By Eric Krakauer
In case there was any doubt – there wasn’t – Juventus thumped Lazio for the second time this season, and confirmed that it will take something special to steal the Scudetto away from Turin.
Already boasting a deep squad, the Bianconeri bolstered their defense and attack, bringing in Angelo Ogbonna from Torino, and Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente from Manchester City and Athletic Bilbao, respectively. While extremely talented, and already a regular call-up for the Azzurri, Ogbonna is likely to spend much of the season providing cover for the established trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, and Giorgio Chiellini. Up front, Tevez has already started reeking havoc – just ask Lazio’s defense – and appears to have found the joy that evaded him in Manchester. Llorente may find it hard to grab a starting spot as Mirko Vucinic has gelled well with the Argentine.
Juve’s strongest sector, though, is its midfield, as was evidenced on Saturday. Pirlo is still very much the captain of the midfield, controlling much of the offensive movement. Paul Pogba has been quick to win his spot alongside the Italian, with physical play, and clinical passing. Nevertheless, it is Arturo Vidal that has shone the brightest so far this season. Once hampered by his ability to play in various positions, the Chilean established himself as a fierce box-to-box midfielder, with an envious finishing ability that once again was on show against Lazio.
With Antonio Conte back on the bench, it is hard to imagine Juventus losing its place at the top of the pecking order in the Serie A, even though Napoli and Fiorentina have strengthened their squads considerably.
The only thing that may distract the Vecchia Signora from winning the league for its third year running is the Champions League. With the current squad, there’s little doubt that Conte and Co. will have their eyes set on the big prize. And their group game against Real Madrid may be a good measure of their ability to do so. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more mouth-watering group game than the one that will match the two European behemoths.