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Serie A Title Contenders 2021/22

Tue 21 December 2021 | 14:30

We are almost at the halfway mark of the Serie A 2021/22 campaign and now it is a good time to have a look at Serie A title contenders 2021/22. Right now, there are four teams competing for the top place and that made the Italian top flight one of the most competitive leagues across Europe.

The Italian Serie A is one of the oldest football competitions in football history. In the 90s and early 2000s, Serie A was considered as the best football league in the world. Although they are now far away from those glorious days, still the Italian top flight is one of the top three football leagues in Europe. With 36 championships, Juventus is the recordholder for most Serie A titles and then the two Milanese giants, Internazionale and AC Milan have 19 and 18 titles respectively.

Nine of those 36 Juventus’ titles have come from 2011 to 2020. Finally, it was Inter that put a halt to Juve’s consecutive championships and lift up the league title in the 2020/21 season with

Antonio Conte

at the helm. Now in the Serie A 2021-2022 season, Juventus are struggling at the middle of the table and it’s safe to say that the Bianconeri’ dominance on Italian football has officially ended. That’s why the current season’s championship race in Italy is way more entertaining than it was during the past decade.

Serie A 2021-2022 Top Four; Who Is Going to Win the Scudetto?

At the time of publishing this article, Inter are sitting at the top with 43 points. Milan and Napoli both have 39 poitns and Atalanta is chasing those three sides with 37 points to thier name. The

2021-22 Serie A title odds

suggests that the defending champions Inter have the better chance to be crowned as the champions in the May. But at the moment, the gap between the top four teams is so narrow.

Therefore, we can’t rule out any one of those four sides. In order to figure out the chances of winning the Scudetto for each of these clubs, we are going to have a review of their form and results so far, their needs in the January transfer market and the impact of European football on their domestic campaigns. Stay tuned if you want to know has the upper hand amongst Serie A title contenders 2021/22. 

Napoli

Napoli

had the best start to the season amongst the Serie A title contenders 2021/22 as they won their first eight matches in Serie A and were unbeaten until the matchday 13 against Inter. After missing out on a top-four place finish in the last day of the 2020-21 season, Napoli dismissed Gennaro Gattuso and appointed Luciano Spalletti as their new head coach in the summer of 2021. The Italian tactician has had some decent spells at Roma and Inter and gained UCL qualifications for several times with both of them. Although Spalletti has won two Coppa Italia and a Supercoppa titles with Roma, he never had his hands on the Serie A trophy just yet.

As a matter of fact, none of the coaches that are leading the

title contenders of Serie A 2021/22

have ever managed to win a Scudetto during their coaching careers. Given to the amount of quality and depth the Napoli squad has, one could argue that they were underperforming for the last couple of seasons. Now, with a well-experienced coach they are reaching their full potential. Spalletti is implementing an attacking 4-3-3 which is also quite effective on the defensive phase. Injuries have slowed them down a little recently but still, they have just enough power to remain in the race to the end of the road.

Napoli Results and Fixtures Ahead in Serie A 2021-2022

As mentioned earlier, Napoli only lost four points in the opening 12 weeks of the Serie A 2021-2022. During this span, they beat Juventus in the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, took three points from Fiorentina away from home, and drew against Roma in the capital. But their honeymoon came to an end in late November as they lost to Inter in San Siro and couldn’t beat

Verona

in front of their own fans. A 4-0 win against Lazio at home certainly set up the moods but then losing a six-pointer match to Atalanta at home and an unexpected defeat to Empoli pull them down on the Serie A table. Playing in the death group of Europa League and injuries were the main reasons that led to Napoli dropping their form.

For the second half of the season, the only Sothern club amongst the Serie A title contenders 2021/22 has to travel to north to face Juventus and Atalanta which will be some tough games. On the play-off round of Europa League, Napoli has a big game on the way against Barcelona. Four days before they travel to Barca for the first leg, they have to host Inter in Serie A. Then just after the second leg, Napoli has a couple of difficult fixtures against Lazio and Milan which they will host the latter. They also host the Derby del Sole against Roma in the final weeks of the season.

Napoli Plans in the Winter Transfer Market

The African Cup of Nations

which will take place in January of 2022, is going to affect so many clubs in Europe but a few of them will be bothered as much as Napoli does. That’s because many of their key players are from Africa and they will be out for at least three weeks to help out their countries. Those players include the Senegalese Kalidou Koulibaly who is one of the best defenders in the league, the Cameroonian midfielder Andre-Frank Anguissa who joined the club in the summer and immediately proved his worth, and the Nigerian wonderkid Victor Osimhen who is leading their attack line.

