Juventus – Udinese
Much has changed for the champions since May, but even without Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal they remain favourites for the Scudetto. New arrivals Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala each scored during the Supercoppa win over Lazio at the start of this month. The former, in particular, has looked sharp throughout preseason.
Mandzukic to score and Juventus to win – 2.25
Empoli – Chievo
A pleasant surprise last season, Empoli might not find the path to survival straightforward this time around. Gone is not only their manager, Maurizio Sarri but also their best defender, Daniele Rugani, and ‘the Pirlo of the provinces’, Mirko Valdifiori.
To stay up they will need to win games such as this one, at home to opponents of similarly modest means. The good news is that they have not lost at home to Chievo in seven attempts. But five of those games did end in a stalemate.
Goalless draw – 8.00
Fiorentina – Milan
The most intriguing fixture of the opening weekend takes place at the Artemio Franchi. Both Fiorentina and Milan arrive with new managers and transformed teams. The hosts have said goodbye to Mario Gómez, Stefan Savic, David Pizarro and Alberto Aquilani but hello to Mario Suárez, Davide Astori and Nikola Kalinic. The visitors have been transformed by the signings of Carlos Bacca, Luiz Adriano, Andrea Bertolacci and Alessio Romagnoli
Much has been made of Fiorentina’s successful preseason, which included wins over Chelsea and Barcelona. But we won’t really know what these teams are made of until the real action begins. My hunch is that both may be stronger at the front than the back.
Over 2.5 goals – 2.00
Frosinone – Torino
A good 300 metres above sea level, Frosinone’s Stadio Matusa is the highest-altitude stadium in Serie A. Even so, with a wage bill of just €12.9m per year, they may have a hard time staying afloat.
Manager Roberto Stellone has set a target of 12 wins and eight draws in order to achieve survival. To achieve such numbers, points are surely required at home to mid-table sides. But Torino have spent well this summer, reinvesting the proceeds from Matteo Darmian’s sale into more young talented Italians. The likes of Davide Zappacosta, Andrea Belotti and Daniele Baselli can take this team forward again.
Away win – 2.15
Inter – Atalanta
Geoffrey Kondogbia, Stevan Jovetic, Miranda, Jeison Murillo. Inter have certainly given Roberto Mancini the reinforcements he wanted this summer; now it is up to the manager to prove his vision was worth supporting.
Atalanta have a surprisingly good recent record against Inter at San Siro, with two wins and a draw in their previous four league visits. They have endured a difficult summer, losing transfer guru Pierpaolo Marino and highly-esteemed academy director Mino Favini, but this might just be a good time for them to face opponents who are still getting to know one another.
Draw – 4.10
Palermo – Genoa
As if losing Paulo Dybala was not bad enough, Palermo’s fans have seen their club sell off the man who was supposed to replace him as well. Andrea Belotti had impressed off the bench in the last campaign but his presumed place now goes to the Swede Robin Quaison instead.
But Genoa have had their own attack decimated by the departures of Iago Falqué and M’Baye Niang, as well as losing Andrea Bertolacci from midfield. And least Palermo got to retain Franco Vázquez, Dybala’s former partner in crime.
Vázquez to score – 3.90
Sampdoria – Carpi
Walter Zenga’s time at Sampdoria started catastrophically, his team demolished 4-0 at home by FK Vojvodina to end their Europa League campaign before it had even begun. It was not clear at that stage if the manager would even make it to the start of the Serie A season, but that much has now been achieved. Samp have also added Antonio Cassano to reinforce their attack.
On paper, they look far stronger than their newly-promoted opponents, but their European exit demonstrates the price that can be paid for complacency. Zenga might not last the weekend if his team make the same mistake again.
Home team to win and both teams to score – 4.40
Sassuolo – Napoli
Yet another leading club with a new manager at the helm, Napoli replaced Rafa Benítez with Maurizio Sarri. The former Empoli boss is charged with fixing a defence that leaked 73 goals across all competitions. To that end Vlad Chiriches has been added at centre-back, along with the holding midfielder Allan from Udinese. Up front, the likes of Gonzalo Higuaín, José Callejón and Lorenzo Insigne have all been retained.
Away team to win without conceding – 2.95