Throughout its illustrious history Juventus has enjoyed maximum success in three cycles in different eras. The first successful era came under Carlo Carcano in first half of 1930s while Giovanni Trapattoni’s highly rewarding stint extend from second half of 1970s till mid-80s. The third era came in mid 1990s thanks to Marcelo Lippi. Millions of Juventus fans around the globe will be hoping that Antonio Conte is able to create a winning cycle of his own when 2012/13 season starts. And in some ways, it is difficult not to be optimistic ahead of the new season.
Juventus Transfer Activity
Click here to read a detailed report of Juventus pre-season.
Gianluigi Buffon, Marco Storari
Juventus perhaps has the strongest goalkeeping department in the world right now. Gigi Buffon has returned to his best form last season and carried it to the Euros with Italy. There are talks that Buffon will extend his Juventus contract which will keep him in the club till end of his career. When Gigi Buffon is fit he is an automatic starter but that doesn’t mean Marco Storari is a bad ‘keeper. In fact, Storari will probably walk into the first team of most of the top clubs in Europe. In absence of Buffon, Juventus has an exceptionally competent custodian in the form of the ex-Milan ‘keeper. Juventus is yet to decide on third goalkeeper. It remains to be seen if a youngster like Leali is kept in the squad or a veteran is brought in.
Lucio, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Stephan Lichtsteiner. Paolo De Ceglie, Martin Caceres, Mauricio Isla, Reto Ziegler, Alberto Masi
Conte’s insistence of playing the 3-5-2 means that Juve is likely to line up with three central defenders. Last season, the Chiellini – Barzagli – Bonucci trio was in almost perfect form as Juventus ended the Serie A campaign with best defensive record across top leagues in Europe. The backline has been strengthened further this season. Lucio adds much-needed Champions League experience though his recent form has been a cause for concern. There are rumours about Lichtsteiner’s exit to PSG but he still remains one of the best full-backs in the peninsula. The Swiss has not looked fully comfortable as a right-wing back but he will be an excellent choice in case Conte chooses to play a 4-3-3.
Isla was brought in to fix the situation with right wing-back. The Chilean will be completely at home with the formation, being an integral part of the 3-4-3 in Udinese. Over last two seasons a fully fit Isla has caused nightmares to opponent defenders and Juventus will be hoping that he regains his best form after suffering from a long-term injury. Paolo De Ceglie continues to improve steadily though there are talks that Juventus might buy one more left-back to bolster the squad. Caceres has suffered from an unfortunate injury at Trofeo TIM but his versatility will be an asset for any team.
Andrea Pirlo, Luca Marrone, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Simone Pepe, Emmanuele Giaccherini, Claudio Marchisio, Kwadwo Asamoah, Simone Padoin
If defence was the reason behind Juventus’ unbeaten season then midfield was surely the reason why they wrapped up the title last season. Few expected Andrea Pirlo to reach the stratospheric heights that he reached in his first season in Juventus. In terms of stats as well as performance, Pirlo was easily the best player in Serie A last season and he maintained his form in Euro 2012. The Italian legend also came tantalizingly close to getting in the top-3 of FIFA Player of the Year award. Pirlo’s partnership with Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal will again resume this season but additions in transfer season have made the Juventus midfield the best in Serie A.
Kwadwo Asamoah has made an instant impact in pre-season and also scored a beautiful goal on his official Juventus debut in Super Coppa Italiana.It is easy to think Asamoah will be a bench player but the Ghanaian is simply too good to be benched. He has been used as a left wing-back multiple times during pre-season and is likely to become a permanent fixture in starting XI. Asamoah along with Vidal, who seems all set to follow Edgar David’s path and Marchisio will form one of the youngest and most dynamic midfields in Europe.
Padoin, Giaccherini and Pepe are all solid backups who can slot in different positions. Along with a good starting midfield Juventus has competent players on the bench as well.
Paul Pogba and Luca Marrone will be two players who will excite the Juventus fans this season. Pogba, already earmarked to be a special player during his time in Manchester United, has impressed in pre-season and looks talented enough to break into Juventus first team. Marrone, on the other hand, is a product of Juventus’ youth system and his passing has been one of the highlights of pre-season. The youngster has also played extremely well in an unfamiliar central defender position.
Overall, Juventus has a world-class and title-winning midfield this season.
Fabio Qugliarella, Alessandro Matri, Mirko Vucinic, Sebastien Giovinco
Attack still remains the weakest point of Juventus squad. Last season the Old Lady almost missed out on the 30th (officially 28th) Serie A title because of poor conversion rate. Quagliarella and Matri started a number of matches in pre-season but either one of them or both can leave the club before transfer window closes. Quagliarella seems to be a completely different player since his long-term injury in 2010/11 season. He was never a consistent goal scorer but his movement and ball control was always top-notch. Sadly, since his injury he seems completely out of sync with rest of the team. Matri, on the other hand, gets in good goal scoring positions but his composure and finishing often leaves a lot to be desired.
Vucinic had a decisive impact in Super Coppa Italian final but the Montenegrin can often be unnervingly wasteful when playing mid-table or low-table clubs. His combination with Giovinco, another player who has the skills and fantasia to match Vucinic will be one of the stronger points of Juve attack. Giovinco, a product of Juventus’ youth academy, has finally come back to the club where he was once touted to be the heir to Alessandro Del Piero. The diminutive striker had an exceptional season in Parma in 2011/12 and he will be looking to find the same form in his childhood club.
There are still talks that Juventus might sign another striker. This is one department where the squad needs upgrade and not mere addition. Juventus can struggle in Serie A and Champions League unless Beppe Marotta signs a quality striker.
Like last season, Juventus will be opening their campaign against Parma in the Juventus stadium. Juventini will definitely be hoping that a deja-vu of last season takes place when Juventus triumphed 4-1 in the same fixture. Late September and early October will see the Old Lady play three crunch games against Fiorentina, Napoli and Roma. November will also be a crucial month with Juventus hosting Lazio and Inter while travelling to the San Siro to face AC Milan. 2012/13 season will also see the return of the Turin derby with Juventus facing off against Torino on 2nd December and 28th April.
In the end, the outcome of Juventus’ season will depend on something which is not at all related to the club – Scommessopoli. It is still not fully clear if Antonio Conte will be banned from touch-line but if he is, it will have a tremendous impact on the team. Make no mistake it was Antonio Conte who was responsible for Juve’s unexpected title win last season.
If coaches earned the bread and butter during half time then Conte will probably be a millionaire. In multiple matches Juventus came out stronger in second half. Conte has also shown immaculate tactical intelligence and his motivational speech has now become a stuff of legends. If he is banned, Conte might still be able to train the team though out the week but his screaming, snarling figure on the touch-line will be missing which can potentially be an irreparable loss.
Serie A – Winner
Coppa Italia – Winner
Champions League – Quarter-final