10 Bold Predictions for Juventus This Season

Jack Alexandros RathbornContributor IIISeptember 6, 2013

10 Bold Predictions for Juventus This Season

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    Juventus already appear to be on track to land a third successive Serie A title after two wins in as many games.

    Antonio Conte's side have added depth to their attack and will now look to go further in Europe than last season, when their run was abruptly ended by the Bayern Munich powerhouse.

    Everything seems to be in place for another successful season in Turin, which is just what Juventini expect.

    Here are 10 bold predictions for the Bianconeri.

Carlos Tevez to Claim the Capocannoniere

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    Carlos Tevez has started the season in prolific form, scoring three times in as many competitive games—including the Supercoppa victory.

    The Argentine could very well be the missing piece in the Bianconeri machine, which has dominated Italian football over the past two seasons and is now set for that next challenge.

    Juve have not had a Capocannoniere winner since 2008, when Alessandro Del Piero won the coveted award for top goalscorer in Serie A with 21 goals.

    Strong competition comes in the form of Mario Gomez, Mario Balotelli, Gonzalo Higuain and even the evergreen Antonio Di Natale.

    El Apache is looking as good as ever though and I feel that he can achieve this challenge.

Paul Pogba Will Start 25 Games or More in the League

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    Paul Pogba is an exceptional talent, as we all know, but it still remains to be seen whether Antonio Conte has the Frenchman in his strongest possible lineup.

    Fernando Llorente will be fully adjusted to Italian football soon and Claudio Marchisio will return from injury in a few weeks, both of whom could jeopardise Pogba's place as a starter.

    Polpo Paul started 18 matches in Serie A last term, but it was easier toward the end of the season to fit him into the lineup, especially as the strikers for the Bianconeri never scored enough goals to justify two places in the XI.

    Pogba can beat last year's total of starts and I predict he will start 25 matches or more.

    Whether that will be because he pushes Il Principino out of the XI, or that Conte is forced to play with one striker, is up for debate, but I sense that this is Pogba's year and at just 20 years old, he can become a permanent fixture in this team.

Antonio Conte Begins to Experiment More with a Four Man Defence

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    Antonio Conte has established a fine system at Juventus in his two years in charge at the Juventus Stadium.

    The 3-5-2 formation has became a stable in Serie A, replicated to varying degrees of success by more or less every side in the league.

    European football is a different kettle of fish though and the system did not appear to transition as well as Conte might have liked.

    I expect Conte to experiment with a traditional back four at times this season, as it could give the Old Lady a better chance of going further in the Champions League.

    It might also enable him to integrate certain players into the starting lineup.

    If Pogba starts in midfield, Marchisio would not be totally out of place on the right or left side of a front three, for example.

    Ogbonna could indeed come into the side at left-back at times, while Stephan Lichtsteiner is equally adept at right-back as his more advanced role in the current setup.

    All the tools are there for Conte to mix it up and the best managers are always ready to change things whenever there comes a need, this year might be the time.

Giorgio Chiellini's Place Begins to Become Less Stable

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    This might appear to be blasphemous at first, but Giorgio Chiellini is not what he once was.

    The weakest of the back three currently, with a set of skills that is most easily replicated or coped adequately without.

    Andrea Barzagli's reading of the game is exceptional and Leonardo Bonucci's ball-playing is essential.

    Chiellini's ball-winning is impressive, but not entirely necessary given the sheer dominance that Juve tend to enjoy in possession these days.

    Angelo Ogbonna has arrived from Torino and his presence will start to be felt in the Juve ranks, as he is an elite defender in the making.

    Whether Chiellini's place is in jeopardy in the 3-5-2 formation is one thing, but there remains the possibility—as mentioned in the last slide—that a back four could be tried out.

    Chiellini can play left-back perfectly fine, as can Ogbonna, but a third option in Kwadwo Asamoah might appear tempting to Conte given the Ghanaian's attacking instincts and physicality.

    Even if he is a starter for the time being, expect discussions to begin in the coming months as to whether Chiellini merits it for much longer.

Vucinic to Hold off Competition from Llorente in a Two Pronged Attack

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    Mirko Vucinic's place at Juventus appeared to be in question when the Bianconeri added Tevez to the already-signed Llorente this summer.

