Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Juventus and his selection as a substitute for Sunday's season opener at Udinese was a mutual decision, according to Pavel Nedved.

Former Juve midfielder Nedved is now a vice-president at the club and was asked about Ronaldo being surprisingly left out of the starting XI in Udine.

Nedved said, according to Sky Sport Italia: "We must not look for sensations where there are none. It was a choice shared with the player.

"At the beginning of the season it is normal that the conditions are not top and the coach tries to field the most competitive team tonight."

Asked whether Ronaldo would remain a Juventus player this season, the last on his contract, Nedved said: "Absolutely yes."

There was nevertheless speculation that Ronaldo had requested to be selected on the bench, with Sky Sport Italia claiming the forward was looking to leave the club before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Head coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted this week that last season's Serie A 29-goal top scorer had told him he wanted to stay in Turin, and the Portuguese superstar has condemned what he described as "frivolous" rumours around his future.

 

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Real Madrid or Manchester United, while Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

However, any of those clubs would likely have to generate funds before mounting a move for the 36-year-old five-time Ballon d'Or winner, and City are expected to move for Harry Kane rather than Ronaldo.

With Ronaldo watching on from the sidelines, Juventus snatched a third-minute lead at Udinese through Paulo Dybala.

Cristiano Ronaldo was named only as a substitute for Juventus' opening Serie A match against Udinese amid renewed speculation he wants to leave the club.

Speaking ahead of his side's opening league game of 2021-22, head coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted Ronaldo had told him he wanted to stay in Turin.

Those comments came after the Portugal star posted to social media to hit out at what he described as "frivolous" rumours around his future.

However, on Sunday, Allegri selected Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata as a strike partnership, with Ronaldo on the bench.

Sky Sport Italia then reported that Ronaldo had requested to be left out of the first XI as he is attempting to secure a transfer before the window closes.

 

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to Real Madrid or Manchester United, while Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City have also been credited with interest.

However, any move would appear problematic. Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has already said the 36-year-old will not be returning and Los Blancos are said to be trying to build funds for an attempt to sign Kylian Mbappe.

Selling the France star would likely be the only means for PSG to sign Ronaldo given the huge increase to their wage bill following the free transfer of Lionel Messi, while United must sell before buying again after spending upwards of £105million on Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane.

City, meanwhile, broke the Premier League transfer record by signing Jack Grealish for £100m and are expected to make another push to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham in the next week.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says Cristiano Ronaldo has told him he wishes to stay at the club for the 2021-22 season.

Speculation has persisted in recent weeks that the Portugal star is pushing to leave Turin three years after his move from Real Madrid in a deal worth €112million.

A return to the Spanish capital was mooted until coach Carlo Ancelotti shot down the rumour, while possible moves to former club Manchester United, Premier League champions Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have also been suggested.

Ronaldo himself hit out at the media frenzy around his future in a social media post, condemning the coverage as "frivolous" and "disrespectful".

Allegri has now stated the 36-year-old wants to see out the remaining year of his contract at the Allianz Stadium.

"Ronaldo told me he's staying at Juve," Allegri said on Saturday ahead of Juve's Serie A opener against Udinese.

"He's always trained well. I read the rumours in the newspapers. He never told us he wanted to leave.

"Ronaldo is a bonus for us because he guarantees a large number of goals. Of course, we have to work as a team to bring the best out of a single player.

"Ronaldo didn't play the [pre-season] game on Thursday because we had been going through a tough week and I gave him half a day off."

 

Allegri returned to Juve to take over from Andrea Pirlo, having stepped down in 2019 following five hugely successful years with the Bianconeri.

He led Juve to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana, while also reaching two Champions League finals.

The 54-year-old said his past achievements will mean little if he cannot mount a serious challenge to reclaim the Scudetto from Inter.

"I don't have to show anything, I have to work to get results. What happened in my five years stays in the museum," he said.

"Ronaldo has won five Ballons d'Or but if this year he doesn't have a good year, they'll remember his last year at Juventus. The same goes for [Federico] Chiesa: what he did at the Euros won't count.

