Juve boss buoyant about drive for five

Mario Mandzukic (left) of Juventus celebrates with Paul Pogba after scoring during the Italian Super Cup win over Lazio earlier this month. Club CEO Beppe Moratta says Juve "can't be anywhere else but on top".
Mario Mandzukic (left) of Juventus celebrates with Paul Pogba after scoring during the Italian Super Cup win over Lazio earlier this month. Club CEO Beppe Moratta says Juve "can't be anywhere else but on top".PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MILAN • Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta has warned the departure of key players will not put the brakes on their bid for a record-equalling fifth consecutive scudetto, which begins tomorrow with the visit of Udinese.

The Turin giants notably lost midfielders Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and striker Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors) over the summer. But they responded by capturing Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Palermo), Mario Mandzukic (Atletico Madrid) and Alex Sandro (FC Porto).

Marotta said another top midfielder could join the club prior to the summer transfer deadline and he is optimistic Juve will again be the team to catch this season.

"I don't know if we're stronger or weaker than we were last season, but Juve is Juve and we can't be anywhere else but on top," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Juventus' fourth straight league trophy last season was complemented by their first Cup triumph in 20 years and their first appearance in the final of the Champions League since 2003.

Although their dream of an unprecedented club treble was kept in check by Barcelona, their final appearance gave a shot in the arm to an ailing Serie A and boosted their own reputation as a team to be reckoned with among Europe's elite.

Roma, runners-up the past two seasons, have every right to envy Juve's honours list, having won their last scudetto in 2001. Yet Roma midfielder Seydou Keita believes they can once again emerge as Juve's biggest challengers.

"If we manage to keep the consistency that we lacked last season after the winter break, we can push them from then until the end of the season," he told Sky Sports.

Roma coach Rudi Garcia went a step further, stating that his side will go on to rewrite the Serie A record of 10 consecutive victories from the start of the season that they set in 2013-2014. It is a bold prediction, given Roma host Juventus - who finished the season with a 17-point cushion - on Aug 30.

Lazio, who host promoted Bologna today, finished strongly last season to finish third and are battling Bayer Leverkusen for entry to the Champions League group stages.

AC Milan and Inter Milan have been woeful the past two seasons and, without the burden of playing in Europe this season, are desperate to make amends.

Bologna, returning to the top flight after a season's absence, have been boosted by the signing of former Roma and AC Milan striker Mattia Destro. The other two newly-promoted sides, Frosinone and Carpi, are at home to Torino and away to Sampdoria respectively.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Juve boss buoyant about drive for five'. Print Edition | Subscribe