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The big club football story of the summer has been Cristiano Ronaldo’s move from Real Madrid to Juventus but could Juve’s acquisition of CR7 backfire on them, at least in regards to Massimiliano Allegri winning the Italian Serie A title?
Juventus was odds-on to retain the Italian Serie A trophy long before Ronaldo put pen to paper on a mind-boggling deal for a 33-year-old but CR7 is not the easiest player to blend into a dressing room and his arrival could upset the culture that has been key to Juve dominating domestically for many years. Clearly, Juventus has acquired Ronaldo because it is desperate to land its third UEFA Champions League crown and targeting CR7 does make sense in terms of achieving that goal. After all, Ronaldo was instrumental in Real Madrid’s three consecutive UEFA Champions League triumphs.
One would argue that, since Ronaldo became a megastar, the only manager who has really kept him in his place has been former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson; the displays of petulance to which we have become accustomed when watching Ronaldo, both on and off the field, did not happen when CR7 was in the red and white colours of the Red Devils. There are few bigger names in the sport than Zinedine Zidane but Ronaldo had more than his fair share of moments under Zizou – how many times did you see CR7 shun his fellow Real Madrid players after they had scored a goal? – and his new Juventus colleagues may not be as accommodating as those with whom he won countless domestic and continental trophies in Spain.
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If you agree that this season’s UEFA Champions League is the holy grail for Juventus then that is another reason to bet around Juve in Italian Serie A, which may become little more than a means of qualifying for the former tournament if they are in contention on both fronts and sacrifices need to be made. One can envisage Ronaldo, who will celebrate his 34th birthday in February, getting a leave pass from some Italian Serie A games either before or after UEFA Champions League matches. And Ronaldo may not be the only Juventus player whose workload may be planned around European events.
Is Juventus the most likely winner of the Italian Serie A title? Yes, Juventus has won seven successive Italian Serie A championships and, depending on which side of the Lionel Messi-Ronaldo divide you sit, it has added either the best or second best player of his generation. But the odds-on quotes imply that Juventus is a lay down to lift aloft its eighth Italian Serie A trophy in a row and, in light of the points one has made in the first part of this article, one cannot recommend backing Juve. Remember, also, Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon has left to join Paris Saint-Germain and Juve will miss the leadership of their former skipper, Gonzalo Higuain has been loaned to Milan to make way for Ronaldo and Leonardo Bonucci is back in Turin. Allegri is going to have his work cut out keeping everyone happy at Juventus and it may all end in tears this term.
Napoli pushed Juventus the hardest in Italian Serie A last season but the Partenopei have lost their coach, Maurizio Sarri, to English Premier League giant Chelsea and their strength in depth, which ultimately proved their downfall, has not been addressed during the summer months. Roma was third on the Italian Serie A ladder last term but it is Internazionale, which finished another five points behind the Yellow and Reds, that piques one’s betting attention, particularly in those title markets without Juventus.
Internazionale’s transfer activity during the Italian Serie A’s downtime has been good – the Black and Blues appear to have made positive strides compared to Napoli and Roma, which look likely to go backwards – and they are strong all over the pitch. Hopefully, the UEFA Champions League will not be as big a distraction for Internazionale as one fears it will be for Juventus but, if you back the Black and Blues to get the better of all bar Juve, realistically all they have to do is overtake Napoli and Roma to land your wager at odds of 7/4 2.75 +175 1.75 1.75 -0.57 with Bet365.
Italian Serie A futures markets are not as prevalent as they were a few years ago – perhaps a consequence of the recent dominance of Juventus – but another bet worth considering is laying Ronaldo to be the league’s top goalscorer. Ronaldo is not going to have the red carpet rolled out for him by many Italian Serie A defences and Juventus have shared around its goals during its all-conquering domestic spell. Of course, it is easier to lay Ronaldo at odds on in Italian Serie A top goalscorer than it is to back multiple alternatives at fixed odds but do what you must to oppose CR7 this term.
Inter Milan to win the title (without Juventus)
Odds: 7/4 2.75 +175 1.75 1.75 -0.57
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