"We have to question ourselves every day, otherwise the conditions to win aren't created."

The 2021-22 Serie A campaign commences on Saturday following a busy close season that saw more than half of the 20 teams change head coach.

Antonio Conte departed Inter after guiding the club to their first Scudetto in more than a decade, with Simone Inzaghi being plucked from Lazio, who in turn turned to Maurizio Sarri.

Sarri's former club Juventus decided to end the Andrea Pirlo experiment after just a year and opted for a familiar face in six-time title winner Massimiliano Allegri as his replacement.

Luciano Spalletti is back in Serie A with Napoli, meanwhile, and Jose Mourinho has returned to Italy with Roma some 11 years on from his hugely successful stint with Inter.

There will be just as much focus on the dugouts as the field when the new season gets up and running this weekend, then, and some coaches are facing a tougher challenge than others.

Stats Perform looks at what the managerial changes could mean for some of Serie A's biggest clubs.


Inter 

In: Simone Inzaghi

Out: Antonio Conte

Conte will go down in Inter folklore as the man who ended the club's 11-year wait to return to the top of Italian football.

In an ideal world, one in which the Nerazzurri were not in a position whereby they had to sell star players to balance the books, Conte would still be in charge at San Siro.

As it is, though, Inzaghi will be at the helm this coming season and is in a rather unenviable position of having to pick up where Conte left off, minus the goals of Romelu Lukaku.

Inzaghi has his own vision but does not differ too much from Conte in terms of tactics, both coaches favouring a 3-5-2 formation of sorts throughout their careers.

Moving the ball forward quickly will be the aim, with Milan (90) the only side in Serie A last term to register more direct attacks than Inzaghi's former side Lazio (89). By comparison, Inter were third on that list with 80.

While the structure will remain largely the same, losing Lukaku and influential wing-back Achraf Hakimi – albeit with Edin Dzeko and Denzel Dumfries arriving – means Inzaghi will need to get more out of others if Inter are to retain their crown.

 

Lazio

In: Maurizio Sarri

Out: Simone Inzaghi

The man tasked with replacing Inzaghi at Lazio is Sarri, who endured mixed fortunes during his most recent two stints in Serie A with Napoli and Juventus.

Having come so close to ending Juve's stranglehold on the title in 2017-18 while at Napoli, the 62-year-old won the Europa League in his solitary season at Chelsea and was then given just 14 months at the Allianz Stadium.

His stint in Turin came to an early end despite leading Juve to top spot, his style of play – coined 'Sarriball' – deemed too distant from what Juventus typically expect from a head coach (more on that later!).

At the Stadio Olimpico, Sarri will have more freedom to put his spin on things as he looks to build or improve upon last season's sixth-placed finish. A back four, rather than the three-man defence Inzaghi favoured, can be expected.

Sarri teams are known for their verticality, meaning they like to move the ball forwards. Lazio, as already touched upon, are a good fit in that regard.

They ranked lowest in the top eight last season for build-up attacks (83), which is defined as the number of open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either ends in a shot or has at least one touch in the opposition box.

The big question, though, is whether Sarri has the personnel to turn Lazio into top-four regulars in the same way he did at Napoli. With Immobile taking on the Gonzalo Higuain role up top, it might just be a possibility.

Juventus

In: Massimiliano Allegri

Out: Andrea Pirlo

While a lot of clubs mentioned are entering the unknown with their managerial appointments, Juve know exactly what they are getting in Allegri.

The 54-year-old guided Juve to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019, having also previously lifted the Scudetto at Milan.

Only one coach in the Bianconeri's history, Giovanni Trapattoni, has overseen more league games than Allegri's 190, while Juve's two highest-scoring seasons dating back as far as 1930 have both come under the stewardship of the returning favourite.

This Juve side has changed since Allegri's first stint, though, and it may take him time to make this team his own again following the aforementioned reigns of Sarri and Pirlo.

Whereas Sarri and Pirlo were a little complex with their tactics and what they expected from players, Allegri will take a different approach. That is not to say Juve will not be able to chop and change things under Allegri, as they did in his previous spell.

