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Wednesday June 10 2020
Scudetto contenders close-up: Juventus

Although under extreme circumstances, Serie A is finally returning, so Vilizar Yakimov evaluates the chances of each Scudetto contender, starting from Juventus.

We all knew Serie A would be unpredictable this term, but the COVID-19 world crisis and the interruption of the league take the Scudetto battle to a whole different level.

Juventus, Lazio and Inter clearly declared their title ambitions throughout the campaign, but after nearly 90 days without any action, the remaining 12 rounds will be played under unusual circumstances.

Five substitutions, no fans in the stadiums and a tight schedule of games in the summer are only some of the changes that teams must adapt to, so who has the upper hand?

It seems only right to evaluate that question by starting from Juventus. The Bianconeri can still be considered as Scudetto favourites, and do lead by one point, but Maurizio Sarri has a growing list of problems to take care of.

Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi and Daniele Rugani all tested positive during the stop before shaking off the Coronavirus and recently La Joya confessed that he is not at his best physically. Gonzalo Higuain and Giorgio Chiellini already got hurt only a few days after returning to training, while Douglas Costa had once again failed to feature regularly throughout the season due to various injuries.

Considering that Juventus has the oldest squad in the league, Sarri should be extremely careful with managing the physical condition of his players, as putting Serie A aside, the Bianconeri are also in the hunt for both the Champions League and the Coppa Italia.

However, mentality is just as important, so with several players including Miralem Pjanic, Federico Bernardeschi, Adrien Rabiot and Higuain linked with moves away from Turin, the Juventus management needs to make sure their heads are in the right place.

According to reports, Pjanic has already given his ‘yes’ to Barcelona and is pushing for a move, which is far from ideal for the Bianconeri, considering that there’s still plenty of football to be played until the end of the season.

And while it will be interesting to see how Sarri handles those that are linked with other teams, he’ll need to get into the heads of all players, because it’s easy to lose focus and forget what is at stake when you play after a long pause in an empty stadium in the middle of June.

In all fairness to him, Juventus did brilliantly in the Derby d’Italia and put in arguably one of their best displays during their 2-0 victory over Inter in the empty Allianz Stadium.

Many, including myself, expected Antonio Conte to be able to get more out of the Inter players and take advantage of the Bianconeri’s poor form and the chaos that surrounded the game, but the Juventus players were more motivated, more aggressive and more focused, which gave us a glimpse of what they could do once Serie A returns.

Although it has been almost three months since that game, Sarri would undoubtedly try to build on the performance against the Nerazzurri and rely on the strongest qualities of his club. They might be clichés, but words such as professionalism, organisation and hunger for victory will be more important than ever once action resumes after such a long interruption.

I can’t believe it’s been almost 600 words without mentioning him, but having Cristiano Ronaldo only boosts Juve’s advantage in that regard and the fact that CR7 has improved his physical condition during the quarantine speaks for itself.

Lazio and Inter have excellent players and both teams are giving Juve a run for their money, but neither of them have a player of Ronaldo’s calibre. However, this does not mean that the Aquile or even the Nerazzurri, who currently trail by nine points with a game in hand, can’t triumph in August or whenever the league finishes.

If anything is certain these days, it’s that it will take something extraordinary to end Juve’s domestic dominance, as Sarri failed to dethrone the Bianconeri in Napoli’s best ever season in 2017-18 when the Partenopei finished with 91 points, while Roma also failed to do that one year earlier with 87 points.

However, the extreme circumstances of the current campaign eliminate at least partially Juve’s advantage in terms of experience and know-how, because not even the Bianconeri have encountered a situation like this.

Max Allegri used to say that each campaign can be separated into several mini-seasons and although his words have always made sense, we now understand their meaning to its full extent.

Lazio were arguably the best team in the league before the interruption and Juve’s one-point lead is not nearly enough to make a difference. However, we’re now about to enter a brand new mini-campaign and although the Turin giants look like favourites once again, the conditions for their demise are already there.

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://subscribe.premiersports.tv/

Have your say...
Still think Juventus will win it but LAZIO still have a chance. Hope lazio if they dont win it they can try again next year.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 4:16pm
until they cap transfers, and salaries and force players to consider a move based on the teams project and philosophy football ill continue to be dominated by the same clubs.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 2:34pm
Premier league, same teams, maybe 3 or 4 have won it over last 20 years really (slightly different as it is where all the money goes, so all clubs get a bigger slice), Scotland same 2, France same 1, Germany same 1 or 2, spain same 1 or 2 all leagues are that way. It is ridiculous because football is a bit boring that nobody will every relaly break up these big teams, unless oyu get an injection of cash like City. But then they brought in FFP to prevent too much change.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 2:33pm
This post just goes to show how much like the Scottish league that Seria A has become.
on the 12th June, 2020 at 1:28pm
It's probably down to Juve and Lazio, though Inter can still claw their way back into it.

It'd be nice to see Lazio win it, as having the same winners every year makes Serie A look a bit ridiculous.

Regardless, Juve need a serious overhaul in the next few transfer windows. Zaniolo and a top RB would be a start.
on the 11th June, 2020 at 2:42pm
All depends on Juventus players staying injury free. Juve can easily present two top quality sides, alternating between the games:
Tek- Cuadrado, Bonucci, De Liht, Sandro - Ramsey, Bentancur, Matuidi - Costa, Dybala, Ronaldo
Or
Buffon - Danilo, Demiral, Chiellini, De Shiglio - Khedira, Pjanic, Rabiot - Bernardeschi, Higuain, Ronaldo.

If Sarri learns how to rotate the players (5subs is a big advantage for Juve) and they stay fit, I don't think that Lazio can win the title.
on the 10th June, 2020 at 11:36pm
i think it'll go down to the wire as long as Lazio can continue their form. Juve's remaining matchups look fairly easier on paper. I just want to see some competitive football!
on the 10th June, 2020 at 5:37pm
They have a good chance of winning it. I don't see how it would shut me up. Provincial clubs have won serie A in the past. Sampdoria, Verona, Cagliari, Fiorentina,...

Bologna and Pro Vercelli have won 7 scudetti each, 5 more than Lazio, and they're hardly considered top clubs.

Their turnover is 1/5 that of Juve. A top club challenges for honors on a regular basis, which Lazio doesnt


Maybe you can give arguments why you think Lazio isn't a provincial side instead of resorting to name-calling
on the 10th June, 2020 at 5:03pm
Zambrotta84 is the term "provincial side" your favourite term or is it that every team other than Juventus a "provincial team"? I would really LOVE if Lazio could win this scudetto and shut up with your "provincial" thinking.
on the 10th June, 2020 at 2:34pm
It will be between Juve and Lazio, and much will depend on if Lazio can keep up the momentum the had going before the break. On paper, their squad is vastly inferior to Juve's, but as a provincial side, this once-in-a-few-decades chance might prove enough motivation to give it 200% every game.
on the 10th June, 2020 at 11:55am

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