Juventus failed to win the Serie A title for the first time in nine seasons in the 2020/21 campaign, losing out to Inter Milan, who broke nearly a decade on Juve’s dominance in the Italian top division. Both sides have seen big changes over the summer. The two sides have changed their managers and seen key players depart.
At Juventus, former star player Andrea Pirlo couldn’t meet the expectations required at the Allianz Stadium. Despite winning the Coppa Italia, finishing fourth in Serie A, 12 points behind Inter, led the Old Lady to sack Pirlo and replaced him with the more experienced Max Allegri.
Allegri has made an inconsistent start to his second spell in Turin with some poor early season results. Will he be able to turn things around and launch a successful title bid in Serie A this season?
A Poor Start to the Season
After winning all three of their three pre-season friendlies before the 2021/22 season kicked off in late August, Juventus started Serie A in poor form. They are winless in their first two matches. This is very unusual, given that bookmakers like the Coral Football Odds almost universally have Juventus as league favorites at the start of the season, given their unquestionable dominance over the last decade.
Allegri began his second reign at Juventus with a 2-2 away draw against Udinese. Paulo Dybala and Juan Cuadrado looked like they had given Allegri a dream start at Udinese, sending Juve 2-0 up within 22 minutes. But two second-half goals from the hosts sent Juventus away with just one point in their opening game.
Juventus then lost 1-0 at home against Empoli and struggled to come back after the visitors struck early to hand the Old Lady just their third home loss in 14 Serie A matches.
A slow start leaves Juventus in 12th place after two matches. In the coming weeks, Juve faces several title rivals. After the international break, Juventus travel to Napoli before facing AC Milan and Roma in the following weeks.
This will be an important spell for Allegri. He must take near-maximum points to remain in the title race and to convince the Juventus hierarchy that he can turn around his poor start at the Allianz Stadium.
Brining in Massimo Allegri and Youthful Approach
Juventus appointed Allegri for his second spell in charge of the club, hoping for stability and familiarity after Pirlo’s management. Allegri enjoyed great success in his first spell in Turin. The Italian coach led Juve to five consecutive Scudettos between 2014 and 2019.
One of the big appeals of Allegri was also his ability to get the best out of his previous squads at Juve and during his time at AC Milan, including youth players. Weston McKennie, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski are all bright talents in the Juve squad.
However, while Pirlo was able to get McKennie and Chiesa performing last season, he couldn’t find a consistent or suitable role for Kulusevski. The club have also signed more young players in the 2021/22 summer transfer market, with Moise Kean (21), Mohamed Ihattaren and Kaio Jorge (both 19) arriving at the Allianz Stadium.
These young prospects are the future of Juventus, and Allegri will need to use them to create a new core of his first team. Furthermore, the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Man United, in addition to former regulars Cristian Romero, Merih Demiral and club legend Gianluigi Buffon, shows how Juventus are heading in a new direction this season.
Juventus’ appointment of Allegri shows they trust the 54-year-old to lead the club into a new era. However, the bedding in of new, young players requires time and patience. Ultimately, this could affect Juventus’ chances of mounting a serious title challenge this season. Although, the club will be expected to challenge towards the top of the table, regardless of their squad.
Lesser Threat from Serie A Title Rivals
Despite some wholesale changes at the Allianz Stadium for the coming season, Juventus still remain one of the main title favourites for Serie A in 2021/22. While the Old Lady has started a re-build under Allegri over the summer, title rivals Inter Milan have capitulated, which could work in Juventus’ favour.
After winning the Scudetto last season, Antonio Conte departed the club, and he was replaced with Italian great Fillipo Inzaghi. In addition to a big managerial change, Inter have deep financial problems, which has led to the sale of their best players. 2020/21 Serie A top scorer Romelu Lukaku was sold to Chelsea, while wing-back Achraf Hakimi was also offloaded. Inter are set to struggle under a less proven manager and without their star players from last season. Juventus’ main threat then may come from AC Milan, AS Roma, Napoli or Atalanta. However, change has also taken place at Roma and Napoli this summer, while AC Milan could present a tough challenge for Juve after finishing runners-up last term.