It is early August in Turin, and Juventus have enjoyed a successful transfer campaign. Perhaps, the most successful in their history as they landed Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the best player in the world. At the very least, he is considered top two.
The Serie A season is right around the corner, but Juventus are not concerned with that. They know that they would have been the favorites to win Serie A for the eighth consecutive year with or without Ronaldo. That was not the purpose of the move.
The purpose? It was to take a bold leap of faith for a club that has been very conservative in stating their ambitions. Juventus have kept expectations low, as they have repeatedly stated that their objective every year is to win Serie A. The Champions League is more of a dream than a goal. They have stated that their ambition is to consistently reach the quarterfinals of the competition and confirm themselves as a top 8 club, but they never went out and stated that their goal is to lift the trophy.
Two finals in three seasons, both losses, did not change their ambition. At least externally it didn’t. Internally, however, their move on the transfer market did. It also made the change loud and clear for the rest of the world to see.
Juventus have enjoyed a very, very successful transfer window. Yes, the big move was the signing of Ronaldo, but it was not the only impressive signing. They have reinforced every area of the pitch. Ronaldo bolsters their attack and makes them a favorite in the competition. In midfield they signed Emre Can on a free transfer from Liverpool which reinforces that area of the pitch. The signing of Joao Cancelo gave them a much needed boost at the right-back position, while Mattia Perin will provide competition to Wojciech Szczesny which is also important after the departure of Gianluigi Buffon.
Last week, Juventus made a controversially move by selling Gonzalo Higuain and Mattia Caldara to AC Milan in order for Leonardo Bonucci to return to the club. While the move did not thrill the fan-base, it is undoubtedly one that helps the club in the Champions League this season. Higuain was surplus to requirements with the arrival of Ronaldo, and although Caldara is a great prospect he does not have the experience and skill that Bonucci possesses right now.
At his best for Juventus, Bonucci was their top defender and he is a player who has played in two Champions League finals with the club. There is no doubt that he will make more of an impact in their quest for the trophy than Higuain or Caldara would have.
With all of the additions they’ve made, this is clearly the best Juve we have seen the Calciopoli scandal from 2006, where the team was sent to Serie B. It has been a long road, but Juventus have gotten their steadily, making very smart moves along the way.
Prior to 2006, there was no doubt that Juventus was a contender for the Champions League year in and year out. Although they were not fortunate to win the competition many times, they competed in it and made it to a few finals. In the past few seasons, although Juve have grown in the competition and reached two finals, they were never considered favorites going into the competition.
These moves, especially the arrival of Ronaldo, have changed that mentality. Looking around Europe, it’s hard to find a more complete and balanced team than the Bianconeri. Real Madrid can never be ruled out, but with a new coach and the loss of Ronaldo (plus the possible loss of Luka Modric), the Spanish giants will find it very difficult to win their fourth Champions League title in a row.
Liverpool should be considered the other favorites after reaching the final. They have done a great job strengthening every area of their team and are poised to make another deep run in the competition. Manchester City and Barcelona can also never be ruled out. With the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the ability to hold onto star players like Douglas Costa, Paulo Dybala, Alex Sandro and Miralem Pjanic, we are hard pressed to find a better team in Europe than Juventus at the moment. The Cristiano Ronaldo signing boldly stated to the world that Juve are going after the trophy with the big ears, and now its time for the squad to deliver.
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