Juventus are coming off a dominant Serie A campaign that saw the Vecchia Signora finish 17 points clear of any other team. They scored the most goals and allowed the fewest. It marked a third straight league title and their 30th in club history.
They also won the Italian Super Cup last summer to tie AC Milan for the most trophies in the marquee summer competition. Their other results were less impressive, however, as they were eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League and the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia.
Defending their Serie A crown is obviously a priority, but the effort to improve their results elsewhere starts with a preseason tour. Let's check out the club's current preseason slate followed by an early look at the club's summer friendlies.
Juventus' 2014 Preseason Schedule
|Aug. 6||Indonesia||Gelora Bung Karno Stadium|
|Aug. 10||A-League All Stars||ANZ Stadium|
|Aug. 16||LionsXII & S-League Internationals||Singapore National Stadium|
|Aug. 23||TBA - TIM Trophy||Mapei Stadium|
|Aug. 23||TBA - TIM Trophy||Mapei Stadium|
Outlook for Summer Friendlies
The key for Juventus, as well as the contenders in all of Europe's top leagues, is finding a way to maximize limited time for the preseason. The World Cup is a major event for the sport, but it makes preparation a little more difficult every four years.
For example, last year the Bianconeri started with their first friendly on July 17. This year they won't play a fixture until Aug. 6, which then starts a very busy stretch leading up to the campaign.
One other factor for manager Antonio Conte to consider is the lack of a summer break for those players who did represent their home nations in the World Cup. Getting them some extra rest while still trying to get the side into good form is a tricky task.
It's a journey that begins in Indonesia. A select version of the country's national team has become a popular opponent for top clubs in recent years. It gives sides like Juventus the chance to extend their reach while also getting some important work in.
The match marks the first of five away from Juventus Stadium for the club. That makes sense considering their play at home certainly wasn't a problem last season. Better performance away from those friendly confines is critical for the Champions League, though.
Mister Chip provided an interesting note about their success in Turin:
Juventus is the 2nd club in Europe's top-10 leagues history to win 19 out of 19 home games in a single season after Saint-Etienne 1974-75.— MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping) May 18, 2014
After the trip to Indonesia, Juventus is also scheduled to make stops in Australia and Malaysia for a pair of friendlies. The best bet is that Conte will probably try to trot out his expected starting lineup for one of those matches for a test run.
They aren't matches that are going to tell a lot about the upcoming campaign. Not only will there be a frequent rotation of players, but safety takes precedent over risking injury.
It means questions about what fair expectations are will probably have to wait until the TIM Trophy event, if not later.
Though there's no reason to believe Juventus won't be strong title contenders again, the Champions League is a source of contention. Based purely on talent, the side should be able to reach the business end of the knockout phase.
Conte isn't convinced his side is a true title threat, however. Stefan Coerts of Goal.com passed along comments the manager made at the end of last season:
Winning the Champions League? I am not joking anyone. I respect the fans.
If you ask me whether Juventus can win the Champions League again at some point, I will say yes. But if you ask me whether the current Juventus can win it, I'm afraid I have to say no.
An interesting stance considering he leads a roster headlined by Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba and Carlos Tevez, among others. Yet it's not uncommon for managers to make those type of statements as a type of motivation for their players.
Are Juventus contenders in the Champions League?
It will be fascinating to see if that outlook changes at any point this season.
As for the last part of the preseason, it will come to a close with the TIM Trophy tournament. AC Milan's official site notes the one-day event will also feature Milan and Sassuolo, although the exact details for the round-robin showcase weren't included.
Along with the trophy, it's a good chance to face domestic competition before transiting into the new campaign.
Ultimately, it would be hard for Juventus to improve on their Serie A campaign as they shoot for a fourth straight title. There's still work to do if they want to be the best in Europe, though. It starts with a preseason of progress.