One aspect that will surely differ from last season is the number of goals Juve score. They found the net an underwhelming 56 times from open play last season from an expected goals return (xG) of 54.3.

By comparison, champions Inter scored 65 open play goals from a near identical xG as Juve of 54.6. With the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo set to stay at the club for at least one more season, there is hope of reclaiming the title this time around.

 

Roma

In: Jose Mourinho

Out: Paulo Fonseca

The highest-profile of the incoming coaches in Serie A this season, Mourinho arrives with his 'Special One' status still intact in Italy thanks to his success at Inter a little over a decade ago.

Mourinho won as many league titles in two seasons at San Siro (two) as he has in the 11 years since (one), while also lifting the second of his Champions League crowns, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana during that trophy-laden stay.

The Portuguese won 62 per cent of his matches at Inter but that win rate has steadily declined and he won just 51.2 per cent of his games with Tottenham, leaving the club in April after just 17 months in charge.

Mourinho's sides were so often hard to beat, but Spurs lost 13 times in 2020-21 under him, making it his worst ever season in that regard and he did not even see it all the way through.

But could his career take a turn in the right direction in Rome? Mourinho's tactics have remained largely consistent throughout his career, no matter the club or country he is coaching in.

The back three largely favoured by Paulo Fonseca will become a back four and there will be particular emphasis on Bryan Cristante, a typical Mourinho player in many ways, to shield the defence and get the ball forward.

The addition of Tammy Abraham from Chelsea is clearly a Mourinho signing, helping the fill the void left by Edin Dzeko, but Mou's pragmatic approach is surely a concern for a Roma side that looked better offensively than defensively last season. 

Finding the correct balance will be key, and that ultimately depends on whether Roma have hired the pre-2015 Mourinho or post.

Napoli

In: Luciano Spalletti

Out: Gennaro Gattuso

With spells at seven different Italian clubs under his belt, including two years at Inter, Spalletti certainly does not lack of experience. After two years out of the game, however, the 62-year-old has to quickly prove he is not yesterday's man.

Spalletti made clear when he took over from Gennaro Gattuso that he will look to operate with a 4-3-3, though on the basis of pre-season it may well be a more familiar 4-2-3-1 come the opening day.

He inherits a talented squad that includes the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Victor Osimhen, Dries Mertens, Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne – for now – in attack.

Napoli had no problems scoring goals last time out, with no team managing more shots from open play than their 493 and only Atalanta (77) and Inter (65) scoring more from non-set-piece situations than their 64.

Pressing is a big part of Spalletti's game and that makes Napoli a good fit as they ranked joint-second in Serie A last season for goals scored from high turnovers (nine), behind only Atalanta (10).

There are already a few rumblings of discontent behind the scenes with regards to transfer activity, but a kind fixture list ensures that Spalletti can hit the ground running in his quest to guide Napoli back into the Champions League.

Barely a month has passed since Giorgio Chiellini lifted the European Championship trophy at Wembley, and it would seem logical to expect Serie A to begin amid high fanfare.

This may prove to be the case, as the opening weekend of the season arrives, but a major talent drain from the Italian league since last term cannot be ignored.

Romelu Lukaku, Cristian Romero and Gianluigi Donnarumma have all moved on, swapping Inter, Atalanta and Milan respectively for Chelsea, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain.

To put those losses into greater context, of the 2020-21 Serie A end-of-season award winners, that is the MVP, the top defender and the leading goalkeeper all exiting the league.

Sweeping changes on the coaching benches also add to uncertainty as the new campaign begins, with a much-changed Inter hoping to successfully defend their title.


JUVE ON A SCUDETTO MISSION

After the folly of handing dugout rookie Andrea Pirlo the reins before last season, Juventus look to be on firmer ground this time with Massimiliano Allegri back as head coach.

They have brought in Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo, primed to play a Pirlo-like role on the pitch, and it seems Cristiano Ronaldo will hang around for the final year of his contract.

