If there’s one thing you can almost always trust to be untrustworthy, it’s preseason predictions. Everyone may claim to be an expert come August but by the time May has rolled around, the football gods have outsmarted us all once again. FiveThirtyEight, a data-based company that’s known for its statistical analysis, has tried its hand once again at guessing who’ll be lifting the trophy in nine months' time. The predictions are based on ESPN’s club Soccer Power Index (SPI) but use Opta data and Transfermarkt squad values as well. Here’s how 538 has the season shaking out.
Inter are narrow favorites to repeat as champions, though its odds of winning are a mere 27%. The Nerazzurri also have a better chance of making the top four (72%) than anyone else. Unsurprisingly, a much-improved Juventus isn’t far behind. The Old Lady has a 22% chance of winning the league and 67% of finishing in the top four. There are no clear frontrunners, however, and the top five teams are all separated by only thirty percentage points in the Scudetto race. Behind Inter and Juve come Atalanta, Napoli, and Milan in quick succession, while Roma and Lazio are neck-in-neck but lag slightly behind the top tier. 538 doesn’t see any perennial midtable side breaking into the European spots and only Sassuolo has a greater than ten percent chance of finishing 7th or above. As for relegation, all three newly-promoted sides are favorites to head back into Serie B. Salernitana (39% odds of relegation), Venezia (36%), and Empoli (34%) are all set up for a tough year, and the trend of newly promoted teams becoming newly relegated looks set to continue. Spezia (28%), Udinese (25%) are also possible relegation candidates as they try to recover from losing their orchestrators in Vicenzo Italiano and Rodrigo De Paul.
One thing that stands out is just how competitive Serie A looks. No team can definitively call itself Scudetto favorites and the battle for top-four has the makings of a dogfight that will last until Matchday 38. While Roma and Lazio aren’t rated particularly highly by 538, they have the potential to reach the top tier should the bounces go their way. For everyone else, anything less than Champions League qualification would be a massive disappointment. No matter how things end up shaking out, these next 9 months will be a rollercoaster ride.
What do you think? Are 538’s predictions realistic? Any big changes you’d make?
Let us know in the comments below.