So, in order to maintain their place near the top of the table, Napoli will need some reinforcements in the January transfer market. Specifically, they need a new defender since in addition to Koulibaly leaving on national duty, the Greek CB Kostas Manolas has returned to Olympiacos just recently. They could also benefit from a natural defensive midfielder in the absence of Anguissa. On the attacking front, Andrea Petagna and

Dries Mertens

could be two reliable options at least for the coming weeks. An important issue that Napoli has to deal with is the renewal talks with their captain, Lorenzo Insigne. He has less than a year left on his contract and Napoli might think about selling him in the winter to prevent losing him for free in the upcoming summer. 

Atalanta

Once the underdogs, now one of the

Serie A title contenders 2021/22

. The Bergamo side has finished in a top four place for the past three seasons and now they are becoming a regular team in the Champions League. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini is enjoying his sixth season at the club and it seems that his team is just getting more mature by every season. The cliché of Italian teams being too defensive has always been around but we can say for sure that cliché does not apply to Atalanta. In fact, they have been one of the most aggressive sides across Europe since Gasperini took over in 2016.

A relentless high pressing in an attacking 3-4-2-1 scheme has made them one of the scariest opponents to face against in the Italian Serie A. After displaying one of the most appealing footballs for several seasons, it might be the time for

Atalanta

to win its first ever Scudetto in the Serie A 2021-2022 season. For the last couple of seasons, they have managed to progress on their European campaigns in Champions League. Now that they finished third in their group, Gasperini could focus on their domestic campaign and close down the gap to the top of the table. 

Atalanta Results and Fixtures Ahead in Serie A 2021-2022

During the last few years, Atalanta didn’t have an impressive start to their seasons but their form improved as the seasons went on. This season was no different as they already dropped points in seven Serie A matches before reaching the 19th round. Failing to beat

Bologna

and Udinese at home, losing to Fiorentina, Milan, and Roma all at Bergamo, and a couple of 2-2 draws in big fixtures against Inter and Lazio costed them 17 points so far. But still, they are only six points behind the leaders Inter.

Atalanta has been a kingslayer as they love to play against big teams in the league and beat them. In the first half of the

Serie A 2021-2022

, they visited Juventus and Napoli away from home and beat both of them with 1-0 and 3-2 scorelines respectively. The good news for Atalanta fans is that they are going to play against Inter, Juventus, and Napoli all at Gewiss Stadium in Bergamo. On the European front, after finishing third in UCL group F behind Manchester United and Villareal, Atalanta was drawn to confront Olympiacos in Europa League play-off knockout stage. If they are going to chase the Scudetto, they might need a little bit of squad rotation during their continental journey.  

Atalanta Plans in the Winter Transfer Market

You may be surprised if we tell you that Atalanta is one of the most successful clubs in Italy when it comes to the transfer market strategy. They have a quite simple and of course, effective guideline: keep the key players at any cost, sell the young talents at a good price and use that money to upgrade the squad. That strategy resulted in a well-balanced squad that is perfectly what Gasperini needs to implement his eye-catching football.

They have a strong core of professionals such as Duvan Zapata,

Luis Muriel

, Rafael Toloi, Martin de Roon, Josip Ilici, and Mario Pasalic that are playing alongside each other for at least three full seasons. Then they are the likes of Ruslan Malinovsky, Jose Palomino, and Teun Koopmieners who are just the perfect squad players and are performing week in and week out. So, our guess is that Atalanta is going to have a quiet January transfer market since they already have what they need to compete at the highest level as one of the Serie A title contenders 2021/22.

Milan

Since the arrival of Stefano Pioli in 2019, Milan was able to see the light at the end of a long tunnel. The Italian coach succeeded Marco Giampaolo who was fired due to poor results at the beginning of the 2019-20 season. It didn’t take him long to shake things ups and build a winning team using the classic formula of mixing veterans with a young talented core of players. After sitting at the top of the table for the better part of the last season, the Rossoneri fans started this season believing that their side is one of the title contenders of Serie A 2021/22.

Pioli led his men to a runner-up place last season which meant Milan are back in Champions League football for the first time since 2014. But being drawn in the death group with

Porto

, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool kind of spoiled the party. Pioli is sticking to his modern 4-2-3-1 formation in his third year at the club but there is a problem with that: his side tends to play a high-intensity style of football which is causing a lot of muscle injuries. That is why when you look at the 2021-22 Serie A title odds, Milan’s numbers are not that high for the time being.

Milan Results and Fixtures Ahead in Serie A 2021-2022

As one of the Serie A title contenders 2021/22, Milan had a terrific form in the opening two months of the campaign. They have accumulated 31 out of 33 possible points during that period. A 1-1 draw against Juve in Turin was the only match that Milan dropped points in it. Apart from that, they have managed to beat Lazio in San Siro, and came out on top against Atalanta and Roma while they were traveling. They only suffered their first loss in the game week 13 in a thriller match at 

Fiorentina 

that went 4-3 in the host's favor. Two other draws against Inter and Udinese and a devastating loss to Sassuolo at home have worried the red part of the city in Milano.