Rumours continue to encircle the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, but Allegri can likely count on his reliable flow of goals, just as he did for the 2018-19 season – Ronaldo's debut campaign in Turin and the end of the line for Allegri in his first stint as coach.

A six-time Scudetto winner, Allegri will look to get the best out of wingers Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa as they enter their second seasons with the Bianconeri, while it remains to be seen how Paulo Dybala performs as he enters the final year of his deal.

Plagued by injury last season, Dybala started just 14 Serie A games, but results were often perkier when he played. Of those 14 games, Juventus won 10, drew three and lost one, with a points-per-game average of 2.4 when he played from the off, compared to 1.9 when he was absent or a substitute. The win percentage of 71.4 per cent when Dybala was in the starting XI (compared to 54.2 per cent when he was not) is in the ball park that Allegri will be eyeing.

 


INZAGHI STEPS INTO CONTE SHOES

Social media tells us Antonio Conte has been thoroughly enjoying his summer, topping up his tan and seemingly showing no regret over his Inter exit, which came in May, just weeks after he guided the Nerazzurri to title glory.

Conte reportedly left amid concern the club planned to raise funds with sales that have duly come to fruition. The loss of striker Lukaku feels like a body blow, given his influence, and persistent rumours suggest Lautaro Martinez could also move on. Achraf Hakimi is another big loss, but, as with Lukaku, a big fee was banked as the right-back proved a one-season wonder in Italy.

In have come coach Simone Inzaghi, who impressed at Lazio, while Edin Dzeko will be a straight swap for Lukaku in the forward line, albeit unlikely to carry quite the same threat. Former PSV star Denzel Dumfries can replace Hakimi in the attacking right full-back role, and Inter will hope his Euro 2020 form transfers to Serie A duty.

It is hard to see Inter repeating last season's success, and the comedown could be painful. They exceeded their expected goals total last season, scoring 84 goals against an xG of 75.3, and Inzaghi will look for more of the same.

They possess plenty of quality still, but they have likely lost Christian Eriksen for the long term too after his cardiac arrest on Denmark duty at Euro 2020. His survival was everything in June, and now his recovery is all-important. The knock-on effect is that Inter have lost a player who became important over the second half of the season.

So much has changed since that title was secured. Landing Hakan Calhanoglu on a free from Milan looks like great business, but consolidation with a top-four finish may be their limit in the new campaign. That, and being sure to secure city bragging rights again.

 


MOURINHO'S BACK AMID MERRY-GO-ROUND

Never mind Inzaghi and Allegri at Inter and Juve, now is the time to get used to the sound of Maurizio Sarri's Lazio, Vincenzo Italiano's Fiorentina, Luciano Spalletti's Napoli ... and Jose Mourinho's Roma. Milan rather feel like the odd ones out, keeping faith with Stefano Pioli.

A whirlwind of change has swept through Serie A, and it will be worth watching to see quite what impact Mourinho can have on a side who finished 16 points short of the Champions League places last term.

His 'Special One' reputation was enhanced the last time he coached in Italy, guiding Inter to a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in the 2009-10 campaign.

Spells at Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham have followed, but Mourinho's cachet has diminished over the past decade.

Tammy Abraham has followed him in swapping London for Rome, with the Chelsea striker arriving, along with Eldor Shomurodov from Genoa, to pep up an attack depleted by the loss of Dzeko. Rui Patricio has joined fellow Portuguese Mourinho, and the goalkeeper's arrival from Wolves could prove a fine signing.

Roma won just five Serie A away games last term, and have only had fewer once in a season beginning in the 20th century (4 in 2002-03), while their shot conversion rate of 41.35 per cent can be improved upon, given they topped 50 per cent twice in the 2010s.

Most important for Mourinho, perhaps, will be to build on Roma's poor duel success rate (48.97 per cent) and cutting out the errors leading to goals (10 in 2020-21 in Serie A).

The duel figures are important and were the worst Roma had managed in at least 15 years, while the error count will be simply intolerable to the new boss. Only Bologna committed so many costly errors (also 10). Mourinho has his work cut out.

