Ever since the Serie A schedules were announced for the 2015 2016 season, Italian football fans have been looking forward to the second to last weekend of August for the league's big opening weekend. But while the idea of Italian football starting up again has certainly been something to look forward to, at Soccer Box, we're actually more excited for week two than for week one, thanks solely to the Roma V Juventus 2015 fixture that is on the schedule for Sunday, August 30th.
Indeed, the week two battle is like the clash of the titans for the current Italian football scene, a duel between last year's top Serie A finisher and runner-up. And while conventional wisdom would put Juventus as the favorite heading into the match, the fact is that the game could end up being a good deal closer and more competitive than many might think.
The Juventus Exodus
By any measure, Juventus had a remarkable 2014 2015 season. In addition to their decisive Serie A victory-the Zebras were 17 points ahead of Roma in the final standings-Juventus also won the Coppa Italia, finished second in the Italian Supercup, and went all the way to the finals of the UEFA Champions League. No wonder UEFA shortlisted five Juventus footballers-Gianluigi Buffon, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, and Arturo Vidal-for the Best Player in Europe Award (although no Juve players were ultimately named among the top three finalists).
Still, the jury is out on whether or not Juventus will be able to muster a fifth consecutive Serie A title in 2015 2016. The soccer club suffered something of a player exodus over the summer, with three of the five Best Player in Europe nominees-Tevez, Pirlo, and Vidal-all departing Turin for new playing opportunities. Tevez is on his way to Boca Juniors for €6.5 million, Pirlo left on a free transfer to New York City, and Vidal is headed to Bayern Munich for €37.5 million, plus €3 million in bonuses. Add the departure of Angelo Obgonna, a key center back who leaves for West Ham United on a €11 million transfer, and the Zebras lost a fair amount of talent this summer.
Granted, Juve also gained a fair amount of talent. They spent €82.5 million in transfer fees and bonuses to bring four new forwards aboard, including Palermo's Paulo Dybala, Atletico Madrid's Mario Mandzukic, Sassuolo's Simone Zaza, and Boca Juniors' Guido Vadala. Add a few free transfers and loans, and the Zebras will be putting a completely new squad on the field this fall.
Roma's Golden Opportunity
It's certainly possible that Dybala, Mandzukic, and the rest of the incoming Juventus players will help inject some new life into the team and spur yet another league-winning campaign. After all, the Zebras beat Lazio 2-0 to win the 2015 Supercoppa Italia at the beginning of the month, and Manzukic and Dybala were the men who provided the goals.
However, it's also possible that the likes of Tevez and Vidal will prove difficult to replace for Juve-which could give AS Roma the golden opportunity they've been waiting for. Roma have benefitted a lot in recent seasons from the downfalls of clubs like Internazionale and AC Milan, but have had to settle for second place two years in a row now. The Wolves are hungry for a Serie A title, having not won the league now since 2001. Could the changes at Juventus give them the chance they need?
We'll find out on August 30th, as the Wolves don the Roma home jersey 2015 2016 to face Juventus at their own Stadio Olimpico. Roma drew with Juve here back in March, and actually beat the Zebras here back in January 2014, in the quarterfinals of the 2013 2014 Coppa Italia. In other words, the Wolves have a pretty solid record for tying or beating Juventus when playing on their home turf, so it will be interesting to see how things unfold.
Which team are you rooting for? Pick up a Juventus football shirt or Roma jersey at Soccer Box to announce your allegiance, then find us on social media to keep up with Serie A action! Soccer Box is active daily on multiple social networks including Facebook and Twitter