Juve, an Old Lady in search of a new lease of life

It’s one of the big names in European football, the ninth most expensive club in the world – $2.45 billion – according to Forbes calculations last May, but it’s not more than it was sportingly. Unhappy finalists in the Champions League in 2015 and 2017, Juventus have not made it past the round of 16 of the C1 for the past three seasons, and finished in 4th place in the Italian championship in 2021 and 2022. is a club in search of recovery which therefore enters the group stage against Paris Saint-Germain, Tuesday September 6 at the Parc des Princes.

For this meeting, PSG clearly appears to be the favourite, especially since Christophe Galtier’s team has had a very encouraging start to the season in Ligue 1 (five wins and a draw in six games). Opposite, Juventus is going through a reconstruction. After nine years in a row completed with the title of Italian champion, the last two seasons ended at the foot of the podium are a task.

To raise the bar, the leaders of Turin have made something new out of the old. Massimiliano Allegri, on the bench of the Turin club for the national coronations between 2015 and 2019, has regained his place, even if he has not, for the moment, allowed Juve to regain his hegemony. Paul Pogba has also returned after six years at Manchester United, but the 29-year-old is injured and will not be playing at the Parc des Princes.

Twice winner of the Big Ears Cup (1985 and 1996) in its history, seven times finalist, the Old Lady no longer has the influence of yesteryear. They experienced a fourth straight disappointment in the Champions League last year: an early elimination in the round of 16 against Villarreal. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, Juventus was eliminated before the last four by Ajax, Olympique Lyonnais and FC Porto, all smaller clubs. If PSG have not yet lifted the coveted trophy, they are now among the most serious contenders each year. Unlike Juve.

A context which pushed Allegri to calm the ardor of the Turin supporters when approaching this group stage of the C1: « This double confrontation against PSG will be magnificent to play. But for us, on paper, qualification for the round of 16 will be decided in the double confrontation against Benfica [autre membre du groupe H, avec le Maccabi Haïfa]In other words, Juve is not aiming for first place, devolved to PSG, but second. Not sure that will fix things with the tifosi, who massively demanded his resignation on social networks with the hashtag #AllegriOut on Saturday after the draw against Fiorentina (more than 6000 tweets that day).

Despite everything, the Turin club is not fatalistic and strengthened this summer to find the heights: despite the departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Paulo Dybala, Juventus recorded the arrivals of the former Marseillais Arkadiusz Milik, of the Brazilian defender Bremer, Serbian Filip Kostic and Paul Pogba. The Frenchman, injured and whose return is scheduled for the end of September, represents the symbol of this Juve who is starting to dream again.

But the arrivals of Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes, who have become second knives at PSG and who will return to the Park on Tuesday, say a lot about the downgrading of the Old Lady in search of her past stature. The star of this team is called Dusan Vlahovic, a 22-year-old Serbian striker signed last January, who has scored four of his team’s seven goals in Serie A this season. The other star player in Juve’s reconquest project is Federico Chiesa, European champion with Italy in the summer of 2021, but also injured for many months.

« We need time. We have serious injuries, we just have to work and lay low« , explained Pavel Nedved, the vice-president of Juventus, after the draw for the group stage of the C1. The timid debut of the club in Serie A – two wins and three draws despite three receptions – confirms that the Juve is lurking in the shadows, without being the favorite for the final victory in the Champions League.

Despite everything, Christophe Galtier remains suspicious, given the history of the club, as he explained the day after the draw: « It is a club that is used to this competition. The Champions League often allows players and teams to change facesIn difficulty in recent seasons, Juventus had still managed to finish at the top of their group for the last three years, ahead of Chelsea, FC Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid.

Paris will therefore have to remain vigilant, especially since the club from the capital has never beaten the Old Lady in its history, in eight games. The last confrontation between the two teams dates back to 1997, when Juve crushed (6-1) PSG in the UEFA Super Cup final. At the time, Paris Saint-Germain was not « one of the strongest teams in Europe« , as Allegri described it. And Juventus then enjoyed a greater stature than the capital club.

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