2016/2017 season recap
The Bianconeri had another highly successful season under Max Allegri that saw them win a record sixth consecutive Serie A title and a Coppa Italia, further solidifying their status as the best team in Italy.
It is almost impossible to find negatives in Juve’s near perfect season, with the only blip being the loss in the Champions League final to Real Madrid, where they did disappoint. But their run to the final was magnificent, shutting out a potent Barcelona side over two legs and brushing aside the plucky underdogs of Monaco in the semi-final. A masterful season for the Turin outfit.
The club even took the time to redesign their badge, in an attempt to globalize the name of Juventus. Their dominance and popularity is growing at such a rapid rate that those behind the badge change want to make the letter J synonymous with Juventus worldwide. Last season Juventus went from strength to strength, both on and off the pitch.
|Federico Bernardeschi, RW, (€40 million)||Leonardo Bonucci, CB (€40 million)|
|Juan Cuadrado, RW, (€20 million)||Kingsley Coman, RW (€21 million)|
|Medhi Benatia, CB (€17 million||Mario Lemina, DM (€17 million)|
|Wojciech Szczesny, GK (€12.2 million)||Simone Zaza, ST (€16 million)|
|Rodrigo Bentancur, CM (€10.5 million)||Filippo Romagna, CB (€7.6 million)|
|Douglas Costa, LW (Loan)||Francesco Cassata, CB (€7 million)|
|Neto, GK (€6 million)|
|Simone Ganz, CF (€1.8 million)|
|Dani Alves, RB (Free)|
Most important player: Paulo Dybala
Towards the end of last season, there was a genuine fear that Dybala would leave Juventus, perhaps for Barcelona, in search of a new challenge. However, fans’ concerns were placated when the Argentine signed a new long-term contract. Juventus fans and players alike will be relieved, as he will prove to be a key player this season.
With a change to four at the back the most likely scenario for Juve this season, the full-backs will not be able to bomb forward as much as they did in the previous system. Therefore, Dybala will have a major role to play in connecting the midfield to the forward players, particularly Gonzalo Higuain. Dybala is the perfect player for this, as his footwork and passing are near unrivalled. He is often likened to Lionel Messi, in his ability to pick up the ball behind the striker and drive it forward.
With Dybala still relatively young, he is constantly improving, and rapidly moulding himself into one of the world’s best.
One to Watch: Federico Bernardeschi
Juventus’ main signing this summer, the club splashed the cash on the young Fiorentina winger, who impressed both in the Serie A and the European Under-21s Championships in the summer.
Bernardeschi is a pacey, direct winger who offers a threat on goal, having scored 11 league goals for Fiorentina last season. He can play on both wings as well as down the middle, making him a versatile player.
Oftentimes the Bianconeri relied on Cuadrado for pace out wide last season, and if he wasn’t on his game Juve could be a bit sluggish up front. With Bernardeschi joining, they now have another option, one who can challenge Cuadrado’s position.
Biggest Weakness: Squad depth
It is rather difficult to find fault in a club who just came off the back of such a successful season, but squad depth could prove to be one.
The loss of Bonucci was a big blow to Juve, and while they still have some very talented centre-backs, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli are both reaching an advanced age (for football), being 32 and 36 respectively. Questions soon have to be asked as to their capabilities to last a full season, and while they have Daniele Rugani for youth in the back line, if he gets injured serious problems could arise. Benatia has been on loan for Juve for a couple of seasons, with the move now being made permanent, but he has not played an awful lot for them. Is he good enough?
The forward line is another problem area. Higuain and Dybala are vital players, and if something happens to them their options are threadbare. Mandzukic could play up front, but he has been at his best recently out wide, is he still good enough as a striker? There is still time in the transfer window, perhaps they will bring in some cover in those positions. If not, every dangerous tackle on Dybala and Higuain will leave Juve fans with their hearts in their mouths.
Judging by the players at their disposal, and their pre-season lineup, expect Juventus to play a more conventional four at the back formation, rather than the five we saw last season. Chiellini will still be the main centre-back, but it would be no surprise if Rugani became his partner consistently, as the young Italian impressed last season. Alex Sandro looks like he is staying, and him starting at left-back is unquestionable, considering his performances since joining. New signing Mattia De Sciglio is expected to start at right-back, although Stephan Lichtsteiner will fight to get his spot back in the starting eleven.
Juventus are solid in midfield, with several good options in the centre of the park. Sami Khedira has been a mainstay since his arrival in Turin, as has Miralem Pjanic, and they will be the most likely starters, with Khedira offering the defensive stability, Pjanic the creativity. Marchisio will continue his role as a fantastic squad player, and we may see young Betancur make a few appearances too.
Where Juventus have gotten stronger this summer is out wide. Cuadrado and Mandzukic will probably start at the beginning of the season, but Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa will certainly challenge them for those positions. Allegri may use different wingers for different opposition, with Mandzukic offering a lot defensively while Costa is more of a traditional, pacey winger.
The two stars of the Juventus side fill the forward spots, Dybala and Higuain. They are vital to Juve’s success, and will be unchallenged in their starting positions.
First Five Games
Not the most difficult start to Juventus’ season, with Cagliari at home opening their Serie A campaign. Last season saw Juve win this fixture 4-0, and it is hard to see an upset. A win is expected here.
Usually a solid side, Genoa struggled last season, finishing 16th and sacking their manager in the process. The club have at times flirted with the European spots, most notably in the 2014/2015 season when they finished sixth. This could be a tricky game, but Juve will still be heavy favourites for this match.
Chievo were a team that Juventus dispatched last season in both matches, but both were close matches. They are a difficult team to play, and will set up to defend. Juve will have to take the game to them if they want to win this match.
Sassuolo are coming off the back of a highly successful season, finishing eighth. However, this has had its negatives, as their success has seen them lose their manager to Roma, as well as their top scorer Defrel and highly-rated youngster Mauricio Pellegrino. This could be a tough game, but then who knows if Sassuolo will be able to adapt to their losses. Juventus will look to exploit the uncertainty in this side, and come away with all three points.
This could be Juventus’ first real test of the season. While they would still be favourites for this match, Fiorentina are tough to beat when at their best, and got the better of Juventus last season. However, they too have lost some important players, most notably Bernardeschi and Borja Valero. If La Viola can adapt to life without those two, they could prove a stern test.
Juventus will undoubtedly be aiming to replicate their success of the last few seasons. They will certainly be expected to win their seventh Serie A in a row, despite other clubs having strengthened this summer.
Will it be third time lucky for Juventus in the Champions League? Allegri will expect his team to go far again, but winning it will not prove any easier, especially with the likes of PSG and the Manchester clubs strengthening so heavily. Despite that, it would be no surprise to see them make another respectable crack at it, reaching at least the semi-finals.
RealSport prediction: 1st
Yes, other teams have improved over the summer, particularly the two Milan clubs. Yes, Napoli have kept their key players and could challenge this season. Yes, they lost Bonucci, to a rival no less. But Juventus have a squad ready to win the Scudetto again.
Most of their players know what it takes to win the title, and their manager is one who is experienced in pacing out a title-winning season. While other clubs will have to bed in their new signings, Juventus will come out of the blocks firing.
The Serie A promises to get more competitive soon, but this season expect the Bianconeri to stay on top.
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