For the first time in a decade, Juventus enter the new Serie A campaign without a title to defend.
The Bianconeri slumped to a fourth-place finish under Andrea Pirlo last season and that was enough for Andrea Agnelli to sack him and re-hire former favourite Massimiliano Allegri, a winner of five consecutive scudettos during his initial tenure.
Can Juve kick off the season with three points then and announce themselves as genuine title challengers for the 2021/22 campaign? You wouldn’t bet against them.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the game.
When is kick-off? Sunday 22 August
What time is kick-off? 17:30 (BST)
Where is it played? Dacia Arena
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport 1 (UK and ROI), bet365 App (UK and ROI), Paramount+ (US)
It was all change for Juventus in the managerial hot seat over the summer, but there has been little activity in the transfer market. Paulo Dybala’s Bianconeri career could reignite again this season, while Federico Chiesa will be aiming to continue his electric form from Euro 2020.
Matthijs de Ligt and Leonardo Bonucci are expected to partner each other in the backline, while Ronaldo should lead the attack for Allegri’s new-look Juve. Danilo and Rodrigo Bentancur could anchor the midfield together.
Udinese begin life without talisman Rodrigo De Paul in the most challenging of fashion, and the creative responsibility will now rest on the shoulders of Roberto Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu. Marco Silvestri will make his first appearance for the club, after replacing Juan Musso between the sticks.
Udinese: Silvestri; Molina, Nuytinck, Becao, Samir; Arslan, Walace; Pussetto, Pereyra, Deulofeu; Okaka
Juventus: Szczesny; Cuadrado, De Ligt, Bonucci, Alex Sandro; Danilo, Bentancur, Dybala; Chiesa, Ronaldo, Kulusevski
Juve boast a near-perfect record in head to head competition with Udinese, winning seven of the past eight meetings between the two sides. The only blot on the copybook came in July 2020, when a last-minute Seko Fofana goal snatched the points for the hosts.
Other than that, it’s been one-way traffic. Juve have scored four goals in three of those eight clashes, although the most recent encounter was far closer. Two late strikes from Ronaldo won the game for the Old Lady, breathing life into their top-four ambitions when all seemed lost.
They’ll be hoping for far less drama this time round.
You’d be a fool to bet against Juve in any walk of life, and particularly so when they’ve rehired their serial winner of a manager. Allegri knows this team has lost its fear factor over the past two years, and he’ll be aiming to reinstate that from the off.
Udinese could struggle without talisman De Paul this year and attacking opportunities may be hard to come by. We predict the Bianconeri to get off to a perfect start, and to do so in some style.
Prediction: Udinese 0-3 Juventus