Serie A new season kicks off at the weekend and it is a derby match between the champions Juventus and their fierce rivals Fiorentina that has been identified as a pick of the week in Italy. Having done a remarkable job during the transfer window once again, the Old Lady are beginning their sixth consecutive title charge facing a team that is expected to reach full potential this year.
Can Juve make the next big step?
As the most successful club in Serie A history with 32 titles next to their name, Juventus are once again considered major favourites to win the Scudetto in 2016-17 season. Massimiliano Allegri has received a fair share of criticism upon his appointment as Juventus boss, but former AC Milan head coach responded in respectable fashion. Having guided his side to their fifth straight Serie A title, Allegri is keen to make the next big step and have Juventus make their presence known at the international level. It’s been too long since Bianconeri have last won the Champions League title and the entire club are highly motivated to end the 20-year wait. The Old Lady have once again performed brilliantly during the transfer market window seemingly compounding a side that is even stronger than last year’s. The early moves saw them grab headlines with the arrivals of former Barcelona right-back Dani Alves and Roma midfielder MIralem Pjanic, while the likes of Mario Lemina, Mendi Benatia and Marko Pjaca are also considered wise business moves. Stars of the transfer window both in Italy and Europe-wide have however been Paul Pogba with his world-record move back to Manchester United and the €90 million transfer of Gonzalo Higuain from the Scudetto rivals Napoli.
Gonzalo Higuain arrived at Juventus out of shape however and will have to lose weight before he is granted a starting berth for the Old Lady. On the other hand, Marko Pjaca has had a successful rehearsal against the Juventus B team this week and could be in line to make his competitive debut.
Allegri will be sweating over the fitness of Miralem Pjanic who picked up a knock in the same game and is likely to miss the Serie A opener. In addition, Rolando Mandragora, Claudio Marchisio, Federico Mattiello and Stefano Sturaro remain sidelined with their respective injuries.
Can Viola become dark horses of the Serie A?
Fiorentina have had a strong start to the 2015-16 season in Serie A, but have still failed to keep up with the competition in chase for Champions League places. Having finished the season in fifth place at the Serie A standings, Viola are now keen to make a step forward and compete for major honours. The fans are hopeful their team could become the dark horses of the Serie A and pull a Leicester City in Italy against the likes of Juventus, Napoli, Inter and Roma who will once again be considered firm Scudetto favourites. Paulo Sousa is looking forward the new campaign as hopes to keep his key men in despite serious interest from Europe’s heavyweights. Borja Valero, Milan Badelj and Nikola Kalinic are all making huge headlines this summer, but Sousa is hopeful his star performers will be fully focused for their Serie A opener against Juventus. Unlike the Old Lady, Viola have had a silent summer in the transfer market despite adding as many as eight new players to their squad. New arrivals are expected before the window closes and several names have already been identified as top targets. Sebastien De Mario is on verge of securing a loan move from Anderlecht, while Fiorentina have also expressed interest in signing the Manchester City’s Fernando. New season’s opener against Juventus will be a huge test for Fiorentina, who are eager to surprise the champions in what would be considered a major confidence boost for Viola.
Sousa will have a full squad to choose from with no injured players to account for. Fiorentina manager is likely to field his strongest side with the exception of the latest addition from Hajduk Split – left-back Hrvoje Milic – who is unlikely to make his debut for Viola.
Despite heavy investments during the summer transfer window Juventus are still far from desired form and Massimiliano Allegri’s men will have to be cautious in their season’s opener against Fiorentina. Duels between two sides are highly competitive and often fiery affairs, and we surely expect to see one such game this time as well.
Top Pick: Juventus 1.5 (1/2) @WilliamHill
Alternative pick 1: Juventus/Juventus 2.45 (29/20) @Coral
Alternative pick 2: Both teams to score – Yes 2.2 (6/5) @Betfair