Giorgio Chiellini is convinced Massimiliano Allegri is the right man to reclaim the Scudetto for Juventus following the failed Andrea Pirlo experiment.

Celebrated former midfielder Pirlo failed to guide the Bianconeri to a 10th successive Serie A title last season and was sacked in May, before the halfway point of a two-year deal.

Allegri was named as Pirlo's successor on the same day for a second spell in charge, having previously guided Juve to five league titles, four Coppas Italia and two Champions League finals.

Juve amassed 142 wins in their 190 league games under Allegri – only Giovanni Trapattoni has overseen more matches – giving him a win percentage of 74.74, clear of second-placed Antonio Conte (72.81), who managed 83 triumphs from 114 matches.

During his five seasons with Juve, Allegri suffered just 20 league defeats, with his team scoring 380 goals and conceding 125 in return, averaging 2.39 points per game.

Allegri is responsible for three of the seven Juventus seasons during which they have netted 100 goals or more, meanwhile, alongside Pirlo, Conte and Jesse Carver.

Chiellini was a part of that successful period at the club and will likely play a key role in this latest new era for Juventus after penning a two-year contract extension on Monday.

Allegri's immediate aim is to win back the title from Inter, while also seeing off competition from the likes of Milan and Atalanta, and experienced centre-back Chiellini is ready to do his bit.

"I am happy to see him again," Chiellini told Juventus TV. "He gave me and everyone a great deal. 

"I've kept in contact with the lads, and they've told me he's really fired up for the start of the season. I'm convinced he is the right man to take this team back to the top and create a new cycle.

"I am here to give my contribution, above all on the field, but off it too."

 

Chiellini has made 535 appearances for Juventus since joining in 2004 but has played just 21 times in Serie A since the start of 2019-20, partly due to injury.

He showed his quality at Euro 2020 as he helped Italy to their first continental crown in 53 years, starting five of the Azzurri's seven matches in the tournament.

The Livorno product produced six clearances, which was four more than any other Italy player, while also leading the way for interceptions (three) and aerial duels (seven).

After putting an end to potential retirement talk by putting pen to paper with Juve, Chiellini is now eyeing up a place in Italy's World Cup squad for Qatar 2022.

"The World Cup is just over a year away, so we'll see," he said. "I always want to enjoy every moment and to think of the present. 

"If I am fortunate enough to be in good shape and able to participate in the World Cup, then I'll be happy. If I don't, then I'll be happy anyway.

"I've learned over the last few years that the only secret is to live in the moment and without thinking of faraway objectives.

"Now we need to get the engine going again after these few weeks when I needed time to recover, then we'll take it one week at a time, game by game, and see where we end up."

Massimiliano Allegri shrugged off talk of a possible Juventus return for Miralem Pjanic, saying Aaron Ramsey could instead be used in a deeper role this season.

Pjanic left for Barcelona last year in a swap deal with Arthur, but his time in Spain has been unhappy, the midfielder starting just six LaLiga games under Ronald Koeman in 2020-21.

There is speculation the 31-year-old wants to move back to Turin, where he could reunite with Allegri, the coach under whom he won six trophies in Italy.

Allegri, though, appears more interested in transforming Ramsey into a defensive midfielder ahead of the start of 2021-22.

The Wales international started at the base of a midfield three in Saturday's 2-1 friendly win over Monza, regaining possession four times and completing 100 per cent of his passes in his 45-minute outing.

Ramsey has been linked with a possible return to the Premier League but it appears Allegri has important plans for the 30-year-old if he is prepared to embrace the change in position.

"The club handles the transfer market. We speak every day," Allegri said to Mediaset when asked about the Pjanic rumours.

"The squad... it's a good squad. Ramsey played very well in front of the defence today and I think Aaron, in front of the defence, can become a really important player.

"[Pjanic] gave me some great victories. He's a Barcelona player, though.

"We have talented players and I think, if Ramsey is convinced to play in front of the defence, he can become important. He runs less there and can rest more on the ball."

Juve play Barca in the pre-season Joan Gamper Trophy match on August 8.

Massimiliano Allegri revealed he turned down Real Madrid in favour of a second spell with Juventus.

