Serie A season preview: Ashley Cole's Roma out to beat Juventus

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A guide to Italy's Serie A

"I want to contribute to a team that will win the league."

Those were the words of ex-England left-back Ashley Cole as he was unveiled as a Roma player earlier this summer.

But can the Giallorossi, last season's surprise package, go one better than finishing as runners-up and stop Juventus winning the Italian title for a fourth successive season?

Ahead of Serie A's opening weekend, BBC Sport, with the help of European football expert Andy Brassell, look at the runners and riders.

Selected opening Serie A fixtures
Saturday, 30 August
Chievo v Juventus (17:00 BST)
Roma v Fiorentina (19:45 BST)
Sunday, 31 August
AC Milan v Lazio (17:00 BST)
Genoa v Napoli (19:45 BST)
Torino v Inter Milan (19:45 BST)

Juventus's position of strength over the last few seasons has been such that their actions define how the course of the season should roll out.

The seismic changes in Turin, with manager Antonio Conte leaving (he has since become Italy coach) and being replaced by the divisive Massimiliano Allegri, have given their Scudetto rivals a glimmer of hope.

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Juventus - BBC Global's European team guides

None are more optimistic than Rudi Garcia's Roma, whose tally of 85 points last season would have been enough to be crowned champions in four of the five previous campaigns.

They have built on their excellent campaign by making a number of ambitious signings, including ex-Chelsea man Cole and Argentine wonderkid Juan Manuel Iturbe, whilst holding onto key figures such as Bosnia midfielder Miralem Pjanic. The capital side look like credible title contenders.

Napoli are the favourites to complete the Champions League trio again, despite supporter disquiet at a relative lack of transfer market activity.

And their frustrations have only increased after their side's short-lived participation in the continent's leading club competition this season. Rafael Benitez's side have dropped into the Europa League following Wednesday's play-off defeat by Athletic Bilbao.

Serie A's key summer signings
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid - Juventus)
Ashley Cole (Chelsea - Roma)
Juan Manuel Iturbe (Verona - Roma)
Yann M'Vila (Rubin Kazan - Inter Milan, loan)
Jeremy Menez (Paris St-Germain - AC Milan)

Former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Benitez seems to want his side to add physical edge to their attacking brio, with Michu (on loan from Swansea) coming in to supplement the dazzle of Dries Mertens, Gonzalo Higuain and Lorenzo Insigne. A title challenge might be beyond them, though.

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Internazionale - BBC Global's European team guides

Other Champions League contenders include Inter Milan, who have kept faith with coach Walter Mazzarri and added substantial power in midfield with the signings of Yann M'Vila and Cardiff's Gary Medel. Former Manchester United skipper Nemanja Vidic has also arrived to add experience to their defence.

Fiorentina are another side with an eye on the top three and will finally be able to count on a fully-fit Mario Gomez. But they will still not be able to pair the Germany striker in attack with Giuseppe Rossi - at least not in Saturday's opener against Roma - as the injury-plagued Italy forward recovers from another knee injury.

AC Milan, under another big name but inexperienced coach in Filippo Inzaghi, may have to limit their ambitions to a return to Europe. Of course, they will have to cope without the goals of Mario Balotelli, who has joined Liverpool.

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