Juventus’ 5-1 win over Livorno in the opening week of Serie A play sent chills throughout the Peninsula—and provided sweet relief for fans of the club.
Although Juventus won Serie B with several games to spare, the Livorno victory—which featured a hat-trick from French ace David Trezeguet and two goals from new signing Vincenzo Iaquinta—was in many ways a fresh start for the Old Lady.
Claudio Ranieri’s men seemed rejuvenated, and displayed the sort of dedication and enthusiasm that Juve had been missing in recent years.
More importantly, they showed those critics who'd already counted them out of the title race just how wrong they were.
Six weeks later, draws against Roma and Fiorentina have proven that Juve are at the very least on par with last year's top Scudetto candidates. At the same time, though, both games revealed a handful of key weaknesses—particularly on defense.
With defensive stalwart Jorge Andrade sidelined for at least six months with a knee injury, Juve will have to find a capable replacement when the transfer window opens in January. On top of Ranieri’s wish list is Branislav Ivanovic, Lokomotiv Moskva’s central defender.
As for the competition—Lazio and AC Milan are lagging in the standings after poor performances to open the season, but should by no means be counted out of the race.
Juventus currently trails Inter, last year's Scudetto winners, by three points. Should both clubs continue their dazzling play, the decider may come as early as next month, when the two giants will meet in "Il derby d’Italia" on November 4th in Milan.
Will the losing team be able to recover in time to salvage their title dreams?
As Juventus aren't participating in any of the European tournaments this season, all the club's focus can be directed towards trying to bring home the trophy.
We may not have to wait until May to find a winner, but it would certainly be wrong to count Juventus out of the Scudetto race anytime soon.
After all, Juventus aren’t exactly your usual newcomers taking the big step from Serie B to Serie A.