2019/20 Juventus Serie A preview
Background image: Gianluca Scarfo. CC BY 4.0.
Can Juventus finally break their UEFA Champions League duck? Well, that’s the million-dollar question echoing around Turin. The Bianconeri sealed their eighth consecutive Serie A title last season, but an early elimination in Europe left a longlasting bitter taste.
Maurizio Sarri has been brought in as Massimiliano Allegri’s successor to oversee a brighter future. The Old Lady has also continued its effective acquisition process by signing a mixture of experienced individuals and highly-talented youngsters. As if they need even more superstars...
Wojciech Szczesny maintained his goalkeeping stronghold by keeping 18 clean-sheets in all competition last season. Giorgio Chiellini triumphed over Leonardo Bonnucci with his steely defensive work. Joao Cancelo brought that spice to their back-line with his aggressive defending - as well as electric attacking tendencies.
Miralem Pjanic continued his sublime work as their midfield anchor, beautifully controlling proceedings and contributing 4 goals, 8 assists. Mario Mandzukic slotted in well to a new role by scoring 10 goals. Cristiano Ronaldo, while not at his best, was still their top-scorer by a long mile with 28 strikes.
Apart from Cancelo being abruptly sold to Manchester City, Juventus’ kept the band together for next season. The additions on top have been lavish, to say the least. The Bianconeri won the battle for in-demand teenager Matthijs De Ligt after months of speculation, signing him for a record €85.5 million deal from Ajax. Now there’s hope he’ll be their guardian angel in defence - and perhaps even a future captain.
Moreover, they also signed Danilo from Manchester City for €37million to be the outgoing Cancelo’s replacement. Promising centre-back Christian Romero also signed for €26million, but he'll be loaned out next season. A similar fate has been handed to €22million arrival Luca Pellegrini, also loaned to Cagliari. Merih Demiral completed their defensive signings after signing for €18million to shape a solid future backline.
However, the Bianconeri’s expert free signings are the real game-changers. Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot were snapped up to add fire and panache to their midfield. An old legend Gianluigi Buffon also returned home for a short deal. To balance the incomings, Juventus have also sold ruthlessly.
Cancelo moved to Manchester for €65million, while Leonardo Spinazzola has gone to AS Roma for €29.5million. Moise Kean has surprisingly been shipped off to Everton for €27.5million. Midfielder Stefano Sturaro signed for Genoa in a €16.5million deal, with young goalkeeper Emil Audero moving to Sampdoria for €20million.
Certain surplus players like Ricardo Orsolini (€15million), Alberto Cerri (€9million), Andrea Favelli (€7million), Rogerio( €6million), Leonardo Mancuso (€5million), Luca Marrone( €1million) have all been moved on. Despite all the luxury acquisitions, The Bianconeri ended up making a €13 million net spend profit. Bravo, Fabio Paratici and Pavel Nedved!
After winning his inaugural managerial trophy with Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri has reached his endgame. He’s in the big leagues with surmounting expectations above him. Not only will the Old Lady be expected to regain the league title (perhaps the Tim Cup too), but also end their European duck. With this star-studded squad, winning the Champions League or at least reaching the finals is the least expected.
The Italian will have to perform with the pressure firmly on, but seeing his work with Chelsea, he should take well to the spotlight. The 60-year-old is setting up a brand new system that’ll suit certain players more than others, but Sarri’s found the winning formula. His possession-based, patient style can bring beautiful results, but it’ll be the Italian’s ability to handle the big-time egos and keep a decent squad harmony which will be decisive to his future.
Juventus kick off their season against lowly Parma, but difficult games including trips to Inter and Fiorentina along with a home game against Napoli lies on the horizon. If they want to rule the league with an iron fist, winning these crucial games are quintessential to the cause.
However, the focus on putting in their best efforts will be on the Champions League. With arguably their best squad in the last decade, The Bianconeri needs to dominate in Europe or risk being stuck with the “chokers” tag for a long, long time.