By 90Min
July 30, 2019

Although Serie A has become a much more revered and exciting league over recent years, having freed itself from the shackles of the 'Calciopoli' scandal, one minor issue is still to be addressed. 

It's safe to say that the Italian league has become nauseatingly predictable over the past decade. Last season Juventus won their eighth successive scudetti. That's right - eight. The last team to win the title before the Turin club was Milan in 2011. To put that into context, Osama Bin Laden was still at large at that time, and LMFAO released the hit single 'Party Rock Anthem.' 

A lot has changed since then - thankfully. 

However, Juventus' grip on the Serie A trophy is yet to be loosened, and has rarely even been tested. Their financial dominance over the other 19 sides is eye-watering, and their wage bill dwarfs that of even their nearest competitors. 

The Neapolitan side sit fifth in the Serie A wage bill table, with a respectable expenditure of €75m a year. Compare that to Juventus, who pay a staggering €145m every year to their assembly of superstars.

Napoli have established themselves as the second best team by a long distance, finishing ten points ahead of third place Atalanta, but 11 points adrift of winners Juventus. 11 points sounds like a daunting deficit to rectify, but there is hope for the chasing pack this year.

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 After the departure of Massimilliano Allegri from the Allianz Stadium, Sarri has been tasked with continuing the Italian's domestic success, and also ending the long wait for Champions League glory - all of this whilst completely changing the pragmatic style of play with which Juve have long been associated.

Change takes time, however, and this may play nicely into Napoli's hands. If I Bianconeri are unable to grasp 'Sarriball' quickly, it may present an opening for a challenger to take an early lead at the top of the table. Juventus' pre-season displays have been shaky and disjointed, which is in stark contrast to Napoli's 3-0 dismantling of European champions Liverpool this week. 

I Partenopei have continued their impressive growth on and off the pitch this summer, improving their squad in key positions and retaining their most prized assets. The arrival of Kostas Manolas may have been perceived as a replacement for powerhouse Kalidou Koulibaly, but instead owner Aurelio De Laurentiis has assembled one of the toughest and most proven centre-back partnerships in the world. 

Their backline is boosted by the return of Faouzi Ghoulam, who was the leading left-back in Italy until a long-term injury in 2017 put the brakes on his exceptional rise. His performances at the end of last season suggest he is back to his best, and Ancelotti will be hoping that he can rely on the Algerian over the entire campaign. 

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Napoli have also held on to midfield maestro Fabian Ruiz, who won 'Player of the Tournament' at this year's Under-21 European Championships, and have also added attacking midfielder Eljif Elmas to their central options. Coupled with the hard-working and tough-tackling Allan, Napoli have assembled a balanced midfield worthy of a place at the top of Serie A. 

That's not to say that Juventus haven't strengthened over the summer though. Matthijs de Ligt, Merih Demiral, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are a few of the purchases made by Sarri's side this summer, as their squad depth verges on the ridiculous. 

Sarri's reluctance to rotate his team was ultimately his downfall at Chelsea, as fans and players alike grew tired of the Italian's stubbornness and over-reliance on certain players. At a club like Juventus, where each position is filled with decorated winners and more than capable replacements, Sarri will need to learn to keep his entire squad happy, or face the consequences of a dressing-room mutiny. 

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The marquee signings of De Ligt this season, and Cristiano Ronaldo the last, are statements of intent from the Old Lady, as their burning obsession with the Champions League goes on for another year. Sarri knows that ultimately his time in Turin will be judged on his ability to deliver European glory, and this may be to the detriment of their league campaign. 

Juve are willing to go to all lengths to win the European title, which clearly affected their domestic form last year. They were humbled 3-0 in the Coppa Italia by Atalanta, and despite cruising to the league title, their performances seemed to suggest that the Serie A campaign was merely a hinderance in their Champions League quest. 

Napoli are solely focused on besting Juventus, and their consistency in the transfer window, coupled with the continuity from last season means that they'll be raring to go come August, and will come flying out of the blocks.

Their three-pronged attack of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon can destroy every Serie A defence on its day, and their flying full backs and creative midfield are now supported by a rock-solid backline.

Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

If Juventus take their eye off the domestic title race, Napoli will be much better equipped to punish their sloppiness this time round, and the hungry Partenopei will be hard to catch.

Juventus' motto is 'Winning is not important, it's the only thing that matters'. Their appointment of Sarri completely contradicts this adage, and Napoli may finally break the Old Lady's stranglehold on Italian football. 

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