Predicting Juventus' 2012-13 Starting XI
Antonio Conte's Juventus can validate themselves as a European powerhouse by making a deep run into next season's UEFA Champions League.
Having emulated Perugia and AC Milan in going unbeaten in Serie A, Juve will look to win the Scudetto again.
This article will break down the formations with the best starting XI Conte could use for the 2012-13 season, grade Juve's major summer signings so far and summarise their transfer needs.
What You Need To Know
Retains the midfield trio of Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo. Otherwise known as the MVP midfield—European club football's best triumvirate last season.
Marchisio offers a bit of everything. Arturo Vidal is box-to-box. Pirlo dictates play from the regista position.
The back five is secure in possession. Last season, Gianluigi Buffon, Stephan Lichtsteiner, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini all completed 84 percent-plus of their passes.
Mirko Vučinić and Simone Pepe averaged a combined 2.3 dribbles per game. Juan Cuadrado alone completed 3.4 dribbles per game. This shows that Vučinić and Pepe don't offer dynamism as wide forwards.
Alessandro Matri needs to be more efficient in front of goal. He averaged 6.8 shots per goal compared to Diego Milito's 2.9.
Giorgio Chiellini is a liability at left-back.
What You Need To Know
Antonio Conte won 61.5 percent of league games when using the 3-5-2, compared to 66.7 in a 4-3-3.
In a 3-5-2, Juventus conceded 0.54 goals per game. It decreased to 0.33 in a 4-3-3.
Dominant ball-winning centre-back in Giorgio Chiellini; composed centre-back with world-class positional awareness in Andrea Barzagli; improving centre-back in Leonardo Bonucci.
For a while, Sebastian Giovinco was a tweener—not productive enough out wide and unable to carry the attack as a No. 10. Nowadays, he's found his role as a seconda punta, or second striker. He played wonderfully behind Sergio Floccari and there's no reason why he can't do the same with Juve.
Mauricio Isla spent the large majority of last season in centre midfield, whilst Dusan Basta played as the right-wing-back. Can Isla just switch back into an elite wing-back?
Paolo De Ceglie won't be as bad as Cristian Molinaro, however De Ceglie is still the weak link. His upside is limited and he'll always need to overachieve just to avoid being a liability.
Alessandro Matri needs to be more assertive because if he was a 20-30 goal forward, Juve would've won Serie A by a larger margin.
Grading Juventus' Major Summer Signings so Far
Kwadwo Asamoah, Centre Midfielder, Age: 23
Grade: A | Combines physicality and skill. He's able to orchestrate play whilst winning back possession. Superb backup to the MVP midfield.
Martín Cáceres, Utility Player, Age: 25
Grade: A | Relentless motor; good fit as a wing-back in a 3-5-2; strong right-back; solid man-marker; can play left-back and centre-back but needs to start week in, week out in those positions, otherwise he'll be error-prone.
Endeared himself to Juventus supporters with a brace against AC Milan during a successful loan spell.
Mauricio Isla, Utility Player, Age: 24
Grade: A | He's at his best as a wing-back. He was decent as a centre midfielder last season, but Antonio Conte has signed the Chilean for the 3-5-2. Isla made a bizarre comment about wishing to be a Real Madrid player, even though he had yet to play a single minute for Juve.
Lúcio, Centre-Back, Age: 34
Grade: B+ | Quality squad player, especially on a Bosman. He accumulated 112 tackles and 140 interceptions last season, but his kamikaze approach to charging out often left his Inter Milan teammates exposed.
Sebastian Giovinco, Second Striker, Age: 25
Grade: B | To avoid Sebastian Giovinco becoming Fabrizio Miccoli 2.0, Juve resigned the Parma forward on the back of one elite season. The 25-year-old was alright during the 2010-11 season, but he exploded last season. It remains to be seen if Giovinco is a big fish in a small pond. Juve needs to play him every week if they want him to emulate his performances for Parma.
Transfer Summary: Conte is stockpiling talent for two reasons. 1. He's covered if long-term injuries occur. 2. He wants to contend for the UEFA Champions League trophy.
Transfer Needs: Centre Forward and Attacking Left-Back
The No. 1 priority for Conte is a centre forward who'll be able to score 20-30 goals per season.
1. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke, Age: 28
48 goals in 47 games last season—enough said.
2. Luuk de Jong, Twente, Age: 21
Technically superb; strong in the air; ability to poach goals and create for teammates.
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Saint-Étienne, Age: 23
Shown flashes of world-class quality and can win games with moments of magic.
Having used the 3-5-2 in 34 percent of Serie A games last season, Antonio Conte needs an elite left-back, preferably an attacking left-back to play wing-back.
1. Christian Fuchs, Schalke, Age: 26
He'd be perfect as a wing-back because of his hyperactivity and incisive crosses.
2. Federico Balzaretti, Palermo, Age: 30
Juventus should never have let him leave in the first place. They may want him back but he doesn't want to come back: "I’ll either stay at Palermo or move to Paris Saint-Germain—there are no other solutions."
3. Alexander Büttner, Vitesse, Age: 23
Eredivisie's best left-back last season. He could be a hidden gem type signing but it would be a reach because he's quite raw—though it seems Southampton may end up signing him.