What should we expect from Juve over the coming season?
With the new Serie A season kicking off next weekend, it's about the time to look what we can expect from it. There are few people who think that Scudetto will leave Turin, but this season it will be all about the success in Europe for the Old Lady. Football-Italia's Adam Digby explains what to expect from Juventus over the coming season.
"Last season was a difficult one for the Bianconeri, pushed to the end by a Napoli side who had stayed together with the sole aim of knocking them off top spot.
Maurizio Sarri’s men almost managed it too, but even after seizing the initiative with a memorable 1-0 win at Juventus Stadium, they fell short.
The Turin giants then added a fourth consecutive Coppa Italia crown as they sealed yet another league-and-cup double via a comfortable win over AC Milan in the final, meaning the Champions League was their only shortcoming of 2017/18.
While Juve may be known as the Old Lady, her response was seemingly that of a scorned 12-year-old playing FIFA on his XBox. Defeat at the hands of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo saw them turn around and buy the Portuguese superstar, seemingly altering the age old mantra to “if you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em!”
"But paying a 33-year-old – even one as great as CR7 – comes at a cost, with Gonzalo Higuain the one sacrificed in a move to balance the books while also facilitating the return of Leonardo Bonucci. That too was a deal made with a very specific short-term goal in mind, swapping the hugely promising Mattia Caldara (24) for a 31-year-old clearly showing that the club is not focussed on the future too much right now.
Instead, Juve seem determined to end their long wait for Champions League glory, pushing all their chips to the centre of the table and hoping to maximise the remaining genius contained in their new no.7. With Gigi Buffon already gone, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini clearly in the autumn of their careers and other players entering their peak years, the next two seasons must now surely yield an opportunity to be crowned Europe’s best side."
"Not since Luca Vialli held the trophy aloft in Rome back in 1996 have Juventus earned that honour, and the cache that would bring simply cannot be underestimated. They might try to downplay the significance of it and will surely claim that the Scudetto remains important, but their actions in the transfer market speak louder than those words ever could."
STAR MAN: Miralem Pjanic
"While it is tempting to copy/paste those words about “CR7” into this section as well, there is a strong case to be made that the arrival of the former Manchester United man will make Miralem Pjanić even more important."
"Ronaldo will of course steal the headlines – and undoubtedly the lion’s share of free kick duties too – but the Bosnian playmaker possesses a unique blend of skills that make him indispensable to the Bianconeri cause. Emre Can was a useful acquisition, Blaise Matuidi and Sami Khedira have World Cup winners’ medals, but none of that trio can claim to have the vision, passing ability and creativity that comes so naturally to Pjanić.
From his role in front of the defence, the 28-year-old will pull the strings in a team that never clicks properly without him on the field."
#Juventus with @Miralem_Pjanic: 2.7pts/game— Vince Van Genechten ?? (@VVGenechten) April 19, 2018
Juve without their Bosnian playmaker: 1.8pts/game
Yeah, #Pjanic is Juve's most important player. Sorry @PauDybala_JR but Mire makes Juve flow more than anyone else with his vision, passing and forward runs pic.twitter.com/E9HwoOqXy3
KEY SIGNING: Cristiano Ronaldo
"Who else could it be but Cristiano Ronaldo? Surely a contender for the Ballon d’Or later this year, he will hope to be the man who finally allows the Old Lady to fully realise her dreams and claim that long-awaited third Champions League crown.
After denying her twice almost single-handedly, Juve have amassed enough talent to allow Ronaldo to now deliver on that promise for her, knowing that Douglas Costa and Paulo Dybala can help him achieve that aim."
"Top scorer in UEFA’s elite competition for each of the last six seasons, it will undoubtedly Ronaldo’s goals that carry their hopes of success, and it will certainly be in the big Champions League games where they expect him to deliver."
YOUNG TALENT: Rodrigo Bentancur
"As has already been discussed, the Bianconeri have sacrificed youth for experience, meaning that Rodrigo Bentancur is the only member of the current squad under the age of 24. That the second-youngest is João Cancelo – a full Portugal international now representing the fourth major club of his career – highlights that La Vecchia Signora really will be an ageing beauty in 2018/19, but also serves to underline the belief she has in the Uruguayan midfielder.
Fresh from an impressive World Cup, Bentancur will hope to find space to improve his already impressive passing and movement, while looking to earn more appearances than the 27 he managed last term."
Let's freeze the moment to appreciate Rodrigo Bentancur.— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) June 20, 2018
One of the only Uruguay players to have shown creativity on the ball and seems comfortable playing in a World Cup at just 20 years of age.
He has that touch of class. pic.twitter.com/OgwnkFogMP
THE COACH: Massimiliano Allegri
"By now Max Allegri needs no introduction, collecting four Serie A/Coppa Italia doubles since arriving in 2014 and propelling Juve to the forefront of Europe. Now with Ronaldo at his disposal, the 50-year-old will need to find a way to bring the best from such a high-profile star while rotating those behind him to ensure everyone is fresh and happy in the latter stages of the campaign."
"His 4-3-3/4-3-2-1 formation should allow the Bianconeri to do just that, a framework that should exploit the pace of his attacking options while simultaneously remaining defensively solid and tough to break down."
"With Napoli going through a transition period as Carlo Ancelotti reacclimatises to life in Italy once again, AS Roma still a little behind and Inter yet to prove they can deliver a sustained challenge, domestic football should once again not prove too taxing for Juve, particularly with Ronaldo in the side.
However, the success of signing him and getting Bonucci back will not be judged in Scudetti and Coppe triumphs, meaning this really is a Champions League or bust campaign. Achieving that will not be easy, they will need the draw to be kind to them and probably a little luck along the way, but anything less than ultimate glory will likely see the experiment deemed a failure.
Harsh? Perhaps, but true greatness awaits if they accomplish it."