Daniel Penza of Black & White & Read All Over (BWRAO) - Our SB Nation sister site covering Juventus - took some time to give us the Old Lady’s side of things ahead of the International Champions Cup showdown tonight (7PM EST) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
If you were Massimiliano Allegri, what would be your goal in this preseason (besides ‘get the players fit’)?
The biggest thing for Allegri is to obviously get the players fit and make sure there are no injuries, but Juve have two major signings, Emre Can and Joao Cancelo, who need to get into the flow of things during the preseason friendly circuit.
Juve’s midfield was the weak link of the team last season, and Can’s arrival from Liverpool is probably going to be the only major signing in the midfield this summer. (Unless you believe the Paul Pogba rumors, which who the hell knows based on the summer Juve’s had.) Miralem Pjanic is a sure-thing starter, Sami Khedira is coming off a very meh season, Blaise Matuidi runs a tone but is limited and Claudio Marchisio hasn’t been the same player since major knee surgery. All of that means Can should be a starter, but it’s all about how quickly he establishes himself before the meat of the season really gets here.
Cancelo cost a big transfer fee, more than Juve’s ever paid for a fullback, and he’s undoubtedly the right back of the future. But with no Stephan Lichtsteiner and Mattia De Sciglio battling injuries all throughout his first season in Turin, that future might as well be now. Cancelo’s loan spell with Inter last season wasn’t that great, but Allegri has been known to really develop fullbacks into two-way options. (He’s the one who first launched De Sciglio after all.)
As much as Allegri loves to slow-play new signings into the starting lineup, the trip to the U.S. is definitely going to be a gauge to see where Juve’s newest arrivals are at.
There won’t be any Cristiano Ronaldo, but are there any players slipping under the radar that we should look out for?
Call me a prototypical Italian, but seeing Juve’s two young center backs, Daniele Rugani and Mattia Caldara, playing in the same game next to one another is something we’ve been envisioning for the past year and a half ever since Juventus signed Caldara in January 2016. Rugani has been rumored to be leaving this summer, with Chelsea being the only possible destination, but there seems to be some resistance on Juve’s part to sell. And if he stays, Juve’s defensive spine of the future is going to debut in the United States. For that, I will be happy.
Another bonus one: With basically all of Juve’s top five forwards missing the tour due to post-World Cup vacations, Federico Bernardeschi is going to getting plenty of run. There have been rumors he could be used as a false 9, but even if he’s out on the wings, seeing him look healthy again is going to be a big deal. He’s got the technical ability to really flourish alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa, it’s just about getting him an amount of minutes that really allows that to happen.
You guys have spent more than 200m euros in this window. Have the expectations changed?
Expectations are probably as high as they’ve been in the two decades that I’ve been a fan of the club. And when you sign somebody like Ronaldo, that just comes with the territory.
Look, Juve have been Serie A’s best club for the better part of the last decade. They’ve won seven straight Scudetti, four straight Coppa Italia titles and seem like a lock to make it eight straight based on who they’ve added compared to the closest competition. It’s all about Europe now, and with Ronaldo on board, that’s what it should be like.
You bring in somebody like Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Champions League, not just be happy with making the quarterfinals or something like that.
Juventus have gotten to two Champions League finals since Allegri became manager. If they get to a third in the next year or two, with who they have signed this summer, it’s about winning the damn thing.
Through multiple reports of varying reliability, Juve has been linked to Bayern’s Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, Robert Lewandowski, Jerome Boateng, and even Renato Sanches. Would any of those players be an appealing addition for your roster?
Vidal. Because I will always love Vidal. The guy was around when this whole Juve renaissance started under Antonio Conte. He is just the walking embodiment of the Juve grinta that we all love.
Big thanks to Daniel and to BWRAO for the excellent collaboration on this piece!