MILAN (AP) — Five things to know about Juventus, the defending Italian champion:
HAT TRICK Few would bet against Juventus making it a hat trick of Serie A titles after dominating Italian football during the past two seasons. Juventus looks an even more exciting prospect this season following the signings of forwards Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente, and the team's 4-0 crushing of Lazio to win the Italian Supercup was a devastating sign of intent. Juventus managed to deal well with the added exertions of the Champions League last season before it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by eventual winner Bayern Munich, and it will need to do so again this year as its hunger to win Europe's most prestigious competition grows.
PAUL POGBA Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager at the time, was furious at Paul Pogba for leaving the club to join Juventus last year. The reasons for his anger became apparent during the season as Pogba emerged as one of the brightest prospects in world football. The young Frenchman followed up his impressive club campaign by captaining France to Under-20 World Cup victory during the offseason. Pogba shows no sign of letting up. He was brought on for the injured Claudio Marchisio during the Italian Supercup and took just 2 minutes, 35 seconds to break the deadlock.
ANTONIO CONTE Antonio Conte took over the reins at Juventus in 2011 and immediately steered it to two successive league titles. The 44-year-old coach is swiftly earning a reputation as one of Europe's top tacticians. Conte is known for his humility — he is always quick to give all of the credit to his players — and his intense hunger for victory has been transmitted to his players, along with a winning mentality. Carlos Tevez recently compared Conte to the great former Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson.
STELLAR STRIKERS One criticism of Juventus has often been its perceived lack of firepower up front, with the team lacking a genuine striker. It has moved to correct that oversight this season by bringing in Carlos Tevez from Manchester City and Fernando Llorente on a free transfer from Athletic Bilbao. Tevez opened his account in the 4-0 Supercup victory against Lazio, while Llorente has yet to make his official debut. There will now be stiff competition up front with Montenegro striker Mirko Vucinic also looking in form.
MONEY MATTERS Antonio Conte complained several times last season that his Juventus side could not realistically compete with the top sides in the Champions League because it did not have the money to splash around. However, a look at the figures tells a different story, as Juventus has spent approximately 180 million euros since Conte took over. Juventus has also not ruled out making a big-name signing before the transfer window closes on Sept. 2.