No points for guessing who the current bookmaker’s favorite for the Serie A title. That’s right; it’s once against Juventus leading the charge for a ninth straight title. There was a change in management over the summer with Maurizio Sarri brought in to replace the outgoing Massimiliano Allegri.
The former Chelsea boss will have huge shoes to fill as no manager held a higher win percentage in the history of Juventus, but with the squad depth at his disposal, he will have every chance of succeeding.
The notable additions of Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and Matthijs de Ligt have added even more strength in depth as the Italian giants are looking to win their first Champions League title since 1996. Their hopes will also be boosted by the return of Gianluigi Buffon after a season in Paris to add competition in the goalkeeping position to Wojciech Szczesny. But let’s take a closer look at the sheer embarrassment of riches that the Old Lady have.
The first question that Sarri must ask himself is how he wants to line-up his time and that begins with deciding on a preferred formation. Over the past two years, Juventus have employed a variety of different formations including 4-4-2, 4-3-3 and 3-5-2.
With the players in the current squad, it is easy to assume that they have players to accommodate for any of these systems and for any plan that Sarri has against a specific team. The likeliest of the three, however, is the 4-3-3 which was employed by Sarri at Chelsea last season.
Wojciech Szczesny filled in for Gianluigi Buffon last season and enjoyed an excellent season as Juventus conceded a league-low of 30 goals. However, the battle for the first-choice spot looks to be a close one with the return of Buffon, and either of the stoppers could merit the starting spot. Buffon remains a legend at the club, and his return was a welcome one.
Despite being 41 years old he remains as one of the top ten goalkeepers in the world, but his intentions of winning a first Champions League title have led him back to Italy. It’s hard to believe that he would have agreed to move back to Turin without assurances over playing time; in what could be his final season as a professional.
Meanwhile, should both goalkeepers miss out then Carlo Pinsoglio will probably be the third choice. Mattia Perin might also be available, but with the 26-year-old currently struggling with a shoulder injury and after having failed a move to Benfica, it is still unsure his future.
The Portuguese side was available to pay €15M for the goalie, but he failed his medical exams and they dropped out on signing him.
Juventus have long been a side that enjoys playing three at the back, but the arrivals of Matthijs de Ligt and Luca Pellegrini open up the avenues to try out new tactics. The arrival of the Dutchman was a significant move by the club; with all of the elite sides looking to secure his signature.
He will likely be the perfect partner for Giorgio Chiellini in a back four, or instead, Sarri may choose the back three and line the two defenders up with Leonardo Bonucci. The club has also brought in Merih Demiral from Sassuolo and still have Daniele Rugani.
Pellegrini will compete for the left-back spot with Alex Sandro; with the Brazilian being a star for the Old Lady throughout their previous four Serie A successes. However, the 20-year-old, whose Soccer Antenna included as one of the talents to watch next season, didn’t move to the Allianz Stadium to sit on the bench.
The future of Joao Cancelo could ultimately decide whether Juventus will be in the market for another right-back, with the Portuguese full-back being linked with a move to Manchester City throughout the summer. However, should he depart than Mattia De Sciglio could deputize?
It could be argued that no other club boasts the array of talent in the central area of the pitch that Juventus does, and it’s hard to argue when looking at the players they have. Juventus signed Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot over the summer – both on free transfers.
They join the current players Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can and Rodrigo Bentancur in the squad. It seems impossible to predict which three of these high-quality players Sarri will prefer, but there are certainly bigger problems to have.
Going off his pre-season formations, he will likely start the season with a 4-3-3 set-up meaning that there will be four players missing out. The club has reportedly been listening to offers for Khedira and Matuidi, but at present, they will start the season in Turin.
The latter of which has started their opening two pre-season games and looks to be an early favorite for Sarri. However, the Old Lady are yet to welcome Ramsey and Bentacur back into the fold so there could be a drastic overhaul once they return.
Juventus shouldn’t have any problems scoring goals judging by the players that Sarri has at his disposal in the attacking areas. Not only that, but most of the strikers that he has are as comfortable on the wing as they are through the middle which means fluid movement between whichever three starts could cause a host of problems for their opponents.
The highly-rated Paulo Dybala endured a difficult campaign last season after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, but he remains an incredibly gifted footballer.
As well as Ronaldo and Dybala they also have speed merchants Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado who can operate from either flank, as can Federico Bernardeschi. Should they prefer to play a natural striker through the middle, then Sarri can choose between Mario Mandzukic, Gonzalo Higuain or Moise Kean.
The latter of the three has star potential, and while the burden of carrying this side with such young shoulders may be troubling for most; last season the 19-year-old proved that he is more than capable, as he scored six goals in 13 appearances in Serie A.
The return following loan spells to AC Milan and Chelsea for Higuain is an interesting proposition as it is well known that Sarri is a big admirer of the Argentinean.
Juventus are spoilt for choice in every position and Sarri will likely be kept awake at night trying to figure out how to make all the pieces fit in the jigsaw. But, if he does, then there is no reason judging by their strength in depth that the 2019-20 season for the Old Lady can’t be one of the most successful the club has ever enjoyed.
They will be aiming not only for another Scudetto but for the long-awaited Champions League glory, that they miss for over two decades.