Did You Miss Any Of The News This Week? Take A Look At Our Top Local Stories

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VILLAR PEROSA, ITALY - AUGUST 12:  Cristiano Ronaldo (C) of Juventus celebrates with his team-mate Leonardo Bonucci (L) during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Juventus and Juventus U19 on August 12, 2018 in Villar Perosa, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)Bleacher Report

While the rest of us were absorbed in the thrill of France's FIFA World Cup final win over Croatia, Cristiano Ronaldo touched down at a Turin airport in his private jet.

He stepped down to the tarmac, dressed casually in a Nike T-shirt and denim jeans with a holdall over his shoulder and his family by his side. Those first paces on Italian soil symbolised a 33-year-old superstar footballer ready to prove he is nowhere near finished at the highest level.

His steps also indicated a statement of intent from Juventus to not only secure their status as Scudetto winners for an eighth successive season but also to become Champions League victors for the first time since 1996.

For the league itself, this move marks a return to the pinnacle. Serie A is again a league you cannot ignore.

The 2006 scandal—Calciopoli—has haunted the Italian game for too long. The shocking stories of corruption and match-fixing will never be forgotten, but for fans of a division that hosted Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Andriy Shevchenko, Roberto Baggio and so many others, there can be pride again.

Undated:  Roberto Baggio and team mate Ronaldo of Inter during a match against Cesena in Italy. Inter won the game 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /AllsportGetty Images/Getty Images

Away from Juventus, it has been a summer when other major clubs made their own ambitious statements, too. Perhaps seeing Ronaldo show up gave other elite players the idea that they should also be looking to play in Italy, rather than Spain, England, Germany or France.

Inter Milan signed Radja Nainggolan and Keita Balde among eight new faces in their summer splurge. AC Milan let Leonardo Bonucci return to Juventus and received Gonzalo Higuain in return in a deal they hope will give their top-four ambitions a boost.

Roma have just added World Cup winner Steven N'Zonzi to their midfield options while hoping their Monchi model continues to bear fruit. Last season's runners-up Napoli have lost Maurizio Sarri and Jorginho but replaced them with Carlo Ancelotti and Fabian Ruiz. Lazio look strong enough to make sure they are in the mix too, with Serie A now promised four Champions League positions as recognition for its return to greatness.

But, of course, it's Ronaldo who really whets the appetite.

"Ronaldo's impact on Serie A will be massive," explained Alex Goldberg, producer and co-host of the CalcioLand Podcast. "Not only for the ratings, but it should up the quality of play. Just the general presence of Ronaldo will be felt throughout the league, and the want and will to beat Juventus will be at an all-time high. They will probably fend off the challenges, but they will get everyone's best shot.

"Serie A really should have a successful year, Ronaldo deal aside. The additions to the league greatly outweighed the departures, and the league probably boasts the best group of strikers out of the top five leagues. Maybe most importantly, two Serie A classic teams, Inter Milan and AC Milan, look to be trending in the right direction, especially the former.

"Serie A is more relevant now than in recent years, maybe by some distance. Not only does Ronaldo's arrival make Serie A a global spectacle again, but even Serie A's departures could make the league more relevant.

"If Sarri and Jorginho succeed at Chelsea, it could make some Premier League fans tune in to Italy more often, to see what else they have to offer."

B/R Football @brfootball

Ronaldo backs himself at Juve 💯 https://t.co/YKJrsI11yG

There is no getting away from the fact Ronaldo's debut this weekend will get top billing, but how can he kick on from the past three seasons at Real Madrid—where he won the Champions League each year?

"We already see him taking Paulo Dybala under his wing a little," explains Farhad from the Juve Podcast. "I see Dybala and Ronaldo striking up an amazing partnership. Dybala already showed he can play in a pair with a forward like Higuain in the last two years where the two were lethal together.

"I see Ronaldo obviously starting every Champions League, as well as the bigger Serie A games. I think he will be subbed in or out in smaller games. Douglas Costa and Alex Sandro will provide the aerial support with their crosses towards him, and Dybala and Miralem Pjanic with their through passes.

"The whole Juve lineup is just mouthwatering, and we will see a much more attacking style from [Massimiliano] Allegri, compared to the thrill-free, defensive style that people were so unhappy with last year."

Ronaldo's competitive debut against Chievo this Saturday is unmissable—but not everyone is going to find the game easy to watch.

While fans in the United States are celebrating a new deal with ESPN that will give them better access to top Serie A matches, there has been less-welcome news in Europe, where a change in broadcasting rights has created plenty of headlines.

"There has been a lot of confusion and little clarity," explains Mirko di Natale, writer for TuttoJuve.com. "Rights have been sold abroad for a lower figure than Ligue 1, but Serie A is at a higher level in terms of players and clubs. In Italy, currently, the supporters are very angry because they have to sign two different types of subscriptions to see all Italian football and the costs have increased."

