Inter once again the team to beat
© Getty Images

Inter Milan have dominated Italian football for the last five seasons and ahead of the kick-off to the 2010/11 campaign on Saturday there is little to suggest that will change any time soon.

Last season the championship race proved close-run as an Inter blip in February allowed AS Roma to close in and take the title race down to the wire. But Inter won, beat Roma in the Italian Cup final and already this season they started out last week by beating Roma 3-1 in the Italian Supercup to suggest that they're not going to give up their mantle easily.

Until their blip last season, Inter had been cruising and then-coach Jose Mourinho told anyone prepared to listen that the powers that be were conspiring against his team - twice in two months they finished a league game with nine men. But while it turned out close, Inter were clearly the best team.

Roma had the advantage of concentrating all their efforts on the domestic front while Inter were also going great guns in Europe, eventually securing an unprecedented treble of league title, Italian Cup and UEFA Champions League.

On the plus side for the rest, the workaholic and charismatic Mourinho has left for Real Madrid which may weaken the team's spirit, if not their playing staff. Mourinho had an incredible ability to create a siege mentality and to get every ounce of effort out of an already highly accomplished team.

But now Rafael Benitez is at the helm, meaning a change in system, emphasis and maybe even personnel. Benitez has made few signings, principally bringing in Coutinho - although that deal had been arranged long before he arrived - while allowing Mario Balotelli to leave for Manchester City. Otherwise the squad is just as it was last season, with Inter's success in keeping Brazil right-back Maicon a coup worthy of any signing.

Apart from Juventus, it has been a quiet summer in the transfer market. Roma brought Brazilian forward Adriano back from his homeland, a year and a half after he walked out on Inter. But from the overweight condition he turned up in, that looks to be more a desperate gamble than a calculated risk.

Roman challenge
Roma should be there or thereabouts again but questions will always remain over their mental capacity to turn a chance into tangible success. They led Serie A with four games to play last season but a home defeat to Sampdoria, in a match they totally dominated for the first 45 minutes, scuppered their hopes.

Many eyes will be on AC Milan to see if they can muster a sustained title challenge with young coach Massimiliano Allegri now in charge. They had been somewhat quite in the transfer market but this week have started making progress in a bid to sign former Inter and Juventus forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With many of their seasoned veterans well into their 30s and no marquee signings since bringing in a faded Ronaldinho a couple of years ago, Ibrahimovic could be the big name Milan need to spark a title charge. Otherwise it is hard to see Milan improving on their third place finish from lasts season.

The big changes have come at Juventus where new boss Luigi Del Neri has brought in eight new faces while letting Diego go back to Germany to join Wolfsburg, Christian Poulsen leave for Liverpool and Fabio Cannavaro head into semi-retirement in Dubai. Juve suffered the worst season in their history last time out and their frustrated fans will be expecting much better. But with eight new players, most of whom should be in the first team, they may need time to gel and Del Neri won't be given that.