Juventus has had a busy summer, recruiting a number of top-quality new players and of course a new manager. How will the Italian giants line up and will they be able to challenge for the UEFA Champions League crown?
Here's our predicted strongest starting XI, assuming that they get their hands on all of their top transfer targets:
Polish stopper Wojciech Szczęsny will keep the gloves despite the romantic return of Gianluigi Buffon. Szczęsny, once of Arsenal, made crucial saves in Juve's clash with Atletico Madrid in last season's Champions League quarterfinal and he's gone from strength to strength, developing into a consistent man between the sticks.
At right-back, Portuguese flyer João Cancelo had been linked with a move to Manchester City but he has stayed put and that will be great news for manager Sarri. It's no secret that Juve's top priority is to bring in 19-year-old Matthijs de Ligt after the Ajax skipper's breakout season and if they secure his signature, he'll go straight into the first team. And who better to learn the tools of the Serie A trade from than vastly experienced Italian Giorgio Chiellini. At left-back, Sarri will opt for the attack-minded Brazilian Alex Sandro to overlap and cause damage on that flank.
The first name on many a Juventus team sheet in the past three years has been that of Bosnian Miralem Pjanić. The midfield general is a master at dictating the tempo of games and has a wonderful range of passing. At 29, he's now a senior man in the setup.
New boy Aaron Ramsey will add goals and provide the running power and box-to-box skill set to perfectly combine with Pjanic's passing game. 22-year-old Uruguayan Rodrigo Bentancur's all-round game and technical gifts make it a wonderfully balanced midfield trio. He just extended his stay at Juventus and looks set to be a key figure in Turin until 2024.
Of course, the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo will be the focal point of the attack in both a literal and figurative sense. It's understood that CR7 will play through the middle to maximize his goal output and that makes a lot of sense, considering that he's 34 and decreasing his workload will get the most out of him in front of goal. Argentine Paulo Dybala is out of favour for his country, but his intelligence, versatility and play-making abilities are integral to Juve's style. Italian attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi faces stern competition for his place in the Juve starting side but his trickery and ability to hold onto the ball may come in useful when the Italian champions adopt the infamous Sarri-Ball style.
Starting XI in full (4-3-3) 🧩
We expect a 4-3-3 from Sarri with versatile central midfielders that can interchange, and a flat back four.
🇵🇱 Szczęsny; 🇵🇹 Cancelo, 🇳🇱 de Ligt, 🇮🇹 Chiellini, 🇧🇷 Sandro; 🇧🇦 Pjanić, 🇺🇾 Bentancur, 🏴 Ramsey; 🇮🇹 Bernardeschi, 🇵🇹 Ronaldo, 🇦🇷 Dybala
- GK: Gianluigi Buffon 🇮🇹
- CD: Daniele Rugani 🇮🇹
- CM: Blaise Matuidi 🇫🇷
- CF: Mario Mandzukić 🇭🇷
- LW: Douglas Costa 🇧🇷
- CM: Emre Can 🇩🇪
- CM: Adrien Rabiot 🇫🇷
- RW: Juan Cuadrado 🇨🇴
- CF: Moise Kean 🇮🇹
That's a strong squad that should challenge for silverware on all fronts.