Massimiliano Allegri has warned his new-look Juventus side that a fifth successive Serie A title is not a foregone conclusion as the champions prepare to open the new season against Udinese on Sunday.
Allegri’s first campaign in charge last term ended with Juve 17 points clear of nearest challengers Roma, the same margin that separated the two sides 12 months prior to that.
But it has been a close-season of change in Italian football that suggests the gap between Juve and the rest is set to decrease significantly.
Juve have bid farewell to Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal and snapped up a cluster of new players, while Milan, Inter and Roma have made eye-catching signings.
“It’ll be a much tighter title race this season, everyone has strengthened,” said Allegri.
But Allegri is adopting a pragmatic approach to the start of the new campaign, as he added: “Which teams are we looking out for? Udinese, our first opponents.”
Allegri will closely monitor Mario Mandzukic (knee) to see if he can make his Serie A debut against Udinese following his move from Atletico Madrid, with fellow new boy Alex Sandro in contention for his first appearance since joining from Porto.
Given the squad overhaul at Juve – with the likes of Sami Khedira also arriving – Allegri is quick to point out that his team will need time to gel.
He added: “It’s normal that Juventus are in a transitional phase after losing some key players who had been here for a long time.
“However, the club has done well to bring in several talented players, who will be important for us this season.”