Allegri was appointed as Bianconeri boss in May after Andrea Pirio was relieved of his duties following a poor season, ending with the club only fourth in Serie A.

The experienced Allegri led the Turin giants to five consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia triumphs and two Champions League finals during his previous tenure.

Allegri, 53, on Tuesday revealed he could have taken over at Madrid before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed as head coach.

"I have to thank Real Madrid and the president for the opportunity he gave me [to coach Real Madrid]. Then I thought about it and chose Juventus," Allegri said during his presentation news conference.

"It was a gesture of love for a club that gave me a lot and who I enjoy coaching."

Inter's 2020-21 Scudetto triumph ended Juventus' nine-year spell of dominance in Italian football and Juve president Andrea Agnelli is hoping Allegri can reassert the Bianconeri's authority.

"It’s useless to present him and repeat what he’s won once again. Perhaps, the streak of Serie A titles he’s won is something impossible to equal," Agnelli added at Allegri's unveiling.

"We analysed what Juventus could have been with the return of Allegri, we agreed that it could have been a risky choice for both of us because of his glorious past and the expectations that he would bring.

"What Juventus can give is the right environment to reach these results. Every victory has been achieved thanks to hard work. As Max has said many times, winning is not for everybody.

"A new season begins, our target is to be competitive for every trophy in March, then we’ll see. Max is the coach of Juventus for the next four years because he has the credibility to write an exciting new chapter."

The Juve president took a dig at former head coach Maurizio Sarri, who had claimed the 2019-20 Scudetto he won in Turin was taken for granted.

"Here at Juventus, we work hard every day to achieve victories," Agnelli continued.

"We can’t take victories for granted, whoever thinks that the trophies we’ve won over the last few years have been less appreciated is wrong because, behind every trophy and every season, there is a great commitment, sacrifice and desire to win."

Agnelli also confirmed Giorgio Chiellini, who captained Italy to their first European Championship triumph since 1968 at Euro 2020, will sign a contract extension with the club.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri says he expects Cristiano Ronaldo to demonstrate even greater responsibility this season.

Allegri returned to the club for a second spell in May, having previously guided the Bianconeri to five successive Scudettos and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019.

The 53-year-old will be looking to help Juve regain the Serie A title after they surrendered their crown to Inter last season.

Question marks remain as to whether or not his attack will be led in the new campaign by Ronaldo, with speculation linking him with a move away from Turin.

The Portuguese talisman top-scored in Serie A last term with 29 goals, taking his tally with the club to 101 since arriving from Real Madrid in 2018.

Ronaldo, who returned to pre-season training on Monday following an extended break due to his Euro 2020 exertions, has one year remaining on his contract at the Allianz Stadium.

 

Nevertheless, the 36-year-old remains firmly in the plans of Allegri, though the head coach warned that his game time may be reduced to accommodate team rotation during another hectic campaign.

“Ronaldo is a great player and a smart guy,” he said. “I spoke to him yesterday, as I did with the others.

“I told him that this is an important season and that I am happy to meet him again.

“Now, he has more responsibility because three years ago, we had a more experienced team, while now there are younger players.

“I expect a lot from him as an experienced player. He is in good condition and he is fit.

“There are different moments in a season, playing one game every three days. I’ll need to rotate the team, involving all the players and it also applies to him.”

Juventus will launch their 2021-22 season and quest to regain the Serie A title away at Udinese on August 22.

The Bianconeri’s run of nine straight Scudetti ended last term as they surrendered the crown to Inter and were forced to settle for a fourth-place finish.

That culminated in the dismissal of Andrea Pirlo, who was replaced at the helm by the returning Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri, who guided Juve to five successive titles between 2015 and 2019, begins his second reign in charge with a trip to the Dacia Arena to face Udinese, before welcoming Empoli to the Allianz Stadium the following week.

Juventus host Allegri’s former employers Milan on September 19, with the return fixture against the Rossoneri in January.

Before that, they travel to the San Siro to face reigning champions Inter on October 24, before welcoming the Nerazzurri at the start of April for what could be a crucial clash in the title run-in.

