This year’s UEFA Champions League promises to be one of the most open contests in recent history. The contenders remain the same, but each has their own unique and intriguing set of issues to contend with. However, one name stands out among the rest and they are heavily tipped to go all the way this year. Juventus have been heavily touted to be the favourites to lift the famous trophy this year. The question remains, is that hype justified? Are they really overwhelming favourites?

Juventus are an unstoppable force in Italian football. A juggernaut rolling over their opponents with utter disdain, picking Scudetto after Scudetto with consummate ease. Everyone in that city knows that it is European Glory that they crave for. The last time they won the trophy was 23 years ago in 1996, beating Ajax 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 1-1. They did get to the finals twice recently but were left to lick their wounds both times by Barcelona and Real Madrid. So when they signed Cristiano Ronaldo from Los Blancos last year, everyone finally believed that those heart-breaking losses would be left behind; a mere footnote towards the march to European coronation, with the undisputed king of The champions league-leading their aspirations, but it wasn’t to be.

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They were sent packing by a very young but outrageously talented Ajax side in the Quarterfinals. Alas! The pain goes on. This year, things seem to be finally clicking into place. With the signing of the Dutch teenage sensation Matthijs De Ligt, The Old Lady boasts of a defence that only a few teams around the world could come close to. With the triumvirate of De Ligt, the ever Combative Leonardo Bonucci, and the evergreen Giorgio Chiellini, coupled with the buccaneering full-backs Alex Sandro and De Sciglio, opposition attacks will have nightmares at the very sight of them.

In midfield, there is the perfect blend of Youth and experience. Rodrigo Bentancur is steadily proving to be one of the most versatile players in world football, with the Uruguay international able to play anywhere in midfield. With the arrivals of Frenchman Adrien Rabiot from PSG and Welsh Wizard Aaron Ramsey on free transfers, it provides more depth and quality to an already successful midfield which consists of Blaise Matuidi, Emre Can, Miralem Pjanic and Emre Can. The attacking prowess of this team speaks for itself. With Mr Champions league Cristiano Ronaldo not showing any signs of slowing down and a supporting cast which includes Argentine duo Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala, Croatian marksman Mario Mandzukic, it looks like Juventus’ Title to lose, but yet the reality is far from easy.

While the squad does look strong, there are certain glaring issues which have not been addressed. For starters, Juventus sold their versatile right-back Joao Cancelo to English Champions Manchester city with Danilo coming to Turin. This is a very short-sighted move for a team who prides itself on smart and savvy moves in the transfer window. While Danilo is a 2 time champion with City, it is worth noting that he was the back up to Kyle walker. With Cancelo gone, De Sciglio injured, and Danilo just arriving, the right side looks very vulnerable.

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Also, the unrest among certain key players is palpable too, with Emre Can openly stating that he was betrayed by the club after he was snubbed from the final squad for the competition, in spite receiving assurances that he would be a part of it. Another problem is that of Paulo Dybala. It is no secret that new manager Maurizio Sarri has deemed the mercurial Argentine surplus to requirements, with him being offered to Manchester United and later Tottenham Hotspur.

Will Dybala play with the expected dedication, knowing that the manager has no place for him in his scheme of things; which brings us to the manager. The appointment of Maurizio Sarri after Max Allegri departed raised quite a few eyebrows. Now sure Sarri won the Europa League and guided Chelsea to a 3rd place finish in the premier league, that was Sarri’s first-ever trophy in his career.

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Is he the right man to guide The serial winners to Continental glory? Will he able to implement his philosophy of Sarri-ball on this team, which is deep-rooted in the counter-attacking culture preached by his predecessor? Questions also remain on his ability to manage giant egos in the dressing room. If current results are to be taken into consideration, Juventus are still a fair way off from being called overwhelming favourites. They gave away a 3 goal lead against Napoli, requiring a last-minute own goal to win it.

They also gave away a 2-0 lead against Atletico Madrid in their opening group game. There are glaring problems in the way they try to play from the back, with a lot of dawdling over and poor passes without much thought. This Juventus side, while strong enough to be one of the favourites, can still not be considered as overwhelming favourites to win it all. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, you can just never count them off. This promises to be a very intriguing season for the Old lady. Will they win it all? Or will they falter again? Only time will tell.