Sky Sport Italia no longer has every game, as fans now have to sign up to subscription streaming service DAZN for a full compliment of match action over the course of the season.

Access to Serie A is perhaps even more complicated in England, where games are no longer accessible through any television company. Instead, Eleven Sports, an online provider, has subscription packages available.

"It's a shame to see none of the major UK networks step up and cover Serie A, especially with Ronaldo joining Juve and so many of the top clubs strengthening," says James McGhie of Sempre! — The Napoli Podcast. "After years on BT Sport, we now have Eleven Sports. Their service is entirely online based, which, while brilliant for fans' pockets, is not ideal for armchair fans.

"Sure, people with tech know-how will find a way to stream the image to their televisions or some will hook their laptops up via HDMI, but after you've had the simple task of turning on the TV and simply selecting the channel, is it a hassle that fans of Serie A clubs in the UK will accept? At £50 for the year or £5.99 a month, it's a lot cheaper than BT Sport, but the lack of a TV service makes it harder for fans who work weekends to see games.

"Eleven Sports will show highlights on demand after full-time if clubs aren't featured live, but that hardly replaces the ability to set a recording of your favourite team in action. As someone who relies on coverage of Serie A abroad for our podcast, it's imperative I get to see every match so that my listeners get an honest, relevant take on the matches every week.

"In my opinion, our big networks have let down Italian football fans badly at a time when Serie A is resurgent. It's been growing in quality year-on-year these last three years, and it's a shame that UK fans will only have a streaming service on their computer, phone, or tablet to take in what could well be an even more exciting title race than last season."

New AC Milan players Argentinian Gonzalo Higuain waves to fans from a balcony, on Milan's central Piazza Duomo square on August 3, 2018. (Photo by - / AFP)        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)-/Getty Images

The race at the top will be intriguing, though the chances of anyone getting close to Juve seem slim.

Juventus were given a run for their money by Napoli last term, but the Partenopei are now transitioning to new management while the Old Lady have brought back Bonucci and added Ronaldo. You have to imagine they will win the championship by more than four points this time around.

That does not mean the season will fall flat though. Italy's return to four Champions League places opens up a new competitiveness, and both Milan teams, along with Napoli, Roma and Lazio, are being touted as the teams likely to compete.

"I think, given the strength of their summer transfer window, that Inter will be the most improved team this season,” explains Italian football writer Chloe Beresford. "Although it remains to be seen whether Luciano Spalletti is the right man to take them forward now they have such a talented squad. I feel that without the correct initial results, the owners may grow tired of his excuse-making.

"I would say that after Napoli broke their club points record three seasons in a row under Maurizio Sarri, Carlo Ancelotti might initially struggle, and we may not see them mount a challenge to Juventus that is equally as credible as they did last season."

ItalianFootballTV @IFTVofficial

Keita Balde chose Serie A & Inter for a reason 😍 https://t.co/ozHxsQE6zd

Juve have set the bar high with their signings, but Inter’s transfer window has been headline-grabbing, too. Nainggolan could prove to be one of the best additions of the year after his £35 million move from Roma, while Lautaro Martinez, Stefan de Vrij, Kwadwo Asamoah, Sime Vrsaljko and Matteo Politano give the squad a depth that will be needed as they return to the Champions League after a six-year absence.

But their red-and-black rivals have reason to be excited, too. Milan's standout addition is Higuain from Juventus, but Tiemoue Bakayoko has also joined on loan from Chelsea. 

"There is genuine optimism as there are fewer questions around the new ownership, and the familiar faces of Leonardo and Paolo Maldini heading back to the club is a lot more reassuring to the fans in terms of both track record for Leo and love for the club in Maldini," explains Arvindo of Milan Eye.

"The race for the last two Champions League spots is going to be the most fascinating thing about this season, though. The general feeling is Juve and Inter will have the top two spots wrapped up, but it's now very open between the next four clubs—Napoli, Roma, Lazio and Milan—for the last two.

"I'd say all four are on fairly comparable ground this season, and it will be interesting to see how it ends."

The Italian transfer window closes on Friday and one name that has been causing a stir is Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who is linked with a switch from Lazio to Milan, per Calciomercato.com. "While it most likely will not happen, that would turn the tide very favourably towards Milan," says Arvindo.

However much effort needs to go into watching Serie A this season, it seems sure to prove worthwhile.

"The signing of the strongest player in the world has brought a lot of enthusiasm," says Di Natale. "Cristiano is not just a footballer, but he is a company known all over the world. The eyes of the world will be focused on Serie A, and it will bring many benefits."

If Serie A is good enough for Ronaldo, it's good enough for the rest of us. This could be a special season in Italian football.

Source : https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2790899-why-serie-a-is-the-league-no-one-wants-to-miss-this-season

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