Juventus have dominated Serie A over the past 5 seasons and boast their strongest lineup yet.
Serie A kicks off the 2016-17 with a bang on Match day 1 with defending champion Juventus at home to upstarts Fiorentina.
They are the heavy favourites coming into this season and failing to win the Scudetto would be an enormous shock to say the least. Juventus began the last campaign with a slow start before roaring to the finish propelled by a 15 game win streak.
The Bianconeri have added several players including Dani Alves to solidify the Right Back position, Miralem Pjanic providing a creative spark in midfield and the reigning Serie A assists leader, Marko Pjaca and Mehdi Benatia to add depth to the best defense in the world.
Oh, and who can forget Record Serie A signing and Capocannoniere Gonzalo Higuain? Much has been made about Higuain’s physical shape this summer however the Argentinian striker is working himself back to fitness and will be relied upon to score big goals this season, especially in Europe. The dynamic Paolo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic formed an incredible partnership last season and will likely cause significant damage again to start the season.
The loss of Paul Pogba will be felt on and off the field as the Frenchman was arguably Juventus’s best player. The transfer window is still open and there is still plenty of time to find the right replacement. In the meantime with Claudio Marchisio injured it will be up to Mario Lemina to fill the gap. At the back, Juventus are as solid as ever with the BBBC (Bonucci, Barzagli, Buffon, Chiellini). They will be rocks on which Juventus will rely on in this first match of the season.
Juventus were the leaders of Serie A in almost every statistical category. They outshot their opponents 600 to 342 and outscored them 75 to 20. No surprises there for the defending champions. In addition to this they intercepted the ball 85 more times than the other 19 squads having 27% more passes through the season than them as well.
Projected Starting XI Juventus (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Dani Alves, Khedira, Pjanic, Lemina; Mandzukic, Dybala
Fiorentina have had much less of a rollercoaster summer than the Bianconeri. In fact Paolo Sousa has kept things low key with his squad. The core of the squad remains intact more than anything, although some bench options have been added. This could allow for the Viola to have another hot start although their finish at the end of the season is anyone’s guess. The Viola finished 5th in the table last season and were in that range in most statistical categories. A worthy opponent on any given match day, it will be extremely challenging for Fiorentina to steal a point at Juventus Stadium this weekend.
Sousa opted for 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 in preseason, but he could revert to last year’s 3-4-2-1 as well. Given the injury to Borja Valero, it will likely be the former. Gonzalo Rodriguez, Davide Astori, and Marcos Alonso are all assured places in defense. In midfield, the Valero injury means that Milan Badelj and Matias Vecino will renew their partnership. Federico Bernardeschi and Cristian Tello are locks to play on the wings in and Josip Ilicic is the best candidate to play as the number 10 behind Nikola Kalinic, although Giuseppe Rossi could figure as well. Without Valero, Sousa may have to bank on his quality in the wide areas to achieve success in this match.
Projected starting XI Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Tomovic, Gonzalo, Astori, Alonso; Vecino, Badelj; Bernardeschi, Ilicic, Tello; Kalinic
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 (Dybala, Mandzukic)