28 August 2014 16:31
Massimiliano Allegri begins the formidable challenge of replicating Antonio Conte’s success when Juventus visit Chievo on Saturday.
Juve won three consecutive Serie A titles under the stewardship of Conte, including last season’s success, which saw the Turin side amass 102 points and finish 17 points clear of second-placed Roma.
However, Juve were forced into a change of head coach when Conte surprisingly announced his resignation last month – and he has since been named as Italy boss.
In his place comes a man who was out of work following the end of his four-year tenure at Milan in January, during which time he led the team to the Scudetto crown in 2011.
One of Allegri’s main concerns will be helping his new charges match their domestic form in the UEFA Champions League this season and midfielder Paul Pogba is confident the club can do just that.
“I’m not saying we’re favourites [for the league],” he told Sky Sport Italia. “But if we play with the same concentration and ruthlessness displayed over the last three years we can maintain our winning run.
“The Champions League is both a dream and target of ours. It’s a competition that every player wants to win.”
One of the biggest talking points since Allegri’s appointment has centred on his relationship with Andrea Pirlo, after he allowed the veteran midfielder to leave San Siro and join Juve on a free transfer in 2011.
Any questions about Pirlo’s selection are immaterial for Saturday’s opening-day clash at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, however, as the 35-year-old has been ruled out for the next month with a hip injury.
Allegri has been busy adding to his squad throughout the transfer window, with full-back Patrice Evra, midfielder Roberto Pereyra and forward Alvaro Morata among those to have move to the Juventus Stadium – although the latter, who joined from Real Madrid, will have to wait to make his bow due to a knee injury.
There are also reports in Italy that a flu virus has affected Juve’s camp, while the absence of Andrea Barzagli with an ankle issue and Giorgio Chiellini, who is suspended, has left Allegri short in defence.
While Juve have gone through somewhat of a transition, Chievo appear to have an element of stability with head coach Eugenio Corini having penned a new two-year deal in May.
After avoiding relegation by just four points last term, Chievo have looked to strengthen their squad.
Ruben Botta and Ezequiel Schelotto arrived on loan from Inter in the past week, while the likes of Edimar Fraga, Alessandro Gamberini and Valter Birsa have also joined.