After a torrid start to their Serie A title defence, the 2015/16 is finally looking up for Juventus.
The reigning Scudetto champions won just one of their first six domestic fixtures back in August, and head coach Massimiliano Allegri was coming under fire from supporters as well as scrutiny from the club’s board of directors.
Since then, the turnaround in Juve’s fortunes has been nothing short of spectacular, and Allegri deserves huge credit for taking his side on a run that has seen them win 10 consecutive Serie A matches – their last league defeat came at the hands of Sassuolo, 1-0, back in October 2015.
The latest Serie A betting has Juventus priced at 10/11 for the title despite Napoli (evens) being two points clear at the top of the table with 20 matches played while third-placed Inter Milan are as long as 20/1.
Key to Juve’s hopes of clinching the Scudetto for a 32nd time is talismanic French midfielder Paul Pogba, who is currently one of Europe’s most coveted players.
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The 22-year-old, who joined Juve from Manchester United four years ago, has been the subject of rumours linking him with a transfer to Barcelona for some time, and some sources claim Pogba is interested in speaking to representatives from Camp Nou if there is a genuine prospect of a switch to Catalonia.
Thus far, Allegri has managed to keep Pogba in Italy and the prospect of lifting the Serie A title for a second time in as many seasons will surely be attractive to the France international. But whether Juventus can expect to keep Pogba in Turin in the long term is difficult to say given his rapid ascent towards the very top of the world game.
Pogba endured a tough start to the season, and his lack of form was a major factor in Juve’s struggle to start the season as strongly as they’d finished the previous one. But August and September feel like a distant memory now that Pogba is back to playing some of his very best football.
He was instrumental in the recent victories over Verona and Sampdoria and has scored three goals in his last six games in all competitions. When Pogba is on form, Juventus operate like a well-oiled machine. His pace, strength and presence in the middle of the pitch enable Juve to dominate possession and control matches.
Pogba possesses qualities that French football has become known for since 1998, regularly showing the strength and aggression of Patrick Vieira but with the touch, vision and intelligence that Zinedine Zidane brought to Juventus and France in the 1990s.
Off the pitch, Pogba was named in the FIFPro World XI in 2015 and was 15th in the final shake up of voting for the Ballon d’Or. His star is rising fast, and the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr. at Barcelona won’t necessarily be available to Pogba for as long as he wants to keep them waiting.
Juventus will hope their majestic midfielder opts to continue to blossom in Italy. If he does, then the title will be hard to take away from them.