The start of the Serie A 2021/22 season might seem like it’s a long way away, but bookmakers are always quick out of the blocks when it comes to compiling markets. The engraver will have only begun putting Internazionale’s name on the Serie A trophy for last season, and odds-setters will have been busy at work looking forward to the next campaign. And, perhaps surprisingly, Juventus are the clear favourites once again.
Sure, at the moment, most fans’ attentions are drawn towards Italy’s progress in Euro 2020 Group A. But it’s interesting, particularly given the state of flux of Italian club football right now. Antonio Conte left the champions under a cloud, and there are transfer rumours over just about every player at Inter. Juventus might have restored a familiar face to the dugout, but Max Allegri is sure to want to make some changes.
Expect clubs to have a Euros hangover
Perhaps what we are getting at is it feels like it is much too early to speak of favourites next for next season. A lot can happen over the summer months. Juventus have 12 players currently at the Euros, whereas Inter sent nine to the tournament. There will be some very tired legs coming home from the Euros, and you can guarantee that some clubs are going to have slow starts to the campaign. Fatigue is a very real danger to players at the moment given the disruption across 2020 and the late starts to the previous campaign.
Nevertheless, bookmakers (we have looked at the average price across a range of betting sites) put Juventus at just a shade over even money to win the title next season. Inter are second-favourites with odds of around 2/1. Milan and Atalanta sit somewhere in the 10/1 area, Napoli 14/1 and Jose Mourinho’s Roma at 20/1. Lazio are 40/1, and everyone else 100/1 or above.
Juventus feel like favourites by default, not merit
But you get the sense here that the bookmakers are not looking at Juventus directly, but rather looking at Juventus through the lens of Inter’s financial issues. In plain English, the bookies are banking that the champions will implode over the summer, losing some of their best players and seeing general disarray at the club. It’s not a ludicrous assumption. But Simeone Inzaghi is nobody’s fool, and he would not have accepted the Inter job without some assurances over the squad.
You can understand why the bookmakers back Allegri to find a winning formula, given what he achieved before at the club. But it seems to be forgotten that Juventus have serious financial woes, too. Moreover, the club needs to spend. Allegri or not, the squad is not good enough to overhaul Inter as it stands. Of course, “as it stands” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, particularly if there is a fire sale at Inter over the coming months.
In the end, that gets to the heart of it. Take what you see about Juventus being the favourites with a big pinch of salt. There are so many ifs and buts that it seems ludicrous to believe they should be in the driving seat. The uncertainty – hanging over all the clubs – should lead to a less predictable season for 2021/22, and that’s a good thing for Italian football.