Allegri: Serie A will be 'much more competitive' in 2017-18

Hector Retamal
The Juventus manager doesn't think a seventh straight Scudetto will come easily for his side

BABSON PARK, Mass. — Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is not taking a seventh straight Serie A title for granted, saying the race for the Scudetto will be "much more competitive" in the 2017-18 campaign.

Juve 4/6 favourites to win Serie A

The Bianconeri claimed the Serie A crown with 91 points last season, edging Roma and Napoli by four and five points, respectively. It marked the first time since the 2011-12 season that Juve won the title by fewer than nine points.

And Allegri thinks that tighter race is a sign of things to come in Serie A.

"We will see increased competition this season," Allegri said at a news conference Saturday, referencing Roma, Napoli, Inter and AC Milan. "This season it will be, right from the beginning, important to get points and compete against those rivals.

"One of the intriguing things is that it's not like last year. You're playing against five or more teams that are competing for the Scudetto, so it will be much more competitive."

Juve, who face Roma on Sunday in an International Champions Cup clash at Gillette Stadium, made a splash this week with the signing of winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina for €40 million.

The club also secured winger Juan Cuadrado and centre-back Mehdi Benatia on permanent transfers after loan stints, and added goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, right-back Mattia De Sciglio, midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur and winger Douglas Costa.

Too early for Bonucci-less Juve to panic

But the sale of influential centre-back Leonardo Bonucci to rival AC Milan has raised eyebrows, with the Rossoneri also spending big to sign the likes of Andre Silva, Andrea Conti, Hakan Calhanoglu, Mateo Musacchio, Lucas Biglia and Franck Kessie.

Despite Milan's aggressive approach, Allegri indicated Juve don't necessarily have to buy additional players to keep pace.

"The club has already moved to acquire young, promising players — the likes of Douglas Costa, the likes of De Sciglio, and so on and so forth," Allegri said. "We have already strengthened our team.

"We have won the past six Scudetti in a row. Obviously winning the seventh one won't be easy. Certainly we'd like to compete for that, and the other teams aren't standing pat watching us in the market and not competing.

"They're out to nip on our heels and get to where we are, so we had to strengthen the team. We have a month left and if the opportunity arises to add pieces that strengthen the club, so be it.

"But I believe that with the arrival of Bernardeschi and other players that we already have a competitive squad."