Champions League 2015/16 profiles: Juventus
After a terrific Champions League run that saw Juventus fall gallantly at the final hurdle against Barcelona, the Italian giants are 25/1 chances with Coral to go one better and win the lot.
The Old Lady have, however, been placed in a dangerous Group D that will pit them against Borussia Monchengladbach, Manchester City and Sevilla.
Domestic League: Serie A
How they qualified: A fourth successive Scudetto. Juve’s Serie A dominance, illustrated by a whopping 17-point gap between themselves and second-placed Roma, saw them automatic entrants.
Best Champions League era performance: Juventus are twice winners of this tournament. Once in it’s former format as the European Cup after a 1-0 defeat of Liverpool in 1985, chiefly remembered for the Heysel tragedy. A second crown came in the modern era, as Juventus took Ajax to penalties in 1996, emerging 4-2 spot-kick victors.
Coach: Italian tactician Massimiliano Allegri was pelted by eggs upon his appointment in 2014/15, though he won fans around after taking the Turin team within touching distance of a treble last term.
Ins and outs: The Piedmont club underwent an extensive overhaul this off-season. Playmaker-in-chief Andrea Pirlo, forward Fernando Llorente, top scorer Carlos Tevez and midfield dynamo Arturo Vidal were among the plentiful high-profile exits.
Meanwhile, a raft or arrivals included sharpshooters Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic, left back Alex Sandro, free agent Sami Khedira, plus the loan capture of Juan Cuadrado from Chelsea.
Familiar faces: Manchester United fans will be pained to see Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba still pulling up trees for the Italians, while striking starlet Alvaro Morata and midfield hustler Khedira make up the ex-Real Madrid contingent.
Juve are not short of an Azzurri international or two either, with Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini providing a strong spine.
Key player: Robust rearguard warrior Chiellini is a great of the game. The Old Lady’s backline does not look the same without the wily and determined defender, who is the clear outfield leader.
Ones to watch: Despite already being household names, young-guns Dybala, Pogba and Morata are only teasing with their flashes of greatness, and Allegri will be looking to the trio to step up and be consistent game-changers this campaign.
Emerging talent: Italy Under-21 defender Daniele Rugani impressed so much for Empoli he has been brought into the fold for the term. While, Marseille-owned midfielder Mario Lemina is an intriguing loan signing.
CL group and fixtures:
v Manchester City (Away), September 15th
v Sevilla (Home), September 30th
v Borussia Monchengladbach (Home), October 21st
v Borussia Monchengladbach (Away), November 3rd
v Manchester City (Home), November 25th
v Sevilla (Away), December 8th