Finishing fourth in their UCL group meant that Milan is the only Italian side among the Serie A title contenders 2021/22 that doesn’t have any international games on their calendar for the rest of the season. That could be a blessing in disguise as they are currently dealing with a lot of injuries and obviously lack enough depth to compete in several tournaments. In the remaining fixtures, Milan has to travel to the capital to face Lazio and they are also the guest team in the Derby della Madonnina against Inter at San Siro. On the other hand, Milan will play at home against Juve, Atalanta, and Roma in that order.

Milan Plans in the Winter Transfer Market

Between the title contenders of Serie A 2021/22, the January transfer market is not crucial for any of them as much as it is for Milan. They have a lot of issues on their hand and the winter transfer window is a matter of make or break for them. As we discussed it about Napoli, Milan is also going to suffer from the absence of its African players due to the CAF Cup of Nations. Ivorian 

Frank Kessie

 and Algerian Ismail Bennacer are two key players in for Milan in the middle of the pitch who are going to be missed for a few weeks.

In addition to that, Milan is yet to convince Kessie and their captain 

Alessio Romagnoli

 to sign a new contract which prevents them to leave the club for free in the upcoming summer. And just recently, Simon Kjaer has suffered from a horrible injury that ended the season for the veteran defender who is one of the leaders in the squad. Things are not better at the attacking line either; the newcomer Olivier Giroud wasn’t able to help much due to constant minor injuries and the 41-year-old Zlatan cannot be a reliable option for the rest of the season. Altogether, it is a challenging transfer window for the Milan directors and if they want to keep the hopes alive for Scudetto, they have to make some smart moves in the market.

Inter

Last but not least on our

Serie A title contenders 2021/22

review: the defending champions Internazionale. Inter has won its 19th league title and ended Juventus’ nine-year championship streak with Antonio Conte sitting at the dugout. But then the club was hit by a financial crisis which forced them to sell two of their most important players – Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi. Things got even worse when Antonio Conte decided to leave the club. To make up for those losses, Inter appointed the former Lazio coach, Simone Inzaghi and replaced Lukaku with the Bosnian goal scorer Edin Dzeko who joined the club after having a remarkable career at Roma.

The arrivals of Denzel Dumfries and Inzaghi’s former player at

Lazio

, Joaquin Correa was also some notable moves in the summer of 2021 for Inter. The 45-year-old Italian coach prefers a 3-5-2 shape which was similar to how Conte was playing at Inter. Therefore, he was able to pick it up where Conte left off. So, despite losing the mastermind behind their championship and two of their most valuable players, Inter managed to maintain their place as one of the Serie A title contenders 2021/22. Right now, everything is going according to the plans for Inzaghi’s side and having the second-best attacking line in Europe’s top five league with 48 goals in 18 games is just a proof of that.

Inter Results and Fixtures Ahead in Serie A 2021-2022

Inter didn’t had the best start to the season among title contenders of Serie A 2021/22 but they have been consistent which is much more important for wining a league campaign. Up to this day, they failed to win in five matches and only lost one of them against Lazio at Olimpico. Two home draws against Atalanta and Juventus and a 1-1 scoreline against Milan; if you ignore the away draw versus

Sampdoria

, you could see that Inter is winning all of its “easy” fixtures in the league and they are dropping points only against the best sided of Serie A.

If Inter manages to keep this form until May, it’s hard to imagine them not winning their 20th league title. Inzaghi’s hardest fixtures for the rest of the season are three away games at Atalanta, Napoli, and Juventus, and three home games against Lazio, Milan and Roma. the trickiest part of their schedule will come in early February when they have to face Milan, Napoli, and Liverpool in three consecutive matches. Right now, they are considered as the underdogs in their UCL round of 16 match against Liverpool, but you never know what can happen in a home-and-away knockout tie and Inter might have a pleasant European run as well.

Inter Plans in the Winter Transfer Market

Giuseppe Marotta, the sport director at Inter, has shown that he is a genius of football transfer market. Even before joining Inter in 2018, he has a spectacular spell at Juventus for eight years and is one of the key men who helped the Old Lady to risen from their ashes in 2010s. In every transfer window since Marotta’s arrival, Inter improved a little bit and that’s why there are the favorites between the

Serie A title contenders 2021/22

. For the January 2022 transfer window, Inter does not have any essential requirements.

They may be looking for some opportunities that may appear in the market though. Especially, if the rumors about Alexis Sanchez returning to Barcelona comes true. Another departure that already has been approved, is Christian Eriksen who agreed to leave the club on mutual consent after his health issue. But it’s safe to say his absence has already been taken care of as the club signed Hakan Çalhanoğlu as a free agent in the last summer. After joining the direct rivals of his former club, AC Milan, the Turkish midfilder has finally found his form and is one of the best attacking midfielders in the Serie A 2021-2022 right now.

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source: SportMob

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