Juventus Arena – New Home, New Era?

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Who says Juventus haven’t been spending? The most successful club in Italian football inaugurated their brand new stadium, yet to be named (The Juventus Arena for now) in a draw with Notts County, the club that brought the Nerrazuri the Zebra colors in the beginning of the 20th century. The first modern football stadium in Italy, in Juventus there’s hope and belief that a new era, with new titles and long lost success will begin.

Juventus haven’t won a league title since 2006. Scratch that, they took that one away. 2005. Scratch that too. They took that one away as well. Well, we go back to 2003, when Marcello Lippi still coached the club. Del Piero is still here, as he was then. Buffon as well. The rest? Everything has changed, in more than just names on jerseys.

Juventus never really came back at full strength from their banishment season in Serie B. They did finish third in 2007-2008 and second in 2008-2009. It looked like they were on the right track – Champions League and looking like a club that will soon dominate the league like so many times before.

Still Here
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Then things went off the chosen path. A 7th place finish in 2009-2010 and a rather humiliating exit from the Champions League (1-4 loss to Bayern at home). Last season? 7th place again. Injuries, injuries, injuries. Juventus seemingly made the right moves – Not bringing in superstars, but got good players that should have been enough for Champions League qualification. Too many changes, too many new faces, while playing at the Stadio Olimpico, waiting for their new home to be built, and the side never found its rhythm.

Nearly €90 million were spent this summer, a huge sum that kinda flew under the radar. Nearly half of it was spent on securing the signings on players with loan options (Simone Pepe, Fabio Quagliarella, Marco Motta, Alessandro Matri) or Co-Ownership (Albin Ekdal, Sergio Almiron). The rest? Good players, but no one that’ll cause a frenzy among fans – Stephan Lichtsteiner, Arturo Vidal, Mirko Vucinic and Eljero Elia.

What John Malkovich could have looked like
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Talent, especially on the attacking side, is abundant. Elia, Vucinic, Quagliarella, Krasic, Matri, Pepe, Del Piero. The big problems is having someone to lead this team in midfield, and finally stabilizing the defense. Chiellini can’t do this on his own. Andrea Pirlo, at 32, with legs carrying too many games and too many injuries, has been brought over so someone can set things straight in the middle of the park.

Predictions? Things will be better this year under Antonio Conte. Title-like better? Probably not. AC Milan look like the team to beat again this year and Inter, despite everything that’s been going on, will probably be the closest team to their city rivals. Below second? It’s all up for grabs, with Roma, Napoli and Lazio in the mix like last year. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot more smiling this season in Juventus matches.