Serie A Preview: Juventus is Still the Team to Beat

As the trophy was hoisted and the players celebrated a third consecutive scudetto, you could forgive Juventus fans from feeling a little giddy.  With one of the best coaches in Italy, an ownership group that seemed interested in boosting the squad for the Champions League, and the spine of the Italian national team under contract, fans looking ahead to the next season could be forgiven for already getting a little excited.

Flash forward three months, and the calculus has changed.  But while The Old Lady no longer looks as indomitable as it did last season, it is still the team to chase in the race for the scudetto due simply to lack of attrition.

Programming note: For viewers in the United States, the entire season of Serie A games are being shown exclusively on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld. Even if you don’t have a TV subscription to beIN SPORTS, you can access those channels via online streaming service DishWorld for $10/month. Read our review of DishWorld. And sign up for DishWorld via their website.

As it has in the past few seasons, Serie A has been hemorrhaging a number of world-class players.  The result has been a league that while internally competitive falls short on the international stage.  Juventus, for example, set a record for most points in a season in 2013/2014 but still meekly fell out of the Champions League group stage.  Now down to three Champions League places, Serie A does not look to challenge for more.

The upside of the departure of players like Edinson Cavani over the years is that Italian clubs are developing a wealth of young talent.  As these players mature, clubs that can both hold on to and build around these players have risen up the standings.  They key for Serie A and the clubs themselves, however, is whether they ultimately can hold onto talents like Arturo Vidal and Mehdi Benatia.  As the transfer window draws to a close, the fate of their teams may depend on ownership holding tight to them.

As for the teams themselves, maybe the biggest upheaval came from the champions.  Prior to the World Cup, Antonio Conte and the Juve brass seemingly worked out a deal where the team would increase spending for players deemed worthy of a run at a Champions League trophy.  However, after the World Cup and Italy’s shameful record, Conte ran for the Italy job and left Juventus with Massimiliano Allegri, who had a history of some success in the league but (a) was fired from Milan last season for an abysmal showing and (b) has been publicly criticized for his management by stars like Andrea Pirlo.  Whether Allegri will stick to Conte’s plan to move to a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 (probably not) we will have to see but the talent cupboard is not bare.  The biggest name they picked up is Patrice Evra from Manchester United but the squad will succeed if Carlos Tevez continues his renaissance that began last season, Gigi Buffon and Pirlo continue to defy age, and Juventus can hold on to Paul Pogba and Vidal.  While Allegri could screw this up, the defense is still incredibly good and there is talent at every position.

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