Serie A champions Juventus could see their four-year dominance of Italian football come to an end this season as they look to revamp their squad. The Bianconeri has had things all their own way over the last four years but with the departure of several key players, especially in the heart of midfield, the Old Lady could come up short this time around. Max Allegri and his boys may still be heavy favourites to retain the Scudetto however the likes of Roma and Inter Milan could upset the odds and wrestle the title away from them.
At the start of last season (2014/2015), many believed it was the final season for their midfield talisman Andrea Pirlo who subsequently brought the Italian champions to the Champions League final. The legendary Italian midfield maestro has decided to move on and ply his trade in Major League Soccer in the United States. Not only did the Old Lady lost their midfield maestro, Bayern Munich swooped and also capture their Chilean warrior Arturo Vidal. The 28-year-old box-to-box midfielder is one of the very best in the world and along with Pirlo, was one of the biggest reasons Juve dominated the Italian top flight.
With top scorer Carlos Tevez also opting to return home to his homeland with Boca Juniors, the Bianconeri has a huge hole to fill up front where goals and also ‘fear factor’ are concerned. Carlitos, as Tevez is popularly called, took Juve to a very high level with his ability and quality to produce moments of genius in the final third and his presence helped fired them to the Champions League final last season. The absence of a player of Tevez’s calibre without the shadow of a doubt weakens any team and as such Allegri may have his work cut out for him.
Just a simple glance of this Juventus squad reveals the startling truth of a weakened spine. Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez was central to Allegri’s plans and were significant to the spine of the team. French midfielder Paul Pogba and Italy’s Claudio Marchisio are now the leaders of the spine and will have to undertake major responsibilities this season. Pogba could very well be entering his final season as a Juve player and will have to adapt to new faces in midfield such as Sami Khedira and Juan Cuadrado. The prolific and exciting Argentine striker Paulo Dybala will be hoping for great service from midfield as well as Simone Zaza, Mario Mandzukic and of course Alvaro Morata.
Juve has also added Brazilian left back Alex Sandro, goalkeeper Neto and Alberto Cerri. The defending champions have brought in very good players with a mixture of youth and experience. These are all good players but arguably, they all lack that extra bit of quality that Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez possessed in the team. The difference makers always seem to have just a bit more ability which normally gives their club an advantage. Allegri has his work cut out for him and has very little time to get it right with the season entering it’s second game and Champions League football approaching quickly.
There are also links to Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel and Schalke’s Julian Draxler as the Old Lady looks to strengthen their selection. There are a number of new faces in the squad which could also add more pressure on Allegri and his staff to get cohesion and allowing the players to get to know each other. It could prove to be a very long and difficult season for Juventus with an evidently weakened squad that may be lacking togetherness, cohesion and quality. This will be a true test of Allegri who seems to be taking it all in strides.
The likes of Roma and Inter have strengthened significantly with the former recruiting the likes of Eqyptian winger Mohamed Salah, German defender Antonio Rudiger, Edin Dzeko and French defender Lucas Digne. Rudi Garcia is determined to close the gap on the defending champions and his team is shaping up quite nicely. He also has to try get his team pulling in the same direction as well as get his players to be comfortable playing with each other.
Roberto Mancini has been charged to bring back the glory days at Inter and the former Manchester City manager has been backed by the club as they’ve acquired quite a few top quality players. They managed to sign Geoffery Kondogbia from Monaco, Jeison Murillo from Granada, Brazilian defender Miranda, Manchester City’s Stevan Jovetic and Spanish full back Martin Montoya from Barcelona.
Both Roma and Inter have improved areas of the squad that needs addressing and are now set to mount a serious challenge for Juventus’ Scudetto. Roma is perhaps the squad that is most equipped to push Juve all the way and may even have enough to surpass Allegri’s men. Pogba and co lost their opening game at home to Udinese while Roma drew and Inter recorded a victory. This could very well be the start of one of the most exciting Serie A campaign that could lay a foundation for taking Italian football back to where many believes it belongs.