Juventus reached an important milestone last weekend when they beat Verona 2-0. The victory extended their unbeaten run to eleven and means that they haven’t lost a game in Serie A since the end of October. It was also their third consecutive clean sheet, underlining that they have become a tough team to defeat, as well as being increasingly effective up front.
The biggest significance to Sunday’s game, however, was that in beating Verona, Juventus moved into the top four in Serie A for the first time this season, and the top four, of course, means that they are back in the Champions League qualification places.
While their steady improvement is obviously a strong sign that they are getting back to their best and their odds on the Betfair sports app have been consistently shortening, securing a top four spot is essential for the club, in both the medium and long term.
Of course, they are only eight points off the lead and there is still time for Juve to regain the Serie A title. Given the form of Internazionale, that is probably unlikely, but finishing the season in the top four will be crucial to their recruitment plans this summer.
The ongoing financial problems and the poor start to the current season both created huge challenges for the club and the 2021-22 season has been characterized by upheaval throughout the last few weeks.
That upheaval was particularly noticeable during the transfer window, as 13 players went out on loan and Rodrigo Bentancur, Dejan Kuluveski and Aaron Ramsey were moved on, while Dusan Vlahovic and Denis Zakaria were brought in. Striking the balance between cutting the wage bill and yet continuing to improve the playing squad has been incredibly difficult for the club.
Finishing in the top four at the end of this season will affect next year’s transfers in a significant way and it will be a lot easier for the club to finish their restructuring with the lure of Champions League football to entice new players to arrive and key players to remain.
Top of the list of players that Juventus would like to tie up is Paulo Dybala, although that is looking like a tough ask at the moment, given the breakdown in negotiations that occurred before Christmas. There appears to be more optimism about Juan Cuadrado, who is reported to be close to agreeing to a new contract.
Another decision facing the club is what to do about Alex Sandro. Alex Sandro has struggled for form this season and it has been suggested that the vastly experienced Marcelo could be an option as a replacement. Alternatively, Juve may prefer to opt for a younger player to fill that spot, such as Andrea Cambiaso, who has impressed at Genoa.
In midfield, the arrival of Zakaria has definitely added to the strength of the squad, but it is likely that the club will want to add further strength in this area. Ryan Gravenberch will be high on the list of potential recruits, but Frenkie De Jon and Youri Tielemans are also likely to feature on the shortlist, though all three will be keenly pursued by top clubs this summer.
Finally, there is the issue around Matthijs de Ligt’s future at the club. Things have not worked out well for the Dutch star this season but it may be too soon to give up on the player and it won’t be easy to find a comparable centre half. Of course, this issue, as well as all of Juve’s transfer conundrums, will be a lot easier to solve if the team can secure that top four spot.