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Serie A may have sounded like an old broken record for the last eight years, but the ultimate quest to overthrow Juventus’ dominance has begun in earnest this summer, writes Tommaso Fiore.
Maintaining its tradition as the last major European league to kick off its season, on Saturday, three of Italy’s best managers will lock horns in what could potentially turn out to be one of the most thrilling run-ins in a decade.With Aaron Ramsey, Romelu Lukaku and other Premier League departees striving to impress, Atalanta’s maiden appearance in the Champions League, Mario Balotelli’s emotional homecoming to Brescia, Cristiano Ronaldo’s hunt for yet more records and a race for three European spots involving as many as six sides, there’s plenty to be excited about in Italian football this season. Here, we look ahead at the major talking points ahead of the new campaign… Will Champions League-focused Juventus crack at home?Even after one of the boldest managerial shake-ups that the club has overseen in a decade, Juventus are still the team to beat. The sporting and economical gap separating them from the chasing pack remains massive – last year their €220m gross wage bill was €80m bigger than closest spenders AC Milan’s, according to La Gazzetta Dello Sport.The club moved for a handful of targeted signings early in the window to provide back-up to Ronaldo, empowered by Sarri as “the only player with the license to be free on the pitch”. The arrivals of Merih Demiral and Matthijs De Ligt – one of Europe’s most coveted central defenders – provide both talent and potential in an otherwise conservative back line, while Adrien Rabiot and Aaron Ramsey represent a big plus in terms of quality in midfield.Sarri’s special Ronaldo treatmentHow Juve plan to be Europe’s No 1However, the club as a whole will surely be distracted by the search for the winning Champions League formula. It’s no secret Juventus are going all out for European glory – and in the past it looked like Serie A fixtures were merely a hindrance to their Champions League focus. Add to that Ronaldo’s apparent tendency to prioritise those midweek games, and that could be the recipe for disaster.Sarri’s appointment means Juventus will undergo a complete overhaul in its playing style: his dynamic, fast-paced and free-flowing philosophy is polar opposite to Max Allegri’s functional but effective football. The club are not new to breaks in tradition – they have steered away from their historic logo and striped kit in successive years – but however the season will pan out, it remains a huge gamble to put a manager so shy in silverware into a dugout so trophy-oriented.If successful, ‘Sarri-ball’ will make for a differe
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