and Ferrari left as well, just as forward Avenatti, than Nagy, Krafth and De Maio. Players whose loans have expired also left; stopper Lyanco and two right backs Mattiello and Edera. Loans expired for several other players but the club management find them necessary and bought their contracts. Out of this group the biggest name is Orsolini who stays in Bologna, as well as two players from Villarreal, N. Sansone and R.Soriano. New stoper is Tomiyasu from Belgian St. Truiden, and an even bigger reinforcement in defence is stopper Denswil from another Belgian team Club Brugge. Given that two right backs left they had to bring young Danish Skov Olsen and that would be all worth mentioning. It can be said that they have strengthened the defence, lost a bit in the midfield, while the attack is practically the same.
Probable lineups Bologna: Skorupski – Mbaye, Tomiyasu, Denswil, Dijks – R. Soriano, Donsah – Orsolini, Svanberg, Krejci – Santander
Forecast: Bologna had serious problems for a larger part of the previous season but they played well near the end and have survived. They kept the best players and stiffened the defence on which they based their optimism for the coming season. We see them again in the bottom half of the table, although they shouldn’t face relegation having team like this one. We believe that Bologna is capable to avoid bitter survival struggle.
Genoa is in the first league for years now but it was very rarely positioned in the upper half of the table. Genoa made the last good result in 2015 when they finished in the 6th place. Before that they fought to survive for several seasons in a row, and after that it was positioned in the bottom half of the table. Genoa experienced a real survival drama last season. Throughout the most part of the season Genoa gave no signs of what is coming as they were positioned in the upper half of table at the beginning and later on around the middle of table. Crisis hit at the worst possible moment, in the very finish when Genoa didn’t win in last ten rounds. They won only once in last 14 rounds and in the end they drew two times which were sufficient to survive, although they had the same number of points as Empoli which was relegated. Genoa won away only two matches in the course of the entire season and drew six others. Manager Cesare Prandelli led the team till the end of the last season but he didn’t make a name for himself and was replaced. Aurelio Andreazzoli, who comes from Empoli, will lead team in the new season.
This was an eventful transfer window for Genoa, and they have bought most of the borrowed players who distinguished themselves last season. Out of those who left we will mention experienced defender Zukanovic and midfielder Bess. Forward Salcedo, midfielder Lazovic, as well as defensive midfielder Veloso have left as well. Genoa brought experienced Schone from Ajax to replace him, and he is a very valuable reinforcement. Borrowed goalkeeper Radu and stopper Romero have stayed, and Barreca will strengthen the left flank. Saponara from Fiorentina will reinforce the midfield and they kept Sturar and Lerager. Sanbria stays in the attack, while Pinamonti is reinforcement for that part of the team. There are several interesting names when it comes to reinforcements and it is important for Genoa to avoid crisis that hit them in the finish of last season, which could have cost them dearly.
Probable lineups Genoa 1893: Radu – Romero, Biraschi, Zapata – Schone, Radovanovic, Sturaro, Lerager, Barreca – Kouame, Sanabria
Forecast: It seemed last season that Genoa will survive without any problems but the big crisis made almost impossible for them to stay in the Serie A. We believe Genoa can avoid now crisis and it will surely survive in the Serie A, although it is not likely that will reach the upper half of table.