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Assessing Juventus’ 2016/2017 Scudetto challengers

April 26, 2016

With three games left in the season, Juventus were crowned the 2015/2016 Serie A champions as Roma beat Napoli 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. The Old Lady put together an historical stretch of games, gaining 73 out of a total of 75 points in their last 25 league fixtures, fixing a very poor start to their campaign.

Winning five Scudetti in a row has only been done by two other teams: Juventus (1931-1935) and Torino (1943-1949, excluding 1944 and 1946 due to World War II). If you count the Calciopoli-given 2005/2006 title, Inter also did it between 2006 and 2010. But that first one is just a title on paper… Right?

No team has been able to win six Serie A crowns in a row but this Juventus squad has all the capabilities to pull off the unthinkable. So let’s assess the Bianconeri’s stock for the 2016/2017 season, as well as the stock for Juve’s biggest contenders (in order).


Juventus: UP

It’s been pretty obvious that the Old Lady have everything going their way at the moment. There’s not one big Serie A club with such impressive financial results and power as Juventus. Add that to the fact that this team is the only true Italian contender for the Champions League, and you know why the Bianconeri are dominating their domestic league by a clear margin.

Juve’s star power, versatility, and depth are unparalleled in Italy. Even in the case of Alvaro Morata and Paul Pogba leaving Turin, there’s no reason to believe Juventus’ quality will take a dip. They will receive €30 million for the Spaniard and at least €85 million for their French star, which gives the Old Lady an extra transfer budget of at least €115 million. Hello Edinson Cavani, N’Golo Kante, Andre Gomes, and Hendrikh Mkhitaryan?

But despite all the rumours about Pogba leaving, the Frenchman could easily prolong his stay in Turin. Why not? The injury riddled Juve were one minute away from eliminating the mighty Bayern Munich from the European stage. Add Gomes, Domenico Berardi, some defensive help on the wings and Juve are ready to finally win the Champions League again. With Pogba as their star. Juve’s stock is clearly going up.

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 24:  Giorgio Chiellini (R) of Juventus FC tackles Edin Dzeko of AS Roma during the Serie A match between Juventus FC and AS Roma at Juventus Arena on January 24, 2016 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Roma: UP

It hasn’t been Roma’s most consistent season but since Luciano Spalletti has inserted a winning mentality into his team once again, The Giallorossi are even fighting Napoli for second place in the Serie A standings, something no one could have predicted at the start of 2016.

Francesco Totti could finally leave the Roman club, which makes Roma vulnerable when it comes to leadership. However, Totti has not played a crucial part this season and has been relegated to a mentor role on the bench and in the locker room. Losing Miralem Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan, and/or Kostas Manolas would be much more harmful to Roma’s quest of winning their first Scudetto since 2001.

However, there’s reason to believe at least two of those players will stay and Roma will be able to do some work in the summer transfer market. If they can lure in a striker that can consistently score goals (maybe Diego Perotti could become that guy also), the Lupi are pretty hard to beat. It takes a minimum of 85 points to win the Serie A crown and apart from Juve, only Roma would be able to do it.


Juventus' midfielder from Italy Claudio Marchisio (R) celebrates in front of Napoli's forward from Argentina Gonzalo Higuain at the end of the Italian Serie A  football match Juventus Vs Napoli on February 13, 2016 at the "Juventus Stadium" in Turin. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE        (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)

Napoli: DOWN

It has been a wonderful season for Napoli, who were able to stay close to Juventus until the Bianconeri grabbed a 1-0 home win against the Partenopei. Thank you Simone Zaza! Maurizio Sarri did wonders for Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higauin with his 4-3-3 line up and defensive coaching of Kalidou Koulibaly and Faouzi Ghoulam.

The Partenopei might have one of Europe’s best starting eleven, but they must address two issues. The first is Higuain. Will he stay or will he go? In all honesty, losing the Argentine would be devastating to Napoli. He’s pretty much irreplaceable, even if he’s sold for a big amount of money. Second, no Serie A top club is in need of more depth than Napoli. The Azzurri need to spend a lot to gain a crucial amount of depth in order to compete with Juventus and Roma at the top of the league.

Conclusion: If Napoli can keep Higuain, they are not in place to spend a ton of money. If they sell him, the Partenopei will suffer in his absence, despite being able to lure in some much needed bench quality. In other ways, Napoli’s stock is down as they clearly overachieved this season.


MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 02:  Alvaro Morata of Juventus FC and Juan Guilherme Nunes Jesus of FC Internazionale Milano look on during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale Milano and Juventus FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 2, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Inter: LEVEL

It’s easy to predict Inter’s performance next season: pretty much the same as this season. The Nerazzurri are a financial mess and there’s no end in sight at the moment. Therefore, Inter will probably sell a couple of their current star players in order to buy some new quality ones during the summer. Just like they did with Mateo Kovacic, to get Ivan Perisic for example.

This will only result in a mediocre season once again, as it will be almost impossible for Inter to improve their current squad’s strength and performances. Unless they find some cheap diamond in South America that rocks Serie A unexpectedly. But for now, Inter’s stock is stuck.


MILAN, ITALY - APRIL 09:  Daniele Rugani of Juventus FC competes for the ball with Luiz Adriano of AC Milan during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Juventus FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 9, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)


Spending a lot of money doesn’t always provides immediate results. Milan’s 2015/2016 has been a clear example of this reality. Carlos Bacca has been pretty great, Alessio Romagnoli has played awesome and Giacomo Bonaventura played very well all season long. But still, Milan are down in sixth place and in danger of losing it to Sassuolo…

Admittedly, the Rossoneri performed much better than last season and are expected to make another leap forward next season. But contending for the Scudetto? Hell no! In the best case, Milan will be able to fight for a Champions League spot and any bump in the road will relegate them to the Europa League. Still, the Diavolo have some intriguing talents and are expected to spend again during the summer. Their stock is rising, but not enough for now.


FLORENCE, ITALY - APRIL 24: Patrice Evra of Juventus FC in action against Federico Bernardeschi of ACF Fiorentina during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Juventus FC at Stadio Artemio Franchi on April 24, 2016 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)


Last but not least, Fiorentina have been pretty good this season. The Viola started their campaign on a high note, before slipping when the season progressed. With a core of some exciting players like Nikola Kalinic, Josip Ilicic, Federico Bernardeschi, and Borja Valero, you can’t count out Fiorentina when it comes to competing for a spot in Europe next season.

But this team won’t be a contender for the Scudetto. They aren’t deep enough and can’t afford to spend big in order to lure in some star players. Their best summer move will be to keep their core intact and add depth.

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