Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta says that the loss of key players like Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC) and Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and striker Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors) over the summer will not stop the Turin giants from a record-equalling fifth consecutive scudetto, which begins on Sunday with the visit of Udinese.
Juve have replaced those players with quality this season adding Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), on a free transfer, Paulo Dybala (Palermo) and Mario Mandzukic (Atletico Madrid) by signing highly-rated Brazilian defender Alex Sandro from FC Porto on Thursday.
Juventus (twice), Torino and Inter Milan are the only teams in Italy to have won five consecutive league titles. Marotta added:
“I don’t know if we’re stronger or weaker than we were last season, but Juve is Juve and we can’t be anywhere else but on top. Personally, I’m very optimistic.”
Can Roma Take Next Step?
Roma, runners-up the past two seasons, are the favorites of many to end Juventus’s title run and manager Rudi Garcia is in record as stating that his side will go on to beat the Serie A record of 10 consecutive victories from the start of the season that they set in 2013/14. It was a bold prediction, given Roma welcome Juventus, who finished the season with a 17-point cushion, to the Stadio Olimpico on 30 August. ”
The season will be long, but it will be tighter than last year,” Garcia said.
Lazio, who host promoted Bologna on Saturday, finished strongly last season to finish third and are battling Bayer Leverkusen for entry to the Champions League group stages. AC Milan and Inter Milan have been woeful the past two seasons and, without the burden of playing in Europe this season, are desperate to make amends with credible campaigns that will secure Champions League football next year.
Bologna, returning to the top flight after a season’s absence, have been boosted by the signing of former Roma and AC Milan striker Mattia Destro. Fellow promotes Frosinone and Carpi are at home to Torino and away to Sampdoria respectively.
Italian Serie A fixtures
Verona v Roma, Lazio v Bologna
Juventus v Udinese, Frosinone v Torino, Fiorentina v AC Milan, Inter Milan v Atalanta, Sampdoria v Carpi, Palermo v Genoa, Sassuolo v Napoli, Empoli v Chievo