Can Juventus Move From Italian Champion to European Dynasty?

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As if Juventus weren’t already strong enough, the titans of Turin have now added another world class player to their ranks. Miralem Pjanic has now joined his former Serie A rivals from Roma for a fee of more than €30 million. The Bosnian’s arrival is a statement of intent from Juve’s board that the Italian champions are ready to step into the elite tier of European competition, and I think we could possibly be witnessing the start of a historic dynasty.

Defense

Starting off with the backline and keeper, Juve aren’t exactly the young guns of Europe right now. Assuming that Dani Alves starts at right back next season, the average age of the back four will be just over 32. Oh yeah, and Gigi Buffon isn’t getting any younger either. The legendary Italian keeper will be turning 39 this season.

Even with all of that being said, Juve still managed to record the best defensive record in the Italian league last season. Their aging center back trio of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini combined for 87 league starts last season, but youth skills such as Filippo Romagna and Daniele Rugani saw limited action, with the former failing to make a single appearance last season. Will Massimo Allegri bring in some more experienced players to bolster his aging back line or will the youth players get more action?

On the flanks, Juve are also relying on some aging talents. A 33-year-old Alves will partner with former Manchester United man Patrice Evra, 35. When Evra moved to Turin two years ago, it was seen as a final step closer to retirement as he would get eased out of the first team action. Well, he has pretty much done the opposite of that, starting 24 league games last season, and still showing the same passion that made him a star in Manchester. Behind him, is Brazilian 25-year-old Alex Sandro who has shown that he is more than capable of deputizing the left flank.

The big question from all of that has to be how Allegri will reinforce his defensive unit in the years to come. With the current squad, Juve’s dominance isn’t built to last and some money will need to be invested or some youth players will need to be developed. This is the weak point of the team for me.

Midfield

Even before Pjanic joined Juve, the Turin club already had a pretty stacked midfield. Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and, oh yeah, Paul Pogba commanded Juve’s attack and set the pace for their title-winning campaign. Khedira and Marchisio provide a solid defensive footing so that Pogba can orchestrate the attack and roam the pitch.

Last season, the Frenchman registered nine goals and 15 assists through all competitions and even earned a place in the FIFA World XI. The 23-year-old has already won four Serie A titles, two Italian Cups, two Italian Super Cups, and even made an appearance in the Champions League final. He’s clearly the crown jewel of the midfield, and arguably the entire side.
The introduction of Pjanic should give Pogba some attacking help in the heart of the pitch. The Bosnian was nearly unstoppable for Roma last season, scoring and assisting 13 times through Serie A and Champions League. Pjanic was a member of the Italian team of the season, and his departure will certainly handicap one of Juve’s biggest title challengers. It’ll be interesting to see how him and Pogba work together, but I expect nothing but magic from the duo.

Attack

Juve's striker Paulo Dybala

Image: Photo LaPresse

Leading the line for Juventus is one of the most prolific young strikers in the world of football: Paulo Dybala. The 22-year-old has lofty expectations on him after joining from Palermo for a €32 million fee, but he has quickly lived up to the price tag. His first season at Juventus ended with him as the team’s top scorer (21 through all competition), and their second in assists with nine. At such a young age, him and Pogba could form the core of Juve’s title-winning teams for years to come.

Alongside him are two players with plenty of experience with Álvaro Morata and Mario Mandzukic rotating as starters. Between them, the two strikers combined for 22 goals and were more than capable of taking the pressure off of Dybala in attack. While it is unclear how long Morata will stay with the club thanks to Real Madrid’s buyback option, Mandzukic could be forced to play a bigger role, and I think he’s up for that responsibility.

Conclusion

While their defensive structure is starting to age, the rest of Juventus’ system is looking unbelievably strong. In particular, Pogba and Dybala could grow into be even bigger world beaters than they already are, and the club have the financial power to bring in more high profile players like Pjanic to surround their two crown jewels. Don’t expect Juve to be kept away from European glory for much longer.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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