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Conte’s suspension is the biggest threat to Juventus’ title hopes

| 15.08.2012

Juventus are too difficult to ignore at 5/4 to retain their Serie A crown.

Despite losing their coach to a match-fixing ban – the Italian trend that refuses to go out of style – Juventus seem intent on strengthening their squad, whereas nearest rivals Milan, have taken an contrasting approach.

The Rossoneri pushed Juve to the wire last season but, having lost key pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to big-spending PSG, they have two huge voids at each end of the field that require addressing if they are to challenge again.

Riccardo Montolivo can go some way to replacing the majestic Andrea Pirlo in the middle of the park, but what good is creating countless chances if there’s no one to put the ball in the net?

This vital factor is what makes odds of 11/5 poor value for money.

Juventus, on the other hand, have set about establishing themselves as a powerhouse on the European stage once again, not set on simply dominating Italian football.

They courted two of the Premier League’s top strikers in Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez and, having missed out on them, now look set to complete a deal for Bilbao goal-machine, Fernando Llorente.

The only question hanging over the Old Lady’s head is who will take up the managerial reigns during Antonio Conte’s enforced 10-month exile.

Assuming a member of the current backroom staff warms his seat until he’s eligible again, it seems unlikely that they will be able to extract the same levels of success as the suspended Conte.

But, with quality on tap throughout the squad, it would be a failure of epic proportions if whoever took charge couldn’t keep Juve in the title race.

Inter Milan will be desperate to put an awful season behind them and, at 16/5, look a better bet than their neighbours AC.

They finished an astonishing 24 points off the pace last term but a repeat of that does not seem plausible under the guidance of Andrea Strammachioni.

The former Nerazzurri academy coach turned the San Siro into something resembling a fortress when he took over at the end of the campaign. He orchestrated four successive home wins, as well as a 4-2 thrashing of AC, which brought about the end of their title challenge.

He also got the best of Diego Milito who had been struggling to find his prolific best form previously. The Argentine netted 10 goals in as many games under Strammachioni’s guidance and if he can carry that form into the new campaign Inter could make a fist of it in 2012/13.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



James Middleton