Elsewhere, the Bianconeri head to Torino for the season's first instalment of the Derby della Mole on October 3, with the second coming on February 20.

Allegri’s men face a potentially tricky climax to the campaign, hosting Lazio on May 15 before concluding away at Fiorentina the following week.

Serie A winners Inter will begin their title defence with a home match against Genoa.

Fixtures for the 2021-22 season were announced on Wednesday, with the side now coached by Simone Inzaghi given a San Siro opener.

That means city rivals Milan, who were runners-up last year, will begin with an away contest against Sampdoria in the week ending August 22.

Juventus, meanwhile, will start their bid to regain the Scudetto under Massimiliano Allegri with an away fixture against Udinese.

The Old Lady host Empoli in week two before a crunch clash away to Napoli on matchday three.

A tricky start continues for Allegri as he will then face former club Milan, with Juve at home for that huge clash on matchday four.

Inzaghi will take on former club Lazio for the first time on week eight, a week before the first Derby d'Italia against Juve the following matchday, week ending October 24.

The first Milan derby has provisionally been scheduled for the weekend of November 7, which is week 12 of the campaign.

Inter play Milan for the second time on February 6 with their second contest against Juve coming towards the end of the season on April 3.

Should the title race go down to the last day of the season, Inter end their league campaign at home to Sampdoria, while Juve travel to Fiorentina and Milan face Sassuolo.

 

Serie A week one fixtures:

Bologna v Salernitana
Cagliari v Spezia
Empoli v Lazio
Verona v Sassuolo
Inter v Genoa
Napoli v Venezia
Roma v Fiorentina
Sampdoria v Milan
Torino v Atalanta
Udinese v Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo has shown his appreciation for ex-Juventus boss Andrea Pirlo, describing it as "an honour" to be coached by the former Italy international.

Pirlo's not-so-surprising departure from Juve was confirmed on Friday, just hours before the Serie A club announced the return of Massimiliano Allegri.

The rookie coach's solitary season in the job saw the Bianconeri fail to claim the league title for the first time since 2011, though they did win both the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia trophies.

They again suffered disappointment in the Champions League, edged out on away goals by Porto at the last-16 stage.

Ronaldo, who scored 29 goals to finish as the leading scorer in Serie A for the 2020-21 campaign, thanked Pirlo via social media.

"Thank you Maestro, it was an honour to be coached by you," he posted on his Instagram stories to accompany a picture of the duo shaking hands.

Pirlo enjoyed a strong finish to the season, a 2-1 final win over Atalanta in the Coppa Italia coming while also securing a top-four finish in Serie A, though an impressive run-in was not enough to keep him in the job.

He departed having won 23 of his 38 league games for a points-per-game average of 2.05, below both the coach he replaced in Maurizio Sarri (2.18) and also Allegri, who managed 2.39 during his first spell in charge.

Still, the only coaches to record more victories than Pirlo in their first season in the competition since 1994-95 are Rudi Garcia (26) and Jose Mourinho (25), with Roma and Inter respectively.

There has been speculation surrounding Ronaldo's future in Turin too, despite another outstanding year on a personal level.

The forward - now preparing for Euro 2020 as part of a Portugal squad looking to retain the trophy - was an unused substitute in the final game under Pirlo, watching on from the bench as his team-mates triumphed 4-1 against Bologna.

Juventus have confirmed Massimiliano Allegri has returned as their new head coach, taking over from Andrea Pirlo.

Rookie coach Pirlo could only manage a fourth-placed finish in Serie A in 2020-21, and a Coppa Italia triumph was not enough for the club legend to keep his job.

It is Allegri – who guided Juve to five straight Serie A titles and two Champions League finals between 2014 and 2019 – who Juve have turned to.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform analyses the key numbers and statistics from Allegri's first, trophy-laden spell in charge of the Old Lady.

RECORD SETTER

Juve's two highest-scoring seasons dating back as far as 1930 have both come under the stewardship of Allegri.

