ROME- Juventus have been a class above the rest of the Serie A in the past three seasons but now they must contemplate going for a fourth successive title without coach Antonio Conte and a host of clubs believing they can wrest the crown from them.
The title race will seek to revive Italian fans’ morale after a poor World Cup showing by the national side - their first round exit prompting the resignation of Cesare Prandelli with Conte replacing him as coach.
The fans, too ,will also hope for a stronger challenge by their clubs in Europe this term as the decline in their ability to compete with the English Premier League elite and leading Spanish sides has had an adverse impact.
Inter Milan’s win in the 2009 Champions League is the last time they had a representative in that final and one has to go back to Parma’s victory in 1999 for the last Italian appearance in the Uefa Cup now the Europa League.
Conte gave as one of the reasons for his leaving the Juventus job as being angry that the board were not prepared to aid his push for a successful Champions League campaign with money for players.
They did, however, spend 20 million euros (£15.9m/$27m) on Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata and Conte’s replacement, former AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has said one of his objectives is to target success in European football’s leading club competition.
Allegri, 47 and who won the title with Milan in his first season in 2010/11, admits he will need time to win over the fans but said his recipe for success was that adopted by Diego Simeone at Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
“The three consecutive titles make us favourites in Italy and we’ll compete all the way for the title,” said Allegri. There are great clubs in Europe, but with a shrewd transfer policy and organisation we’ll try to enjoy an excellent Champions League campaign, just as Atletico Madrid did last season.
“Juventus must be among the top eight teams in Europe, it’s our duty.” AS Roma and Napoli pursued Juventus last season.
The Turin giants finished with a record 102 points but Roma gave them a good run for their money for a long while under French coach Rudi Garcia.
Garcia, previously at French side Lille whom he guided to the domestic double in 2011, has to also prepare for a Champions League campaign.
But he has indicated that the domestic title remains his focus and hopes the 22million euros signing of Argentine striker Juan Iturbe will add the necessary class to their challenge.
ITALIAN SERIE - PLAYING TODAY
Chievo vs. Juventus 7PM
AS Roma vs. Fiorentina 9:45PM
SERIE A - PLAYING TOMORROW)
Torino vs. Inter 9:45PM
LIVE ON SS2, 9:45PM
AC Milan vs. Lazio 7PM
Atalanta vs. Verona 7PM
Cesena vs. Parma 9:45PM
Genoa vs. Napoli 9:45PM
Palermo vs. Sampdoria 9:45PM
Sassuolo vs. Cagliari 9:45PM
Udinese vs. Empoli 9:45PM