TRIESTE, ITALY - MAY 06: Players of Juventus FC celebrate after beating Cagliari Calcio 2-0 to win the Serie A Championships during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and Juventus FC at Stadio Nereo Rocco on May 6, 2012 in Trieste, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Juventus have made only minor adjustments to their scudetto-winning side, shoring up the squad in preparation to defend their title. When viewing the rest of Serie A, a second straight win seems almost inevitable.
Juventus are set to defend their title, but you have to wonder if the fuss off the pitch is going to put them off their game just a bit. Antonio Conte failed in his appeal to get his ten month ban overturned, although of course he will continue to try. Meanwhile, he is permitted to train the squad, but Massimo Carrera will stand in during matches. Much of last year's scudetto-winning side remains,with a few minor adjustments. But will it be enough? Juve are still chasing a star-studded striker, which just might be the last piece they need to be sure of a second straight title.
Still, one thing certainly will remain the same: the Old Lady is still the team everyone loves to hate. As for me, I'm just glad they kept the pink kits.
Oh come on, you know this story. Unbeaten last season, Juventus claimed their 28th or 30th scudetto -- and if you think we're going to get into that nonsense, you are sorely mistaken. But considering the Old Lady never gave up all three points, you'd have thought their title would've been much easier to clinch. Instead, Conte played it cautious, preferring a series of draws to a loss. Juve got boring in middle of the season, but managed to bring the life back into their game to finish out the year.
Alessandro Del Piero: The beloved Juventus captain has tipped his hat and gone on his way, although not without a tear in his eyes. There's not much one can say against Del Piero, no matter how much you hate Juve. He's pretty much a class act and will be missed in Italian football.
Eljero Elia: The Dutchman barely got a look-in at Juventus -- just four appearances before he was pushed to the shadowy recesses of everyone's minds. Having not fit in with Conte's plans, Elia is now plying his trade in Germany with Werder Bremen.
Marco Borriello: Loan over, back to Rome. Anyone surprised?
Milos Krasic: Awwwww, this is sad. He may not have played much but good ol' Meelosh was always worth a laugh. Now his reptilian visage will be delighting fans of Fenerbahce.
Sebastian Giovinco: Fantastic with Parma last season, Seba scored 15 goals and helped to create even more. Such a performance prompted the bianconeri to demand him back. But can Giovinco replicate last season while under such pressure in Turin?
Lucio: Juventus picked up the bruising centre-back from Inter Milan after watching its defence melt down in the form of Italy at the Euros. But Lucio's best days might be behind him. Juve might want to put faith in those muttered comments of favouritism by referees -- they'll need to turn a blind eye to the Brazilian's elbows.
Kwadwo Asamoah and Mauricio Isla: the pair from Udinese will find familiar comfort in the bianconeri kit. Others might hail the acquisitions of Lucio or Gio, but this was a solid, solid pickup by Juve. Isla (currently recovering from injury) can fill in for Stephan Lichtsteiner or can play in front of him on the right. Asamoah can help reinforce one of the best midfields in Serie A.
Keep An Eye On
Andrea Pirlo. Let go by an AC Milan side who believed him too old for an extended contract, Pirlo alighted at Juventus and promptly showed the world just how dumb his former side were. The midfield maestro guided his side right to the scudetto, yet it's tough to imagine that he'll be just as good this season. He's now 33, and at some point age has got to catch up. He showed a few signs of it last season, a badly-judged tackle here, a misplayed pass there. But his mastery at his craft far exceeded his mistakes, and if Pirlo has another great season left in him, the Old Lady can likely stay top.
I don't want to hand Juventus a second straight scudetto, but I can't think who else is going to step up for the title. Milan haven't done enough over the summer, Inter are still rebuilding, Lazio are doing who knows what, Udinese are unrecognizable, and Napoli are slipping. Could this be a title by default?