In fact, Allgeri is responsible three of the seven Juventus seasons during which they have netted 100 goals or more – alongside his predecessor Pirlo, Antonio Conte and Jesse Carver.

Allegri guided Juventus to 26 home wins in 2016-17 – the highest total produced by the club in a single campaign dating back to at least 1930 – while his 2017-18 season (which was also the campaign in which Juve netted 112 goals) saw the Bianconeri record 18 away wins, the most in any season since 1930.

 

TOP OF THE CHARTS

Only one coach in Juve's history, Giovanni Trapattoni, has overseen more league games than Allegri's 190.

Juve amassed 142 victories, giving Allegri a win percentage of 74.74, clear of second-placed Conte (72.81), who managed 83 triumphs from 114 matches.

During his five seasons with Juve, Allegri suffered just 20 league defeats, with his team scoring 380 goals and conceding 125 in return, averaging 2.39 points per game.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: ALLEGRI V CONTE

Allegri succeeded Conte at Juve in 2014, with the latter – who has just left Inter having guided the Nerazzurri to their first Serie A title in 11 years – taking over as Italy coach.

Conte spent three seasons with Juve, starting their title streak that Allegri and subsequently Maurizio Sarri would go on to continue.

In total, Allegri was in charge of Juve for 271 games in all competitions, overseeing 191 wins (a 70.48 success rate), 43 draws and 37 defeats.

Conte had 151 matches at the helm, recording 102 victories – 67.55 per cent – and 34 draws. However, his Juve team lost on just 15 occasions, at an average of five per season.

Massimiliano Allegri has returned to Juventus for a second spell as head coach after Andrea Pirlo's departure.

Pirlo on Friday left the Turin giants barely nine months after signing a two-year deal to take over from Maurizio Sarri.

The former playmaker failed to live up to expectations as a coach and Juventus brought an abrupt end to his reign. 

The Bianconeri wasted little time in revealing that Allegri has returned as boss of the Serie A giants, who were dethroned as Italian champions by Inter this month.

Allegri, who was linked with Inter and Real Madrid before agreeing to rejoin his former club, had been out of work since ending his hugely successful tenure with Juventus two years ago.

The 53-year-old masterminded five consecutive Scudetto triumphs in his first spell at the club, and his team lifted the Coppa Italia on four occasions.

Juve were beaten Champions League finalists with Allegri at the helm in 2014-15 and 2016-17.

"Massimiliano Allegri is the Juventus manager once more," the club said in a statement.

"Allegri finds a bench that he knows very well, a club that he loves and that loves him back, as today a new journey begins together, towards new goals.

"What he achieved in his first adventure at Juventus are engraved in the club’s history: five Scudetti, to the four-consecutive doubles, coupled with the Coppa Italia and to the two Super Cups, reaching two Champions League finals in just three seasons, in what were epic feats both in Italy and in Europe."

The statement on the Juventus website added: "Now we are ready to begin again with Allegri, to build our future together; with his enormous professionalism, his moral strength, with the brilliant ideas of a coach capable of shuffling the cards, both on and off the pitch.

"With his smile, a sort of 'signature'. With his way of understanding football and life with simplicity, with his desire to play things down and with the commitment to enjoy every beautiful moment that being at Juventus can give and will give."

Massimiliano Allegri has returned to Juventus for a second spell as head coach after Andrea Pirlo's departure.

Pirlo on Friday left the Turin giants barely nine months after signing a two-year deal to take over from Maurizio Sarri.

The former playmaker failed to live up to expectations as a coach and Juventus brought an abrupt end to his reign. 

The Bianconeri wasted little time in revealing that Allegri has returned as boss of the Serie A giants, who were dethroned as Italian champions by Inter this month.

Allegri, who was linked with Inter and Real Madrid before agreeing to rejoin his former club, had been out of work since ending his hugely successful tenure with Juventus two years ago.

The 53-year-old masterminded five consecutive Scudetto triumphs in his first spell at the club, and his team lifted the Coppa Italia on four occasions.

Juve were beaten Champions League finalists with Allegri at the helm in 2014-15 and 2016-17.

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