In Focus: Allegri must squeeze the Max-imum out of the Old Lady
Juventus have fallen a long way since Massimiliano Allegri was last in the dugout — and taking the Old Lady back to the top will be his biggest challenge yet.
The returning Bianconeri boss inherits a side that only narrowly qualified for the Champions League last season and he will need all his managerial nous if they are to top Serie A in 2021-22.
Having won five titles in five years during his previous spell at the Allianz Stadium, the 53-year-old will be confident of turning things around in Turin
But how does he go about bringing the glory days back to Juve?
Be more clinical
Juventus, who face Barcelona in a pre-season friendly tonight, failed to win 15 of their 38 Serie A matches last season and many of those dropped points came in games against the league’s supposed minnows.
Draws against Crotone, Torino and two ties with Hellas Verona played a major part in a bitterly disappointing 2020-21 finish — as did a paltry two-point return from four clashes with Benevento and Fiorentina.
Juve created the most big chances per 90 minutes in Italy’s top flight last term (2.68) but will need to be at their most clinical to avoid a repeat of those results in the months ahead.
Allegri may look back to the club’s sensational title-winning 2017-18 season for inspiration — the Old Lady won all but eight matches that season and none of their three defeats came against teams from the bottom half.
Feed the GOAT
Cristiano Ronaldo’s lowest scoring Serie A season was in the final campaign of Allegri’s previous spell in charge, when he netted 21 league goals in 2018-19.
But the 36-year-old has been in impressive form in the years that have followed, scoring 31 times under Maurizio Sarri before being named Capocannoniere last term.
Juventus have increasingly favoured a 4-4-2 formation since Allegri’s departure but operated with a lone frontman in almost half of their matches in his final year at the helm.
That difference may account for CR7's increased output since he departed — meaning Allegri may have to abandon his preferred set-up and find a system that gets the best out of the Bianconeri’s star man.
Find the right blend
Italy’s European Championship triumph was a testament to the value of experience, as the veteran defensive duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini led their country to glory.
The Juventus centre-backs will also continue to play important roles for their club this season, though Allegri will be keen to oversee a gradual passing of the baton to the squad’s younger members.
Matthijs de Ligt, 21, is already a key defender, while further forward, Dejan Kulusevski and Weston McKennie will be hoping to improve on their 19 and 18 league starts respectively.
Juve’s new manager must find the right blend of youthful dynamism and experienced know-how if his team are to win the title.
Integrate fresh blood
The Bianconeri have already made the loan signing of McKennie a permanent arrangement this summer, having parted with just over £15million to sign the midfielder from relegated Bundesliga side Schalke.
Now Juventus are on the verge of securing Brazil wonderkid Kaio Jorge for the bargain price of £3m from Santos.
There are high hopes for the 19-year-old starlet and Italy Under-19 manager Carmine Nunziata has spoken about what he will bring to the Allianz Stadium.
Nunziata said: “Even when he doesn’t score, he is a player who knows how to make the team play well — always close to his teammates and very good at playing with his back to the goal.
“He possesses a good technique, good ball management and good dribbling, especially with his right foot.
“Kaio is a centre forward who knows how to play with his team-mates, who reads the game well. He is a true advanced playmaker, who attacks the goal well. At Juve, he will find a squad with great champions but he can integrate."
Incorporating the prodigious attacker into the first-team squad could breathe new life into Juve's front line for 2021-22.
Resolve midfield matters
Allegri will be keen to improve his side’s midfield options before the Serie A season gets under way, with both incomings and outgoings potentially on the cards.
Former Arsenal man Aaron Ramsey, 30, will be allowed to depart to free up funds, with rumours of a shock move to AC Milan in the offing.
Meanwhile, the club are continuing their pursuit of 23-year-old Sassuolo maestro Manuel Locatelli — though the £30m-rated pass master is reportedly ‘irritated’ by the lack of progress in getting a deal over the line.
No player in Italy’s top tier had more touches of the ball (103.07) or attempted more passes (85.76) per 90 minutes than the 15-cap international in 2020-21.
Making headway with that transfer could be the difference between title success and another Scudetto-less season in Turin.