Juve in a class of their own
Season 2011-12 was one to remember for Juventus as they went through the whole Serie A trek without conceding defeat to return to glory after a few years in doldrums following the match-fixing scandal of 2006.
Juventus will not be resting on their laurels and this summer they sought to strengthen the squad, making sure they will field a competitive team to defend the scudetto and make significant progress in the UEFA Champions League.
So far, the new additions at Juve are Asamoah, Isla (both Udinese), Giovinco (Parma), Pogba (Manchester United) and Lucio (free agent).
The Bianconeri still have to see exactly who will be leading the team from the sidelines following the ten-month ban imposed on coach Antonio Conte last week as part of a match-fixing investigation.
So far, caretaker manager Massimo Carrera seems to be doing fine as a stand-in after seeing Juventus lift the Italian Super Cup and the Berlusconi Trophy in a matter of days before the championship gets underway this weekend.
Juventus are the hot favourites to retain the Serie A title.
Not only because they possess an even stronger squad than last season, but also due to an impoverished transfer market campaign conducted by their main rivals, mainly Milan and Inter.
Juventus have already made their intentions clear by beating Napoli 4-2 in Beijing on August 11 in the season’s curtain-raiser – the Super Cup.
If they can identify a future replacement for Andrea Pirlo, arguably the player who shifted the balance of power from Milan to Turin last season, and, perhaps, add another striker they will become a force to reckon with even in Europe.
In this transfer window, Milan lost their best two players in Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (both Paris SG) as the club intensified efforts to balance their books.
The Rossoneri also parted with veterans Gennaro Gattuso, Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Gianluca Zambrotta and Clarence Seedorf and so far they only acquired the services of Riccardo Montolivo (free agent), Kevin Constant (Genoa), Bakaye Traore (Nancy) and Cristian Zapata (Villarreal).
More signings are needed before the August 31 deadline because with this current squad, Milan surely cannot compete for the honours.
Like Milan, Inter’s transfer campaign was far from spectacular this summer.
To date, they signed Samir Handanovic (Udinese), Matias Silvestre (Palermo), Gabi Mudingayi (Bologna) and Rodrigo Palacio (Genoa).
Inter started the new season under the charge of 36-year-old Andrea Stramaccioni who replaced Claudio Ranieri towards the end of last season.
Inter’s fortunes will very much depend on the form of their key players, particularly Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito.
If they are lucky enough to avoid injury and stay in form, Inter have a good chance to rank among the top three again.
Inter are expected to make at least two major signings in the coming days with Alvaro Pereira (Porto), Aaron Lennon (Tottenham Hotspur) and Antonio Cassano (Milan) all linked with a possible move to their fold.