Serie A Winner Betting: The process of elimination favours Juventus

Some key figures left, but Gianluigi Buffon and Max Allegri both remain at Juventus
Some key figures left, but Gianluigi Buffon and Max Allegri both remain at Juventus

Juventus' competition are either not doing enough or starting from too far back, reckons Michael Lintorn...

"The quartet who came closest to Juventus in 2014/15 – Roma 7.87/1, Lazio 25.024/1, Fiorentina 60.059/1 and Napoli 10.09/1 – have either not strengthened significantly or actually become weaker."

You would think that after winning four successive scudetti and surviving the resignation of revitalising coach Antonio Conte to reign again domestically and reach a Champions League final, Juventus would be considered absolute bankers to make it five in a row.

The Betfair odds tell a different story, with the Bianconeri available to back at 1.684/6 to retain once more.

There are admittedly valid reasons why punters are cynical. The primary one is that they have lost three of their best players this summer in Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, as well as valuable squad members such as Marco Storari, one of the all-time great goalkeeping deputies, and Angelo Ogbonna, who made 25 Serie A appearances last term.

On top of that is a lingering worry that, though Max Allegri exceeded all expectations in his first season, extinguishing the negativity that followed his appointment months after being ditched by AC Milan, he was similarly dominant in year one at San Siro and couldn't sustain it.

That Rossoneri dethroning was also impacted by the departure of Pirlo on a free transfer, with the veteran midfielder emerging as Serie A's Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the 2010s in terms of scudetto magnetism by celebrating five on the spin.

However, while the Old Lady have relinquished prize assets, they have recruited wisely once again. Tevez was replaced by the three-headed Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Simone Zaza monster, Sami Khedira has similar top-level experience to Pirlo, albeit a different skillset, and Mario Gotze and Julian Draxler are being pursued with the Vidal money.

The other thing that bodes well for Juventus, and leads this writer to rate them more of a back than a lay at 1.684/6, is that the teams who are pulling off the most impressive business are the ones with the most ground to catch up.

The quartet who came closest to them in 2014/15 - Roma 7.87/1, Lazio 25.024/1, Fiorentina 60.059/1 and Napoli 10.09/1 - have either not strengthened significantly or actually become weaker, with those title odds telling much of the story.

With the exception of Wojciech Szczesny and Iago Falque, pretty much everyone that Roma have signed this summer was either already on the books or there on loan before. Lazio have merely added some inexpensive early-20-somethings, most notably Ravel Morrison and Barcelona B's Patric.

Fiorentina and Napoli both parted with coaches Vincenzo Montella and Rafael Benitez - the former widely recognised as the instigator of the Viola's resurgence and the latter one of the most famous tacticians on the planet - and took gambles in replacing them with the less established Paulo Sousa and Maurizio Sarri.

The Tuscan club sold Stevan Savic, were ditched for Juventus by goalkeeper Neto (who previously vowed never to make that unpopular move) and were snubbed by loan hero Mohamed Salah. It has been a bit better for Napoli, who have made a few decent purchases and not yet surrendered any starting players, but not sufficiently to get punters truly believing.

Instead, the two sides conducting the most ambitious dealings are Inter 13.5 and AC Milan 16.5, who are coming from 32 and 35 points behind Juventus . Yes, the Old Lady won from seventh in 2011/12 to return to power, yet these two were even further back: eighth and tenth.

Even with Miranda and Geoffrey Kondogbia arriving at Inter and Andrea Bertolacci and Carlos Bacca joining AC Milan, they possess incomplete squads led by coaches who haven't been in charge long in Roberto Mancini and Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Champions League readmission should be their priority.

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