Juventus are preparing to once again defend their Serie A title, and possibly aim for more.
Boots are being dusted off, sunburnt legs are being put through murderous cardio sessions and wags are finding themselves left alone with the credit card. It can mean only one thing! Pre-season has begun as we build up for the big kick off.
The Italian top flight Serie A gets under way on the 20th August and defending Champions Juventus look like they already have a firm grip on the trophy before a ball has been kicked.
That’s a bit presumptuous but looking at Juve’s complete dominance of the domestic league you can see where the logic spawns from. In fact they have claimed the title a total of 32 times since its inception in 1898 (that is a staggering 14 more times than AC and Inter) and the last FIVE in a row.
Last season’s closest challengers Napoli, have just had to say cheerio to the league’s deadliest striker, Gonzalo Higuaín (a record 36 league goals in the 15/16 season), and guess where he went? You got it, straight into the arms of the Old Lady herself, Juventus.
A reported fee of £78 million may seem excessive, but it has been made achievable by the impending sale of Paul Pogba to Manchester United for a mammoth transfer fee of £105 million (or any similar figure to that mark that we keep seeing being banded around).
The loss of Pogba but gain of Higuaín makes Juventus very unpredictable as they eye more than just Italian league success. A strong campaign in the holy grail of domestic football ‘The Champions League’ is a must this season for the faithful Juventus Ultras.
No Italian team has won the Champions League since Jose Mourinho guided Inter to the treble in 2010. However, more depressing for Juve fans is that they have not lifted the coveted European trophy since 1996 (when they defeated Ajax 4-2 on penalties).
So what of their chances to end 20 years of European hurt this season?
Expect the usual suspects, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich to be there or there abouts, but football is similar to a pendulum which hovers over you for a while before deserting you and moving on.
Spain’s dominance of the World and European stage has come to an end after meagre ends to their World Cup and more recently European Championship campaign (ended by Italy no less). So could the pendulum be about to rest over the city of Turin?
They have the squad to do it, on paper there are not many better, although Pogba is a large void, in midfield they still have the likes of Marchisio, Khedira, Pjanic and Asamoah. That is a line up to send even the most seasoned pro into a breakdown not seen since they last saw their credit card bill.
Add to the mix Higuaín’s goals and a defence including the likes of Chiellini and Evra and all of a sudden Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has a squad capable of beating anyone, not just on their day but on the odd off day too.
There is a feeling of stubbornness about this team and a feeling that they are due a European Crown.
The Old Lady is impatient and making her move to conquer Europe.