Melbourne Victory vs Juventus:
International Champions Cup 2016,
Date: Saturday, July 23, 2016
Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne).
The International Champions Cup series in Australia kicks off when Juventus face local side Melbourne Victory at the MCC on Saturday afternoon.
Juventus, who won the fifth consecutive Serie A title last season are one of the busiest teams in the summer transfer window making some major signings to strengthen the key areas of the squad ahead of the new season. Now Massimiliano Allegri will be keen to make sure the preparations go well and the team gel together in to the perfect mold to challenge for major titles once again.
Melbourne Victory were the 2014-15 A-League Champions, but finished sixth in the league in 2015-16 season. They were out of action since the Asian Champions League elimination on May 2015. The Blues had suffered a terrible run of results at the back end of the last season and will be looking to get a respectable result against a big side like Juventus side.
The Old Lady will be playing their first friendly of the new season on Saturday and are without a number of key players due to their involvement in Euro 2016. Gianluigi Buffon, Paul Pogba, Leonardo Bonucci, Paul Pogba, Sami Khedira, Marchisio, Barzagli, Zaza, Chiellini and Mandzukic are the players who are still on extended leave.
While new signing from Barcelona Dani Alves will also play not part in Juve’s Australian tour. The other two new signings defender Medhi Benatia and playmaker Miralem Pjanic had travelled with the squad.
Melbourne Victory vs Juventus: Prediction
This will be the first meeting between these two sides and both are playing their first friendly in the current pre-season window. Juventus are missing a number of key players and are short on fitness, but they are still a better quality team than their Saturday’s opponent.
I expect both teams to score and back Juventus to kick-off their pre-season with a narrow victory by a 2-1 margin.
While Juventus have been in the news consistently this summer regarding the future of Paul Pogba, the Bianconeri have been quietly making some impressive signings. The arrival of a genuine star in Dani Alves as well as centre-back Medhi Benatia from Bayern Munich and Bosnian mdfielder Miralem Pjanic means the Serie A champions have already added to their squad impressively, irrespective of what happens with Pogba.
The Frenchman will be one of a number of key players missing from Juve's matches down under, with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Simone Zaza, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic, Stefan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra all being given an extended break following their Euro 2016 participation.
The squad that Max Allegri has taken to Australia is therefore pretty second string with Benatia, Pjanic and Argentine striker Pablo Dybala the only players who could realistically be considered first choice. The most successful side in the history of Serie A face Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur next week, but their first game is against local side Melbourne Victory
The local team for their part finished last season in sixth position in the Australian top flight and are managed by former Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Kevin Muscat. For fans of European football, there are few familiar names among the ranks of the Victory and even a second string Juve should be able to overcome them. This is, however, the first match for both sides for two months, and with Juve travelling to the other side of the world they might take a while to hit their stride.
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