As Denis Zakaira wheeled away in delight following his debut goal for Juventus against Hellas Verona in last Sunday’s 2-0 Serie A success, a turnaround in fortune was all but confirmed for the Bianconeri on a day in which all went perfectly to plan.
Normally any debut goal is highly impressive and is spoken about by journalists and supporters alike until blue in the face, and Zakaira’s name would have been hot on the lips of all associated with Serie A and the Bianconeri in particular, had he not been outdone by a certain Dusan Vlahovic 48 minutes prior.
Vlahovic is and has been the man of the hour, or month – to change the well-known expression – following his €75 million move from Fiorentina and it was a debut goal of his own, just 13 minutes into the tie with Verona, that stole the show. Therefore, fellow arrival Zakaira’s superb start was overshadowed. Completely washed out by a tidal wave of Vlahovic hysteria.
Utter is softly in Turin, but Juventus are back and are still in this season’s race for the Scudetto, especially considering that they finally have their Cristiano Ronaldo replacement in the form of their new 22-year-old Serbian star.
Arrivabene the mastermind
Rewind just a couple of months and Juventus’ CEO, Maurizio Arrivabene, had all but ruled out the need for mid-season signings, despite the Bianconeri’s struggle for form. “We don’t need to do anything, I predict an uninteresting January window,” he said.
Well, do something Juventus did and it was done it in great style. The arrival of top-scorer Vlahovic in a big-money deal may have seemed the obvious and easy choice, but all their other dealings were astute and have set them up for a shot at silverware going into the second half of this season.
Combative, ball-winning midfielder, Zakaira, was brought in for €5 million to bolster the midfield, while the high-earning Aaron Ramsey was offloaded.
Additionally, squad players Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski were signed by Tottenham Hotspur for fees rumoured to be worth up to €60 million when all is said and done.
The belief is now that Vlahovic will be the much-needed goalscorer that Juventus had craved up until late-January, and the rest of Serie A are likely to be quaking in their boots.
Juventus have been here before
Although The Bianconeri spent the best part of a decade at the top by winning nine consecutive Serie A titles between 2011-2020 they are no strangers to adversity, and this season bares resemblance to that of 2015/16. That season, Juventus started with a stutter as they have this time but ended up winning the Scudetto at a canter.
Back then, they stumbled out of the blocks, picking up only three wins in their opening ten games before ending the season nine points ahead of second-placed Napoli. This season started in somewhat similar fashion – just four wins in 10 – with four losses should you take into consideration their 11th game of the season.
What’s more, Massimiliano Allegri’s team have recorded seven clean sheets in their last 10 games. So, with a solid foundation and now the league’s top scorer at the other end, it could very well be a four-horse race for the title, unless Juventus repeat history and go on to turn everyone over from now on in.