Juventus keen to silence doubters after summer of change
MILAN (AP) Juventus kicked off last season in uncertain fashion after former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri replaced the popular Antonio Conte, who had resigned.
However, Juventus enjoyed another fantastic campaign and came agonizingly close to achieving the treble, losing out in the Champions League final after winning the Italian league and cup.
As the Italian league season starts this weekend, there is uncertainty again after a trio of star players left - Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.
But little is expected to change as, despite the departures, Juventus remains favorite to clinch a record-equaling fifth Serie A title.
''So many players have left but equally good ones have arrived,'' Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. ''There just needs to be a bit of patience.
''I don't know if this team will be stronger or not than that of the last few seasons, but there is one thing which I do not doubt: it has a great future. We have brought in the best players available. I don't know if the team will win immediately, but I think that in the next five years we will manage to win three trophies in a year.''
Here are some things to know ahead of Juventus' first league match at home to Udinese on Sunday:
Some expressed doubts for Juventus this season despite its dominance last campaign, when it beat second-placed Roma by 17 points as well as winning the Italian Cup and reaching the Champions League final.
The void left by Pirlo, Vidal and Tevez was thought to be too great to fill.
However, Juve silenced its doubters in true Bianconeri style - by immediately winning a trophy as it beat Lazio 2-0 in the Italian Super Cup.
Winning sent ''a message to those who have their doubts about this new Juventus,'' defender Leonardo Bonucci said. ''What hasn't changed is our hunger for victory.
''We played a great match in adverse conditions. It was a tough encounter, but we handled the situation well and didn't give away much ground to a Lazio side boasting three top-class forwards.''
Paul Pogba is ready to take on the mantle of Juventus' key midfield player.
At the age of just 22, Pogba is also set to be the star man in Turin after requesting - and being given - the number 10 shirt left vacant by Tevez.
Pogba has gone from strength to strength since joining Juventus from Manchester United in 2012, and made UEFA's 10-man shortlist for the best player in Europe for 2015 after another great season.
Bianconeri fans spent the summer fearing he would leave following reported interest from the likes of Barcelona and Chelsea.
''There have been extraordinary offers (for Pogba) but we never entered into any negotiations with anyone,'' Juventus director Giuseppe Marotta said.
In Pogba's first official appearance in the No. 10 shirt, the France international put in a dominant display as well as setting up Paulo Dybala's goal in the Italian Super Cup triumph.
Juventus has been busy in the transfer window.
It has signed top names such as Mario Mandzukic, Dybala, Sami Khedira and Simone Zaza among others.
There are heavy expectations in particular around Dybala, who was signed from Palermo for 32 million euros to replace Tevez, who scored 29 goals in all competitions last season.
Dybala immediately opened his Juventus account as he was on target in the Super Cup win, along with Mandzukic.
''It feels different today compared to the past,'' Dybala said. ''Not only scoring on my debut in a Juve shirt but also scoring in a final like this. And winning ... it's an unforgettable feeling.
''The club invested heavily in me and I will try to repay their faith.''