After the Calciopoli scandal of 2006 and a brief period of demise, Juventus has once again become a European superpower. For the past two years, they have dominated the domestic league to win back-to-back Serie A titles, including an unbeaten 2011-2012 season. But, will this year be any different? Can they win their third-straight Scudetto?
Juventus' quest for their third-straight title will certainly not be a straightforward affair.
In quotes given to Goal.com, Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi highlights the possibility for surprises in Serie A. "Serie A is not like La Liga, where Barcelona and Real Madrid always dominate. There's more balance in Italy. Teams like Fiorentina, Napoli, Lazio and Roma can all win the Scudetto as well."
Rossi's words have become all the more relevant in the build up to the 2013-2014 season. With the transfer window as evidence, the central Italian teams are on the rise, and all looking poised to upset their northern rivals.
Napoli, who have emerged as a serious title contender over the past few years, has some big additions to their squad thanks to new signings Jose Maria Callejon, Raul Albiol and Dries Mertens. And, although star striker Edinson Cavani has left for PSG, he's left his club with a total of €124.5 million to spend on the market.
More big transfers are on the way.
As I discussed in a previous article, Fiorentina will be an obstacle to any opposition they might face. Recent-signing Mario Gomez will be the key to their newfound prominence under manager Vincenzo Montella.
Meanwhile, capital clubs Roma and Lazio both look to continue their quests for Champions League football. Both teams, furthermore, managed to beat Juventus last season, with Lazio overcoming the Bianconeri in the Coppa Italia semifinal and Roma doing so during league competition.
They helped show the rest of Italy that Juventus are no longer unbeatable.
Although Lazio's biggest signing so far as been Felipe Anderson, their competent manager Vladimir Petkovic has already demonstrated he's capable of doing far more with far less than most managers, last year winning the Coppa Italia and challenging Juventus for the top spot despite his club's financial fragility.
Roma, on the other hand, have already brought in Kevin Strootman from PSV, in addition to defenders Mehdi Benatia and Maicon. The selling of Marquinhos for €35 million will ensure that further reinforcements arrive.
And this is all setting aside Juventus' traditional title rivals Milan and Inter Milan.
Milan have snatched up promising youngsters Riccardo Saponara and Andrea Poli to add to their already vast pool of talent, including Mario Balotelli, with Inter winning the race to sign the young but proven Mauro Icardi.
Juventus have responded with some big signings of their own, strengthening a squad with which few could already compete.
Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente have been brought in to add potency to their attack, with Angelo Ogbonna coming in to provide even more muscle to the defense. The depth in Juventus' squad is unquestionable, as it has been for the past two years.
Even if Tevez and Llorente cause strikers such as Mirko Vucinic or Alessandro Matri to be offloaded, Juve's qualities across the pitch remain as strong as ever. Antonio Conte, meanwhile, has established himself as one of the best managers in Europe. Tactically, Juventus will remain as sound as ever.
Without a doubt, Juventus remains the team to beat in Serie A, as Sam Lopresti of B/R reports.
Despite this, as Juventus has dominated the last two years, their rivals have been growing in strength.
The last team to win three-straight Scudettos was Inter under Mancini and Mourinho (together winning five-straight titles). But, during that period, Roma was the only realistic contender, finishing runners-up to Inter four out of the five times.
Now, it seems like the times have changed.
The rise of the central Italian teams and the continued strength of Milan and Inter point to this year being especially difficult for Juventus to claim their third-straight title.
They will certainly meet stiffer opposition then they did in the past few years. In addition, their focus might very well be on the Champions League, where they will be looking to improve on last season's impressive performance (ultimately losing out to eventual champions Bayern Munich).
Ultimately, it seems safe to say that this season's race to the Scudetto might prove to be one of the more interesting of late.
Juventus' chances of winning another title can't be taken for granted.
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