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Juventus Remain Favorites in Serie A Despite Roma Improvements

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Juve lost a lot of key players from their four-peat this summer, but they also signed some impressive names. Has The Old Lady slipped enough for Roma to take advantage?

Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

We end (whoops, forgot about Fiorentina, they're coming) our Know Your Enemy series, a look at Roma's chief Serie A rivals this season, with an opponent who can in no way be considered a rival, Juventus. Winning four straight titles virtually uncontested sets you apart from the teeming masses, so The Old Lady really has no rival this season, but were Roma's moves this offseason enough to close the gap?

Juventus

Last Season: 1st place, 87 points, +48 goal differential

Manager: Max Allegri

Key Additions: Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira, Simone Zaza, Daniele Rugani

Key Departures: Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Carlos Tevez

Synopsis

What is there left to say, really? Despite Antonio Conte's untimely resignation, Juve marched unfettered towards a fourth straight Scudetto, actually maintaining the same 17 point cushion they enjoyed over Roma the prior season. Although The Old Lady's attack was a bit more subdued in 2014-2015, their defense was just as stout, allowing only 24 goals. If you want to look for a silver lining, Juventus actually lost three matches last season, one more than in 2013-2014. Did someone say decline?

All kidding aside, Juventus did lose several key pieces from their four-peat, including the inimitable Pirlo, the prolific Tevez and the combustible Vidal. However, when you make the Champions League final and your stadium is a virtual cash machine, you tend find suitable replacements rather easily, and that's just what Juve managed. Dybala is the big get, of course, but with Mandzukic and Zaza in tow, Juve spent nearly €70 million on three strikers alone.

Despite a summer of upheaval, Juventus remains nearly as strong as ever and seems primed for a fifth straight Scudetto.

Style of Play

We've talked a lot about balance in this series, praising Lazio for their measured attack and solid defense, while speaking optimistically about the new Neapolitan approach, but the mother all well rounded teams rests in Turin.

Allegri's first season at the helm showed its fair share of variety and innovation, as Allegri rolled out several different formations, though the base was a similar 3-5-2 used by his predecessor. However, as the season progressed, Allegri gradually phased that formation out in favor of a 4-3-1-2 with Roberto Pereyra sitting in the hole behind Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, which produced several lopsided scorelines.

If the preseason is any indication, Allegri seems to have fallen back on the 3-5-2, using Mandzukic and Kingsley Coman upfront, centrally supported by Paul Pogba. Although with the variety of weapons at his disposal, Allegri can mix and match at will and still have a formidable formation. That's the luxury of deep pockets.

Biggest Threat

While you can pretty much pick out any of their starting eleven, the combination of Pogba and Dybala should cause nightmares for every club in the league, let alone one as defensively unsettled as Roma. They're both so young, so athletic and so skilled, there is no magic bullet to stopping either of them. Our only saving grace is that we're meeting them early enough in the season that their chemistry won't be fully developed.

Biggest Question Mark

The defense. No, seriously. Despite the fact that they only allowed 24 goals and maintained a +48 goal differential, there are an awful lot of miles on the collective legs of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, miles which should take their toll as The Old Lady progresses through the season. And with little reinforcements besides Rugani, who is obscenely talented, sure, Juve might finally start to show some signs of weakness on the backline

Scudetto Threat Factor: 10/10

What did you expect, they've won four straight titles with little to no competition along the way. Furthermore, despite the added age on the backline, Juventus spent incredibly well this summer and while the title gap should shrink, Juve remains the odds on favorite this season.

Roma Threat Factor: 10/10

Given what we said above, I suppose we can phrase this as, will Roma take any points of Juve this season? Honestly, it can go either way. While Roma certainly won't sweep Juventus this year, facing them in week two throws enough uncertainty into the picture than you can envision Rudi Garcia pulling off a stunner at home, potentially putting Roma ahead of Juve in the standings.

Juventus is far and away Italy's strongest team, but with Roma, Lazio and Napoli each improving this summer, albeit for different reasons, the Old Lady's run might be coming to a close, but something tells me they'll win a fifth straight Scudetto for the second time in their history.