Champions League team guide: Juventus in the spotlight
Juventus only just scraped into this season’s Champions League after finishing fourth in Serie A last term — one point ahead of Napoli.
Having won nine consecutive league titles in Italy, the 2020-21 season was one to forget for the Bianconeri, who ended the campaign 13 points behind runaway champions Inter Milan.
Finishing outside the Champions League spots would have been unthinkable but as Italy’s top four qualify, Juve will take their place in the group stages once again this season.
Juventus' Champions League group
Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo
Juventus are only the third-most successful Italian side in European Cup history, trailing both of the Milan clubs.
They have won it twice, as well as lifting the UEFA Cup on three occasions — in 1977, 1990, and 1993 — and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1984.
But they also have a reputation as the continent’s nearly men, having finished runners-up a record seven times in Europe's marquee tournament.
The Old Lady have not made it past the quarter-finals in their last four Champions League campaigns.
In an attempt to lift the Champions League for the first time since 1996, Juventus signed one of world football’s global icons — but Cristiano Ronaldo has now departed for Manchester United.
Although the Portuguese megastar's departure will inevitably require a change in tactical approach this term, it would be unwise to entirely discount the remaining squad's prospects entirely.
After all, the expectation at Juventus is always to win and they are desperate to add a third title to their burgeoning trophy cabinet.
Coming into this campaign as the fourth-best side in Serie A is unlikely to move the goalposts, and they could be lively outsiders to lift the continent’s most prestigious trophy.
Star man: Paulo Dybala
In many ways, Paulo Dybala’s potential still feels unfulfilled, despite him being in his seventh season at Juventus and turning 28 in November.
There is also a sense that some of the Argentine’s successes have flown under the radar — he is only 13 goals away from ousting Federico Munerati from the club’s top 10 all-time goalscorers list, and 15 strikes from overtaking Roberto Baggio’s tally.
But last season was his worst goalscoring return by some distance, with just five in all competitions — though he has already netted in Serie A this term.
Juve will need a big year from their No10 if they are to turn things around in the league and make a mark in Europe.
One to watch: Manuel Locatelli
Manuel Locatelli is a new signing at the club, having arrived initially on loan from Sassuolo this transfer window.
The midfielder is one of the highest-rated young players in Italy and will now be looking to show his class at the top end of the table on a regular basis.
Locatelli, 23, will also hope to become a regular fixture in the Italian national team, after appearing in five of his country’s seven games en route to European Championship glory this summer.
Sassuolo’s loss is very much Juve’s gain and the Old Lady have an obligation to buy the midfielder outright at the end of his loan spell in 2023 for a fee that could potentially rise to £32million with add-ons.
The boss: Max Allegri
Five of Juventus’ nine consecutive titles were won by Max Allegri, who returns to the club in the place Andrea Pirlo.
During his previous stint in charge in Turin, Allegri took the team to two Champions League finals — losing to Barcelona in 2015 and Real Madrid in 2017 — and won the domestic double in all but his final season at the club.
While his first task will be to return Juve to Serie A’s summit, the real unfinished business is on the continent.
With the Spanish clubs seemingly not quite as powerful as they once were, Allegri will sense an opportunity for a long-overdue European triumph in his second spell in Turin.
All information correct as of 10am, September 2, 2021