It has been a tumultuous month for Juventus, the reigning Serie A champions plunged into chaos following the shock resignation of Antonio Conte. The coach had brought nothing but success to the Turin giants, lifting the league title in each of his three seasons in charge.
Setting numerous records along the way and remaining undefeated throughout an entire campaign, the former captain had restored the winning mentality synonymous with the Bianconeri. Where before there had been glum mediocrity, the 44-year-old had once again delivered glorious victories.
The true reasons for him quitting the club he loves so dearly remain shrouded in mystery, but he would be the first to admit that life for La Madama must go on. She turned to Massimiliano Allegri, a man left to carry the can for the recent failures of Milan, but the only current Serie A coach who has lifted the Scudetto.
Yet scepticism was inevitable. Could Juventus overcome the loss of the man who had transformed them back into a dominant force after years of post-Calciopoli malaise? Could the Bianconeri continue to sweep all before them on the domestic front and retain their title for a fourth straight season?
The answer should be a resounding yes. While the coach has abdicated, everything else remains in place, and Allegri will arguably have a better squad at his disposal than Conte had at any point in his time on the bench.
Perhaps fundamental to that is the presence of the key figures of recent campaigns, and the fact all remain at the peak of their powers. Starting at the back, captain Gigi Buffon showed at the World Cup that his domestic form was no accident, displaying his very best on the grandest of all stages.
The defence ahead of him remains as resolute as ever, the trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini providing excellent protection as the league’s best back line. Conceding just 23 goals in 2013-14, they are boosted by the flexibility and leadership Patrice Evra will surely provide.
The Frenchman was a smart acquisition by the club, bringing in a player with vast experience for very little outlay. He will also allow Allegri to field an orthodox back four, as and when required, something Conte was never really provided with.
In midfield, Juventus have kept their three star players together, with Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal remaining at the club. The latter has been widely linked with a move to Manchester United, with La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Daily Star) claiming a £47.5 million bid has been made for the Chilean.
That move never made sense for the Bianconeri, with Allegri right to call Vidal “fundamental for Juventus,” at a press conference this week (h/t Football Italia). With him alongside those other key figures, the club has also worked hard to improve on previous weaknesses this summer.
Roberto Pereyra will provide some versatility in attacking areas, but it is the signing of Alvaro Morata which should help more than any other. The young Spaniard will be vital in allowing Allegri to field different formations in attack as he is able to play anywhere across a front three should the coach opt for such a line-up.
Alongside Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, Morata provides Juve with a front line to rival any domestic opponent, despite some excellent acquisitions from Roma and Napoli. Those two should provide a stern test for the Bianconeri, but it must be remembered the Turin club won the league by 17 clear points last term.
All of which brings us to the one real change; the arrival of Allegri in place of club idol Antonio Conte. While he may not be the serial winner his predecessor was, the former Cagliari boss is no novice, winning coach of the year honours in 2009 and 2011.
He may lack Conte’s maniacal pursuit of perfection, but if the new coach can provide better rotation and greater tactical variance, there is no reason Juventus should not be favourites to add yet another title to their vast collection.
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