European Roundtable

Can Napoli or Roma unseat Juve this year? If so, who?

Antonio Conte’s exit from Juventus has opened up the Serie A title race.

Ahmad: This says more about Juventus than the other two, quite frankly, and with good reason. Antonio Conte is gone, replaced by AC Milan whipping boy Max Allegri. As soon as he left, Juventus lost out on signing Juan Iturbe to Roma, and the never ending transfer saga of Arturo Vidal to Manchester started picking up steam again. Meanwhile, Roma have built themselves quite a team, bringing in the aforementioned Iturbe, Davide Astori, Antonio Sanabria, Leandro Paredes, Urby Emanuelson, Salih Ucan, Seydou Keita, and Ashley Cole. Napoli, meanwhile, still have the Fat Spanish Waiter. They also added Michu to partner Gonzalo Higuain, who didn’t exactly light the world on fire with Argentina. Right now, Roma look like the better bet to overtake Juventus, but I still think Juventus’s squad – right now – is enough to win Serie A in spite of Allegri.

Cole: Nope. Not unless Juventus sells Pogba or Vidal. Roma’s inching up closely to Juventus talent wise, but there’s still a slight gap between the two. Meanwhile, none of Napoli’s signings have moved the needle much. Napoli ran a one striker system that I think fit the rest of the club really well, so I can’t see Michu replacing Higuain. As for Walter Gargano, I can’t see him finding much first team action with Inler, Jorginho, and Behrami in the fold. Allegri is going to do whatever he can to ruin this for Juventus, but I think they’ll still be the ones with the Scudetto come the end of the season.

Who do you think will be this year’s Atletico?

Faisal: This is a tough one. Atletico have done extremely well to bounce back from selling their best players as Ahmad has mentioned and Porto have done extremely well in the transfer market as always. However, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Arsenal will be this seasons Atletico  if they get a defensive midfielder a la Carvalho or Khedira. The talent that Arsene Wenger has at his disposal this year is absolutely phenomenal so getting knocked out at the last 16 will not be an option. If Arsenal don’t manage to sign a top quality  defensive midfielder, I’m going to go with Porto as they have done excellent business in the transfer window with acquisitions like World Cup star Bruno Martins Indi, Real Madrid starlet Casemiro and Barcelona one season wonder Tello. All three players, Tello in particular, will feel that they have a point to prove on the biggest stage so I could very well see them surprising a lot of viewers this year in Europe.

Moe: It’s a difficult question to answer cause what Atletico achieved last year was extraordinary. One candidate though could be Porto. From the looks of it they will get to keep Jackson Martinez for another season. They’ve signed the likes of Adrian, Brahimi and Bruno Martins Indi while acquiring Christian Tello on loan. Their group of Athletic Bilbao, Shakhtar and BATE is easily winnable, which will help them avoid some of the strongest teams until the quarterfinals.

Can PSG make it the Champions League semifinals?

David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi are now teammates. Will that be the extra boost PSG needed to make the Champions League semifinals?

Jeremy: PSG should have been in the semis the past two seasons, only going out on away goals to Barcelona and Chelsea. The Parisians have a deep squad with two world-class forwards (for now) up top. And with the French league in…well, shambles, PSG can focus almost fully on Europe. So, yes, I think they have a great chance, and should make it if they hold onto Cavani in the final days of the window.

Jordan: I say yes. I think the David Luiz signing is being dismissed as a result of World Cup recency bias. Bringing in Aurier addresses their biggest concern for me, which was fullbacks. Veratti, Cabaye, Matuidi and Thiago Motta are a nice group of four who can also be used in a 4-3-3. Zlatan should be get plenty of service to bang in goals. PSG came close the last two years but this year I think David Luiz and others give them that extra push.

Is Adrian Ramos and Immobile an upgrade over Lewandowski?

Cole: As much as I like both players, no chance. Lewandowski is one of the best players in the world to man the nine. Ramos and Immobile are solid, unspectacular parts that will get the job done at Dortmund, but there are very few players that can be consider an upgrade to the Polish wunderkind.

Jeremy: “Upgrade?” No. As for coming close to replicating his production, however, there’s a chance. Check out Lewandowski/Immobile/Ramos in the Squawka Comparison Matrix:


While neither Immobile nor Ramos is quite the shot-generation/accuracy monster that Lewandowski is, Immobile had a better goal-scoring ratio per 90 (albeit in a weakened Serie A), while Ramos was as proficient at goals from set pieces and could do well in support. Losing Lewa to arch-rivals Bayern made Dortmund hearts ache, but BVB should be okay with this forward pairing.


About Jordan Katz

Journalism student at the University of Maryland and an editor at The Diamondback, our independent student newspaper.
This entry was posted in Bundesliga, Champions League, La Liga, Ligue 1, Roundtables. Bookmark the permalink.

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