    Interest from clubs such as Zenit St. Petersburg, according to Tuttosport, via Football Italia, became apparent and it must have been tempting to cash in on such a luxury player, who struggled to impose himself at times last season.

    The Montenegrin has a staunch supporter though, in the shape of the Mister, Antonio Conte.

    A transfer failed to materialise and Vucinic remains at the Juventus Stadium, starting both league matches so far.

    A fine goal in the match against Lazio might have guaranteed a third successive start alongside Tevez, too.

    Momentum is in his favour, with Llorente, Sebastian Giovinco and Fabio Quagliarella looking on from the bench.

    Most importantly though, Vucinic allows Tevez to shine by dropping deep and giving El Apache the freedom to lead the line.

    For the time being, I only see Vucinic starting for Juve with Tevez when Conte plays two strikers.

Juve to Surpass the +50 Goal Difference for the First Time Under Conte

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    Juventus have enjoyed the solid foundation of a strong defence since Antonio Conte took over at the Juventus Stadium.

    The Bianconeri have easily had the best defence in the league over this period, conceding a measly 44 goals in two seasons, 28 fewer than the second best, Milan.

    The Old Lady have enjoyed an impressive goal difference in this time, with +48 and +47 respectively.

    Expect Conte's men to break through the +50 barrier this season with added firepower in attack and a defence that remains intact.

Arturo Vidal to Put in a Ballon D'Or-Calibre Season

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    Arturo Vidal might not be the first name that springs to mind when the discussion of the best players in the game commences.

    That should change after a third consecutive stellar season as a Bianconeri for the Chilean.

    El Guerrero should already be considered the most complete midfielder in football, with his work rate and physicality complimenting vision, creativity and deadly finishing in front of goal.

    If Juve are able to make a bigger dent into the Champions League than last year, expect Vidal to shine on a grander stage and generate even more respect in the game.

     

Juventus to Bow out Early in the Coppa Italia

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    Antonio Conte has made the Coppa Italia a competition of importance to Juventus over the past two seasons.

    It has complimented their league form in both campaigns with Conte at the helm—reaching a final in 2011 and a semifinal last season.

    I feel that this season will be the first time that Conte finally accepts an early exit in the cup, or at least does not strive for a deep run towards the final in Rome once more.

    Fielding a second string, who are less motivated and determined to qualify, will ultimately cost Juve a cup run this season.

    This will not be a bad thing though, with Juve switching their priority towards European football and happily relinquishing the distraction of the Coppa.

    Juve will enter the competition at the round of 16 stage and it would not surprise me if they bow out immediately, or in the quarter-finals—crucially before two-legged semi-finals.

Juve to Go Unbeaten at Home This Season

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    Juventus followed up their unbeaten season of 2011-12 with five defeats last season, including two surprise defeats at home.

    Inter broke the unbeaten streak with a stunning victory at the Juventus Stadium, before Sampdoria stunned the Old Lady two months later.

    This will not happen this season and I expect Juve to remain undefeated in all of their 19 home matches.

    This, in turn, will form the bed rock of any extended Champions League run, as home form is vital in negotiating two-leg knock-out ties.

Juventus Win Serie a Even More Comfortably Than Last Season

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    Juventus won the Scudetto last season by nine points, with Napoli their closest rival finishing runner-up.

    I sense that the Bianconeri could win the league by an even bigger margin though.

    The Partenopei have done some excellent business in the transfer market, but they cannot be considered stronger than last season when they have lost their talismanic striker Edinson Cavani.

    El Matador was the league's top scorer last year, with 29 goals, which will be extremely tough to replicate for Higuain.

    Juve have addressed their attacking weakness and now have Tevez and Fernando Llorente, both of whom will surely surpass last year's top goalscorer in Mirko Vucinic, who hit the back of the net 10 times.

    The Montenegrin will probably beat last year's total himself, especially with the increased pressure due to the fierce competition.

    Juve have not lost any players that will cause them to be weaker and even added extra strength in depth in the formidable defence, capturing Angelo Ogbonna from Torino.

    The team is settled and with Milan 15 points off the pace last season, asking the Rossoneri to make up six points on the champions is simply too much to ask.

    Fiorentina represent a dark horse in the title race, but having been 17 points off the pace last season, I don't see how they will be able to bridge a gap of more than eight points, especially after Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic's departures.

    So it points to the Old Lady strolling home to a third successive scudetto by a margin of 10 points or more.