NOTE: This is the map of the Serie A 2018-2019 season. Click here to see the most recent map of the top Italian football competition.
With Cristiano Ronaldo’s landing in Serie A, will any team stand a chance against Juventus? How will Napoli adjust to the world class experience of their new coach Carlo Ancelotti? Now that Milan’s somewhat mysterious Chinese ownership disbanded, and the Rossoneri ended in the hands of Elliot Fund, will they become competitive again? Moreover, is the current 20-team roster of the Italian top flight the final one, or must we expect a few surprises?
These and more questions gather at the dawn of a new Serie A season, which will kick off on August 19, with the calendar being released on July 26. A troubled summer (surprise, surprise) for the world of calcio, and not only for the arrival of the Genius of Madeira, the five-time Ballon d’Or who came to reinforce even further the Bianconeri on their way to an unprecedented 8th Scudetto in a row.
The lineup of the Italian domestic competition may be shaken before referees could even blow the initial whistle, with Parma and Chievo pending disciplinary judgements whose consequences may exclude them from Serie A. The reborn Crociati, back to the top tier after three straight promotions, risk being retroactively deducted two points from the past season on the grounds of an alleged match-fixing attempt during the last Serie B season. A weak accusation in our opinion, which could however be enough to strip Parma of what they conquered on the field.
More complex is the situation of Chievo, which are being accused of falsely accounting the transfer of 30 players with Serie B club Cesena, inflating their value in order to gain a financial advantage in their accounts. The Gialloblu risk a 15-point retroactive deduction, which would make them plummet to the bottom of last season’s standing, and consequently relegate them to the lower tier. On a side note, Cesena – the other club involved in this alleged illegal conduct – just went bankrupt, and disappeared from the map of professional football…
It would seem like we are back to the middle of the 2000s, when the roster of the Italian professional divisions was rather being filled by court judgements and appeals, than by the achievements on the pitch. Administrative malpractice and clubs failing to meet the financial requirements to enroll in the league were quite common back in the days, together with the practice of trying to fix, or at least influence key matches. The most common outcome used to be a farcical summer waltz of exclusions and repechages, culminating in the tragicomic inflation of Serie B from 20 to 24 teams in 2004, basically to “make everyone happy.”
But, as of today, Parma and Chievo are still part of Serie A 2018-2019, and we will consider them as such in our quick examination of the top league roster for the upcoming football season. With the relegation of Hellas Verona, Crotone, and Benevento, the barycenter of Serie A moved towards the Northern and Central part of Italy. The departure of Benevento and Crotone, as well as Palermo’s failure to climb back to the top flight after one year of purgatorio (an amiable nickname for Serie B…), left Napoli as the only club to represent the Southern part of the Country. The three biggest regions in the South – Calabria, Apulia, and Sicily – will all have no clubs in the next Serie A.
Cagliari resist as a representative of Sardinia, while newly-promoted Frosinone will be the third side in the Lazio Region, joining Rome-based Roma and Lazio. Serie B winners Empoli will re-join Fiorentina to give life to a regional Derby dell’Arno, Empoli being a small city close to Florence. Emilia Romagna will be the region to feature the most representatives – four, with Parma facing Bologna for a very sentimental Derby dell’Emilia, as well as Sassuolo and SPAL.
Serie A loses one city derby, the one of Verona, as Hellas were relegated to Serie B while Chievo maintained their spot (well, at least as of now…). The traditional four major derbies were not affected, with Juventus and Torino battling for the predominance in Turin, Milan and Inter disputing their supremacy over Milano, Genoa and Sampdoria fighting from Genova, and Roma and Lazio continuing their eternal clash in the Capital of Italy.