If one thing is certain about Juventus this summer, it’s that this is a summer of uncertainty. The Bianconeri are a jigsaw puzzle and Massimiliano Allegri is the man charged with fitting the pieces together. There are some pieces on which the entire puzzle will be built, but exactly how the new boss moulds the shape remains to be seen.
There are two schools on the upcoming season - either the loss of Antonio Conte will affect Juve as others close the gap, or the Turin giants are too strong to fall that far.
As they begin life under Allegri, it’s how he interprets the strengths of the squad and how they line-up which is most fascinating. He’s tactically flexible. His Milan were known to shift between formations, usually a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-3-3, but also a 4-2-3-1 system in the latter stages of his reign. The former Pescara midfielder even dabbled with a Juventus-like 3-5-2.
And after Juve lined up with a Christmas tree formation in their opening pre-season loss to amateur side Lucento, Allegri hinted change was on the horizon: “It’s not intelligent to completely revamp a side that works well, but I will make some modifications. It is only normal that a Coach who did as well as Conte is remembered fondly, but in football and life everything can change.” As he then noted, it’s hard to read much into what was essentially a training run: “Until I have the whole squad at my disposal, I cannot give you precise indications.”
Their main summer signings to date – Roberto Pereyra, Alvaro Morata, Patrice Evra and Kingsley Coman – are all adaptable. They provide Allegri with options and three potential formations, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. One is a trident attack, another being Allegri’s early Milan trademark of a 4-3-1-2, or finally, continuing with a three-man defence. On Monday the majority of Juve’s World Cup players made their return to Vinovo to join pre-season training and as preparations progress things will become clearer. Allegri named his starting line-up to face Cesena yesterday, which should be a 3-5-2.
On the transfer front director Giuseppe Marotta has been coy about Bianconeri intentions. The rumour mill suggests another striker is the target, a possibility given two have been sold in the window and only Morata signed. It looks to be the one area Juve are short a player.
Arturo Vidal has been subject to constant rumours surrounding his future, but Allegri sees the Chilean as one of his ‘fundamental’ jigsaw pieces. “He is motivated, so club and Coach are very happy he will remain in Turin,” adding, “Vidal is fundamental for Juventus and not just in practical terms.”
Juventus face Cesena on Wednesday, their first hit-out with the majority of the squad in tow. It will be a chance for returning World Cup players to shake loose the cobwebs. “We want to put on a good performance and come away from the game without too many problems,” Allegri said. “Normally you have about 50 days with the squad to get them ready for the new season but this time round we’ve only got about 25.” He acknowledges the situation he has come into and is looking to make the most of the days remaining until the opener against Chievo on August 30.
After facing Cesena it will be off to Asia for the pre-season tour and with it, greater clues as to the make-up of this Juve team. Until then – and indeed Week 1 – La Vecchia Signora remains a mystery. It’s the dawn of a new Bianconeri.