'Milan & Inter? Juventus will win Serie A again'

EXCLUSIVE: Former Bianconeri No.1 Stefano Tacconi says that while the champions’ new signings will need time to settle, Massimiliano Allegri’s men remain the team to beat in Italy

By Mark Doyle

Former Juventus goalkeeper Stefano Tacconi believes that while AC Milan, Inter and Roma have strengthened significantly during the summer, the Bianconeri will win the Serie A title again this season.

The Old Lady claimed a fourth successive Scudetto last May, with their subsequent Coppa Italia triumph merely emphasising the scale of their domestic dominance.

Juve’s remarkable run to the Champions League final, which featured a shock semi-final win over Real Madrid, appeared to underline the Bianconeri’s return to the top table of European football.

However, the summer departures of top scorer Carlos Tevez, peerless playmaker Andrea Pirlo, and midfield dynamo Arturo Vidal have sparked fears that the Old Lady’s meeting with Barcelona in Berlin was an anomaly rather than evidence of a renaissance.

Juve, though, have dealt with the losses impressively, bringing in the likes of Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala, Sami Khedira and Simone Zaza during a busy summer of comings and goings in Turin.

Consequently, while Tacconi believes that Juve will still prove too strong for their Serie A rivals, they may struggle to replicate their Champions League success.

“Juve are in a period of reconstruction after losing a lot of talent and experience,” the ex-Italy international told Goal at the ‘Football Heroes’ exhibition in Rimini. “They have bought well but the new players will need time.

“Juve just need to keep growing. And, with [sporting director Giuseppe] Marotta working well in the market, they’re building for the future.

“They’re still the strongest team in Italy. I think they’ll win Serie A again but the other teams have strengthened this summer.”

Indeed, there have been several notable arrivals at San Siro during the close-season, with Milan splashing on €83 million on Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolacci and Luiz Adriano alone, while city rivals Inter have added Geoffrey Kondogbia, Stevan Jovetic, Miranda and Jeison Murillo to their ranks at a combined cost of €60m.

In addition, Roma, last season’s runners-up, have bolstered their attack with Edin Dzeko, Mohamed Salah and Iago Falque, with further reinforcements expected in defence before the close of the transfer window.

Tacconi has been impressed by the quality of the new additions across the peninsula but still feels that the most decisive moves are always made on the bench.

“It’s not about the players,” the 58-year-old argued. “It’s about the coaches.

“[Rudi] Garcia at Roma, who knows how it will go this season? Last season didn’t go well for him.

“[Roberto] Mancini is already under pressure at Inter. He has found more difficulties than he thought.

“And now [Sinisa] Mihajlovic is at AC Milan. He did well at Sampdoria but Milan is different.

“Napoli also have a new and interesting coach in [Maurizio] Sarri and it’s the same at Fiorentina, with Paolo Sousa. So, we’ll see. But Juve are still the strongest team in the league.”

Tacconi, of course, played for Juve during a golden era for Italian football, winning every major club honour available to him during his eight-year association with the Old Lady.

Serie A is no longer the richest league in world football, with the majority of the game’s top players now flocking to England and Spain in search of fortune and fame.

Tacconi is disappointed by the way in which Italian football has fallen from grace and feels that Juve are showing the way forward, particularly in terms of stadium ownership, it will be some time before more of the country’s top clubs reclaim their place among Europe’s elite.

“Look around,” Tacconi added, alluding the famous jerseys surrounding him. “This is the story of Italian football: players like [Michel] Platini, [Diego] Maradona, Zico, [Marco] Van Basten.

“It’s different today. There are not the same stars. There is not the same money. Juventus did very well last season but nobody expected that. Nobody said that they would go far in Europe.

“So, while Juve are an example for the other Italian teams, it will take time for Italy to get back to the top in Europe.”

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