While Juventus haven’t been the most convincing of teams last season as they won their second consecutive Serie A title in a mostly dominant fashion, there seems to be a pretty big gulf between them and the rest of the Serie A, both financially (bringing in Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez and Angelo Ogbonna) and in the remaining quality from past seasons, most importantly their midfield unit of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.
Juventus are thinking about more than local dominance. Last season was a successful return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010, and for the first time as champions since 2006. They finished first in a tough group that included Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk, not losing once, and looked impressive as they knocked out Celtic without conceding a single goal.
In the quarterfinals it was a different story. Bayern Munich beat them 2-0 twice, and Juventus admitted that it wasn’t a fair fight. But it wasn’t fair to everyone in Europe last season. The perfection that Bayern achieved last season is something for everyone to aspire to, and that is where Juventus are aiming to end up.
Taking care of their tactical problems was a first. While Juventus still don’t have a perfect team – Llorente is unproven outside the La Liga and Carlos Tevez is a powder keg waiting to implode, non of their rivals have made that changes that should strike fear in their hearts. Lazio, Milan and Napoli didn’t stand idely by while Juventus made the bigger signings of the summer once again, but it’s hard to see the changes they’ve made as such that should change the power balance in the Serie A.
Once again, Juventus will have rough stretches, although struggling to score might not be the same long and frustrating ordeal it was for them last season during certain stretches of the season, when it seemed that an endless string of draws might allow Napoli and Lazio to snatch the title away from them.
As long as their defense (which has just gotten better) remains intact (and it doesn’t matter that Gianluigi Buffon is obviously declining) and their midfield unit doesn’t lose any of their premier trio of players, Juventus are still the best team in Italy. It might not be enough to make a challenge for the Champions League, but Juventus aren’t there yet when it comes to the financial playground that allows a team to be one of the top 4 in Europe.