Milan - Juventus appear to be suffering from a predictable
early-season slump in the wake of a summer spent fumbling around the transfer
market in a bid to rebuild a team that had grown to dominate Serie A.
Juve have captured four straight league titles, including
runaway wins in the last two seasons, but have seen their strangehold loosened
in just eight days with back-to-back losses at the start of the 2015-16
Sunday's 2-1 defeat at AS Roma was the first time that
Juventus have lost two league matches in a row since March 2011, the last
season before their dominance began, and the first time they have ever lost
their first two fixtures.
The lacklustre start, however, can hardly be deemed as that big
a surprise following the loss of three influential players, and the heart of
last season's team, during the summer.
Also read: Sevilla confirm free Llorente signing from Juve
Playmaker Andrea Pirlo, whose arrival in 2011 sparked Juve's
dominant run, decided that at 36, it was time to bid farewell to Serie A and
ply his trade in North America.
Arturo Vidal, one of the most complete midfielders in the
world, left for Bayern Munich, apparently believing he would have a better
chance of winning the Champions League, and Carlos Tevez returned to his native
In their place have come the temperamental Mario Mandzukic,
the relatively inexperienced Paulo Dybala and injury-prone Germany midfielder
Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado seemed to be an afterthought
when he was signed last week and there was a failed, drawn-out attempt to coax
midfielder Julian Draxler from Schalke 04.
Dybala, 21, scorer of a late consolation on Sunday, appeared
a logical choice to replace his fellow Argentine Tevez but is clearly going to
need time to settle.
Mandzukic has a respectable scoring record but the Croat
spent most of his first game against Udinese fighting petty battles with the
opposition, an unhappy facet of his game and a striking contrast to the feisty
Khedira, sadly, has already suffered another of the nagging
injuries which plagued his last season at Real Madrid and is out for another
The form and confidence of the players who have survived
from last season has also been affected, particularly Simone Padoin and Paul
Pogba in midfield. An injury to Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio has not
Coach Massimiliano Allegri, who surprisingly reverted to a
three-man defence on Sunday, has remained as unflappable as ever heading into a
two-week international break.
"When we come back, we'll have Claudio Marchisio ready
and Sami Khedira won't be far off," he said.
"I'm not worried, now we will start our season. These
things can happen in football, they shouldn't happen but they do. The season is
long and our team still has all our cards to play."For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.