Serie A has twisted and turned this season, keeping supporters on the edge of their seats, with surprises up and down the league. Even the Scudetto race, in which Inter looked to be racing away, the gap has been narrowed to two points after the Nerazzurri dropped points to Genoa.
Our 2024 Serie A predictions:
With that in mind, let’s look ahead to 2024 and try to predict the league winners, Champions League qualifiers and the unlucky three to drop down to Serie A.
Winners: Internazionale Milano – 1/4
The Nerazzurri are comfortably the bookies’ favourite to win the Scudetto, and it is easy to see why. Inter may only have a two point lead over Juve going into 2024, but their goal difference is near double that of the Old Lady, having scored the most and conceded the fewest in the league.
Their underlying numbers are impressive too. Inter have an expected goal difference per 90 of 1.36, miles ahead of second placed Juventus’ 0.85. The only reason Inter are not running away on points is that they have shown a propensity to drop some silly points, such as against 16th placed Sassuolo at home, or against Genoa this week.
The key game in the race for the title will come early, as Inter host Juve on 4th February. The reverse fixture finished 1-1, but Juventus will need to secure at least a point to stay in the race.
Champions League qualifiers: Juventus – 1/25, Napoli – 7/4, AC Milan – 7/4
Juventus are near certain to qualify for European football once more, and are already 12 points clear of fifth place.
The big story of Serie A this season has been Bologna. The club from Emilia Romagna have conceded just 15 this season, and Dutchman Joshua Zirkzee has finally started to fulfill his promise as a striker, leading the line in style. But Champions League qualification is likely a bridge too far, particularly as Fabrizio Romano reports star defender Radu Dragusin is close to joining Spurs. However, if they can repeat some big wins, such as their 2-0 victory against Roma, and a point against Inter, they will run the competition close.
Napoli have had a sticky season so far, despite retaining all their Scudetto stars except Kim Min-Jae. But the Neapolitan side have comfortably the third best expected goal difference in the league, and will likely kick on now that super striker Victor Osimhen is back to full fitness. Their big game will be against Bologna on 12th May at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
AC Milan have been the opposite of Napoli. Their underlying statistics are actually rather poor, with their expected goal difference being only good enough for eighth in the league. But with stars like Mike Maignan, Fikayo Tomori and Lucas Hernandez making the difference at the back, and Rafa Leao, Olivier Giroud and Christian Pulisic being clinical in the final third, it is hard to see the Rossoneri falling out of the top four.
Relegation: Salernitana – 1/3 , Empoli – 4/7, Lecce – 5/1
Poor Salernitana look destined for a return to Serie B already. The Neapolitan side may only be two points off 17th place, but are incredibly leaky at the back, having conceded 36 already. They are also incredibly reliant on wantaway Boulaye Dia for goals (who has a €25m release clause), and 36-year-old Antonio Candreva for creativity. If anything happens to either of those players, things could become unbearable for the Salermo based side. To stay up, they need to turn draws into win, such as in their 2-1 win over Champions League side Lazio in November.
Empoli sit just one point ahead of Salernitana, but are in even worse form in recent weeks. Since their shock 1-0 over a spluttering Napoli on November 12th, they have not won a single match. Where Empoli have struggled is in front of goal, they have only ten goals all season. To stay up, defensive draws are not enough. Unless you pick up three points, it becomes very tough to hit that magic 40 point mark.
Our outside shout for a shock drop down to Serie B is Lecce. The club from Puglia are riding high in 13th place right now, but underlying data suggests that their foundations may be made of sand. Lecce’s expected goal difference per 90 minutes is currently -0.57, the second worst in the league. Much of their overperformance is thanks to goalkeepers Wladimiro Falcone, who has conceded 3.7 fewer goals than expected. Lecce’s recent form has also been poor, with one win in their last 14 matches. With 20 games left to play, and only six points above the drop, Lecce could easily get dragged into the relegation scrap. Games against sides below them will be crucial to maintaining their prized Serie A status, such as when they travel to Salernitana on 17th March.