by Alastair Bull
It was hard to imagine Juventus getting much shorter in the markets to win Italy’s 2018-19 Serie A after seven consecutive victories in Italy’s leading soccer league. But adding a certain Cristiano Ronaldo can do that.
The Portuguese superstar, and Ballon d’Or winner in four of the past five years, makes the Turin outfit look even more impregnable. The Champions League, rather than just Serie A, looks to be their main goal.
They have also added Brazilian winger Douglas Costa from Bayern Munich and Portuguese defender Joao Cancelo from Liverpool – though it will seem strange to fans to see someone in goal other than Gianluigi Buffon, who moved to Paris St Germain on a free transfer after 17 seasons with the team.
All this adds up to Juventus being around the -275 mark on the betting line to win the 2018-19 Serie A league, which begins Aug. 18. However, it may be worth remembering that their last two titles have not been by huge margins. Both titles were won by four points, over Napoli last year and Roma the previous year, and on both occasions the title was not secured until the second-last game.
Whether this is a good enough reason to bet against them is questionable, especially since runners-up Napoli have lost both manager Maurizio Sarri and influential midfielder Jorginho to Chelsea. Sarri has been replaced by the highly successful Carlo Ancelotti, and to make up for Jorginho’s loss they have recruited Udinese goalkeeper Alex Meret, Greek goalkeeperOrestis Karnezis, RealBetis midfielder Fabian Ruiz, and Bologna forward Simone Verdi. Captain Marek Hamsik and Belgian Dries Mertens will again be key players.
Roma astonished many last season by making it to the Champions League semi-finals while finishing third in Serie A, and they should be competitive again. They have lost Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson to Liverpool and Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan to Internazionale, but they have picked up influential midfielder Javier Pastore from Paris St Germain, French midfielder Steven Nzonzi from Sevilla, and 19-year-old Dutch forward Justin Kluivert from Ajax. Another steady season is likely.
The addition of Nainggolan and striker Lautano Martinez should help Inter be competitive, while veteran striker Gonzalo Higuain adds some strength to Milan. A title victory for either would surprise, however.
Though their focus will be the Champions League, Juventus still look likely to make it eight consecutive titles. The best season bet might be in markets for the top team excluding Juventus. Napoli, Inter, and Roma were all in the +200 to +275 range, and Roma may just be the best team to watch for.
Best Bet To Win 2018-19 Serie A: Roma +700 (+275 In “Excluding Juventus” Market)